let’s talk about the menstrual cup

Let’s talk about periods. Sure, they’re not my favorite topic either, but they happen every. dang. month – so we might as well talk about them.

Specifically, I want to talk about the hygiene that comes along with it. About a year or so ago, I was walking through Target and passing by organic pads and tampons and I remember thinking, I never even stopped to think that my pads and tampons needed to be organic? But it prompted me to do some research into these feminine essentials and I wasn’t cool with what I found.

Back in 2015, there were claims of styrene, chloroethane, chloroform, and dioxins in brand-name pads. The companies claim the products are “safe” because of only being present in trace amounts, but when you think about how absorbent + permeable vaginal tissue is and the sheer amount of feminine hygiene products a woman goes through during the span of her menstrual lifetime – “trace amounts” for one tampon doesn’t start to seem so “trace” anymore (CNN).

Even in 2019, research is still pulling up “endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to problems of the reproductive system, including hormonal changes, thyroid irregularities and harm to the reproductive systems of baby boys” (EWG). And, just to give you one more snippet of the research:

“Researchers found the VOC [volatile organic compound] methylene chloride – a paint-stripping solvent that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to ban – in two types of pads. In nine of the brands, they found toluene, and in all of them, they found xylene – VOC solvents that are classified by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry as known human nervous system toxicants” (EWG, 2019)

I try not to get too scientific on y’all because I know you don’t come here to read a research paper – but for this topic, I felt it was necessary to show you some of the research that’s floating around out there.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been using organic pads + tampons, but of course, I still struggled with leaks, remembering to pack enough supplies with me to work or to travel, or just general feelings of discomfort – especially when working out. I had been eyeing the Saalt menstrual cups for a little while, but I got around to actually trying it only a couple months ago and I can easily say I have no plans of going back to traditional feminine hygiene products (unless desperate times call for desperate measures!)

There are a lot of different brands out there, but I personally chose the Saalt cup. It’s made out of medical-grade, BPA- and chemical-free soft silicone that can be reused for up to 10 years. 10 years of not having to keep up with pad + tampon purchases, trying to store them in my bathroom cupboards, or trying to discretely sneak off to the bathroom with supplies in front of my friends or coworkers? Yes please! Plus, this little cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, and without leaks (assuming it’s put in correctly). That means no panty liners and no worries.

Even if you’re already comfortable with your body, it takes some time to get used to. For me, knowing that it meant a healthier period + healthier me was enough motivation to get over some of the initial awkwardness of it. I don’t want to be grotesque, but I’m assuming if you’re here reading a review, you’re here for honesty. So, here are my top 3 pros + cons about the menstrual cup!

PROS

No leaks. I used to leak all the time. I was paranoid about being on any furniture that wasn’t my own, or being out in public and wondering if I had enough coverage. I was always worrying, but the menstrual cup has seriously taken so much period-related anxiety away.

Forget about it. To an extent, anyway. I love that it can stay put for 12 hours. Remove + clean first thing in the morning and first thing before bed and you’re good to go!

It fits my active lifestyle. I really hate wearing pads because I get nervous about others being able to see outlined through my leggings. Plus, they’re just straight up uncomfortable. Tampons are better but have always seemed so tedious – sometimes they still require a panty-liner or pad as backup, especially if my workout includes a lot of jumping or running around. The menstrual cup stays in place and doesn’t require any backup, so it’s made it so much easier to focus on my workout without any discomfort.

CONS

It can get messy. No further explanation needed, really. Also, since the cup does require washing before reinsertion, I would recommend planning accordingly before you get stuck in a public bathroom, if you catch my drift.

Removal can be tricky, especially in the beginning. You definitely get used to it, and Saalt offers a lot of tips on their FAQ page. Just don’t let the temporary frustrations of figuring it out scare you away from using it!

You only have one. So, be sure to keep up with it. Once you’ve started your cycle it’s no big deal, but obviously it would be a bummer to be caught out in public, at work, or traveling without it. Saalt has a set with two cups which could be a literal lifesaver, but of course, just make sure you have it on you if you know your time of the month is creeping up soon.

The thing I love about the cup is that its impact surpasses my personal, physical wellness. It helps with financial wellness because it means I don’t have to spend money to stay stocked up on pads + tampons. The retail value of the Saalt cup is $29, but can save you $1,500 during the 10 year lifespan of the cup by cutting out pesky pad + tampon costs. It also helps with environmental wellness by decreasing the amount of waste – in 2018, Saalt cup users helped divert 144,895 period waste products from landfills. What I love most about this company, though, is that they have such a big heart to help women around the world to manage their periods so they can pursue their dreams. You can read Saalt’s 2018 Impact Report if you’re a nerd like me and are interested in their mission + stats!

So, if you’ve been waiting for a nudge to try out the Saalt cup, here it is! If you’re big on savings like me, you can save an additional 15% by using code SOUTHERN15 at checkout!

This post is in collaboration with Saalt. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the companies who support The Southern Sooner.

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