Thursday, July 18, 2013

For The Ladies: How To Never Buy Another Menstrual Product

Reusable menstrual product?? Do tell!

 
I bought this Keeper 13 years ago, and have been using it happily ever since.

Before discovering that these existed, I had tried all manner of other menstrual products. I hated the disposable-diaper feeling of typical maxi-pads. Cloth pads were a pain to wash and deal with when I was out of the house, plus they felt bulky. Most tampons created so much garbage with their box, wrappers, and disposable applicators. For years, I used applicator-free tampons, but even these created some garbage, and required buying a new box each month. I've always hated anything disposable, really.

On the beach in Yucatan, a fellow traveler gave me a sea sponge, which was inserted like a tampon (after being disinfected with boiling water). I loved the idea of a natural sea sponge tampon, but unfortunately, I always knew when it was saturated because blood would leak out when I laughed or sneezed. It didn't exactly meet my needs, and it didn't last forever. When it started to wear out, I went back to disposable tampons.

When I got fitted with a diaphragm, the nurse informed me that the diaphragm could also be used as a menstrual product! This worked for me to some degree. I loved that you just had to rinse and reinsert it, and there was nothing to throw away, but emptying it was kind of a mess. I had trouble getting it out and to the sink without drips dropping where I didn't want them. Tampons were mess free, so I went back, but I was dissatisfied.


Finally, when I was in college I discovered The Keeper at my local health food co-op. It seemed a bit expensive, but I quickly calculated that it would be paid off after just a few months of not having to buy tampons, plus I got a volunteer discount at the co-op. I've saved an absolute fortune in the decade-plus that I've had The Keeper in use.  It works every bit as well as the day I bought it. (See the end of the article for a much less expensive version.)


menstrual cup keeper

There are other brands, by the way, of very similar products, and I don't necessarily think this is better than any of the others. It's just the one I've had experience with. Mine is rubber; there are silicone models for people with latex issues.

Directions come in the package, and are on the product website as well, but basically you simply fold the cup up and insert it into the vaginal canal. This can be easier if you wet it first. Every 3 to 8 hours, depending on how heavy your period is, simply grasp it by the handy tail while pushing in on one side of the cup to release the air seal, and pull it out. Dump the contents down the drain, wash in hot water, and it's ready to insert again.

menstrual cup keeper diva cup

I've used the Keeper during all kinds of exercise and activities, without incident. I regularly do Bikram yoga, and never miss a class because of my period. I go dancing, ride a bicycle, go swimming, and have literally never had the Keeper leak on me.

I find it very liberating to be independent this way, to be able to take care of my periods without having to rely on tampon manufacturers every month.


Update: My original Keeper is still going strong, but if I ever have to replace it, it's heartening to know that there are now much less expensive, silicone models available. The ad link below is the one I would buy if I ever need a replacement. Click on the link to check it out. Every purchase through this affiliate link provides a little income for our family. Thank you in advance!


40 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. I've been thinking on trying to keeper or diva cup or...there are way too many brands to choose from...

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    1. I have used a Diva Cup since 2009 and I simply love it...
      I have always had a very heavy flow and the DC is perfect and eliminates leaks (assuming I've put it in correctly, which I almost always do). Just looking at the Keeper I think one advantage to the DC is the length of the stem at the bottom. The Keeper's seems really long and the DC's is shorter and you physically cannot tell its there until you reach for it. I haven't had children yet, but I recently bought the second model, the one for post-pregnancy, because I am so confident in their effectiveness... and I love saving the money! Also- I dump mine in the toilet and rinse it in the sink then each morning when I shower I wash it as well and boil it after my cycle. Easy peasy!

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  2. Odd question...it doesn't get...stuck? I've been afraid of that! haha!

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    1. It comes out the same way a tampon does, only instead of pulling a string, you pull the little handle sticking out the bottom of it. Don't worry!

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  3. great idea, except how to do you handle being out and about for a day??
    We are often places were a port-a-potty is the only option.

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    1. I have been on trips like that, where I don't have the option to rinse it, and then when it needs emptying I'll just pull it out and empty it, and then pop it back in without a rinse. It's ideal if you can wash it a few times a day, but I haven't had any issues from the times that I haven't been able to wash it properly.

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    2. Dana - It depends on how heavy your flow is, too. I only empty mine twice a day - before work (6am) and after I get home (7pm) without any overflow problems. I was surprised by how much they hold :)

      Mellow - I've been using a Ladycup for about 5 years, and I hope mine is still going strong after 13 years like your Keeper! You might want to read about Cat's experience with her DivaCup: http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2011/01/one-flaming-hot-diva-cup.html

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    3. I use it and at work we have the sinks in a common area. Obviously I don't take it there to rinse it. Solution: empty the content and wipe it with toilet paper or bring a bottle/glass of water with you and rinse it that way.

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  4. So good to know; thanks. I'm beyond those days but I have many female friends and family members who could use this information.

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  5. I have had a Diva cup for a few years and absolutely love it. It took a while to get used to and I had to cut the stem off and flip it inside out, but now that I have it figured out I am so thankful every time I don't have to buy disposable products.

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    1. So curious- why do you flip it inside out? Doesn't that make the stem go the wrong way?

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    2. I'm curious too. I have a Diva Cup and I struggle with it at times.

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    3. I ended up doing the same thing with my Diva Cup. It is one of the longest cups on the market, so it can tend to stick out and be uncomfortable. Cutting off the stem and flipping it inside out makes it shorter and more comfortable.

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  6. I love that you posted this! I've used cloth pads for 10 1/2 years now. I am allergic to adhesives and bleach, so conventional pads and tampons gave me horrid rashes and pain for far too many years. About a year ago I discovered the Instead Softcup, which fits my body correctly, is made of silicone (I'm allergic to latex), can be work for up to 12 hours at a time, and can be worn during intimacy - which was a plus on my recent honeymoon. ;) Thanks for posting about these wonderful products!!!

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  7. Wow...You learn something new all the time! I've never seen "the keeper" in my life...interesting!

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    1. Young girls should be made aware of this option that they have. Past the initial "yuk" factor, I think it is really easy and comfy to use, environmentally friendly and so durable that you can actually save thousands of dollars in a lifetime. I've paid $30 for my Fleurcup...instead of $6 tampon box each month. You do the math :)

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  8. I HATE periods and the sight of blood...any blood makes me SICK! Like I could possibly vomit. I've thought about these things a few times, but decided I really don't think they're for me. Tampons and I get along good most of the time so that's what I'll probably stick with for now. It's always interesting reading people's experience with different not-as-popular ways to take care of business though.

    Helen
    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog
    Exercise Encouragement GROUP Blog

    Visiting this post via the Clever Chicks Blog Hop.

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  9. I loved your article, it was very informative...would love it if you hopped on by our blog hop on Sunday...The Homesteaders Hop.

    www.modernhomesteaders.net

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  10. I'm so glad you shared this! I've been meaning to write a post about my own diva cup one of these days - I picked it up like 10 years ago when a girlfriend had a "ladies party" because it just sounded like such a great product. It's eco-friendly (no tampons, applicators or pads filling up landfills), and the thought of bleached cotton *inside* of me (or even natural biodegradable unbleached) is creepy. It's also great for traveling, I don't need to bring a box of stuff with me - or better yet, be in a foreign country trying to FIND a box of tampons!!

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  11. Hmm. That is interesting. I will definitely check it out. :)

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  12. This (and other menstrual cups) have been around for AGES. It's just that 20 years ago they just didn't have the exposure that the internet gives it now. Now you can just google for it. I've used one, had a medium to heavy flow when I was in my 40's and I wouldn't have to worry for a good many hours. Now that I'm post menopausal (57) no more periods! Yippee!

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    1. Lucky you! :)
      I'm 34 and discovered the menstrual cup only last year. I wish someone would have told me about this before....just image the huge savings as well as avoiding rubbish every month! I'm now spreading the word as much as I can :)

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  13. I use the diva cup and find it reduces my cramps so much! I love it! Also, you never end up out and about and out of tampons, just rinse and re-insert! LOL.
    Of course post-menopause seem the ideal solution to me :-)
    Found you on the little house in the suburbs linky!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your experience! I've always wanted to try the Diva Cup, but didn't like how there wasn't anything to really 'pull' it out, like a tampon! I am definitely going to have the check The Keeper out! Thanks so much!

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  15. Just found out about the Diva Cup last month. Tried it and definitely like it. I was over cautious at first so kept checking to see if it was full. No need to empty it more than 2-3 times a day. I wish I had found out about this in my teens as I am now 44. I've used the pads and tampons. But onward I go with my Diva Cup. (Karen J)

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  16. I use the Diva Cup and love it. I also cut the tip off the end. I have NEVER had leakage with it even at night when I am spread out all over the bed in weird positions, still no leaks. I do still use tampons when I go out because I don't want to have to deal with the washing it off problem. Oh, and I don't boil mine monthly. I have a jar I keep it in and fill with hydrogen peroxide in my off weeks. I just make sure to wash it off well with hot water before I use it again. I've had mine about 5 years now.

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    1. Between uses, I literally just wash mine in hot water with soap, rinse, and then let it dry on a rack in my shower. When it's dry, I put it in it's little bag and it's ready to use after just a quick rinse the next month.

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  17. I haven't tried this yet, but am curious how well it works with exercise. I take TaeKwonDo and am constantly worried about a leak with all of the kicking and stretching and high impact stuff we do.

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    1. I should have mentioned in the article that I regularly wear my Keeper during Bikram yoga, during biking, and going out dancing. It has literally never leaked for me. I've never had a problem, though you can read in some comments how some people have flipped their cups inside out, which I think gives them a different fit that might work better for some bodies.

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  18. Great idea! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again today at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/08/the-homeacre-hop-30.html

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  19. This is very interesting! My first time to learn of the Diva Cup.I don't think we have them in my country since I've never heard of them but I have checked out their website and I will get one for myself soon. Thanks Mellow & all the other ladies.

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  20. I've had a mooncup (UK equivalent) for years and am grateful I am coming towards the time when I will never need it again! However several years ago I noticed one of my daughters had one. I hadn't told her about it so she will have discovered it for herself. Good for her I thought

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  21. Even if it weren't used regularly...it seems like a good idea to have one with you for just in case. I've never even heard of anything like it- and I'm 30! Thanks for the education!

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  22. I've been wanting to try one of these cups but haven't yet. My only question at this point is, what about spotting? Do you just use a pantyliner during those days?

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    1. I have fabric pantyliners that are very thin, which I use occasionally. They're still annoying to me, so I'll often use the Keeper for even very light/spotty days, because it's just so much more comfortable and all it takes is a good rinse.

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  23. Interesting! I have never even heard of such a thing.

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  24. Thank you for the inspiration! I bought The Diva Cup and I love it! I should have known it sooner ;-)

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  25. Wow! I'm 42 and have never heard of these!
    Very interesting!
    Thanks
    Michelle

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