The Mooncup is a silicone reusable menstrual cup that comes in two sizes based on age, childbearing history and pelvic tone. Size A is for women under 30 who haven’t had children. Size B is for women over 30 who have had a vaginal birth. If you have good pelvic muscle tone (i.e. do Pilates, Yoga and Kegel exercises regularly) you may decide to try the smaller size first.
Mooncup Menstrual Cup
How to Use the Mooncup
Before you insert the Mooncup use your fingers to feel inside your vagina to get a sense of how it’s shaped and how best to angle it. Wet the rim of the cup with warm water or use a little water-based lube and hold the base firmly between your fingers. There are several ways to fold it so it’s just practice to find out what works best for you. I found the ‘push and fold’ method easiest as it makes it thinner and longer so it was easier for me to insert. After several failed attempts during which it pinged open mid-insertion – ouch, I realised it’s a matter of doing it quickly rather than being hesitant and over-thinking. Squat down as this shortens the vaginal canal and aim for the small of your back.
The stem of the Mooncup is quite long to accommodate different sized vaginas so you can trim it to suit. It shouldn’t be visible outside the vagina but you need to be able to grasp it between your fingers to remove the cup. It is designed to sit lower in the vagina than a tampon but it needs to be far enough inside so that it’s comfortable and you can’t feel it.
Once inside it will open up to form a seal around the vaginal walls and you can feel around the rim with your finger to make sure it has sealed properly. The Mooncup is designed to support light to heavy blood flow and can be left in for up to eight hours. There is no need to remove it when you exercise or go to the toilet but you do need to take it out before having sex.
Problems Inserting the Mooncup
I finally managed to get it inside so snipped off a little of the stem without removing it again. You are supposed to remove it before trimming but I was reluctant because I’d had such an ordeal inserting it. I felt a little nauseous and dizzy so had to sit down on the floor for 10 minutes and took a deep breath to collect myself. I have no idea why my body reacts in this way to tampons and menstrual cups and it’s a worry. I haven’t seen this mentioned in any reviews or testimonials but I decided to call Kate Linnott, Mooncup’s nurse advisor and research officer, to have a chat about it once the nausea had passed.
Kate explained that this can sometimes happen and said that I had probably knocked my cervix a little, triggering the nerve endings. I did the right thing by sitting down and deep breathing. I also don’t think I had positioned it correctly because I could feel it and sitting down was uncomfortable. I had to go and pick up my daughter from nursery so shuffled on to the bus and sat down gingerly. Note to self: don’t try this when you have to leave the house as you need to be relaxed and have plenty of time.
How to Remove Mooncup
I left it in until my daughter was asleep and then put a towel down to protect the carpet in case it decided to ping open again. Kate had emailed me some tips on insertion and removal, which said that you can use your pelvic muscles to ease it down (I think mine need a little more toning for this). Wait until you feel relaxed and then get down on all fours, insert your fingers and grasp the stem. Give the base of the cup a little squeeze and twist it to release the seal. Once it pops ease it down slowly, one side first and then the other rather than pulling it downwards.
Tip – Trim your nails. Mine are too long so I found the removal process a little painful as I kept catching them on my vaginal wall. The cup had also ridden up so it took me a couple of attempts to get it out (I went off and made a cup of tea to stop myself panicking – it really can’t get lost in there). Once I’d managed to get a proper grip on the base of the cup it was fairly easy to remove. I don’t recommend cutting off the stem completely unless you have strong PC muscles and feel confident that you can push the cup down yourself. Removing it is a strange sensation and feels a bit like you are pulling your vagina downwards. Getting it out was easier than putting it in and there was no spillage. The cup was half full and none had escaped so it must have sealed properly.
I did feel quite bruised and sore that evening and have had lower backache for a couple of days so finished my cycle with pads. It is a completely new method of sanitary protection for me, as I don’t use tampons and I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t take to it straight away. It is a new skill and I realise it will take a while until it’s second nature. Mooncup say that it can take up to three cycles before you feel completely at ease with the insertion/removal process so give it a chance.
Customer Service and Aftercare
The Mooncup website has videos, testimonials, research studies and tips for getting the best out of your Mooncup so I’d recommend reading all of this before you try it. The nurse called me several times to see how I was getting on with it and emailed insertion and removal tips for best practice, as well as links to a blog with further information. She suggested alternating the Mooncup with my regular sanitary protection for the first few months, and practising between periods to get used to the sensation of insertion and removal.
I love the simplicity of it and do want to try it again to see if the experience is better next time but I’m a little apprehensive about feeling sick and dizzy and want to prevent this. I will do some further research and try to pinpoint the causes before having another go. If you’ve tried it – or another brand of menstrual cup – email me and let me know how you got on.
About the Mooncup and Where to Buy
The Mooncup is now sold nationwide in Boots store, Good independent health food stores, and www.Mooncup.co.uk and is distributed in over 40 countries worldwide. Here’s a brief outline of the issues with disposable sanitary products that its founder, Su Hardy, and her team are working to redress:
One woman uses 10,000 throwaway tampons and pads in her lifetime. In contrast, one woman uses one Mooncup, which is reused and lasts for years.
The majority of tampons and a quarter of pads are flushed down the toilet. This causes 70% of blocked drains in the UK. In the sea, plastics, like wrappers and backing strips, are easily mistaken for prey by marine animals and can be swallowed fatally. Almost every seabird in the world now has plastic inside it.
When binned, disposable sanitary products contribute to landfill. Plastics included such as top-sheets, absorbent gels, wrappers and applicators, do not biodegrade and can last indefinitely. Conventional cotton production (a main material in tampons and pads) accounts for 20% of the world’s pesticide use.
Women using the Mooncup also do not absorb the pesticides used in conventional cotton production.
Tampons absorb 65% menstrual fluid, 35% natural vaginal moisture that serves to keep the vagina healthy. This absorption of fluid can result in imbalances and dryness. As the Mooncup is non-absorbent it allows women’s vaginal mechanisms to function naturally.
The Mooncup is made of medical grade silicone. Silica is derived from sandstone – one of the most abundant resources on the planet.