I’ll begin this post with a warning. This post will be massive TMI for most people. If you are male and/or know me in real life and think you would be at all disturbed by a post discussing women’s menstrual product alternatives that I personally use and details about my menstrual cycle, then I encourage you PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to share my recent experience with the Lunette menstrual cup. I first heard about menstrual cups, or at least the concept of them, several years ago when a friend mentioned trying Instead. She said it was a strange experience and not one she would like to repeat. I thought nothing more about the idea until I started researching cloth diapers and I discovered that many cloth diaper sites carry natural menstrual products too, such as cloth pads and menstrual cups. Again, I categorized both as, I’ll never go there. But as my previous posts can attest, I did, in fact, go there. I now use almost exclusively cloth pads, even during the postpartum period of my last pregnancy.
Finally in 2011, I decided to take the plunge. I was recovering from a miscarriage and decided that perhaps I would try using a menstrual cup during the cycles between my recovery and trying to get pregnant again. I did a lot of research including a great website comparing practically every model out there. (I mean seriously, apparently there are as many, if not more, brands of menstrual cups as there are brands of pads and tampons). What finally did it for me was that while I was poking around the Gladrags website one day they were having a sale on the Lunette cup, which is the one I was seriously considering, even though practically every cloth diaper website I order from carried Diva Cup almost exclusively. Plus Gladrags was offering free shipping and I liked the wine color, Cynthia. Lunette offers a range of colored cups as do many of the menstrual cup brands. Lunette also names all of their colors after various ancient goddesses. It does make the whole thing a little more fun (though hardly, “Have a Happy Period” fun, to quote a maxi pad manufacturer). Anyway, it seemed less gross than the possibility of staining a clear cup. So I ordered it. I chose a model two because I have had children and I tend to have heavier cycles. )This is only a guideline set in place by Lunette however. Each menstrual cup manufacturer sizes their products a bit differently and each woman’s body is unique. Unfortunately finding a good fit isn’t an exact science.)
Then I got pregnant and never had a chance to try it. So it sat in my drawer until recently, when finally, after almost two years, (during most of which I was either pregnant or breastfeeding) I finally got my period. I was immediately excited to try my Lunette cup so I pulled it out of my back of my drawer (where I kept it handily hidden from my husband in the hopes that he would forget I had ever purchased it) and prepped it.
Insertion was surprisingly easy. I expected it to be awkward if not painful. But actually it was only a little more awkward than inserting a tampon. The Lunette cup is made of pretty stiff medical grade silicon so keeping it folded for insertion requires a pretty tight grip. But I didn’t have any trouble, and it opened right up, just like the directions said it would. But if you find you are having trouble the Lunette website offers a video with nine different folding methods you can try. Once it was in propertly, I couldn’t even feel it. I used to find tampons uncomfortable unless my flow was really strong but this was fine. I see why some women say that they sometimes forget they even have their period.
I did have a little bit of leakage on a heavy day when the cup was almost full and I had to change it more than I imagined I would (The size 2 Lunette holds approximately 1 oz when filled to capacity) on the heavy days. The whole process was a little messier than I would have liked, but manageable. In my case I seemed to be inserting the cup too high, so getting it out was a little more awkward, but then again I always found removing tampons messy and awkward too. (Plus I constantly lived in fear of getting a batch of faulty tampons where the strings would detach). I had a big leak when I got out of bed after the first night using it. After 12 hours in, the cup was overflowing, but this is also my first period in almost two years so I’m not surprised that it might have been unusually heavy.
Mostly, I kept forgetting I had it in unless it overflowed. (I say overflow rather than leak because I haven’t really had any major leaks except for when the cup has been filled to capacity. Some women find that they don’t have leaks even when the cup is full but that hasn’t been my experience) But again, none of these issues were new. I had all these problems when I used to use tampons also. I did however notice less cramping, I barely had to take ibuprofen at all, and I was someone that used to take four every four to six hours and still be in pain. (This could be a feature of my post child bearing cycles though. I did have similar experiences during my last periods between pregnancies, though I don’t think I used anything but cloth pads during those cycles. Some women feel that the lack of chemical exposure from disposable pads a tampons helps lessen the bloating and cramping).
So after one cycle, I’m definitely a fan of Lunette and menstrual cups in general. I’ve found it easy to use, or at least as easy as tampons. Discomfort was less and mess probably about the same. I would never wear one without some kind of back up on a heavy day, but I was always the same way with tampons too. I love that I don’t have to purchase vast quantities of disposable feminine products anymore, and I feel good about no longer putting those chemicals on or near my body. I wish I had discovered Lunette sooner.
I recommend that if you are interested in finding a more eco-friendly option to tampons and want the possible freedom from the bulk of pads, research menstrual cups.