This article is written by medical professional Dr. Alice Byram, whom you can read more about at the end of the article.
Old habits die hard, but now is the time to look at those habits.
It’s a bit like doing a Marie Kondo on your accumulated stuff or reviewing the recurring payments on your credit card statement, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before in view of the value it brings to your life.
Most of us get into a period product early on and never question it again. Whether it was because of the free samples or the recommendations and personal experience of the person explaining periods to you, your choice was probably not an objective one. You were unlikely to have looked at all the pros and cons of all the options on offer. And if you are pre-menopause, the chances are that menstrual cups weren’t even an option when you first started having periods.
I’ve learnt a lot about new tendencies from younger women, but being older and more experienced with my body- especially after having children, means that I am the person that younger women come to with practical questions about women’s health issues. Being able to introduce younger women to a practical and eco-friendly menstrual product has been part of giving back. Some of my friends have told me how happy they were to have these conversations with their nieces and daughters-in-law and introduce them to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. It all helps with the bonding!
Menstrual cups are safe
There comes a point when the choices you make are not based on the packaging (although a classy presentation helps), but on more prosaic aspects such as safety. Menstrual cups are safe and it’s not just anecdotal reviews. The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals, published a review of all the research about menstrual cups and concluded that menstrual cups are an effective and safe alternative to other menstrual products1.
It's easier than you think
Although you might have a couple of moments wondering how the cup works, the reality is when you get down to it, inserting, emptying and removing a Ruby Cup is a walk in the park for anyone. That’s especially the case for anyone who has had children or gynae check-ups and smear tests. For this section of the population, after the first couple of tries, you can do it your eyes closed and probably multi-tasking too. Your anatomy is no longer a secret – to you or any health care professional or sexual partner, you may have had. Just remember that having had children doesn’t mean that you need a medium Ruby Cup. Have a look at our period cup sizing guide to choose the right Ruby Cup, safe in the knowledge that if it doesn’t work you can get an easy refund or different size. If you use a contraceptive IUD, we have some tips for you to make sure you combine a Ruby Cup and IUD safely. Some may be apprehensive about having to empty their menstrual cup in a public bathroom too but it is not as bad as you imagine it to be.
Make life easier for yourself
It’s one less thing to think about, one less thing to put on your shopping list and keep an eye on in the home stock-taking exercise which we all do to avoid running out of essentials such as toilet paper, pasta and chocolate (each to their own guilty pleasure).
If you have irregular periods, knowing you have a Ruby Cup in your bag gives you the confidence to feel that you are not going to get caught out. You can also pop it in for the days when you think you are just about to start your period whether it comes or not.
Make the lead-up to the menopause easier
The perimenopause is sometimes challenging and not knowing when your period will come and whether it will be a heavy or light flow is just one added stress. A Ruby Cup will cover all flow eventualities and is so portable that I just have it in my bag at all times. It takes up less space than all the previous products I used to carry around!
Irregular and unexpected flow is not the only “joy” in the years before the menopause. Hot flushes are particularly uncomfortable and feeling as if it’s mid-summer in February is not fun. Using a Ruby Cup and not other more bulky menstrual health products means at least one part of your body will feel cooler. Plus you won’t have to think of choosing clothes according to whether you are using menstrual health products or not. Being middle-aged does not mean boring!
Menstrual cups combine well with an active lifestyle
When your 10, 20 or even 30 years into your menstruating life cycle, you have a good idea of what to expect and how your periods will affect your day to day life. For some people it will mean 1 or 2 days out of action, for others it will hardly impact on their activities at all. Whichever category you fall into, using a menstrual cup means that you can forget about the period product you are using. Menstrual cups are comfortable, and the bigger capacity means that even when you change them at 8h, there is still some spare capacity. If you are worried about leaking (proven to be less likely than with more well-known alternatives), we have the answers to your questions. Exercise is always a good idea but looking after yourself and finding time to exercise will especially help you with some of the perimenopause symptoms. Knowing that it doesn’t matter what sort of flow you have won’t affect your choice of exercise is empowering.
Menstrual cups are good for the environment
Ruby cups are vegan, medical-grade silicone products which last for up to 10 years. If you think about the landfill generated at the end of one period x 12 months x years of periods, then look at your reusable Ruby Cup, it’s a no-brainer.
Related post: Menstrual Cups vs Reusable Pads: the Best Zero Waste Option
...and for your purse
I shudder to think how much I have spent on period products over the years. Period poverty is a very real problem and I’m privileged not to have had to think about it much beyond which was the cheapest option per unit, but for many people in the world the cost of menstrual products limits their activity. Menstrual cups pay for themselves over 6 months when compared with more traditional tampons. So, unless you know you won’t have another period after the next 6 months, it makes financial sense to choose a cup. This is also the time covered by Ruby Cup’s no quibble returns policy.
A Ruby Cup in an ethical shopping choice
When you find a product that works for you, choosing an ethical option which works for others is now part of our collective consciousness. Every Ruby Cup you buy translates into a Ruby Cup donated to another person who needs it but doesn’t have access to safe period products. Ruby Cup has from the start, looked to support in a thoughtful and long-term manner, women and girls who don’t have proper access to period products. This does not invalidate your no questions asked return option, so if you are not sure whether to try a menstrual cup, you can do it for someone else. Be part of the #periodpoverty movement giving real solutions to girls who were having their education interrupted with the arrival of their first period.
The bottom line
Although I was personally a midlife latecomer to this party, I’m a firm believer in the benefits of using a Ruby Cup. So much so that I enthusiastically recommend them to anyone who will listen. Feedback from friends and colleagues is always along the same lines, “I just haven’t got round to it”, followed by “WHY DIDN’T I USE A RUBY CUP EARLIER!!”. It’s never too late to start- even if you think you are heading towards the menopause. In fact, the practicality of the Ruby Cup makes midlife that bit easier.
For more help deciding whether a menstrual cup is right for you, check out our beginner's guide to menstrual cups.
Written by Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab
Dr Alice Byram was born in England to a French-British family. Following on from a degree in Spanish from the University of Cambridge, she went to Spain to study medicine. On her return to the UK, she worked in Emergency Medicine for several years before recently returning to Barcelona.
1van Eijk AM, Zulaika G, Lenchner M, Mason L, Sivakami M, Nyothach E, et al. Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Heal. 2019 Aug;4(8):e376–93.