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If I sat and worked out how much money I have spent on my periods over the last 40 years I think the resulting number would horrify me. Menstruation has probably cost me thousands of pounds in my lifetime, and there is no wonder that ‘period poverty’ is a real problem around the world. Plus, the amount of plastic in the pads and tampons that I have used over the years is a big issue. I really do feel that it is about time that we promoted a cheaper, more sustainable and much more ecofriendly solution to all these problems. So when I was approached to try the Sileu menstrual cup, I was delighted to accept the chance to see for myself this alternative to mainstream sanitary products.
#AD – We were gifted the Sileu Rose Travel Set for this review. All opinions are our own.
The Sileu Menstrual Cup
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a bell shaped cup with a stem, usually made from medical grade silicone. They were devised to take the place of mainstream sanitary products. And are designed to catch menstrual blood within the vagina. They are also created to be reusable. The idea is that you sterilise them between uses.
The Sileu Menstrual cup is indeed made from red silicone, and is shaped as a rose.
Menstrual cups come in many sizes and shapes and there are other sizes in the Sileu range. The Sileu rose, though, comes as two sizes. The small size is more suited for ladies under 30 who have not given birth vaginally. The larger size is better for ladies over 30 or those that have had a vaginal child delivery. It may be that you do need to try a few different ones, particularly if you have an unusual vaginal shape or a low cervix for example.
How Do You Use One?
As with any personal sanitary product, it is important to use a menstrual cup properly and hygienically to get the best results.
Like anything it will take some getting used to. I remember using my first tampons. And how it was difficult at first to get used to inserting and using them. But now it is just second nature. And the same will be true of menstrual cups.
In theory, a menstrual cup can take about 3x the amount of blood as a standard regular tampon (30ml for the cup vs 12ml for a tampon). So in theory one cup can last 6-12 hours. But I would still be tempted to use the back up of a sanitary towel. For me, that would have to be a reusable sanitary towel (see my post on how to make your own here).
Before Using It
Boil it before use. The Sileu menstrual cup is made of medical grade silicone, so you can boil it for a few minutes to sterilise it before each use. The travel kit comes with a cup to use in a microwave. Or you can boil it in a pan.
Then let the cup cool before drying it. And wash your hands.
How Do You Insert It?
As with anything new, the key is to relax. Apply water or water based lube to the cup, and use one of the diagrams to show you the way of folding the cup before insertion. The most popular are the C-fold or the punch down fold.
Inserting the cup is very like using a non-applicator tampon. Push it up as far as possible. You may need to rotate the cup slightly to get a good seal and let the cup open. Then pull the stem to ensure it is properly inserted.
This is where I think it is useful to have a sanitary towel or panty liner as a back up. Especially during the first few wears, overnight or when you are on your heaviest days. Though once it is in properly there should be no chance of leaks.
How Does It Feel In Use?
If it is inserted properly, you should not really feel it in place. It should feel comfortable and you should be able to go about your day in total peace.
How Do You Remove It?
After washing your hands, the cup is removed by pulling slightly on the stem of the cup, whilst inserting a finger up the side of the cup to break the seal. Then you can remove the cup and pour the contents into the toilet.
It is recommended to wipe or wash the cup before reinsertion. So you will probably want to do this stage at home in a private bathroom at first rather than out in a public convenience. But because the cup is designed to be only emptied twice a day this is perfectly feasible. And again, this whole process should get easier and more natural the more you use the cup.
I actually found removing the cup to be quite tender. As a perimenopausal woman in her late 40s, I put this down to being quite dry. But I am sure again it becomes more easier with use.
In Between Uses
You do need to sterilise it by boiling for a few minutes at the end of using it, and store in a clean cool place. The Sileu menstrual cup we were sent had a handy storage bag and case. Furthermore, the travel set had a silicone cup that could be used in a microwave.
So What Did I think Of The Sileu Menstrual Cup
I was incredibly impressed with the set. I think it provides anything you may need to get started with menstrual cups.
But , I do think that using a menstrual cup has positives and negatives.
On The Plus Side
- Menstrual cups hold more than tampons, so you don’t need to check them or change them as often
- They are far more eco sustainable if correctly used
- They are safer if used properly, as there is no risk of toxic shock syndrome. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare condition that comes from bacterial infection when a tampon is kept in too long. Because the cup holds blood rather than soaking up blood, bacteria do not accumulate in the same way.
- Even though their initial cost is more, the cup quickly will pay for itself. Tampons and towels are quite expensive. So even with a retail of approximately £25, the Sileu menstrual cup set will pay for itself within a year. As the cups can last up to 10 years this means a considerable saving.
But (And It’s A Small But)
They do need to be treated hygienically and may take some getting used to. They can cause irritations and infection if not used correctly. However, if you are sterilising and using them correctly this should not happen.
A very tiny number of people can have a silicone sensitivity. And certainly you should avoid latex versions if you have a latex sensitivity or allergy.
But still the risks are smaller than those associated with the current mainstream tampons and towels that we are all using. Menstrual cups are a very safe alternative.
I actually do think that menstrual cups are the future of sustainable sanitary wear for the planet. Even if they are made of silicone, your average cup could last up to 10 years if used correctly. Compare that to 10 years of buying tampons and towels…and there really is no contest. Plus when you think of all the plastic waste that is prevented by using menstrual cups, it really is a no brainer.
It is maybe a little late for me to be getting on to using menstrual cups. But certainly I would have no hesitation of advising my daughter to use one. To buying one for her and showing her how to use one properly.
After all if it
- saves her money,
- is safer for her
- and more sustainable for the planet,
then products like the Sileu mentstrual cup are definitely the direction to be heading.
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