Guest post by Bekka from Just for Daisy…
This post is about menstrual products. Menstrual products that you don’t throw away. It’s an open and honest look at reusable menstrual products by an almost 30-year-old mum who has an eye on her health, her wallet and the future. If you’re a male not wanting to hear words like “periods”, “vagina” or “insert”, avert your eyes and pretend this conversation is not taking place. However, if you would like to read on you might find this a useful post to share with your wife, girlfriend or daughters. Tell the world, I say!
As a teen, I remember my cycle matching up with that of my best friend. We’d hide tampons in our bras so we didn’t have to do the telltale ‘take your school bag into the toilet’ walk of shame across the playground. We talked about manufacturing special skirts with an inbuilt tampon pocket and get this, we even had a hand signal that meant we were girl sick. Yes, did I just say girl sick… That’s what my husband coined it when we started dating when I was 17. To say the word ‘periods’ was too much for him so the phrase girl sick was coined and it stuck.
Since conceiving our first daughter in 2009, I had lactational amenorrhea until just last month when my menstrual cycle returned. Yes, that’s four years without a period! So here I am, four years later and once again I found myself in the feminine hygiene aisle trying to work out the best products. (That was after being caught out with only maternity pads in the house.)
As a passionate cloth-nappy user, the return of my cycle got me thinking: why couldn’t I use reusable products too? So I spent some time researching and found a local work-at-home-mum making cloth menstrual pads/liners and an Australian designed and made menstrual cup.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed below are my own, I did not receive any payment for my opinion but was gifted the products I’m discussing :)
Today, I want to introduce you to the JuJu Menstrual Cup manufactured by Freedom Products, an environmentally conscious, privately owned Australian company founded in 2009 by Brenda Tootell and Katryna Dickson.
What (the heck) is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a flexible cup or barrier worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Unlike disposable tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. They are usually made from medical grade silicone (source).
It looks a little something like this:
When I received my parcel from JuJu in the post I was excited to open it and see the cup in the flesh. I was amazed at what I saw when I opened the small parcel. I think the words “medical grade silicone” and “menstrual cup” had me thinking this was going to be all business, serious business. But upon opening the little plain cardboard box I was taken aback by the beauty of both the packaging and the product itself. Think floral patterns, swirling text and silk pouches, and it all came out of the most amazing floral printed origami box.
Prettiness aside, it was time to get down to business. After posting a snap on Instagram and telling a few friends of my new companion I eagerly awaited my second cycle in four years. Finally, the big day arrived (four days late according to my period tracker app, but who’s counting?). Here’s a little diary of my experience using the JuJu Menstrual Cup.
Day 1: Is that? Yes, it is… Mixed emotions. Sigh, not pregnant. Yay, get to try out JuJu cup! This is the part where I’m taken right back to my teenage years, sitting on the loo reading instructions! Now, this thing isn’t huge, but it’s definitely larger than a super-sized tampon. Anyway, another look at instructions, I do c shaped fold and it seems a little more inviting. This side up… and push toward back… done! Really? Cool! Yes, it really was that simple but I’ve heard this isn’t the case in all instances. Persevere. Google, YouTube or check out the JuJu website for help with insertion.
Then it got a little boring because I couldn’t feel the cup at all. I didn’t feel the sensation of it being in there as you can with a tampon because the silicon is perfectly molded to your body. So I just got on with my day!
A few hours in I got curious so decided to remove the cup and check how things were going. Back to instructions. It all seemed simple enough, the cup has a silicone stem attached to the bottom which you can trim if desired. I’ve left mine attached. One thing to note here is that you need to break the seal before pulling. Giving the base of the cup a little pinch will do this, then pull or give a little push down to help it out. You don’t get that dry scraping feeling if it’s not very full,like you do with tampons, the JuJu cup will always slide out happily. Keep it level and tip in toilet. Great – this video is really helpful!
Today’s top tip: Look at the instructions diagram, the cup doesn’t have to go as far in as a tampon. Only until it is all inside your vagina – just inside. And remember to break the seal by pinching the base as you remove!
Day 2: Success after night one. I emptied the cup once because I was up to feed the baby at about 2am. And emptied again first thing in morning. Woke up wondering if I’m breaking the rules by using model 1 and decide to try model 2 – for women over 30 or who’ve given birth. All my success from yesterday seems to disappear and I find myself constantly in the bathroom readjusting! Hmm. Mid-morning I decide to opt back to the smaller cup – all is well once again. (I’ve since read this is probably because of my super strong pelvic floor muscles squashing the larger cup and not letting it open all the way!) So far I’ve enjoyed being at home for this learning curve. Tonight’s challenge was hubby’s Year 12 formal! Well, a few public toilet empties require a toilet paper wipe-out as sink not accessible. Survived white chair covers, short dress, heels AND the Nutbush! I’d call that a success.
Today’s top tip: If the JuJu cup can survive day two of my cycle, a few hours in use and line-dancing, we’re onto a winner!
Day 3: Success after night two. Mother-in-law’s sheets are still a crisp white! Emptying in the shower is definitely convenient. I’ve really got the hang of getting the cup in and out now. It actually doesn’t have to go in very far. Perhaps that was my mistake with the model 2… anyway, it only needs to go just inside the vagina and you cannot feel it nor will it leak. I’m loving it! My husband is bewildered by hourly updates of new reasons why the cup is so good! We also had friends over for drinks tonight after dinner so after a glass of wine I happily shared my newfound joy with my girlfriend and her hubby.
Today’s top tip: For public toilet empties (or even at home) fold a few sheets of toilet paper and absorb contents of cup rather than tipping them in. Sometimes the blood doesn’t all flush away!
Day 4: Another great night’s sleep. The best part of nighttime with the cup is that I don’t have to lie on my tummy and keep still in one place to avoid a surfboard style pad leaking or moving in the night. I can sleep like I would the rest of the month – tummy, back, side, draped over hubby – knowing that I am covered (or not covered!) for the whole night. Win! I’ve really got the hang of putting the cup in/out and emptying it wherever I happen to be, I think I said that yesterday but it’s true. More friends over today – life as usual!
Today’s top tip: Did you know some women experience less or no cramps when using a menstrual cup?
Day 5: One boast of the menstrual cup is that it can be worn for up to 12 hours. Until today I’ve only left it that long overnight. However, I have left it double the time I would leave a tampon in each day and had no leaks. Today was a busy day. We were up at 7am. Showered, emptied cup and set off with Daddy at 7:45am. Then it was all doctors’ appointments, immunisations, x-rays, physiotherapist, more doctors, shops, pick up Daddy. Somewhere in there I got to go to the bathroom. The joy of the cup is that I didn’t need to have any products with me nor did I need to change the cup while I was out, all day. Easy!
Today’s top tip: It’s nearing the end for this month and I’m a tad disappointed. Enjoy the 12-hour rule on the last days of your cycle!
10 Reasons to switch to a Menstrual Cup
1. It’s green – fewer disposable products in landfill and the ocean (please don’t flush tampons), I used three panty liners this month! And next month my cloth pads will have arrived.
2. Wear it early – if you’re waiting for your period to start you can wear the JuJu earlier than your period to prevent untimely arrivals at school, work or a dinner date.
3. No risk of TSS and no chemicals or GMO cotton in or on my precious parts.
4. I can be active and go swimming, running, dancing (Nutbush anyone?), sleeping etc with no risk of leaking, shifting pads or needing to replace.
5. Cost savings are huge! After the initial layout of $62 (which is always a little higher with reusable products) the JuJu cup can be used for up to 10 years!
6. Travel/camping is simple as you do not need to take feminine hygiene products on the road. A backpacker’s dream I think!
7. Some women say they do not experience cramping when using a menstrual cup.
8. It sits low, really low. I actually think that after getting the hang of it I was inserting my finger/thumb less than I would my finger to insert a tampon. (So no, you won’t have blood up to your armpits and all over the walls!)
9. Clean and odour free. I found that the cup was less messy than having to wrap pads and dispose of them or put tampons in my little sandwich baggies and into the bin (you shouldn’t flush them you know!) which I then have to empty each day. Also, when a tampon leaks – it leaks! When the cup is full your warning is more like a streak of blood on the toilet paper not a rush to the bathroom in a hurry situation. What’s better?
10. Now I must say that everything I’ve read says there is a learning curve and I did feel like it was a learning curve here too. However, I always found that the cup felt great if it was in place correctly and lasted such a long time. I’m converted!
Here’s what Katryna Dickson from Freedom Products had to say when I asked her about the JuJu cup:
What are the key benefits to using a JuJu menstrual cup over disposable products?
Healthier For You:JuJu has a number of health benefits compared to disposable forms of feminine hygiene. It’s safe, it doesn’t contain any harmful substances such as chlorine, fragrances or BPA. Plus, there has been no association of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) with menstrual cups. Juju cups are hypoallergenic – suitable for women with sensitive skin, dermatitis and latex allergies. They do not contain any absorption agents so don’t cause vaginal dryness and are easy to clean and disinfect
Healthier for your Purse:If during your period you use five disposable products a day for five days, this equates to 300 disposable pads or tampons a year and over 10,000 in your lifetime. In one year you will spend an average of AU$90, or AU$3,300 in a lifetime, on these disposable products. JuJu only needs to be replaced every ten years, saving you a lot of money even in the first year.
Healthier for your Planet:In your lifetime, you would normally use over 10,000 disposable products. By using JuJu, you will save these products from going into our landfills and polluting our waterways.
What is the JuJu cup made from?
JuJu is made from 100% Class VI medical grade silicone, with no additives. We manufacture JuJu in a clean-room environment at a manufacturing plant in Australia. If you compare the low-impact mining of mineral sands which are used in the manufacture of silicone, to the production of cotton, which requires copious amounts of water, soil and pesticides, it is clear that using silicone based products substantially reduces our carbon footprint.
Is the JuJu cup safe to use?
Yes, JuJu is made from a medical grade silicone, which carries independent biocompatibility and toxicity certificates of compliance. We do not add any additional colours or dyes to our menstrual cups and JuJu has been registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia.
Can I play sport and go swimming whilst using a JuJu cup?
Absolutely! JuJu is the most discreet option available to women as there are no strings, wings or dangly things to worry about. There is also no absorption of other liquids when wearing your JuJu as it forms a seal. So you can feel confident even doing yoga in your bikini ;-)
How often do I have to empty the JuJu cup?
JuJu can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and overnight. Each woman will need to experiment a little to find the right amount of time for her body and her cycle between rinsing and reinserting. As a general rule, JuJu can be worn for three times as long as you can wear a pad or tampon.
Special offer: $10 off JuJu Menstrual Cup
If you would like to try a menstrual cup, now is the time! Freedom Products is offering Just For Daisy and Down To Earth Mother readers $10 off when they purchase a JuJu menstrual cup until December 31st 2013.
Just use the code: JuJuForDaisy at checkout and be part of the revolution!
Have you tried a menstrual cup? If not, would you switch all your disposable products for one reusable option?
Thanks to Bekka from Just For Daisy for this fabulous post. I too am just back in the land of menstruation and Bekka’s post has convinced me that menstrual cups are the way forward x