My last moon cycle was the last time I will ever put anything inside my vagina to catch my blood….
I first bought a menstrual cup about five years ago to have during times of travel when I wouldn’t have the option to wash my reusable pads. I liked the idea better than organic disposable pads because there would be no waste and I could still offer my blood to the earth. With all the super positive and benign claims about this miraculous invention, I was happy to give it a go.
I used it on and off over the years, enough to say I have a decent amount of experience with it. Overall my feelings about using the menstrual cup had been mild as I enjoyed the convenience of getting to carry on with daily life while I bled.
However, last month was very different… I was in my first days of my cycle and I was going to be bleeding more heavily at night. In attempt to save my sheets from overflow of my pads, I wore the menstrual cup to bed two nights in a row. Manufacturers claim it’s safe to use up to 12 hours so I figured it would be just fine. On the morning of the second night I was awakened by a deep feeling to take the cup the fuck out. Toxic Shock Syndrome* whispered through my consciousness while I felt an internal vaginal pang that didn’t sit well.
Luckily everything was fine…. As soon as I removed the cup I felt a big relief however it was coupled with a newfound sureness that I would never use the menstrual cup again.
That morning I shared the experience with a friend who had spent the night. Coincidentally, she had recently had a similar experience and come to the same conclusion herself!
So I began to do some research. These menstrual cup manufacturers are making big claims; “They are more compatible with body….people do not experience Toxic Shock Syndrome…etc.” However, these products are relatively new, and have only recently been widely used! They haven’t been around long enough to have a long-standing report on how they may affect our bodies in the short term or long run. However, it has been documented that menstrual cups can produce Toxic Shock Syndrome. Here’s what The Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases & Medical Microbiology says about menstrual cups and TSS.
“The accumulation of blood in the cup, coupled with a higher pH and the presence of both carbon dioxide and oxygen in the vagina during menstruation, appears to provide a necessary milieu for S aureus. While this bacteria is often present on our skin and in our mucous membranes, getting it into the bloodstream via broken skin is what can cause TSS.”
So what does this experience and newfound information mean to me?
Our body is in a state of releasing that which it no longer needs through menstruation. Why would we dare keep it inside?? These fluids should not be stored in our body via menstrual cup or tampon due to possibility of infection. Our womb is shedding fluids that should be allowed to leave the body as they naturally come out. By preventing blood exiting the vagina, we create an environment for bacterial growth.
Do I suggest everyone should stop using a cup or a tampon? Not necessarily… however I would say if one is using these products they should only be inserted for a minimal time. I also suggest everyone do their own research on the menstrual cup before use. Will I personally be using the menstrual cup again? Absolutely not.
Another reason I have found to enjoy not using internal menstrual products is that I am able to really tune in to my body’s sensations. I have found it interesting to notice the moments when my blood releases as I find it brings my attention and presence back to my body and the moment. Internal menstrual products inhibit these sensations for me.
What will I do instead?
Free bleed as much as possible in nature and try to stay home during this time of the month so I don’t have to use products. As for travel, ever heard of period undies? They are washable padded underwear. I am experimenting with an organic brand and will also use reusable pads and bring a wet/dry bag.
I’ve come to the conclusion: health + sanitation > convenience.
I really now see how important it is to have our body release and move the fluid OUT naturally, rather than harboring the fluids inside and possibly creating infection. I also like the added bonus of feeling the contractions and releases of my blood, bringing me back to the awareness of my body.
I am grateful to live in a time in which we as women are growing and connecting on a large scale from sharing our personal experiences. Although there have been setbacks there is a major movement happening in support of women and our bodies. The Women’s Wellness Movement is thankful to be on the forefront creating a safe, honest, and educated space for healing to happen.
Thank you for being a part of the Movement!
Founder of Women’s Wellness Movement
Allie Ma (Allison Marie Lomax) is a mentor and scholar in the field of women’s health and empowerment. She has studied women’s wellness for over a decade and works with top professionals in the field, bringing together modern research and time tested wisdom. She is passionate about women living healthfully and empowered for the benefit of all of creation.