Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Since I started talking publicly about menstrual cups, the responses had been dramatically diverse. Many people LOVE their experience with the cup that they would never trade it for anything else. Others were turned off by its idea immediately and felt strongly about it. I was even accused of marketing menstrual cups for the sole reason that they are "trendy" and “new”.
You might be surprised if I told you that the modern menstrual cup as we know it today was patented in 1935 by Leona Watson Chalmers, an American actress and an inventor. As a lead Broadway actress who "could not have her period cause her to miss her cue on the stage," she was inspired to invent a more convenient and less time consuming menstrual product. And while the cup helped Leona in her successful acting and business careers, here are the 4 reasons why I love my menstrual cup:
1. Measuring My Flow
As I am practicing the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) with an intention of monitoring my hormonal and general health, my blood flow speaks to me. Research had shown that the average total amount of blood shed during one’s period falls between 35-50 mL, and a healthy range that can fall between 25-80 mL. Using a cup allows me to measure that amount precisely to assist my understanding of the hormonal activity of the previous cycle – when the uterine lining was built and nourished.
I leaned that every person’s flow is unique, and it can be influenced by how tall they are, how big their uterus is, and even whether they had children before or not. So, who is it to say what is normal for me? By monitoring my flow, I am immediately alerted if a sudden change had occurred and if my flow had become significantly heavier or lighter than before, so I can start investigating.
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, the author of The Fifth Vital Sign, provided a guide on how to measure your flow if you are not a menstrual cup user:
· Light pads/tampons hold up to 3 mL when fully soaked
· Medium pads/tampons hold up to 4 mL when fully soaked
· Heavy pads/tampons hold up to 8 mL when fully soaked
· Super pads/tampons hold up to 12 mL when fully soaked
2. Offering my blood back to the Earth
Menstrual blood had always been a gift. It is a gift from my body back to the Earth – the mother that nurtured and fed me every day of my life. It has been used as a fertilizer by women all other the world when they still understood that the woman’s body is a source of life, even if not producing children. Menstrual blood contains iron, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus that your plants would appreciate greatly! To waste that rich nutritious gift that can feed the Earth, plants, insects, and every living being does not make sense to me anymore.
Thanks to Chloe Sherlak, a Fertility awareness educator and a cervical mucus detective, I got introduced to blood offerings back to the Earth. How do I do it, you might ask?
· I empty my menstrual cup into a mason jar whenever it’s time.
· I admire the blood, its color, and the patterns it creates.
· I dilute the blood by adding water into the mason jar (1:10 - blood:water)
· I set an intention and pour some of the diluted blood into our house plants, or into our compost pile.
· I pour the diluted blood only on the soil. Never on the leaves (otherwise they can burn)
Note: Please do not do this if you have a blood prone illness or active infection.
My connection to my land and food that is growing off it had strengthened since I started offering my blood. This year, we grew potatoes using the compost we started with our food (and my blood) and those potatoes were thriving!
3. To My Health
The FDA considers menstrual pads and tampons as medical devices; therefore, companies and manufacturers are not required to disclose any of the ingredients used to make those products with us – the users. Thanks to organizations like Women Voices for the Earth and their studies on disposable menstrual products, we now have a better understanding of what really goes into them. I know for sure that I would refuse putting some of those ingredients in my mouth, and I certainly do not want them anywhere near my vagina. Some of the ingredients detected in disposable pads and tampons are linked with Reproductive toxicity, irritation, cancer, TSS, and anemia.
My menstrual cups are made with 100% medical-grade silicon. Unlike plastic and polymers, Silicon does not react with the human body, nor does it absorb any of the vagina’s natural moisture. Also, menstrual cups do not absorb the blood, but rather collect it while sitting in the vaginal canal sealed from being exposed to oxygen and preventing bacterial growth. I noticed, like many other cup users, that my period cramps were reduced significantly after I made the switch. I am not aware of any study that explains the reason behind that, but it is for sure my personal experience.
4. Comfort with my body
Globally, we tend to get excited when babies start noticing and recognizing their different parts of their bodies. Whether it is pointing at their nose, or tapping their heads, everyone gets excited. But not when those children start noticing and recognizing their reproductive organs. And I can’t help myself but to question, why do some people value the children’s self-awareness only if it does not include their reproductive systems? If a nose is a nose, then a vulva is a vulva! Plain and simple.
Some children are taught to give their genitals a nickname like “Lala” or “Soso” I on the other hand, like many others, did not get an introduction whatsoever. That lack of information alone used to send a lot of signals translating in shame, silence, and inferiority.
When I got introduced to cervical fluid as a natural healthy and important part of my menstrual cycle, I was astonished. It was so challenging at first to get myself to that level of intimacy with my body, to check my fluids, touch them, see what they look like, and stretch them between my fingers. Body literacy felt like a foreign language. I cannot deny how the menstrual cup helped me break high and heavy wall. It started with me testing the height of my cervix to buy the right size. Being able to touch myself and see the blood helped me not only have a better period experience, but also maximize my FAM practice. .
If the cup is not for you, that is absolutely okay.
That is why we have so many options that are Eco-friendly, cost efficient, and healthy. Menstrual cups happened to be my best fit for my body and current lifestyle. I love using my cup on the run; while attending classes, swimming in a pool, practicing yoga, or even sitting down to write my blog posts. But I am not here so say that menstrual cups had reached their full potential! There is always a room for improvement in design, technology, and purpose. I mean, the sky is the limit, am I right? I am excited to see where this 1935 invention would take us in the future. Any ideas?
Book: Period Power - chapter 3: Period products p.86-90
Book: The Fifth Vital Sign - Chapter 2: What Does Normal Look Like? p. 14-15,18
Book: Her Blood is Gold - Part 3: Getting Deeper: Rituals, practices, and meditations.
FAM Educator: Chloe Sherlak
Women's Voice for the Earth: Toxic chemicals don’t belong in feminine products. Period.
Women's Voices for the Earth: What’s in Period Products? A Timeline of Chemical Testing