The Menstrual Cup

Disclaimer: Although this is a brilliant piece of design, the premise is pretty grim. This post will refer to periods and the other associated items, so be warned-it is likely that this will not be your cup ( pardon the pun), of tea, so leave now or forever hold your peace!

After nearly a year of pondering-I finally gave in and decided to buy a menstrual cup.

First off, I should probably explain what it is. A menstrual cup is a silicone ‘cup’ which is inserted into the vagina during a period to catch the blood… yes it sounds pretty gross..

There are a lot of reasons why a menstrual cup is a good idea, nay- a great idea! The most significant factor to me was that it is far more sustainable than traditional sanitary products. An average woman will use around 5 pads and 16 tampons per cycle, over a year this equates to 60 pads and 192 tampons a year. Which in my opinion is crazy! Each of these items will end up in landfill along with their wrappers and applicators and so on, the cotton will hang about for 6 months and the plastic elements, as we well know will still be knocking around in 100 years or so.

Alternatively you can have 1 menstrual cup which can be reused for 5 or more years-if that isn’t a compelling argument I don’t know what is.

Then of course we can look at the financial argument. 1 menstrual cup can cost anywhere from £10-£30. If you keep it for a minimum 5 years that works out at between 16p-50p per period. Whereas the average woman in the UK using traditional sanitary products, can expect to spend around £4 per period (this of course includes that dastardly, and not entirely fair tampon tax…). Another win for the cup!

The other key argument is that there is next to no chance of developing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), from using a menstrual cup-Yay! (For those not in the know, TSS is associated with tampon use and can be fatal, so removing the risk is pretty darn delightful!).

As far as using one go’s, I can now vouch for it being far less grim than I had anticipated. Before using one I imagined using it to be like a scene in ‘Saw’, with me gagging when I had to use it. The reality was far less dramatic, it takes a little getting used to, granted but after putting it in and taking it out a couple of times its not any more difficult than using a tampon, and its a lot more comfortable than fighting with a pad!

All in all, I’m glad I bought one and I would 100% recommend it to friend!

But what makes it ‘Great’ Design?

What makes it great is not just that it’s more sustainable, safer and cheaper than existing products, what I think makes it truly great is what it represents. The menstrual cup, which has existed in some form since the 1860’s and has been commercially available since the 1930’s, is a product which was designed by women to solve a very female problem. It is a great example of why women are needed in design and engineering. If women are not represented in STEM areas then everyone misses out and problems which do not affect men go ignored!

Find out more about the history here!

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