Saturday, June 4, 2011

Secret Women's Business (some musings on menstruation)

Menstruation is far from my favourite topic of conversation. However, in the past six months I've had two friends (who don't know each other) each tell me excitedly about their discovery of re-usable menstrual cups. Both times, I've had to admit that I'd been quietly using this fantastic product (mine's a Keeper) for about five years. They both wanted to know where I'd first heard about the Keeper, and why I'd never mentioned it. So, I thought it was about time I joined the club, and started spreading the word.

I first heard about menstrual cups in a discussion about Female cycles over at the forum on Aussie's Living Simply in 2006.

It seems that, once women try menstrual cups, they never go back to using disposable products.

Menstrual cups represent a huge evolutionary leap from the disposable pads and tampons that advertisers would have you believe you should be screaming in the supermarket aisles for. Unfortunately, disposable feminine hygiene products are amongst the most heavily-advertised products in consumer land, with ads ranging from the embarrassingly euphemistic to the downright offensive. In fact, I think this Libra tampon ad is SO bad that it's worth sharing:

Here are some stats:

For Australian women, the average time from menarche to menopause is about 40 years (average age at menarche: 12 years; average age at menopause: 52 years).

That equates to 480 months, which, multiplied by 25 tampons per month, equates to a potential lifetime usage of 12,000 tampons. 

That, in turn, equates to a big old pile of used tampons that most (Western) women just send "away" to landfill, or worse, down the toilet.

As an aside: any woman who's heard a plumbing horror story about a sewer or septic system backed-up by tampons should be overcome with dread at the very thought of flushing one of those cotton devils down the dunny!

Furthermore, at a cost of about 25 cents per unit, 12,000 tampons cost a total of $3,000, which is not exactly small change.

Enter, re-usable menstrual cups.

I bought my first menstrual cup - a Keeper - from The Natural Company in 2006, for $55 (postage included). Five years on, my Keeper is still as functional as the day it was purchased, and it's cost me less than $1 per month.

And, since 2006, menstrual cups have only improved: they're now cheaper than they were 5 years ago (no doubt due to their booming popularity), and they come in a range of brands, sizes, colours, and materials (the original Keeper was rubber, but because some people are allergic to latex, most menstrual cups are now made of silicon).

Better yet, many of the businesses selling menstrual cups (including The Natural Company) have so much confidence in them that they offer a money-back guarantee. So there's absolutely nothing to lose by making the switch. 

If you need any more convincing, I recommend Leanne's recent blog post over at Hazeltree Farm: Bloody hell...Menstrual cups versus tampons

Now for something a little different: here's the official trailer for the Baukschow Vampire, the story of a recently turned vampire who can't bring himself to kill so he feeds on menstrual blood. It's a period piece. Mwahaha ...


  1. Love this posting!

    For a photo of what 40 years worth of TAMPONS looks like, here are some comparison photos. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the 40-year photo.)

    Julia Schopick
    Director of Marketing
    The Keeper, Inc.

  2. i bought a menstrual cup but i only ended up using it once because of the lack of research determining whether they are actually safe to use... after reading reports that show the cups may increase the risk of endometriosis and adenomyosis i decided it really wasn't worth the risk... so the cup sits in my cupboard until the day more research is done... lordy i may be menopausal by then, who knows... i do know that trying to conceive a child is hard enough without throwing any extra spanners in the works... so, for now, pads it is for me...