Oh Joy Sex Toy: Testing Out a Menstrual Cup

Each week, intrepid artist Erika Moen digs into some aspect of sex and turns her experiences into a comic. This week's Oh Joy Sex Toy: The Mooncup!

A comic about trying out a mooncup

GladRags is giving away a Mooncup and two cloth pantyliners to one lucky Oh Joy Sex Toy reader. Check out the details here and also come by GladRag's 20th birthday party in Portland next week--it's a fundraiser for Bitch with a great band and snacks!

Read other Oh Joy Sex Toy review comics, including artist Erika Moen's review of the birth control implant, queer feminist porn, and a vibrator alarm clock.  


Want the best of Bitch in your inbox? Sign up for our free weekly reader!

Read and buy Bitch magazine's current print issue!

Comments

37 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Not all it's cracked up to be.

Downside: When you are in a public restroom and you have to empty it . . . and you spend a lot of time digging around in your bloody vagina....when you don't have a sink immediately in front of you, it's a hassle and gross. I risked walking out of the stall to wash my hands looking like a serial killer. I leaked constantly on the two heavy days of my period. Also, a super tampon does better than the cup for overnight. I woke up with blood pouring everywhere, *never* that bad with a tampon. Took the cup out, it had overflowed, blood spilled in the floor. Really, on heavy days the only safe way to remove it and empty it is in the shower, because over the toilet or floor, it splashes everywhere coming out if you've bled a lot I won't be using this for my heavy days unless I do not plan on leaving the house, and never for overnight, but it is great for my low-flow days. For women who have heavy periods, I wouldn't recommend this...or at least I wouldn't sell it to them with the expectation they will never need to buy tampons or pads ever again. The gladrags sound nice, but they're a fortune, if you want a week's worth, you'll end up paying almost $100.

Maybe because I have a

Maybe because I have a relatively light period, I have never had to empty my menstrual cup in a public washroom. I put it in in the morning and take it out at night, at home. The only time have to go back to tampons and pads is when I go camping and I know I won't have easy access to running water.

Hey CL - thanks for your

Hey CL - thanks for your feedback. You are right that menstrual cups *aren't* for everyone (just like tampons aren't for everyone -- every body is different). That's why we have a 90 day money-back guarantee on The Moon Cup & all of our pads, and do our best to offer support in a variety of ways (videos, twitter, email, phone, livechat, etc) for folks who are having trouble getting used to menstrual cups or cloth pads. Some women with heavy flow actually prefer cloth pads and menstrual cups to disposables, too!

GladRags are definitely more expensive up-front than disposables, but they pay off over time. It's kind of like buying a set of nice ceramic dishes vs paper plates for every meal. At first, it costs a LOT more, but you get to keep them for years! We like to remind people that you don't have to buy a full set of cloth pads all at once, either. You can start with just one or two pads here and there to supplement your disposables. Over time, you'll build up a full stash.

Thanks for your comments!

xoxo Tracy from GladRags

Maybe for women with heavy periods but for the rest? Go for it!

CL, I understand your concern. Perhaps for women with very heavy periods, it may not be for you. However, even on my heaviest days, I have never had a problem. Somethings to keep in mind with a mooncup, since it is holding and not absorbing the outcomes of a spill can be worse than a leak with a tampon. The best way to prevent this is to check your moon cup a bit more frequently on your heavy days. I agree with CL that if you are in a public bathroom with no sink in front of you, it can be a bit messy but nothing that a little toilet paper can clean up. There is definitely a learning curve, but once you get past that it is the best thing since sliced bread!

I cannot talk enough about how much I love my mooncup and how it changed my relationship with my period. I have never been able to wear tampons, they were not comfortable. I would cramp with them in or get itchy. It sucked. I was so hesitant to purchase a mooncup because $40 is a bit steep to spend on something I can't use. I am so happy that those problems went away.

Yeah, but how big is it?

My issue with the moon cup has always been it's girth. Tampons are relatively small diameter wise; the moon cup looks...not so much which is why I've never tried one.

All sizes available!

Try meLuna for a lot of different sizing options. They have different cup stiffnesses, different lengths, different widths, and different grasping methods (ring, ball, stem, no end). I've been very happy with MeLuna. And, yeah, I know it looks like it won't fit, but it usually does. Remember that your cervix is already in there, and these are made to sit under your cervix which is fairly wide itself. The problem bigger than width it length. If you get a cup that is too long, cut off the stem/ball/ring or try turning it inside out. Or, buy another one with a shorter length.

I bring a bottle of water

I bring a bottle of water with me into public bathrooms if I know I'm going to need to change it. I've been using my cup for about 6 months and I love it! Funnily enough, I went to my doctor once when I was wearing it, and she had no idea what it is or how it worked!

Cloth pads aren't expensive int he long run.

Just think about how much you'll spend on pads in a year , and you can justify the expense of any non-disposable menstrual ... device. I still have glad rags from 15 years ago, in PERFECT shape. I also like Luna Pads, and some homemade imitations. Haven't tried a cup, though tempted, I would not use it on heavy nights anyways, for that, a cloth diaper does the trick. For heavy days if I'm out and about, a double-stuffed cloth pad plus an organic tampon is my go-to. Give cloth a chance! :)

The Glad Rags are pricey to

The Glad Rags are pricey to start with, but compared to the cost of disposable pads, they're way more affordable - you don't have to keep buying them every month! I am still using some Glad Rags I bought in roughly 1998. I've had to add a few over the years as they've gotten eaten by the dryer, but they really last a long time. They feel softer and better on your bits than plasticky pads, too. I can't recommend strongly enough, buy one and give it a try. I love them.

Don't Give Up!

I have endometriosis and extremely heavy periods. I often lose 30mL in a few hours (30-60mL is considered an average blood loss for an entire PERIOD, not just half a day). My largest cup holds 15+mL and I empty it every 1-2 hours on my heaviest day. So, I know heavy periods. When the cup is full, it overflows. That's not the cup's problem, that's physics! A tampon would do the same! It leaks if you leave it in too long too. I always use a backup cloth pantyliner, and yeah, some days that heavy period gets the best of me and the cup overflows, the pad leaks through, and I get a stain in my undies or on my pants...or in my bed. That happened to me whether I was using tampons + pads or cup + cloth pads, so I figure it's the occasional accident.

I will say there is a huge learning curve, especially if your periods are as heavy as mine. Yes, I leave the public toilet stall looking like I've murdered someone...but only the fore finger and thumb of one hand (I must've pinched that pour soul to death; a strange murder indeed!). I wipe that hand down with TP, button just the button of my jeans with one hand, and go out to wash. No one is looking in the sink as you wash, and if you wiped most of it off, the water won't even turn pink. Then fix your fly (you can make it look like an "oops, almost forgot that!" because who in the ladies room wouldn't understand that?! But practice at home, on your light days or in the shower. You really can get the hang of it without spilling, or sit on the toilet so that if you spill, it goes into the toilet.

Tip: bring a water bottle into the public restroom with you. You can rinse your cup off into the toilet with the bottle, and rinse your hands too.

And glad rags... I love my menstrual cup but I make my own cloth pads. Flannel for the absorbent pad, a lining of PUL (waterproof diaper material, if you're looking at a fabric store for it, or online) if it's a pad for heavy flow, and a backing of polar fleece with a snap. If you don't have a snap press, you can buy the metal ones you hammer into place. I finally have my stash built up enough that I can put the used ones into a mesh laundry bag and wash them all together at the end of my cycle. I haven't spent any money on menstrual products in over 2 years, nor have I THROWN AWAY any packaging or products in that long! Think of the environmental aspect of that!

All that said, I'm glad no one is forced to use a cup if it's not for them. It isn't for everyone. But I hope interested folks think about it, do their best to get over that initial "ew" factor, and realize it may take up to 6 cycles to get the hang of it. Keep trying. Use your normal, tried and true method when you go out, and try this at home until you get it. You can do it! My periods are no longer a stinky nasty hell with bloody TP every time I wipe. Now, besides emptying the cup and a few drops on the pantyliner now and then, having a period is almost like I'm not having one. Besides the endometriosis-induced cramps, that is!

I have endometriosis too, and

I have endometriosis too, and the cup is SO MUCH BETTER for my periods. I've been using it for almost ten years now. And on the rare occasion that my period surprises me by jumping around by a week at random and I have to borrow a tampon from a coworker, I hate it. Tampons have always been so uncomfortable for me. And disposable, plasticky pads? No thanks! I'll wait til I'm old and incontinent to wear diapers.

The idea of the cup does ick some of my friends out, but using it improved my relationship with my lady parts. And I have way fewer leak issues with the cup (though there are leak issues on super-heavy days), which lets me feel semi-normal through the haze of pain.

Bringing a bottle of water with me into public restroom stalls is a habit that I developed too. I try to carry water with me at all times anyway, so not that big of a deal. Besides, I don't think any woman would judge another for having a little blood on her fingers after exiting a restroom stall. I mean, c'mon, we've all been there.

Public Toilet tip

I also have a heavy enough period that I need to empty in public toilets from time to time. I follow the tip that came with my cup and I grab a paper towel before I go into the stall and wet the end of it. Once you get the hang of it (like everyone else said there is a significant learning curve) a wet paper towel is all you need to get out of the stall without looking like a killer.
I also use the glad rags, have a small supply, and they are great and soooooo much better than disposable pads.

Like others on here I have grown to hate the times I have to use tampons and I feel so good about all the the waste I have personally eliminated from my life. So happy with this product!

I use a Diva Cup, and I have

I use a Diva Cup, and I have extremely heavy periods (I can fill a Size 2, 1-oz Diva cup in less than four hours). I had some similar issues during my adjustment phase, and fixed them by:

1) Owning two! I swap them out in a "dry bag" (made of PUL fabric) so I don't have to worry in public restrooms.

2) Making sure that they're not wet when they go in, so they seal better. This was a HUGE help! When I clean them, I always dry them off first with a little paper towel or tissue.

3) Making sure to do a full 360 degree rotation to get the cup to seal once it's in.

I have had zero problems in five years since doing those three things.

I use a Diva Cup, and I have

I use a Diva Cup, and I have extremely heavy periods (I can fill a Size 2, 1-oz Diva cup in less than four hours). I had some similar issues during my adjustment phase, and fixed them by:

1) Owning two! I swap them out in a "dry bag" (made of PUL fabric) so I don't have to worry in public restrooms.

2) Making sure that they're not wet when they go in, so they seal better. This was a HUGE help! When I clean them, I always dry them off first with a little paper towel or tissue.

3) Making sure to do a full 360 degree rotation to get the cup to seal once it's in.

I have had zero problems in five years since doing those three things.

Toilet talk

Use the opportunity to teach other women about the Moon Cup in a situation where you have to empty in a public restroom. Don't be ashamed of your mess, because we all have a "mess" of our own to deal with. Try not to feel weird about it or grossed out, because honestly when you think about it, in the pioneer days women had to deal with much worse.

Never ever ever EVER use a

Never ever ever EVER use a tampon for overnight! That is ASKING for TSS. If you have that bad of an overnight period, use an overnight pad or an adult diaper, then rinse yourself off in the shower the next morning. May be messier, but it's safer!

Cleaning in public restrooms

I figured out that I can remove the cup and hold it under my stream of pee to help clean it. Then reinsert and wipe my hand with tissue (won't be very bloody). My own urine is clean enough for me apparently. If I forget and pee first (dang), I just empty, reinsert, and wipe my hands off with tp. I agree with others who have said that wiping the cup with tp is not worth it. I usually can get to the sink without looking like a murderer.

I even pee on it at home sometimes to make the reach to the sink less bloody. May gross some people out but works for me.

Peroxide!

Only one thing the review missed: If you use cloth pads, a lil' soak in peroxide gets blood stains out of everything.

Gladrags Pantliners

I made a switch a few months ago to Gladrags cloth pads and I love them. I've never liked tampons so I didn't think I'd like the cup, and I was worried that it would be hard to empty and clean in a public bathroom. But I definitely recommend their cloth pads to anyone who prefers pads.

Used cloth pads for 10 years (until I didn't need them anymore)

This is great! Before menopause, I used cloth pads for about 10 years, and found that I for my heaviest days it worked best to combing a "maxi" pad with a thin pantyliner pad to get "full coverage." Until I could get them into the washing machine I would soak them in a very large teapot full of water and use the soaking water to fertilize my houseplants. (A friend of mine who used a laundromat would put hers in a ziplock bag in the freezer until wash day - worked a charm.)

Most of the pads from my original purchase were still usable even after I no longer needed them, and I discovered they make excellent dust cloths.

And now my niece uses a moon cup. Eco-menstruation, the Next Generation!

SHARKS!

By the way, I went to Belize once, and wasn't expecting my period until the end of my vacation. Lucky me, it came on Day 1. I wore my menstrual cup while rafting downriver on an all day river trip (no place to stop and change, and wet tampons don't hold blood!). Then I wore my cup while snorkeling with SHARKS and I didn't attract them or get eaten or lose a limb.

And my luggage wasn't filled with pads and tampons to take care of me during my rural stays. I just had my cup and a few pantyliners. It all fit in my purse (well, the cup was IN me most of the time). For a camper, backpacker or traveler, a menstrual cup is a must-have. If you have a bottle of water, you are set. Plus, no used tampon or pad waste to carry around or try to bury.

Workable even for heavy flow days

I love my Moon Cup, even though it's gotten a bit discolored over time. I do have a very heavy flow--on my heaviest days, I have to empty it once every hour or so otherwise it spills--so I have to pair it with disposable pads. I hate the plasticky feeling, but they hold a lot of fluid (which saves me on days when my cup is full but I can't get to a bathroom right away). I have friends who use GladRags, but their periods are much lighter than mine. All in all, it's nice to know that my vagina isn't plugged up with bleached cotton and who knows what else!

I love Erika Moen's Oh Joy Sex Toy reviews. Keep 'em coming! ;)

I agree somewhat with the heavyflow opinion

So I too have had a bad experience with an overflowing mooncup nocturnal accident. Although honestly who hasn't had an experience like this with tampons/pads at some point in their lives? I use my during the day with a pantyliner as I always have a drop or two of blood and also if I can't tell very well when it is time to empty, those first spill drops will let me know I have to empty the mooncup very soon. However I have never been a fan of tampons... They make me very dry, they are uncomfortable and I can agree that they are just as messy as the mooncup. When in public/work restrooms, I usually dry the mooncup with toilet paper and try to clean my hands as best I can. It is a learning process but it feels a lot more natural. It removes a lot of the big company period-shaming from your life as you have to deal directly with your period and you come to understand the whole process a lot more as something every woman on earth experiences for around four decades of their lives. It is also much healthier if your period is clot prone as it will be easier to eliminate the clots than with a tampon. At night I use a big pad for heavy days (cause I don't want to repeat the overflowing mess) but other than that the mooncup eliminates a lot of the stress and planning that usually accompany the monthly menstruation. I would never go back to life before mooncup!

YES! I switched to a DivaCup

YES! I switched to a DivaCup (a different brand of menstrual cup) in February, and I am never, ever, ever going back to tampons. It took a little bit of getting used to, but was well worth it.

One of the more awkward things for me with disposable products was what to do if I needed to change it while at a friend's house - I always felt weird wrapping up a tampon and tossing it in their trash or, god forbid, trying to flush the thing (not recommended). With the cup, no one has to know and I feel way more comfortable. It's lovely.

Advertising - ugh!

As cute and cheeky as this comic is, and as feminist and rad as Glad Rags is, this is still an ADVERTISEMENT, and should be noted as such.

It's a review, not an ad.

It's a review, not an ad. Erika has been wanting to make this comic since she started using a Moon Cup, and she wasn't paid to create it -- when I gave her the cup (as a friend), she hadn't even created OJST.

So while there is often a very fine line between ads and reviews (especially online), it hurts my heart a little to think that this awesome comic is being taken as just another advertisement, and not statements from the heart about a device that's made a difference in her life.

Some reviews are good - some are bad

Thanks for raising this point--it's important for me to remind readers that we're a nonprofit that will never take money in exchange for control over content.

Artist Erika Moen reviews a different product each week for this column and has the freedom to express her frank opinion about each. Some weeks, that means noting that a sex toy has many drawbacks, other weeks it means raving about how much she loves a type of lube, her favorite sex toy, or the way she deals with her period. Though GladRags is a long-time sponsor of Bitch, we didn't receive any money or goods to run this review, nor did we discuss this review with GladRags before it ran. This is the same policy as with any article or blog post--no company pays us in exchange for influence over our content. For her part, Moen is always transparent in her Oh Joy Sex Toy comics about whether the product was gifted or purchased or, as is the case here, traded for a comic book. 


Bitch Media Online Editor

Problems? Email [email protected]

Learn from my mistake!

I love my DivaCup. Like others have said, it definitely makes you more comfortable with your period. One thing to keep in mind though is to boil the cup before and after your period, and don't keep it in more than 12 hours without "changing" it. On days that I'm spotting, I sometimes keep mine in longer than 12 hours (which I'm pretty sure the instructions say not to do anyway). Well, that seems to trigger yeast infections for me, so learn from my mistake! Don't keep it in longer than 12 hours!

Heavy flow

I used the diva cup for several years, but had too many problems with overflow and didn't have the fabric pads as a back-up. I didn't like having to use the cup as well as a disposable pad only to go through many disposable pads and the irritation they caused. I'd definitely recommend backing up the cup with a disposable pad if you are a heavy flow person. My other problem with the diva cup is that even with the stem completely cut off, it was too long and would sink down to where I could feel it after it had been in place for awhile. Girth was never an issue, just length. I've since had an ablation so I don't have to use any products, but if my period returned, I'd go back to the cup/cloth pad combo (at least until I could convince a surgeon to remove my uterus).

I've also used natural sea sponge which actually was my favorite preference though getting the clots (I used to have a lot of clots) out of the sponge was difficult. I ended up using the same sponge all week then throwing it away and using a new one the next month.

Cup Too Long? Solution!

If you're using a Diva cup and it's too long, try turning it inside out. My cervix is low, so I wear my large Diva inside out. It only takes away from the capacity a tiny bit, but that end that used to bother me is inverted now, and so it's much better. Also, look online for measurements. Whatever the length of your too-long Diva is, look around and buy a shorter cup. I know this is a review for MoonCup, but for me personally, I just like getting the word out about cups in general. Look into MoonCup if you like, but there are lots of brands out there. I know MeLuna has sizing options: length, width, capacity, and even how soft or stiff the silicone is. (I just got a soft one, and even after using a cup for 6 years, I'm having trouble with the soft one, so I'd recommend normal stiffness unless you KNOW you want or need it softer). Anyway, all the cup websites should have sizing charts, so you can find one with a length that works for you.

Love it!

I have used my diva cup for a year, and before that I used Luna Pads for many years. I even have a special canvas bag I use to collect my bloody luna pads and wash them all together at the end of the week. I LOVE my diva cup; only downside is cleaning it but I finally bought a special wash for it.

Shorter Periods

I like using the cup for all the above reasons, but also because it actually makes my period SHORTER. It used to be around 7 days long when I used tampons and pads, but I think due to the slight suction of the seal, it's now 5 days tops, and the last three are really light.

Two more days a month, period free? Hell yes!

I always had trouble with my

I always had trouble with my DivaCup, and it wasn't that my flow was especially heavy. I followed the instructions, turned the cup 360 degrees and made sure it was sealed, and it still leaked. All. The. Time. The problem seemed to be that it would get sucked up very high into my vagina. The cup is supposed to sit fairly low, and my vagina would go NOM NOM NOM and it would end up way the hell up there, and the blood would leak out around it. I never could figure out what to do about that, so I'm back to pads.

High works for me

My Diva cup does tend to sit pretty high, really cupped up around my cervix--when it's not, it tends to be uncomfortable and won't pop open correctly. One thing that can be tricky is making sure that it's fully popped open--if it's not perfectly round, it's not all the way open and won't seal.

Alt menstrual supplies are lovely!

I've had a Diva cup for years, and like a fair number of previous commentors, I love mine, though I have had more cramping with it since the birth of my older son (not sure if that will change now that the second has made his debut, since I'm only about 2 month out and haven't had a period yet). This leads me to what I wanted to say, though, which is a note to moms: price-wise, alternative menstrual supplies are a lot like cloth diapers. You'll cringe when you buy them, but then you'll look at how much the disposables cost, figure out how many you would have gone through, and be amazed at what you're saving. I've got cloth pads that I've been using for 10 years, and they've lasted quite impressively. Soaking them also does wonders to get the blood out, and I'm considering trying my diaper sprayer on them to start the soak earlier on . . .

For anyone who's concerned about what to do with either a cup or a cloth pad when you're out and about, there's really no issues. Just use the tips given by others (water bottle, wet paper towel) for the cup, and get yourself a cute, stylish wetbag for pads (check cloth diaper sites, again--they've got the sorts of things you need!).

I have heard really good

I have heard really good things about the cup and I really really want to try it since I'm over having to use uncomfortable pads buuuut I don't know if I should since I fear that I might not be able to get it in properly because from my past (and only) experience with tampons I know that i'm not good inserting things up to my v jay jay and I get extremely uncomfortable just from the thought that I have something inside me! ugh. :(

Fab!

I've been wanting to switch to a cup and reusable pads for ages, but I have one question, and it sounds really awful that I don't know this but... do you have to take it out to pee? Sex ed wasn't so great when I was in school and I'm not great with biology.