Ever since I first heard of the Mooncup I've been meaning to try it. For those not in the know, this is a reusable device that is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. Once full, it's simply emptied, rinsed and re-inserted. If in a public bathroom, the instructions state that it's fine to skip rinsing it as long as one does so the next time it's emptied. And it can be boiled regularly for sterilisation.
The Mooncup costs a princely £18.99. However, if it works it's a solid investment considering that most women probably spend about £3 on tampons and sanitary towels every month, meaning that the Mooncup will pay for itself in less than a year. There's also the environment to consider. As the average woman uses 10,000 tampons in her lifetime, this is definitely an eco-friendly choice.
The Mooncup comes in two sizes - one for women under 30 who have never given birth, and another for everyone else. Unfortunately, being a woman under 30 who has never given birth and who is also of short stature and small build, I found the small size to be uncomfortably large. In fact, inserting the Mooncup was a pretty uncomfortable process in general. The technique involves folding it into quarters, which then expand when in place. However, the Mooncup seems hell bent on reverting to its natural circular state as rapidly as possible. I know a lot of people are into S&M and good luck to them, but repeatedly thwacking my most sensitive parts with high-velocity silicone rubber is not my idea of fun.
Despite initial problems, a few minutes after I'd managed to insert the thing I hardly knew it was there. And despite the scepticism that had made me buy a pack of Bodyform's finest landfill fodder "just in case", there was absolutely no leakage whatsoever.
Taking it out however was just as difficult as getting it in. I found myself squatting on the bathroom floor with two fingers shoved up my chuff, laughing at the gross squelchy noises it was making as I tried to coax it out. It was like trying to give birth to a rubber chicken.
This is obviously not a valid option for women who are disgusted by their own menstrual blood, or who have a problem with touching themselves. Insertion and removal require you to fiddle around down there much more than for the insertion and removal of tampons, and although tipping its contents down the sink and rinsing it out doesn't exactly qualify as a heinous experience, some women are going to have a problem with it. When I told my mother that I had bought one of these things, her reaction was a resounding, "Eeeeeeewwwwww!" I invited her to peruse the instruction leaflet and she wouldn't even look at it. This woman is a hardened second-wave feminist. She has given birth. She is so disgusted by the idea of this product that she won't even look at the instruction leaflet. Hmmmm. Perhaps if this product were a bit more mainstream women like her might be more accepting of it, or perhaps women like her simply need to learn to accept their own bodies.
Despite practical difficulties, I'm going to stick with my Mooncup. I like the idea of never using tampons and sanitary towels again, partly because it's better for the environment and partly because most of the adverts for "feminine hygiene products" bang on about "discretion" and "freshness" in a manner which suggests that menstruation is something to be ashamed of, in addition to suggesting that skydiving in white drainpipe jeans when you're on the blob is perfectly normal. I'm sure that there's a simple knack to inserting and removing the Mooncup that I haven't yet got, and the temporary discomfort caused by it being a bit on the large side is no worse than the discomfort of removing a tampon. I'm sold.