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Me And My Mooncup: A Love Story

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Remember when you were 10 and just couldn’t wait to get your period? It was a fun rite of passage – stage one of “becoming a woman.” You just knew it was the first step on the sacred path towards wearing lipstick, and having a skincare routine, and being paid less than your male contemporaries. Exciting!

Then the day arrived. You got your period and it was painful and slightly smelly and quite the most embarrassing thing you’d ever experienced. And then you had to start with the endless parade of menstrual accessories. The sweaty sanitary towels, itchingly dry tampons, “period knickers”, and scented panty liners, whatever they’re for. Then there was the politics of applicator tampons (“for wimps” – my mum) versus non-applicator tampons (“just bung it up there” – my mum). You quickly work out that, whatever you use, it’s all very expensive and you’ll have somebody tell you you’re buying the wrong products and using them incorrectly.

I invested in a Mooncup, and it paid dividends. I’ve been using one for a decade now, and I’ve never looked back.

This is where I come in. Hi! So, after a few years of using tampons and sanitary towels like a sucker, and liberally covering pale denim and white knickers with red, I started using a Mooncup. I was in my first year of university and had no spare cash and hated the idea that some poor fish might have to come into contact with the subaquatic mountain of discarded tampons that is surely decorating the ocean floor somewhere. Partly for that one fish and partly for my bank balance and partly out of bored curiosity, I invested in a Mooncup, and it paid dividends. I’ve been using one for a decade now, and I’ve never looked back.

Yes, they may be the preserve of hippies, and no, they don’t do anything magical like stop cramps. But they are a real crowd-pleaser (I once got mine out at a New Year’s Eve party) and they will save you a tonne of money if you stick with it. All you have to do is choose your size – one is for women who have given birth, one is for women who haven’t – pay roughly £22, and begin your magic voyage with your little plastic pal.

Some women are put off the idea of actually inserting it, but it’s actually made from a springy silicone, meaning it folds up quite small when you’re inserting it and stretches out to a flexible but sturdy barrier once it’s up inside you.
Aside from actually starting your period, another rite of passage in any woman’s life is spending a panicked night with a glass of water and bottle of hand soap trying to remove your own period blood from sheets in a hotel bed/friend’s bed/boyfriend’s bed without waking anybody up. This will make me sound like I’m being paid by the manufacturers, but I have not had a major spill while chez Mooncup. I’m almost nostalgic for the 4am scrabble for the bar of hotel soap.

Taking it out is also no big deal. You just reach in there with two fingers and gently pull it out, then tip your cup o’ womb lining straight down the loo. Look, if I can do it without splashing my own blood all over the toilet floor then you certainly can. One woman once asked me if it was possible to “spill the blood back up you” which should give us all pause for thought about the state of biology and also physics taught in schools today. And in answer to her question – no. No it is not.
If you have decided to embark on your Mooncup journey, then congratulations. And might I recommend using a disabled loo or a cubicle with a sink in it while in menses? This is ideal because you can give it a wash with soap and hot water after you’ve emptied it, but it’s OK to empty it a few times without giving it a wash so long as you do a thorough job later in the day. Also you get a little longer to marvel at the fact you are holding a cup of your womb lining.

There’s also a reassuring sucking sound when you take it out. One friend says that the slurping sound means she cannot use a Mooncup, as her workplace has gender-neutral toilets. This feels like a huge missed opportunity – we should take any and all opportunities to freak men out. How will they know you’re taking out your Mooncup? You could be testing out a snazzy new plunger or finishing off an iced coffee while sitting on the loo. How are they going to know you’re really disposing of your shameful vag blood? That’s your precious secret and nobody else’s business.

Aside from the time I dropped my first Mooncup down the loo at a festival (RIP), there has only been one downside during my decade with the 'Cup: the tampon tax. The “luxury tax” on sanitary ware is one of the benchmark feminist issues of the last few years, and I felt guilty for not menstruating into compacted cotton wool. In March’s Budget, the Chancellor said that the 5% duty claimed on tampons and sanitary towels would be used to fund women’s charities.

So, as a bunch of eco-conscious do-gooders, Mooncup users were subjected to feeling guilty because we weren’t having to pay the tax funding domestic violence services or breast cancer charities that men didn't have to pay. The tax has since been scrapped, but that’s how the Tories officially lost the Mooncup vote. By making us feel bad. Harsh our buzz, George Osborne, and we will hunt you down.
Read more Rag Week stories on Refinery29 UK:

Rag Week: Addressing Our Problem With Periods by Gillian Orr
Menopause - The Truth And The Surprise Ending by Caryn Franklin
Girls Across The Globe Are Missing School Because Of Their Periods by Torey Van Oot
How My Period Landed Me In Hospital by Jo Fuertes-Knight
18 Vintage Period Ads That Are Totally Cringe-Worthy by Ally Hickson
Saying Goodbye To My Period As A Trans Man by Freddy McConnell
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