In the midst of the debate regarding straws, I decided this would be the opportune time to discuss my favorite topic once a month – cups. I don’t mean the kind you bring to a café for that 25¢ discount. No, I meant the one specifically for those with female parts: we’re talking about menstrual cups…and pads and all that other stuff.
WARNING: This blog is not for panty boys who think periods are gross and come from your bladder.
Right now, people are very active in talking about “go green” initiatives. From supermarkets selling canvas shopping bags to people opting to bring their own balutan* containers at restaurants. Yet, the one thing I feel like I don’t hear enough about is – you guessed it – menstruation. I see plenty of my local people posting about steel straws but not talking about the goddess-crafted thing that is the menstrual cup, possibly because not enough people realize this is an option.
But seriously ladies: you need to get on this train.
I’m going to be honest with y’all. Stopping single-use period products does sound kinda gross. You are 100% forced to start staring your clumps in the face when you clean them. But isn’t that part of the discussion? We’re so used to pretending our periods don’t exist or trying to hide it from others. Why are we hiding it from ourselves? Yes, it seems kind of gross in the beginning but at some point, maintaining your products is like cleaning a baby’s poop. It is what it is.
I started my green period three years ago. It was sparked by an eczema flare up on my bum, which was getting aggravated single-use sanitary pads. That’s when it occurred to me that if people cloth diaper, there MUST be cloth menstrual pads out there. As of today, I am 99% green in my menstruation – with that 1% being those surprise days when I don’t have one packed. I don’t even use single-use liners anymore. I’m going to talk about my current artillery and my personal best-practices/thoughts.
The purpose of the cup is to be inserted into your lady parts so that it can catch your flow to be emptied out later.
How to: As many will find, there is a learning curve to the cup. This is the most personal product I have ever encountered because I check where my cervix is so I know where to put the cup. You can’t just shove it in like a tampon. The cup needs to be sealed around your cervix and if it isn’t, there will be a mess. Always check your cervix, people. However, once you figure your system out it’s pretty much plug and play. You shouldn’t have to worry about it until it’s ready to empty and it’s sooooo easy to clean: Empty. Mild soap. Rinse. If you feel like you need a little extra, disinfect by boiling it. The best part is that unless your dog chews it up, you probably won’t need to replace it for a long time. I’ve had mine for a year and I am always excited to use it**. YMMV: Some women have found cups just don’t work for them for various reasons but I’d still recommend it to anyone willing to try.
I have: A MeLuna cup (LINK). I purchased this online because of the variety of cups they have – you can choose your size, firmness AND handle. At the time of purchase, the only cup I could find locally was the Diva and I did not want to deal with a stem. So I got a small cup with a ring and it’s perfect for me.
Get your own: If you’re on GU and don’t want to order online, I’ve found that a few places have started to sell the cup: Island Girl Power in Dededo, FHP Pharmacy, and Kmart. They all sell different cups so it can be worth checking out. If you’re open to purchasing online, I DO recommend the MeLuna. One size does not fit all women and I appreciate the different styles and sizes they offer. Plus, if yours doesn’t fit you can contact them to see if you can find one that does.
Your eco-friendly alternative to single-use pads. Rinsing or soaking them makes you feel like you’re the serial killer in a movie.
How to: This is so self explanatory, so I’ll be brief. Before disposable pads were a thing, anything cloth was basically the jam. You use the snaps to secure it to underwear and go. I love using cloth pads because I have eczema and my bum is no exception. The material on disposables is not so eczema friendly. My method for cleaning is putting them into a mesh bag, throwing them in with dark towels, add oxygen bleach and tea tree oil with detergent and hang to dry. Some people will dry them under the sun to help with stains. After three years, I’ve just stopped caring about stains as long as there’s no smell.
The other thing about delving into cloth pads is the different kinds of materials that they are made of. Cloth pads are generally made up of different layers – the bottom that protects your underwear, the core that absorbs everything and the top that touches your body. Usually, a pad has different materials for each layer so you can look up different types of materials. Some material is more breathable and some are easier to clean so I recommend doing a little research before purchasing. ALSO, you’ll want a wet bag for changing in public so you can seal your used pad away. If my flow’s not so heavy, I’ll just stick a used one into my purse pocket (because I have no shame).
I have: A variety of pads, from Overnights with PUL to Minky with cotton core to Flannel cores. My favorite are the flannel because of how easy they are to wash. My least are the PUL because they’re thick and DO NOT breathe that well. PUL pads also need more attention to clean because they could end up smelly. I also have a bunch of cloth liners.
Get Your Own: One of my favorite Etsy shops to order from is MissBHaven (LINK). She sells starter sets of 3-5 pads from between $15-30, depending on absorbency, which is actually a good deal. Sometimes, she’ll sell pads/liners that have minor mistakes for a cheaper price. If you’re looking to go a little fancier, some of my other favorite pads are from Cozy Folk (LINK). They absorb well, are super comfortable to wear on an island and are extremely easy to clean. If I were looking to purchase more, this would be the place I’d go.
I’ve yet to source locally made cloth pads. If you are down to or are currently making cloth pads on this island, let me know! I want in on that! I’ll be your guinea pig!
The catch all for your flow. Some have just liners, some have a gusset to add a pad and others are full-service-wear-nothing-else panties.
How to: I own a light/liner type of panty. I do like to use it when I’m feeling lazy on lighter days or when anticipating my period. It’s super easy to clean, too. I’ll either do a quick scrub in the sink and hang to dry (if I need it the next day) or just toss it into my regular laundry.
Honestly, I don’t personally feel a need to get really into period panties. I feel like wearing a cup and liner is more flexible than HAVING to use certain products on my period. Likewise, I have the flexibility to wear whatever underwear I want with a pad, selecting whatever absorbency/style/material. The same sentiment goes for swimsuits/leggings/etc with built-in pads. I suppose if you really care about what your underwear looks like under your clothes or just don’t want to wear anything extra, then this makes sense for you. It just does not for me.
I have: An Anigan panty (LINK). It’s cute and it’s nice for light days or under leggings. It’s more of a liner or something for light flow, rather than a whole pad because the core isn’t that thick. I suppose you could slip extra cloth in between if you feel the need for extra coverage, though. However, the waterproof lining isn’t that breathable so I rarely use this on days that I’m out and about.
Also, I HAVE tried this to back up my cup while swimming aaaand it was not worth it. If you leaked in a regular panty and you rinse it out, you will see the colored water run. The same applies in this case. If you leak in these while swimming and get out of the water, the water in your panty WILL run making it look like you bled everywhere when it’s actually just random spotting. This happened to me on a boat. Would recommend using a cup by itself as your bathing suit probably won’t absorb anything.
Get Your Own: If you’re considering it, I hear really good things about Thinx and Modibodi but if this is your main source of flow-catching, you’ll have to get several pieces. I can’t really recommend any one brand because, again, I don’t personally feel the need to get into it and I don’t think Etsy sellers have a demand to make them.
Well, that’s it folks. Go and flow.
*meaning “leftovers” for my non-Mariana Island dwelling readers
** I tend to announce to friends that I’m using it, lol.