Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The mooncup has landed…..

So, following on from Renata’s attack on the mooncup the other day, I decided to be a little more open minded and find out a bit more.
But first, why should I even bother looking into it? Renata covered this in more detail with her post, so I’ll just do a quick re-cap.
1. Production:
The manufacturing of tampons and towels is the big environmental sin, with the sheer amount of fossil fuels consumed in the process doing the most damage. The Mooncup is the first sanitary manufacturer to be certified as an Ethical Business. See here for the very impressive list of green credentials.
2. Disposal:
Products end up either in the sea or in landfill sites. The lining in a sanitary towel can take at least 500-800 years to even start the decomposing process (tampons take 6 months, but plastic applicators about 25 years). To give this some context, that means if King Henry VIII's many wives had been using sanitary towels, they would only now be starting to decompose. See Renata’s article on plastic bags for the problems of plastic disposal.

Obviously, the big advantage of the mooncup is that it is re-usable – with a single cup lasting about 10 years. With the average woman using about 22 items a month and having about 120 periods over the 10 years, one mooncup is potentially stopping 2640 sanitary items ending up in a landfill or the sea. If just 5 women used a mooncup, that would stop over 10,000 items.
3. Health:

Then there is the convenience of not needing to buy and carry round tampons/towels (I recently discovered VSO recommends it to all their volunteers), the cost saving benefits and the fact that it’s vegan, just in case any vegans want to eat it.
However, this blog is about the consumer and there is only one way to review it. Men (and women) of a delicate disposition: look away now – for I am about to discuss periods.

So, last week, I popped off to Stoke Newington Church Street to buy one. Now, anyone that has been to Stoke Newington Church Street will be aware that it is quite an alternative sort of place. And as I walked into the shop, side stepping the breast feeding woman in the middle of it (obviously), I was disappointed to discover that they had sold out (really, it is that alternative). But not to worry, they were happy to order me one in. I ordered a size A (as being over 30, I am apparently on a one way ride to the menopause, thus in need of the larger size).
So, the question everyone wants to know is: was it gross? Well, no, actually. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had feared. And as everyone who knows me will know, I am very squeamish about that kind of thing. But it wasn’t actually too bad. Inserting it is a bit tricky at first, but after a couple of false starts it went in OK and it’s not actually that much more difficult than a tampon. And once it is in, it’s fine. It comes with a stem, but it needs to be (gulp) completely inside you, so to speak. It was a little too long, which made it a bit uncomfortable, but other than that you can’t really notice it. It didn’t leak at all and I sat there quite comfortably while I watched Desperate Housewives. Removing it, however, was quite difficult, and too be frank, a bit messy. I took me about 20 minutes. But I am assured that this eases with practice.
Having decided that Desperate Housewives was not really much of a challenge for the mooncup, I popped it in the next day to go for a jog. Stem trimmed, it felt much more comfortable – in fact, I really couldn’t feel it. The jog was fine, and, delighted at my success, I popped to the bathroom to remove and have a shower.

This is where it all went horribly wrong. Having trimmed the stem to the recommended length (and if anything, kept it a little longer than I should have), I struggled to get hold of it. OK, don’t panic – panicking, the troubleshooting section of the instruction booklet helpfully tells me, only makes things worse. So, not panicking (just sweating and tensing and shaking slightly), I kept trying. After 45 minutes, several positions that even a yoga instructor couldn’t have got me into and some near tears of frustration, I gave up and had a shower. Post shower things got even worse -mooncup still firmly in place, yet somehow contents of cup not in place (I don’t feel in need to spell this out further). By this point, in the grip of near hysterics, I rushed to call Renata. After several minutes of laughter and a joke about me giving birth to it, she calmed me down. On her advice, I made a cup of tea, walked around the house and tried to relax. Attempt 2 to get it out succeeded, but was far from easy.
The problem with it is, I can’t imagine using it at work. Getting it out with the elaborate stretching and slurping noises (it stays in place through suction and to remove you need to break the seal) would be hard with someone in the cubicle next to you. Rinsing it in the sink, whilst chatting to your line manager does really not appeal, and gossiping with a friend whilst your hands are all …well erm ...bloody.. would probably be a bit uncomfortable, to say the least.
However, Mooncup say that it does usually take 3 periods to get right. So I am not totally put off. I am willing to give it another try and hopefully cut back on some of the tampons and towels I am using. The thing is, if you really want to make a difference, sometimes you need to do something a bit more radical (and to me, this is radical*) More of a giant step to the side, rather than little baby steps to the recycling box you have to walk past to leave the house anyway. So, dear mooncup: we have 2 more periods to get to know each other a bit better.
*Disclaimer – to clarify, this is the only side step I will take – any talk of washable pads is a step way way too far to the side for me.


  1. I've been wondering about the moon cup, I read about it recently. I'm very impressed you tried it and glad you wrote about it here. This is the first time I've read your blog actually. Moon cup sounds really tough! So good luck and keep it up.

  2. After throwing up in my mouth a little, I forwarded this article to my girlfriend. Exciting stuff! It's inspiring to see there are others out there that care.

  3. Hi Mel
    thank you so much for your comment - really please you posted. Mooncup was tough but shouldn't put you off! I still think its worth a second go. will let you know if it gets any easy.

    thank you for reading! Please come back!


  4. Immature entrepreneur

    Am impressed that you managed to read it, despite the sick :). Thank you for forwarding to your girlfriend. Let us know what she thinks.
    Surely reading and forwarding something about periods is a sign of your maturity????


  5. pretty hilarious, yet totally honest! thanks for the insight!!

    - I am not convinced yet, though ;)

  6. kathryn (ethikay)4 September 2010 at 21:13

    thanks for the feedback wendy! Pleased you enjoyed reading.

    and i like the 'yet'. thats means there is still a chance you can be convinced???

  7. I've been using the luna cup for the past four months, and I love it. My literature says you can keep it in for 12 hours or less, and that's what I do on days I work because it is, frankly, not something I want to do at my school (I teach). And it has been getting much easier to take out without spilling as I get more practice. Don't give up yet!

  8. great - it's really heartning to here that it gets easier. will keep going and hopefully get a bit more practised at removing. thank you for your comment!!