Popular with more than just mothers that wear hemp, the Mooncup is the holy grail of awesome period protection. So should we be getting these for free instead?
What is a Mooncup?
A Mooncup is “the original silicone menstrual cup designed by women to be a convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads.” They’re silicone cups, about the same size as tampons, and they work by simply collecting your menstrual blood, which is emptied with the same frequency as you would change a towel or tampon.
With a bit of knack they’re perfectly easy to put in and work by creating a suction around the walls of your vagina so you can swim, dance and sleep naked until your heart’s content.
The Great Things
Mooncups are mint. As a seasoned Mooncup user, I can vouch that a lot of things they are marketed to be are indeed true: easy to put in once you know how (we’ll get to that in a minute), you barely notice it’s there, and because it doesn’t absorb anything – just collects it – it’s meant to be healthier for you. Some of what a tampon absorbs is just your body’s moisture – while this may not cause much of an issue to women who don’t normally experience vaginal dryness, it’s not really ideal.
There isn’t really a sport you can’t use the mooncup with – much like tampons, but minus the string poking out of you. Being naked on your period is a liberating feeling!
So how do you put one in?
The silicone of the Mooncup is very pliable so essentially you just fold or curl it up into a smaller circle, insert it gently, and it will unfold by itself. Occasionally it stays a bit folded up for a moment or two, and then as it sorts itself out you get a delightfully horrifying little sensation, like someone popping bubble wrap inside your foof. It creates a suction around the walls of your vagina, which keeps the blood in.
To remove, you simply place one finger gently between one side of the cup and your vaginal walls, breaking the suction, and then the Mooncup slides out quite easily.
Don’t worry if you’ve never got on well with inserting tampons – I didn’t either, but this is fine. For some reason, inserting a tampon evokes a similar feeling in my gut that chomping down on a big ball of cotton wool does. Blech.
Are there risks/disadvantages?
In terms of medical risks, there are very few (have a look at these FAQs regarding copper IUDs, retroverted uteruses, and other conditions). Whether you’ve had a baby or not, and at any age at all, if you’re generally in good health using a Mooncup is totally fine.
As with all menstrual care, there is a risk of occasionally leaking, which can be helped by emptying and re-inserting your Mooncup frequently. I have never leaked whilst using the Mooncup, though my period is fairly light.
There’s a risk of you getting your Mooncup stuck and not being able to remove it. Don’t panic, this is similar to struggling to remove a contact lens. You just need to relax, and try again. As with tampons and indeed penises or sex toys, there’s nowhere for them to go. It’s very unlikely you’re going to need a doctor to fish out your Mooncup, just a wipe-clean area and some elbow grease.
In terms of messiness, the Mooncup can be messy, especially the first couple of times you use one. It’s more to do with finding the knack. Carrying some wet wipes with you, especially for public bathrooms, is a good idea, but I’d probably say the same about towels and tampons too. It’s probably the form of menstrual care where you have to touch yourself and your blood the most, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it, it’s not disgusting at all (although if you faint at the sight of blood I might not recommend it).
So, where do they sit in the #FreePeriods campaign?
It’s fair to say that the Mooncup is by no means the cheapest menstrual protection on the market. Retailing at around £20 a piece (there are other brands of menstrual cup available, of around a similar price) it’s a fairly big investment, but you can use them for 5-7 years (sterilised in between periods), so it’s also a great investment.
The recent campaign to remove the 5% luxury tax on menstrual care has largely been focus around tampons, but the tax applies to Mooncups too. ‘Mooncup Tax’ isn’t as alliterative as ‘Tampon Tax’, for one thing, and despite their growing popularity they’re still relatively unknown, so it didn’t make marketing sense to have them at the head of a huge UK-wide campaign.
So should we be pushing everyone to buy a Mooncup rather than pushing for free alternative means of protecting ourselves? The short answer is no. The campaign isn’t about dictating to anyone what they should and shouldn’t use – it’s about alleviating a pointless tax that comes about simply by having a uterus (FYI, razors and condoms are not subject to this tax).
I’d willingly engage in a pro-Mooncup debate with someone. Hell, I do on a fairly regular basis, so much so that I should probably be on commission. But in the same way I might sell a good form of birth control to a friend, I want the choice to be theirs, and will very firmly protect that right.
Even though you might love your Mooncup just as much as I love mine, my advice is this: please don’t use it as a solution to the period tax. As a womb-wielding human, as a consumer, as a group of people putting up with a monthly evil… we’re still being ripped off whichever way you look at it.