Okay all men reading this blog: I love you, but I need to warn you that this post is probably not for you. Though it can never hurt for you to learn a bit more about the female body and those terrible few days we go through every month, you might prefer checking out where you can get the best Belgian dishes in Brussels or reading about that time I climbed 300 steps to join the Tower Lady of Münster on her watch instead.
You see, today’s post is about a healthier, more comfortable alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. Today’s post is about the Intimina Lily Cup, a menstrual cup.
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups – also know as period cups, menstruation cups or vaginal cups – are soft, reusable cup-shaped containers you can insert to gather menstruation blood, instead of using a tampon or a sanitary pad. There are different menstrual cups for different women (think: size) and different brands who produce and sell them. Intimina is one of them.
Should I use a menstrual cup?
That’s exactly what I asked myself when I got an email from Intimina a few months back. The brand wanted me to try out their collapsible cup, the Lily Cup Compact, as they felt it was the ideal solution for women on the go.
My personal reasons to try a menstrual cup
Now, whenever I get these kinds of review requests I’m always very careful and I turn down probably more than 90% of them because I want to make sure that whenever I agree to test something, it’s something that I’d be interested in either way and – most of all – that it’s something that could be interesting to you (male readers, if you’re still with me: kudos but obviously this goes for the ladies).
This time, it was a little bit different, though, because even though I was curious about using a menstrual cup and it did immediately look like something practical for travelers, I was still hesitant. Why? Well, because I was afraid it would be uncomfortable and I had no idea how to insert a menstrual cup. It’s not exactly the same as trying out a jacket, you know.
So, why did I decide to try the Lily Cup anyway?
Well, as I don’t travel long-term and I take The Pill to regulate my periods, I just always continued taking it if my period happened to coincide with a trip. That worked great, but the downside was that if I needed to do that a couple of times, the next time I’d get my period would be super painful and.
I also see my period as some kind of reassurance that I’m not pregnant, so I do like to get them every three months or so. Just a detail 🙂
And lastly, let’s be honest, both tampons and sanitary pads are a bitch. There, I’ve said it. The former get all soggy and suck
the life the moist right out of you, the latter can only be worn with sweatpants and make you feel like you’re six months old again.
Why every woman should try a menstrual cup
1. Period cups save you money
According to a (well-researched, I must add) article on Huffington Post:
“On average, a woman has her period from three to seven days and the average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51. That means the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days with her period — 6.25 years of her life.”
The article continues to say that you should change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours, so that makes an average of every 6 hours. With an average period lasting five days, that adds up to 20 tampons per cycle x 456 periods = 9,120 tampons.
You know how much your tampons cost. You do the math.
How much are menstrual cups? It depends on the brand, but you can get a Lily Cup for $39.95 and it’s supposed to last for years. I’ve only had mine for a couple of months, but it seems to be pretty sturdy.
2. Period cups are better for your body
While you might guess it from the discomfort they sometimes bring, few people know that using tampons entails several health risks.
First of all, tampons absorb everything. Advertisements for tampon brands often boast about this fact, but they fail to mention that tampons also absorb some good fluids your body needs and leave you as dry as overcooked chicken. And nobody likes overcooked chicken.
Aside from that, many tampons are made from bleached synthetic fibers. Both the fibers and the bleach can cause irritation and even Toxic Shock Syndrom.
The Lily Cup Compact menstrual cup I tested and now use, is made from 100% body-safe medical grade silicone
3. Period cups are better for the environment
Remember how many tampons (or sanitary pads) an average woman uses in her lifetime? Yeah, those aren’t exactly the most environment-friendly things to throw in the bin (or the toilet – you know you do). Even if you use organic tampons, that’s still a lot of items you buy and throw away.
Menstrual cups are reusable. You simply need to use them, clean them, use them again.
4. Period cups need to be changed less frequently
In order to prevent Toxic Shock Syndrom, you need to change your tampons after eight hours at the latest. You can probably go longer with a sanitary pad, but we all know what they look and feel like if you do that.
Menstrual cups can be worn for 12 hours. I’ll talk a bit about why I think they can even last longer below, but 10 to 12-hour period protection is guaranteed when you purchase a Lily Cup. That means you can even wear it to sleep. I used to wear sanitary pads during the night when I felt like sleeping in, because of the 8-hour max with tampons.
So, what was my experience using a menstrual cup?
Of course, you can have as many pros as you want, if something isn’t comfortable, you won’t use it. So I quickly want to let you know what my experience using a menstrual cup has been like so far.
As said, I tested the Lily Cup Compact which is a collapsible cup that comes with a flat little box so you can easily carry it around in your bag for when the moment comes.
It also comes with a manual describing how to insert the Lily Cup, how to remove the soft cup again and how to clean it.
There’s a Size A for women who haven’t given birth yet, or who’ve given birth by Caesarean and then there’s a Size B for women who’ve given birth the natural way.
Inserting the menstrual cup
This was actually really easy from the beginning. I used the C-fold technique explained in the video below and the Lily Cup fitted perfectly from the first try.
Removing the menstrual cup
This was harder than I’d suspected. The ribbed sides and the secure hold rim work really well, which means the Lily Cup Compact stays in place throughout the day, whatever you do, but it also means that it’s a bit hard to remove. The regular version doesn’t have the ribs (and isn’t a collapsible cup), but I didn’t try that one so I’m not sure if it’s easier to remove.
It took me several minutes to get it out the first time – pretty stressful! – but then I got the hang of it the more I used it. It’s still not as easy as pulling out a tampon, but it’s also not as painful (no dryness!). The trick is not to be afraid of spilling and making the upper edge of the cup collapse to the inside so that it isn’t sucked stuck to your inside anymore.
I’m explaining this in a very visual matter, but hey, we all know how our bodies work, right?
Wearing the cup and keeping it clean
So, I’d never expected I’d write this, but the Lily Cup Compact won me over almost instantly. I’ve been wearing during all my periods since I first got it and I never feel it’s there. I’ve worn it for walking, doing pilates (hellooooo, downward-facing dog!) and even for doing cardio without any issues.
Also: no leakage! You know when you wear your tampon just a bit too long and it gets all soggy and… Yeah, none of that here. Everything goes straight into the cup where it stays until you clean it out.
About that: if you have a rather light period like me, you can easily wear your menstruation cup for an entire day. If you look at the Lily Cup Compact, you could say it has three “levels” and I never filled it more than half. That’s why I think that if you have a light period, you can even keep it in for longer than 12 hours.
The Lily Cup Compact menstrual cup: in a nutshell
- Healthier than tampons
- Longer protection than tampons
- More comfortable than tampons or sanitary pads
- Better for the environment
- Less expensive
- Doesn’t take up that much space in your bag
- No leakage
- Suited for doing sports
- Easy insertion
- Wear it without noticing it’s there
- Removal needs practice and can be a bit hard
- You need a sink to clean it. That’s not a problem if you’re at home or in a hotel room, but I wouldn’t want to take my cup out to the sink in a public bathroom to then go in the booth again to insert it. Ain’t nobody gotta see that sh*t 😀
Given this list, I think it’s clear what I’ll answer from now on if you ask me: “Tampon or menstrual cup?”. Menstrual up all the way!
Where can you buy menstrual cups?
Depending on the brand you decide to go for, you can buy menstrual cups directly from the brands’ website or on Amazon:
I’ve only tried the Lily Cup collapsible cup so I can’t say if it’s the best menstrual cup out there, but I’m definitely pleased with it and am using it every time now.
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Intimina provided me with a Lily Cup Compact to try out. I never guarantee positive reviews and only write my own opinions on here. The links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase something through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.