Archive for May, 2005

The Mooncup

May 9, 2005

Illustration:Ytje Veenstra

Flicking through some back issues of AMP the other day, I was pleased to be enlightened by Suki Kent about alternative menstrual products. Made of silicone, the Mooncup looks like an oversized, rubbery see-through party popper and smells like one of those power balls you were always warned as a kid take people’s eyes out.


The idea is that you insert the cup, empty out the collected blood, wash and reuse. Thereby no waste ends up in landfill, incinerators or floating past you when enjoying a swim or surf. The Mooncup scores further ecological brownie points by leaving no fibrous deposits inside you. It is not bleached with nasty chemicals and has never caused Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The Mooncup is a one off purchase of £17.99. Not cheap, but the investment will save you the monthly cash splurge on tampax or towels.


Shocked to discover that women are not forever chained to tampax and sanitary towels, I feel more than a bit cross that the school period lady failed to mention menstrual cups. But nothing can spoil my glee at the thought of giving the beauty industry the middle finger and making a miniscule but victorious dent in their profits.

Friends do not share my enthusiasm and react to the Mooncup with a mixture of disgust and fascination. Incidentally, none of them have heard of it either. My sales pitch about the ecological and health benefits is drowned in a sea of urghs and pulled faces.

‘Gross! You’ll have to look at all that blood when you tip it out!’ shrieks one. ‘It’ll go everywhere!’, says another. Undeterred, their wails strengthen my resolve to try the Mooncup and record the experience in the interests of female freedom and cash-flow.

A few weeks later I embark on my first Mooncup experience unsure whether we are going to remain best friends or if it will end in a bloodbath-style battle. My warrior attitude is starting to wobble as thoughts of blood and gore flit across my mind. Will my new love sustain ER style incidents of blood splattered across the bathroom floor?

When the novelty wears off will I deviously sneak back into the safety of Tampax’s arms? Then there is the public loo dilemma: Will my hardcore feminist values melt in the face of swilling out my own blood in public? I decide it’s all or nothing. I’m not having any of this half-arsed, ‘only round the house’ stuff. Giving Tampax the finger is going to be hollow when I come crawling back for going out supplies.

I feel an odd surge of adrenalin, like the wriggly bum excitement you get as a child on Christmas Eve. Eyeing the tampons on the shelf I think ‘So long you capitalist bastards! No more will you drain my bank balance and leave fibrous deposits inside me!’


I study my Mooncup leaflet and discover that I need to trim the stem. This is the sticky bit at the end of the party popper which you use to pull the Mooncup out, like the string on a tampon. I agonise for ages about how much to trim off. Like the hair on those hideous plastic Barbie heads: get too carried away and it won’t be growing back.

Inserting the Mooncup is the bit I find most difficult. The instructions tell you to fold it in half, then in half again, insert it and allow it to pop back into shape. After a few attempts I’m feeling totally fed up. The rubbery material keeps trying to pop open before I’ve got it in. It’s a bit like the finger and thumb fiddliness of tying a knot in a balloon minus the crowd of small children clamouring around you. Accidentally let go and the Mooncup pops out of your hands with comedy timing.

It all feels like an ordeal for the first few days, but by the end of my period I discover a technique that works for me and I’m popping it up there like a pro. A bonus of the Mooncup is that unlike a tampon you can insert it in, or whilst still wet from, a bath or shower. It’s actually easier to insert when wet. Hurrah! No more blood stained towels! No having to mess about with soggy loo roll before inserting a tampon!

I am happy to report that the worrying blood-flinging session never happened. The Mooncup is actually easier to remove than a tampon. Sitting on the toilet to remove it I realise that any slight spillage just goes down the loo. You just grab the whole thing and pull. Plus there is no chance of the Mooncup getting lost or stuck and you can’t ever insert two, however absent-minded you are being.

Also, unlike costly tampons, it doesn’t matter how many times you change the Mooncup and there’s no need to carry bulky supplies around. It’s either in, or it’s in your bag waiting. No more late night trips to the garage, no more having to blag tampax off work colleagues, no more money for Messers Procter and Gamble…

This piece first appeared on ampnet