“ Brand: MeLuna / Type: Lady Cup „
If you have no hands-on experience of a menstrual cup, then I'm sure many of you already have your face screwed up in an expression of disgust - but I encourage you to read on and let me enlighten you on what I believe to be the best invention ever created for menstruating women.
Periods are a fact of life for all women until a certain age, and for most are a painful, stressful annoyance they could do without. A lot of women think they only have two options to deal with the problem - tampons or sanitary towels - both of which are extremely unhygienic, smelly, full of chemicals, and in the case of tampons, a health risk (potentially fatal) due to the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Yet as tampons are the more discreet of the two options, many women choose to use them despite the health risk.
A few years ago I stumbled across the subject of menstrual cups on a parenting forum and never looked back. The most well known brand seems to be the Mooncup - a basic silicone cup with a stem. A few people I know have tried the Mooncup and couldn't get on with it, often for reasons like "they could feel it inside" or "they found it difficult to remove". I have to stress that finding the right menstrual cup can be like finding the right pair of jeans, and might take a few attempts of trying different brands as every woman is a different shape and size (even down there!). There are many more brands on the market then the Mooncup - so I encourage you not to give up if you struggle with one.
This review is specifically for the Meluna cup - a German brand made of Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) as apposed to the more commonly used silicone. TPE has similar properties to silicone, but is cheaper - which makes the Meluna cup one of the least expensive cups on the market at around £11.50, versus £20 for a Mooncup. The Meluna is a smooth (but not slippery) style cup with a streamlined rim - rather than a thick ridge round the top which many women report to be uncomfortable. It also comes in a huge array of colours whereas other brands often only come in plain clear silicone - this may not seem important, but when you are experiencing the most miserable part of the month, a cheery bit of colour does bring a smile to your face!
Another fab thing about the Meluna is that is comes in three different firmness options - the Classic cup, the Soft (which is 25% softer/more squishy) and the Sport (which is 25% firmer). The Classic is for most women, the Soft is aimed at very sensitive women, but is slightly more difficult to use as it doesn't pop open so easily. And the Sport is for more athletic women with a strong pelvic floor. The colours currently available in the Classic are Violet, Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Black, Blue Glitter and Clear if colour isn't your thing. In the Soft it comes in Yellow, Pink, Cyan and Silver Glitter. In the Sport it comes in only Blue/Violet.
The Meluna comes in 4 standard sizes - small, medium, large and XL. Generally women who haven't given birth will go for small or medium, and women who have had a baby will get large or XL (all depending on bleeding volume). There is also the Meluna Mini, which comes in the Soft and Classic and in small or medium size. The Mini is basically a much shorter cup, so good for women with a low cervix or shorter vagina
The best advantage of the Meluna over ANY other cup, is the stem options available. Most cups only have a stick/stem, which lots of women find uncomfortable and have to trim or remove completely. The Meluna has three options - ball, ring and stem. The ring is brilliant for women who are a bit concerned about removal as it gives plenty of grip. The ball is more streamlined for more experienced users, and the stem is an option for those who like the traditional style. All the different styles have ridges around the base near the stem, to aid grip
To insert the cup, you need to either fold it in half into a C shape, or (as I do) push one side down and fold in half so it makes a kind of point. I find it easiest to put one foot up on the side of the bath or the toilet, relax and gently push it just inside the vagina with your finger - as you let go it should pop open, but you may need to give it a little twist or bear down slightly to help it open. After a few times you will find the technique that suits you and it'll be easy. A menstrual cup sits just inside the bottom of the vagina - you don't need to push it right up or shove your whole hand inside or anything! Many women fear it being really messy, but you barely touch inside at all.
To remove, again put one foot up or squat to open the vagina as fully as possible. Gently insert a finger and thumb, bear down slightly (use your muscles inside to push down) and feel for the ball/ring/stem, grip it and pull gently. If it doesn't release easily, then slide your finger slightly up the side of the cup and push in, or pinch the bottom of the cup to release the suction. Again, as it sits so low inside you aren't having to put your fingers to far inside, and as the cup catches the blood rather than absorbing it, you don't get it on your hands as it's not on the outside of the cup. Carefully remove the cup, holding it upright and tip the contents into the toilet. Then rinse under a tap and re-insert. You sterilise your cup in between periods.
The major advantages to using a menstrual cup are;
* it's reusable, saves you money and prevents adding to landfill waste
* it is discreet
* you can go swimming, sleep naked etc. without worrying about it
* it doesn't absorb any of the vaginas natural fluids, which are needed to keep it clean - doesn't upset the natural flora/balance.
* women often report shorter, less painful periods - myself included
* creates a seal inside which prevents bacteria forming, so no smells like with towels and tampons
* no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Really, upon reading the above, you'd be silly to not use a menstrual cup! The advantages are clear and make it the superior option to anything else. I personally don't dread my time of the month anymore like I used to. I couldn't ever say I "enjoy" my period, but the Meluna cup makes it far more bearable.