I first came across the menstrual cup over a decade ago at Cambridge’s (sadly now defunct) Strawberry Fair. To shy to buy one at the time, but a bit intrigued, I ordered one a few months later and never looked back. Amazingly they are still not available in high street chemists or supermarkets, probably because disposable sanitary protection is so damn profitable. Menstrual cups are far, far cheaper than conventional sanitary protection, costing around £20 with a lifespan of around 10 years and not nearly as much hassle as rags or re-usable pads. Unlike tampons they carry no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, are said to alleviate menstrual cramping and only require emptying once or twice a day.
Quite aside from the health benefits, convenience and low cost however, mooncups have some amazing advantages, that can turn an ordinary period into a five day extravaganza of fun and creativity.
No decent menstrual art has ever been produced from a tampon. You may think that the shape might lend itself to being used as a painting device, but it really doesn’t work and your hands get very messy. With a menstrual cup, you can use ordinary paintbrushes for your artistic creations straight from the cup. The texture will vary throughout your period so keep note of when you tend to get larger clots and leave space in your artwork to show them off for greater effect. For larger bodies of work, the blood can be decanted and frozen for later use (but best to warn any others that you share a freezer with before they mistake it for frozen gravy).
As a mooncup is …erm…cup shaped, getting the mooncup in place takes a wee bit of trial and error. First you fold it before putting it in and then unfurl once it is inside. The basic technique is the “C-fold“, but once you have mastered that one, there are a variety of other alternatives, including the “punchdown fold” which reduces width; the “7-fold“, which is easier to unfurl, the “origami-fold“, which combines both advantages of small width with ease of unfurl and the “diamond-fold” for advanced users, while “the labial fold” turns the mooncup into a mini-reconstruction of your own ladybits. The origami, diamond and labial folds do take a bit of practice tho, and it is quite normal for your mooncup to end up shooting across the bathroom as you try to squish it into shape. Don’t be downheartened, happens to the best of us.
Menstrual Psycho Reconstruction
If you live with annoying flatmates, or have a live-in lover you want to get rid of, a menstrual cup can aid that process enormously. Simply empty the cup in the shower with an unlocked bathroom door, making sure some goes on the shower curtain. Pour a little over your legs and stick them out of the shower….and then SCREAM! After the annoying flatmate/lover has backed off in horror at the sight and gone to phone police/ambulance, clean up all traces of blood (you may also have to clear up their vomit, which is unfortunate, but a small price to pay), dress quickly and whistle as you re-enter the living room, disavowing any knowledge of the murderous scene in the bathroom and look confused and yet pitying when talking to the nice ambulance folk as you explain that your co-habitee has been under a lot of stress. One incident is usually sufficient to get them to move out, but a maximum of three attempts will see the emergency services turn up with the men in white coats in tow and your problem is solved.
Menstrual cups: no longer will your period be a curse, but an exciting time of art, creativity and liberation.