Like a lot of menstruators, my “time of the month” isn’t my favorite. Unlike a lot of menstruators, I lose an abnormally large amount of blood during my period, which makes it difficult to manage in a myriad of ways.
Medically, it’s called menorrhagia, but personally, I call it a pain in the ass. Menorrhagia is “menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding,” but how do you really define that? For me, it’s soaking through super absorbency tampons every other hour, doubling up on pads and having debilitating cramps. See other symptoms here.
Managing menorrhagia can be difficult, and often, this means I go through a lot of products and often times leak on my underwear and sheets, so I’m always eager to find other menstrual products that 1. Make my flow easier to manage 2. Reduce my environmental impact and 3. Save my underwear!
Enter: the menstrual cup.
Now, I was hesitant to try a menstrual cup. After over a decade of menstruating, I was strictly a tampons and pads kind of girl. But, after I got my copper IUD (which I love), my period changed for the bloody. Menorrhagia is a common side effect of getting an IUD (copper or hormonal), but since changing to a loyal cup-user, my period has gotten a lot more manageable without having to switch birth control.
Less trips to the bathroom
Even using super-ultra-mega-max absorbency tampons (while wearing a backup pad), my tampon was being soaked through every hour on my heaviest days. Most menstrual cups offer up to 12 hours of protection and can hold up to an ounce of fluid. While my cup often fills up in less than 12 hours, the cup creates a seal in your vagina, so I didn’t have to worry about it overflowing.
Less ruined underwear
On that note — less leakage meant less ruined underwear (and pants and sheets…) for me! When inserted correctly, a menstrual cup creates a vacuum-seal inside the vaginal canal, preventing leaks even when the cup is full. I still wear a liner on my heavier days or overnight, because it can shift and things can happen. But still — a major improvement from constantly being anxious I’m bleeding through my super plus tampon or the discomfort of wearing an extra thick pad.
It helps with my cramps
The cramps we most commonly experience on our periods is due to our uterus contracting, but tampons can contribute to vaginal cramping and discomfort. As they absorb period blood, they expand and press against the vagina wall, which can contribute to discomfort. A menstrual cup is made of flexible silicon, and forms to the shape of your vaginal canal.
I save money
Menstrual cups have a higher upfront cost ($25-$45, depending on the brand), but compared to $7-9 dollars for a box of tampons that I need to buy at least twice a month, the steep up-front cost is worth it. If cost is a barrier for you, June Cup is offering their menstrual cups for just $6 to offset the burden caused by COVID-19!
I reduce waste
Like I said, thanks to my menorrhagia, I go through a looooooot of products. A lot. Like, 1-2 boxes of tampons. The average person creates 11,000 pounds of menstrual waste that takes up to 450 years to decompose. You produce a fraction of the waste because you only need to get a new cup every few years.
Menstrual cups made managing my menorrhagia a million times more manageable, but I’m always curious about how each cup varies from one another. That’s why I try, test, troubleshoot (emphasis on trouble) the cups on the market so you don’t have to.
There’s no “right” period product and no single right way to go about managing menorrhagia; there's only what’s right for you.
Maddy Siriouthay is the co-founder of Ovee, a sexual and reproductive health hub for women and people with vaginas. Check out our borderline-TMI product reviews, our guides on navigating sex and relationships, quarantine resources and more.