Let’s talk about BLOOD.
Not lashings and lashings of corn syrup style horror movie blood oozing out of a big breasted victim as she writhes around making curiously sexual sounds. Not sexy vampire I’ll-suck-the-life-out-of-you-so-we-can-live-together-forever-drinking-other-peoples-blood blood. I’m talking about menstrual blood. The period. The blood nobody wants to talk about. The blood that creates life. The blood that can bring on a sigh of relief or cry of sorrow depending on your stance.
Just over a year ago I bought myself a moon cup also known as a lunar cup or menstrual cup. It is exactly as it sounds. A silicone cervix shaped cup that you stick up your muff when it’s your time of the month and catches the blood coming out of your foo-foo meaning no need for tampons or sanitary towels. When it’s full or whenever you feel like it you can take it out, empty it, rinse it and stick it back up there. Every three months you sterilise it in a pan of boiling water and you carry on like this for ten years or so or whatever the manufacturers guidelines state. When it’s not your time you just keep it in a little cotton bag so it stays clean and just remember to keep it with you when you’re expecting your ‘friend’.
I was so happy with this new discovery. Not only do I find it more comfortable than any other sanitary product ever (not surprising as it’s made of silicone so moulds to your body instead of toughening up as it fills like a tampon) but it’s cheaper in the long run at £20 a pop and way more environmentally friendly as you only need one. Also fuck you tampon tax!
As I started to get used to using it I began to feel more connected to my body, more aware of what was going on inside of me and more matter of fact about the fact that there is blood coming out of me. Using the moon cup felt more like an admission and acceptance of what my body does naturally as opposed to ignoring it, resisting it or plugging it up. Typically we feel embarrassed buying tampons and as teenagers particularly we are ashamed that we have our periods at all. Some people even refer to it as ‘the curse’.
I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about it. When I meet another moon cup user I get visibly excited. I have found this new gadget empowering; not a word we would always associate with menstruation.
But why not? If it wasn’t for our periods there wouldn’t be any people. We are the givers of life. We are the key to creation. Why are we ashamed of this? This power is immense, miraculous and not something we should ever be ashamed of. But we are. In our ever so human way we have found a way to focus on the negative in the situation as opposed to the positive. Our menstrual blood means the continuation of the human species but we would rather focus on the ick factor.
Now I’m not saying I want to go dancing naked in the woods and start drinking my own period blood but why has no one ever told me about this moon cup before? Why am I only hearing about it now in my thirties? Why are we polluting our dying planet (and precious bodies) with an endless supply of blood soaked chemically treated cotton wool mice when we could just be washing the blood away?
Good question. Is blood the answer? Are we still too grossed out to venture down there? I mean it is messy. You do get blood on your hands and in your sink and there’s no way to avoid the clots of bloody gloop that you wash down the plughole; it’s definitely a thing but you get used to it. It’s not like you’re killing anyone although I’m sure there are several American republicans who would disagree with me.
I am not and never have been afraid of blood. Lots of people who are have a horrifying experience when they start their periods that unfortunately is to be relived every month so maybe fiddling around in their minge with a bloody slippery moon cup isn’t for them. One of my best friends is terrified of blood and when she got her first period she was frightened, she felt sick and consequently suffered with her periods all the way through school. Does this fear affect us more than we realise? Does it cause us to suffer more pain? Does the psychological attachment to the fear of blood affect the physical symptoms suffered by some women when on their period? If so is there potential that by facing this fear and becoming more comfortable with the process (and the blood) we can somehow reduce our pain or discomfort?
I don’t know but I’m pretty sure most women who have bad periods would say that it’s physical. To be fair even mild period pain is no joke. Mine comes in three forms and is either concentrated sharp pain right where I imagine my ovaries to be, long streaks of pain right down my lower abdomen which feels like someone is stabbing me or a dull constant pain in the small of my back and that’s nothing in comparison to what some women go through.
Ok what about our relationships with our periods is that the answer to this reluctance to the moon cup revolution?
I count myself one of the lucky women who has never had a bad relationship with my period. This is down to my mother. I mean it could have been a rocky road. When I got my first period I was ten and my family were staying at my Nanas flat for a few days (not ideal) and we were due to go swimming that day. SWIMMING. Well my mum was not going to allow a little bit of nature to get in the way of my thirty lengths and she was totally chill after hugging me in a vomit inducing fit of pride which I believe all women do she then got me some tampons, helped me…you know…and told me to get my swimming costume on. That was that. I went swimming with my sister just as I would have without my first period and enjoyed a day out with my family as much as I normally would. No harm no foul. I am aware that this was a pretty impressive piece of parenting and am forever grateful for my mums quick thinking and calm approach as it taught me from day one that my period was just something that happened and didn’t have to get in the way of my life. So it didn’t. I am also blessed to have never suffered terrible pain or sickness when I get my period. Yeah I’ve had cramps and PMT and still get them but nothing that would make me stop what I was doing or send me to bed. There is no way of knowing if my first experience of a period has had any baring on my ultimate experience of it however. Do women who have had bad first periods go on to consistently have bad periods? Does the bad run out? Are these things simply unconnected coincidence?
Now my mum had never heard of a moon cup until the day I got mine and called her immediately to tell her about it so it makes sense that she gave me a tampon when I started my period. So how do we find out about them? I haven’t seen an advert on TV-have you? Period advertising is a weird one anyway generally sterile, using blue liquid instead of red gloopy gunk. Is it perhaps a bridge too far to expect to see a detailed explanation of how to insert a moon cup in the break between The Simpson’s and Channel Four News? I remember seeing one on a faded sticker attached to a toilet roll dispenser at someone else’s student union years ago. I was curious but it was pre-google so just let it slip my mind. It wasn’t until two years ago when a guy I was briefly dating reminded me about them that I decided to take the plunge so I googled, ordered and inserted!
We do seem to be witnessing a bit of a change in the way we deal with our periods. Anyone else seen the THINX ads on their Facebook newsfeed? Another new product launched as period proof underwear that on light flow days can be worn without a tampon or menstrual cup. It’s not one I’ve got round to trying but it’s on my list and certainly looks like another modern, environmentally and women friendly way of addressing that time of the month.
Yes I am clearly an advocate for the moon cup so it’s worth considering potential drawbacks. It does take a few months of getting used to to know exactly where it needs to sit and that comes through trial and error and yes this does involve fiddling around on the loo. It’s also worth stating that with the moon cup errors are more of a risk than with a tampon because if you leave it in the wrong place for too long blood can come out faster than normal. I have however only ever had one such error. Another one can be that if you can’t get to a loo with a sink in the same room you may have to re-insert without rinsing which isn’t ideal. Ultimately for me the pros outweigh the cons. I used tampons my whole life and when they were in I knew they were in but with the moon cup I forget it’s even there.
I’ve entered into many conversations about the moon cup since it literally changed my life and what surprised me the most is how few women have heard of them which was the main motivating factor for writing this blog. How are we meant to make ethical, economical decisions about our health and maintenance if we are not presented with all the facts? For me a moon cup is better for the environment, cheaper and more comfortable than traditional sanitary wear which makes it a no brainer. If you want to check them out then here’s the link again.
Go on ladies you won’t regret it!
Janna Fox is an actress, writer, yogi, aerialist in training and creator of many things. She started blogging for The New Establishment in February 2017 and her pieces are published every other Wednesday. Janna also contributes to sex blog Hitting the Spot. For more information please visit www.jannafox.com