I call her Glenda
When I was in Boots last month picking up my monthly essentials, something caught my eye as my hand reached instinctively for the Tampax. Discreetly nestled at the bottom of the shelves was a little white box. It glowed with the promise of a new, period waste-free, tampon tax-evading me. Who needs disposable, toxic, cotton pads and tampons when you can have one little reusable menstrual suction funnel to last you years and years?
Dear readers, I bought the Mooncup.
After getting over my initial surprise at the large size of my new purchase, I had a little read of the instructions leaflet. This instructed me to first sterilise my little silicone friend by boiling it on the stove. This I duly did, to the horror of my flatmate who walked in and saw me using her favourite porridge pan.
After some explanation, she was invested in my experiment, and advised me to not try and insert the Mooncup straight away lest I burn my vagina off. Luckily it didn't take long to cool down, because I was EXCITED. And also a little bit scared, which is why I decided to give my cup a harmless name to make the whole ordeal a little bit less intimidating. I settled on Glenda, and made my way to the bathroom.
After washing my hands about 5 times, and watching a couple of helpful instructional videos, I finally felt prepared. I folded Glenda into a point as instructed, and popped her up there, where she seemed quite happy. I did almost fall off the toilet from surprise when I heard and felt the suction as she nestled herself into place, but all in all I was pleased to have completed step one of the mission in success.
The rest of my day
I went about my day in comfort, and – I am pleased to report – NO LEAKAGE. The only time I was reminded that I had a 5cm long silicone funnel sitting inside my nether regions was when I inadvertently coughed, my insides contracted, and Glenda jumped. Still no leakages, though.
After a good 5 hours, I decided it was time to summon my courage and finally try and let Glenda have a (well-deserved) breath of fresh air.
When I first had a prod around, I was alarmed upon realising that I couldn't quite locate her. Had I trimmed the stem too short? Had she made a desperate break for freedom and wound her way up to my ovaries? After almost dislocating my shoulder in all the panic, I decided to consult the instructional leaflet. This told me that I should 'use my vaginal muscles to ease the menstrual cup down, through a sequence of slow, gentle downward pushes'.
Long story short: I did this, it worked, I didn't evacuate Glenda into the toilet, and I now feel more prepared for childbirth.
Oh, and it wasn't even messy – slow and steady wins the race, and as long as you don't make any sudden movements you won't be reenacting that scene from The Shining. I promise. Then, rinse and repeat. Literally.
What about when you're out in public?
I didn't have to empty my Mooncup in any public toilets as you can leave them in for 8 hours and they hold much more than an average tampon does, so if you time it right, you can leave the ordeal for the comfort of your own bathroom. If you're going to be out literally all day, though, you can just tip it out, give it a wipe, and put it straight back in, leaving the deep clean for when you get home. No harm done.
And did anything traumatic happen for the rest of the week?
Nope – all was fine and dandy. My hands were a little dry from excessive washing, and my vaginal muscles had certainly had a good workout, but all in all I am now evangelical and ready to pray at the Mooncup altar.
Either way, I can't see myself going back to tampons. The best part of a Mooncup is that once you've mastered the insertion and removal, you forget you've got anything in at all. I found it much more leak-proof than tampons, and there's also the added plus of it being completely invisible once it's in. No having to garrotte yourself to avoid peeing on the tampon string, and no having to worry about one hanging out of your bikini bottoms, either.
Plus, I'm already excited about how much money I'm going to save. I've even converted my flatmate. Her porridge pan has been relegated to Mooncup boiling use only, and she's agreed to get one of her own. She's going to call it Doris.