Written by Rowan Whiteside


A cup full of blood

There’s a better way to bleed, says Mooncup evangelist Rowan Whiteside.

A menstrual cup (the US brand Moon Cup as opposed to the UK Mooncup – spot the difference!), ready for action. Photo by Nicole Carey, via Wikimedia Commons.

A menstrual cup (the US brand Moon Cup, not the UK Mooncup – spot the difference!), ready for action. Photo by Nicole Carey, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nope, this isn’t the start to a recipe for black pudding. Or the first step to a dancing-round-a-cauldron ritual. Or the title of the latest Game of Thrones. It’s an introduction to the brave new world of sanitary protection: the Mooncup.

Greener, cleaner, cheaper, safer, Mooncups (the leading brand of menstrual cups in the UK) promise a better menstrual experience. Makes sense, right? Save the planet by not adding blood-soaked cotton and plastic to landfill and save your purse by not spending a fortune on luxury taxed one-use-only items.

A good friend (let’s call her H, to prevent red stained… cheeks) braved the cup first and then sang its praises. So, on a rare trip to the health food shop, where I filled my basket full of things which were going to make me a healthier, skinnier, better person, I picked up a Mooncup. It was an investment, you see, just like Manuka honey.

And then I left it in the bathroom for two months.

Until I ran out of tampons. (I’m a Lil-lets girl. Always have been, ever since I learned my mum wasn’t secretly eating boiled sweets in the bathroom.)

And since I was busy crying and filling the hot water bottle and licking melted chocolate from my jumper I couldn’t bring myself to stuff my knickers with toilet paper and waddle to the nearest shop.

My gaze fell upon the Mooncup. How hard could it be?

Well, pretty difficult, actually. The first few times the silicone seemed to expand before I’d managed to get the whole thing in – like I’d just inserted a self-inflating balloon – leaving it to pop into my hand, slippery and bloody.

So I sent an emergency message to H, which went something like this: “HELP IT’S NOT GOING IN,” and she replied telling me to try folding it like a rose rather than in half and to read the guide. I thought that my origami skills were always distinctly lacking, and that silicone didn’t seem like the ideal material to experiment with, but obediently examined the flyer.

It turned out that the rose shape was easier and, after only one or two determined shoves, I succeeded. Back to H: “IT WORKED. Covered in blood. Feels weird. Think it might be about to explode out again.” H responded saying that it was supposed to be lower than a tampon (click here for a helpful diagram) and said to think of my first tries inserting tampons…

Ah. I remembered wailing through the bathroom door to my mum that it was TOO HARD. If I could get the hang of tampons, I could figure this out.

“It looked a bit like a miniature goblet filled with dark red wine. It was strangely fascinating.”

When it came to taking it out again, I sat on the toilet and absent-mindedly groped around for the string. After discovering no string (because it doesn’t have one) I indulged in a brief panic that I wouldn’t be able to get it out again and would be forced to go to the doctors where they’d have to prise it out with pliers, letting loose a fountain of blood.

H: “Just bear down with your muscles! Like, push!”

Like all those kegels I never do, I thought, and bore down.* SUCCESS. I could feel the smooth rubbery edge. I glanced down at my knees, checking the manual again, then pinched and pulled and tilted. In my hands I held a small plastic cup filled with my lifeblood.

It was weird. It looked a bit like a miniature goblet filled with dark red wine. It was strangely fascinating. I’d never really been in such close contact with the contents of my womb, preferring to ditch the tampon quick sharp into the bottom of the toilet bowl. Now I could see how much blood I’d lost, thanks to the helpful measuring mark.**

So that was my first experience with a Mooncup. And I’ve kept using it, even inserting it sleep-fuddled in the middle of the night when the special heavy-duty sanitary pad became a slick warm bloodbath.***

I’m a total convert. I’ve become a menstruation evangelist; I can’t stop talking about it. The other day I was using a public bathroom when I heard the telltale snick of a plastic wrapper and I had to restrain myself from shouting, “There’s a better way to bleed!”

I’d seriously suggest giving the Mooncup a go. The worst that can happen is you get blood on your hands. The best? You save money, you get to feel ethically superior and assuage your environmental guilt, you cut down the risk of leaking blood all over your prettily patterned pants and you’re not messing with the delicate balance of your [insert preferred word for vagina here] vajajay.

Here’s Mooncup’s advert. In a radical turn of events it does not feature a woman dancing in a meadow/white leotards/crashing waves.

* I cannot possibly write ‘bear down’ without thinking of the Fat Dog Community episode and the song. So here’s a link. (On a side note, it is not, in fact, true that North American bears are attracted to the scent of menstruating women, although polar bears may be. Better stay out of the Arctic Circle, gals!)

** HAHAHAHA Google I do not believe that 30-40ml is the average amount of blood lost per period. Either you’re wrong or my womb is an exceptional overachiever.

*** Massive perk: I was going through a ‘super’ tampon every hour or so. With the Mooncup? FOUR HOURS’ LEEWAY.


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Written by Rowan Whiteside

Rowan Whiteside is a writer, reader, and consummate gin-drinker. She is never without a book and sheds to-do-lists wherever she goes. Like everyone else, she is currently working on her first novel.