Enter the menstrual cup — a reusable bell-shaped cup of medical-grade silicone that holds menses, rather than absorbing it. Instead of throwing it out when it's full, one simply pours out the contents. When in place properly, the circular rim forms to your body by suctioning to the vaginal wall, so it leaks much less than a tampon would. And, since it's silicone, to clean it thoroughly, you can actually boil it. Yes, it's a lot more contact with your period than you'd have with a tampon, but trust us: Getting to a place of non-squeamishness about your cycle is super empowering. It's your body, after all. Might as well not be grossed out by it. The major brands of menstrual cup include DivaCup, MoonCup, Softcup, and Lunette.
Menstrual cups aren't for everyone, since everyone is shaped differently. However, many women who use them find that their cramps are more manageable with a cup than with tampons, and the convenience is undeniable: Just one product that only needs to be replaced every few years? What's not to like? The main downside we see to using a menstrual cup is, of course, the inevitable public bathroom situation. Changing a cup is messy, and without a sink right next to you, you have to be a little creative about your methods. For some, that may seem like more hassle than it's worth, but for others it can literally transform the way they deal with their monthly cycle.
Getting a menstrual cup in right definitely takes practice. If you've ever read any of the first-time menstrual cup essays on lady blogs (this one from Jezebel is a classic), you're familiar with the tales of bloody missteps and epic battles of woman versus cup. However, the Internet is also full of helpful how-tos, and with a little research and a lot of practice, it's totally doable and very much worth the effort. After all, if for no other reason, think about how much more room you'll have in your bag without all those tampons.
Would you try a menstrual cup, or do you already use one?
Photos: Courtesy of DivaCup; MoonCup.