|This was like my Bible as a young girl.|
This isn't me but, being a gymnast back in the day, it might as well be. Not knowing how to handle my periods without pads (which seems to be this girl's problem as well) was the main reason I quit.
At age 41, I have spent the last 29 years....348 monthly trips to the Cotton Festival...or roughly 2436 days with a wad of cotton (and synthetic materials) shoved in to or on my crotch. I managed to graduate to tampons but never felt confident enough to wear them sans pads most of the time. So, the old budget suffered as much as my bottom, which I admit, was prone to the occasional 'diaper' rash. If you don't know let me tell you, the whole tampon/maxi pad/panty liner business is a HUGE pain in my...er...ass?
The Instead Softcup is an alternative to tampons with no know risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome<--that's some bad stuff there). For someone like me...a lazy athlete with a heavy flow, this was the most appealing part of trying the Softcup. It never fails...at a big race (preferably and half or full marathon) I will inevitably start my period just in time for said event (see San Diego Marathon, Tough Mudder Norcal and Rock N Reno Half Marathon...so far).
As I have gotten older, my flow has gotten heavier and I've even experienced a few 'accidents' in the past year. Now, like pre-adolescent me...40+ year old me is hoping and wishing for menopause!! I generally have 2 days where I pretty much feel like I can't go anywhere because I need to have access to a bathroom immediately, just in case.
This past cycle, which made it's surprise appearance on the morning of my last half marathon, was the testing grounds for my new Instead Softcups. Now, these may look a little intimidating because you will think 'wow, these are kinda big...how in earth will the fit inside of me?'...well, do not fear, you just squeeze the ring together and wa-la, they are no bigger then a tampon.
Okay, so that leads me to the removal. It's easy. There is nothing to be afraid of...your body won't 'eat' your Softcup, nor will it require a trip to the E.R. to have the jaws of life help remove it. Just bear down a little so you can feel the little rim. Pull gently and there you have it...a little cupful of you own blood. Right, so, that part is a little odd because you might be sitting there on the pot thinking...'ummmkay...now what'?!? Dump it out, wrap it in toilet paper, put it in the wrapper of your next Softcup and then go wash your hands.
Here's my honest opinion on the Instead Softcup based on my experience:
1- Easier to use then tampons. Once you learn how to insert them it's a piece of cake.
2- Ability to wear for extended periods of time. Instead Softcups can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time (for heavier flow you may need to change them more frequently but I seemed to do fine at 10-12 hours). This is great for someone like me, who often has to change tampons every 2 hours...which is not so convenient when running or hiking for 4 or more hours at a time. Also, there appears to be no danger of wearing them longer should you forget to change it.
3- Cleaner feeling, which probably comes from the blood being 'sealed' in the body and not sitting on a pad exposed to air. Also, there is no string hanging out of your body letting things go up or come down all willy-nilly.
4- Comfortable. In all areas the Softcup wins hands-down. From insertion to removal to walking around or sleeping...running, biking, shopping...it's like you aren't wearing anything. I've had experiences with tampons where they have managed to work their way down (or perhaps expanded) to the point that sitting on a bicycle seat made me feel violated.
5- Economical. You can get the Instead Softcup for about $5 per 14 count box. On the surface that may seem like a lot but remember, you can wear these for 12 hours. So depending on your own body you may only need 8 of them per cycle. Compare that to what I was doing prior-pads and tampons at the same time, especially if you are using the 'healthier' all cotton, unbleached tampons which are even more expensive then the average brand-and I'm practically making money!!
1- Can be inconvenient if you need to change while you are out. No lie, these can be a bit messy. There are ways to eliminate the mess (like changing prior to leaving your house for an event or stashing latex gloves in your purse and just turning them inside out once you pull the Softcup out) but you ARE going to be inserting your fingers into your hoohah which may then leave them covered in blood. You need to have access to a sink to clean up and you need to be careful when tossing the used cup as a little accidental drip on your friend's white rug under the toilet will be noticeable.
There is still plastic waste. Trying to live green is a constant battle. It's hard enough sometimes to find tampons with cardboard applicators or to opt for non-applicator ones if you want to avoid the mess but you know that every month you are adding more waste to the landfills. Between the boxes or bags, the outer wrapper, the applicator or peel off panels on pads, and then disposing of all the above, there is a lot of waste. There are some hard core greenies out there that have reusable pads (which are washable) but I am not ready to take that big of a step, after all I live in an RV with no washer or dryer so no, I won't be hanging my reusable cotton maxi-pads on the awning to dry. On the plus side...you use less of the Softcups then you would tampons and/or pads, therefore you can at least make your footprint smaller.
Note: Instead Softcup does offer a reusable cup which can be used for one entire cycle. That might be an option for those greenies looking for the least wasteful way to tame the flow. The company claims up to a 95% reduction in menstrual waste when using the Instead Softcup reusable cup, and that is pretty awesome.
I am a convert and I encourage all women who still menstruate to give these a try, especially those who are active or feel they need extra protection due to heavy flows. The website (and other reviewers) have mentioned being comfortable while swimming, gymnastics (if only these were around when I was little!!), and even during sex. I wore mine with no problems for running, core exercises (including about a gazillion crunches), strength training and during my heaviest flow days.
I believe that over time, these will become easier for me to use and any inconveniences can be overcome...after all, even tampons and pads can be inconvenient (ever been at some one's house and had to change your pad only to discover that their French Bulldog LOVES to rummage through the garbage and eat maxi pads like a they haven't been fed in a week while you're trying to look like you have no idea how THAT got into the garbage?...No? Um, me neither).
So when the Cotton Festival comes to your town, check out the Instead Softcup and see how it measures up for yourself. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised!!
I received one or more of the products mentioned in this blog for free to review. Regardless, these opinions are 100% mine.