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MY MOONCUP MISSION by Gleanne Brown

MY MOONCUP MISSION

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One of the things I dreaded the most happened to me whilst I was on holiday; my tampon ripped in half meaning the top half of my tampon was stuck. I was freaking out, what am I going to do?! Am I going to die?! (Not being dramatic here; Toxic Shock Syndrome is very real!!) But most of all – how am I going to get it out?!

I feel young women are encouraged to get comfortable with getting to know their boobs to check for any irregularities; with many fab organisations such as CoppaFeel urging this motion. Something I personally didn’t feel comfortable with was… my vagina. Now I know everyone’s different so you may be reading this like ‘giiiiiiirl’, but for me, my vagina was something I only dealt with during my period and even then, there was minimal contact: tampon applicator in, tampon applicator out. So as you can imagine, when this situation arose, I didn’t even realise my own uncomfortableness until it came to trying to get this stuck tampon out.

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This whole experience led me to realise that it’s equally as important to know your vag as it is your boobs. It’s just like any other part of the body, and if you don’t know it, how are you able to know if there are any changes that may need urgent care. Also, it led me to looking into alternative menstrual products and ultimately to the Moon Cup. The Moon Cup has really changed my perspective not only on how I view my period but the effects of our choices during our periods.

Environmental impact:

Did you know that the average woman has her period over 38 years [1].With the averaged5e1d7f8-9a34-474e-877c-9c8741c76f84 of 240 tampons used per year, this means a woman will approximately use over 9,000 tampons in her menstrual lifetime [2]. With around 1.9 billion women in menstruating phases of their lives [3], the amount of toxic waste this produces is colossal; especially if we take into consideration that the tampon takes 500 years to decompose and the plastic applicator and the plastic used to individually wrap each one are unsuitable for recycling [4]. Now that’s a lot of tampons and plastic adding to the landfills. Plus, nearly half of women flush tampons, which are not always filtered out by waste treatment plants thus ending up in rivers, coastal waters and seas [5]. This is polluting our oceans and harming our sea life. Also, for all my vegans out there, did you know that some tampon companies directly test on animals! [10].

A Moon Cup is a reusable cup made of medical grade silicon which you put in your vagina to collect menstrual blood. (Now for some girls, I may be hearing a ‘heeeell no’. After many discussions with my girls, I know that some people are just not okay with inserting something bigger than a tampon, but honestly it’s not as bad as you think. After the first couple of tries, it becomes so natural you’ll be wondering why you were worried in the first place. Also, yes it does get a little messy when removing, so becoming comfortable with menstrual fluid is also something to get

used to if you’re a tampon user! For more info and FAQ’s, head to https://www.mooncup.co.uk)

Moon Cups can last for years. ‘Moon Cup’ reports that customers have used them for 5 years or more before having to replace them [6]. ‘Well what do you do with them when you need to replace them?’ I hear you ask? Some suggestions include: asking your local hospital, asking your local city recycling facility or even using it for gardening (once cleaned and sterilized of course!) [7]. This website has more ideas and suggestions on how to recycle the Moon Cup: http://rubycup.com/blog/how-to-recycle-a-menstrual-cup/. In comparison to the 9000 tampons per menstrual lifetime, if you were to replace your Moon Cup every 4-5 years then that’s approximately 9 Moon Cups per menstrual lifetime which is a lot less waste.

Financial impact:

Financially, switching to the Moon Cup is going to save you some money. A woman will spend an estimated £1431.50 on sanitary products [8] compared to the Moon Cup at approximately £190 over a menstrual lifetime.

Health implications:

Tampons contain chemicals which aren’t really designed for the human body [9]. Also with the Moon Cup being made of medical grade silicon, it collects the menstrual fluid rather than absorbing the vaginas natural moisture, like a tampon does, meaning no dryness.

Solution for homeless women?:

c86fb425-c0b5-4050-a977-661468da104bPeriods are just one of the many challenges that homeless women and girls who live in poverty around the world may face; can the Moon Cup be a solution to this? Here are some interesting articles if you wanted more information: * https://www.mooncup.co.uk/blog/the-mooncup-and-homelessness/ * https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sabrina-rubli/menstrual-cups-east-africa_b_6313436.html

My mission is to raise awareness of the Moon Cup as 9 months ago I had never even heard of one and most of my friends both women and men hadn’t either. Obviously there are many other forms of sanitary products, even tampons that are eco-friendly with less decomposition time if the Moon Cup doesn’t take your fancy. But as a period is something most women will experience, I think it’s important to educate ourselves on what is out there. A simple switch or even raising awareness can help make a huge difference; not only to ourselves but to the environment and the world around us. Lastly, it’s important to know your vagina. Just like any other part of your body, your boobs, your moles etc., knowing any irregularities could help save your life (or at the very least, help save you from freaking out if you ever get a tampon stuck!)

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Bibliography: * [1] – https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/period-cost-lifetime_n_7258780 * [2] – http://divacup.com/eco-divas/ * [3] – https://www.mooncup.co.uk/blog/how-is-the-mooncup-environmentally-friendly * [4] -https://changetogreen.co.nz/pages/our-story * [5] -https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/21/flushing-tampons-toilet-blocks-drains-sanitary-products * [6] – https://www.mooncup.co.uk/ * [7] -http://rubycup.com/blog/how-to-recycle-a-menstrual-cup/. * [8] -https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/health/tampon-tax-calculator-sanitary-product-cost-uk-a3698101.html

[9] –http://www.designlife-cycle.com/life-cycle-of-tampons

[10] – https://www.theodysseyonline.com/5-products-you-would-not-believe-are-tested-on-animals

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Words by Gleanne Purcell-Brown

Social Media : @glepb

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