Men might want to stop reading this right about . . . now. Ladies, consider raising a glass to the menstrual cup, the ultimate underdog tool for periods. Menstrual cups have gathered on the fringes of feminine hygiene since the Victorian Era (galvanized rubber, anyone?) but didn't become a comfortable option until the 1930s, when actress Leona Chalmers patented a latex model. Over the next 70 years, a company would pop up here or there with a reusable menstrual cup, but none gained much momentum.
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Nowadays, it's the green, crunchy-granola mama types who stumble upon it. The discovery usually begins when you notice your bathroom trash after a cycle—forget old tires and plastic bags in landfills, what about the TONS of used pads?! [Shudder.] It's not like women can avoid it, considering that few things make a period sexier than cloth diapers.
But the menstrual cup is a vessel that's pushed up inside the vagina, creating a vacuum seal. And honestly, it sounds perfect on paper: It's not noticeable, you can keep it in for up to 12 hours, there's no worry of Toxic Shock Syndrome because the blood is held away from the body, and there's no smell. The problem is that sometimes your cup runneth over.
Given women's elasticity and the varying cup shapes, choosing one that's airtight is a process. Plus, pouring out a cup of blood just isn't something our germ-obsessed society is into. Granted, the cup is half-full for a small portion of the population, unsurprisingly much of it being from outside the U.S. But for only $20 to $30 per year, it's worth testing. Give your Tampax a break.