Yep, I made the switch!
After using disposable pads and tampons for seven years, I decided to make the switch to reusable menstrual cup.
When I first got in to Young Living, I really started paying attention to what I was putting into my body, specifically the chemicals in the products I used everyday. I started by learning how to use oils in my daily living and have been making switches ever since in order to live a cleaner, more holistic life.
I recently did research on the chemicals in tampons: I was shocked to find that pesticides, chlorine, bleach, and fragrances (Well+Good) were all in these products that I used every month.
Advertisements kept popping up on my Facebook feed--"switch to these chemical-free, organic tampons!"and I was partially sold, but not completely. I felt convicted to make a switch, but not to another tampon brand. I researched reusable pads, menstrual disks, even menstrual underwear. I finally decided on menstrual cups.
Why I Made the Switch
1. To Rid Myself of Unnecessary Chemicals
The first reason I wanted to switch to a reusable Diva Cup was to get rid of all the chemicals in tampons. I didn't want so many unnatural additives and I felt like this was a major area in my life that could be easily changed.
I thought this was a really informative graph that show which chemicals were found in common tampon brands. Popular brands like Tampax Pearl and UbyKotex had carbon disulfide in it. Playtex Sport had carbon disulfide, methylene chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate, and heptane, and Dollar Store's brand had carbon disulfide, methylene chloride, hexane, and toluene. (Read Here.)
I was really blown away at the number of chemicals in tampons. I have used several of these brands (as many women have) and I had no idea that one brand had six chemicals of concern in them. I was putting these in my body!
As you can read in the graph, these chemicals can be toxic to reproduction, a carcinogen (think of cigarettes or polluted air, ring a bell?), irritate the body, and toxic to the brain. They didn't tell me this when they handed us these sanitary products in sixth grade.
Another thing that I felt really uneasy about using tampons was the risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome. I've never really known much about it, but the fact that I HAD to remove a tampon after 6-8 hours to prevent a deadly illness was a tad scary for me. For seven years, it wasn't scary enough for me to make a change, but I wish I had.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is when bacteria (the same ones that cause Staph and Strep) are able to grow and cause a whole body infection, usually linked to tampon use. It can be deadly if not treated! Even though this is very uncommon, it was still something that caused me unnecessary anxiety. I'm a hypochondriac okay--aren't all nursing students?
2. To Reduce Landfill Waste
I've never been an extreme advocate for the earth, but my current English class has gotten me interested. Don't get me wrong, I still use toilet paper and flush my toilet. But I wanted to change the amount of landfill waste I was contributing.
I did some math, and the average woman has 13 periods a year. I've had a period for 7 years, so this makes 91 periods (just an average). If I usually use one package of tampons per period (18 count), I've used a total of 1638 tampons in my lifetime. This number blew me away, and I'm only 20 years old. I imagined that number by the time I turned 30, 40, 50.
When I was researching other sanitary products, I was really interested in the menstrual disks, but I decided against them due to the fact that they were one-time use. They were thin plastic that you threw away after you used it. This product solved my chemical problems, but didn't solve my waste problem.
So that's how I found the Diva Cup. It's chemical-free silicone that can last up to ten years before it needs to be replaced. It solved my two problems, but I was still really skeptical. It was more expensive than other products and I was afraid of wasting my money on something I didn't like.
But I loved it.
No chemicals. Zero. It's just silicone.
It's reusable. Unlike pads and tampons, I can use this product more than once. They can last up to ten years, which saves so much landfill space. I mean seriously--1600+ tampons versus 1 menstrual cup.
You can go up to 12 hours without emptying the cup. On heavy flows, you might have to empty it more often, but this is still much longer than using a tampon. I emptied it every 6 hours versus changing my tampon every two hours on my heavy flow day. On my lighter days, the cup was nowhere near full at the 12 hour mark (but after 12 hours it might get gross so empty it every 12 hours!)
It saves money in the long run. On average, it would only take one year of period products to outweigh the cost of one Diva Cup. After that, you're basically having a sanitary product for free! I like free.
There are so many different brands, sizes, and shapes to chose from. One kind might be a perfect fit for one person, but not work for another. Most brands have two or three sizes: for teens, women who haven't given birth vaginally, and women who have given birth vaginally. I got Diva Cup size 1, for women who haven't given birth vaginally.
It was a big start-up cost of $40. I knew this would eventually be more cost-efficient in the long run, but it was a big deal to buy in the first place. I'm a college kid.
It's kind of gross. Bodily fluids don't really bother me, but having a literal cup fill up with blood and using my fingers to get up in there, was a little weird. I'm getting used to it, though. It's no worse than a fully-soaked pad or tampon, just to put that into perspective.
It was hard to insert at first. I watched YouTube videos on how to fold them, and I finally settled on the "Punch-Down" fold. It creates a smaller tip than the "C" fold so it was easier to put in. It took several times to get the hang of folding it and putting it in (You kind of have to shove it?) but I'm fine now.
All in all, I highly recommend the Diva Cup! I hope I can continue using this method for many years to come. It's solved several of my present problems with tampons and brings me a step closer to holistic self-care.