I’m not going to lie: I was a little bit scared of menstrual cups. They’re not as popular in New Zealand as tampons and pads, and they sound weird, but also really cool—like so many of the things I’ve come across on my journey into sustainable living. So when Menstrual Cup NZ asked me if I wanted to go behind the scenes at their factory and see how these mysterious devices are made, my curiosity won out over my fear. Here’s what I found when I visited them and learned more about these eco-friendly alternatives!
What I wanted to know
I was keen to learn more about the company, and as a proud consumer of menstrual cups, I wanted to know what it’s like working with them.
Menstrual cups are a newer innovation in the world of feminine hygiene products. They were invented in the 1930s by a gynaecologist named Robert Hiedenfeld who noticed that women were finding tampons uncomfortable. He came up with an alternative that was made from latex rubber, but due to its high manufacturing cost it was never widely available or popularised until recently when companies started producing cheaper versions out of silicone instead.
The basic idea behind these cups is pretty simple: they’re designed so you can fold them up into a small disc which sits inside your vagina for several hours at a time—around 12 hours for most people—to catch blood flow (instead of absorbing it). Unlike disposable pads or tampons which can leak if not properly inserted or worn correctly (which is why many women have trouble using them), these cups are reusable so there’s no risk of them falling out while you’re on your way home from work one day because they weren’t inserted effectively enough!
Before I went, I had a list of questions and points I wanted to clarify.
Before I went, I had a list of questions and points I wanted to clarify. The main one was: How can menstrual cups be sold in New Zealand? I wanted to know if they were approved by the Therapeutic Products Administration (TPA), and if they were, how did that happen? That’s because according to TPA rules, “every prescription medicine [and] other therapeutic good…must have an approved application before it can be sold or imported into New Zealand.”
I also wondered whether Menstrual Cup NZ would be able to supply me with a product for testing. After all, even though menstrual cups aren’t medicines, they do fall under the category of “other therapeutic goods.”
My Questions, Answered
My Questions, Answered:
- Can I wear it for 12 hours? Yes. Because they’re made of silicone (the same material as breast implants), they will last you a long time. There is no need to change your menstrual cup every four to six hours like tampons. You can wear them comfortably overnight and during exercise classes—no leakage or odour issues here!
- Can I wear it while swimming? Yes! The company has tested its product in chlorinated pools and hot tubs, so you don’t have to worry about any chemical reactions between the chlorine and your cup. Plus, this means that if you want to go for a swim but don’t want to carry around multiple pairs of underwear, then all you need is one pair of undies with a menstrual cup inside—and voila! You don’t even need plastic bags anymore because menstrual cups come with their own carrying case anyway (this makes them great for travelling).
Apparently the cup can be worn for up to 12 hours
Apparently the cup can be worn for up to 12 hours. This may seem like a long time to wear something inside your body, but it has many advantages and I’m loving the freedom it’s given me.
The first thing you have to get used to is emptying the cup several times a day—at least four times a day (more if you’re like me!). The best time to empty your cup is when you’re able to go into a private bathroom or somewhere private where you won’t be bothered by others. It’s not hard at all but it does take some getting used to because there’s nothing more embarrassing than having someone walk in on you while you’re emptying your menstrual blood into toilet water!
You’ll need some clean water and soap or disinfectant wipes if the contents are too messy. Then just rinse out with clean water until all of the blood has been removed from inside your cup (and don’t forget about those little holes). If any residue remains after rinsing, use an old toothbrush (or even better: one specifically made for cleaning cups), then reinsert into your vagina before doing any other activities!
Does it leak?
“Does it leak?” is a common question for those considering using a menstrual cup. It’s also one of the most common reasons why people don’t switch to using one.
We asked Anna, founder of Menstrual Cup NZ, how to avoid leaks: “It doesn’t leak if you use it correctly,” she says. “If you empty it regularly—every six hours or so—and follow the instructions.”
That being said, there are ways to make sure that this happens: “You can keep track on your phone with an app like Flo Period Tracker or Clue,” she explains. “Or if you have a period tracker in your diary already, just check in every time with your cup and check its level—that way you know when you should go ahead and change them out.”
Does it smell?
If you have a menstrual cup, you can remove it and empty it into the toilet. You don’t need to worry about getting up at night—just take your cup out in the bathroom, shake it clean and put it away.
If you are out and about, simply remove your cup, empty it into the toilet (you’ll see how much blood has come out) then wash with soap and water or use a wipe or baby wipes. If you’re at home, wash your cup with warm water and mild soap before putting it in its case to dry for next time.
Does it go mouldy?
The menstrual cup is made out of medical grade silicon and has a silky smooth surface. Silicon is naturally anti-bacterial, which means that it doesn’t need to be cleaned with soap or sanitising liquids.
I was surprised to learn that the menstrual cup is not intended for reuse—you should only use it once before disposing of it. If you’re using a reusable product, make sure that you clean it thoroughly before storing it away in its case or bin.
Is it safe?
The menstrual cup is made from medical grade silicone, and it’s been approved by the FDA. This means there are no known health risks associated with using it.
You should wash the menstrual cup before you use it for the first time, and then sterilize it every few months by boiling it in water for five minutes.
You can store your menstrual cup in its box or pouch (which are sold separately). If you want to keep your cup in a drawer or storage box that isn’t specifically designed for menstrual cups, just make sure you wash off any dust before putting your cup inside.
How do I insert my Menstrual Cup?
To insert your Menstrual Cup: Squeeze together at base of flange until tail pops out; push down gently so that rim rests on top of pubic bone; position folded end of stem between folds of labia majora; rotate clockwise until tail pops out; rotate counter-clockwise back into place behind cervix
They’re run by two women – both of whom are in their 20s!
I was able to chat with the co-founders of Menstrual Cup NZ, both in their 20s. They’re from New Zealand, but one is from Auckland and another is from Wellington. The women have known each other since they were studying business at university together, where they took a marketing course together. As you can see, it’s pretty impressive that this company has been created by two women who are in their 20s!
Menstrual Cups are not that scary, and Menstrual Cup NZ is run by awesome young women.
Menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone and can be worn for up to 12 hours. They are safe, hygienic and convenient—no more tampons! Menstrual Cup NZ is run by a group of young women who want to make sure everyone knows about their fabulous product.
Menstrual Cups are not scary at all. In fact, they’re pretty exciting. Menstrual Cup NZ makes sure its customers have everything they need to get started with their cup: a reusable cup, an infuser bag for washing it in the sink or shower, and even some samples of tea to help you relax after your first couple hours (or days) trying out this new way of life!
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to tampons and pads, I’d definitely recommend giving menstrual cups a try. They’re safe, convenient and reusable (which means they’ll save you money). Plus the customer service is awesome – Menstrual Cup NZ is run by two women in their early twenties who are super helpful!