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Friday, 11 August 2017

Save money, the environment and your vagina

As a female, I statistically spend 25% of my time walking around with my knees clenched together because it's That Time of the Month. I always resented that not only is it uncomfortable and inconvenient to have a period, but it was expensive as well. I used to spend $10 a month on tampons.

A couple of years ago I made the switch to using a cup, and I have never looked back.

Comfort and practicality

Firstly, a menstrual cup (specifically a Mooncup) is easily the most comfortable thing I have ever used. Back when I used tampons I always struggled to get them in exactly the right place, and I remember not being able to sleep some nights because I couldn't get settled. 

While the first month or two using a cup requires a lot of practice to get things just right, once you learn the tricks it's easy to forget that you are even wearing a cup. In fact I did the other day! 

Even better than the comfort though is the practicality. I think we've all had a moment when we've flipped open our tampon box to find that we've run out. In high school and university I remember awkwardly approaching near strangers to ask if they had any spares. 

I have been using the same cup for four years now. I have bought a second one, but that was only because I accidentally packed it in the wrong bag. I decided I'd rather have two Mooncups (one in each bag) than constantly remember to swap it between bags and end up awkwardly missing it.

Apart from some discolouration, my cup looks exactly the same as the day I bought it. You can wear it when you swim, when your hiking or playing high contact sports. I've worn it overnight without any spillage. I've also (accidentally) worn it for two days without a leak - I don't recommend this. For proper hygiene you should be emptying the cup twice a day, but it's so comfortable you can easily forget.

Day to day usage is super easy. You need to take out your cup and empty it twice a day. If you're in a public bathroom you can quickly wipe it out with some toilet paper before replacing it. If you're at home give it a quick rinse under a tap.

Long term, you should sterilise your cup every few months. You can either soak it in boiling water or wash it with gentle soap - just make sure you let it air dry after. It's as simple as that.


Okay, here we go, this is a finance blog, so how much money does a menstrual cup save me? Over $100 a year

I have a reasonably unreliable period, which I believe is a side effect of the Implanon implant I use for a contraceptive. As such when I used tampons I was generally going through 40 a month for a period that would last more than ten days. The cheapest tampons you can by these days are 11cents each, or in my case, $4.40 a month. However I found the cheap options never worked consistently and led to leakage and buying new underwear. 

Between the slightly higher shelf tampons and buying replacements, I was easily burning through $100 a year on something I had no choice about. Invested over 10 years this costs over $1,450. For something I have no control over! Put another way if I wanted to invest enough to cover that cost I would need $2,500 in the bank. Just to pay for my period.

Buying two cups back in 2013 cost me a measly $100 after paying for shipping and currency exchanges (the Australia Dollar wasn't particularly strong then). In four years I've saved over $400 by using a cup, that's 100% return each year. You can buy one today and join the cheap, comfortable revolution!

Environmentally Friendly

I've saved a lot more than money though. Plastic takes centuries to break down, and every tampon comes individually wrapped. While the tampons themselves might be biodegradable, the process to make them requires a large amount of chemicals, processing and shipping. 

Cups are made from medical grade silicon, which also won't degrade. However after four years of usage my cup (produced once, and shipped to me once) has used significantly less resources than a four year supply of tampons, and created a significantly smaller amount of waste than hundreds of plastic wrappers.

While this blog is about personal finance and retiring early, there's no point in escaping the rat race to a planet buried under mounds of rubbish.

But it's gross!

This is the number one complaint from women who are reluctant to try a menstrual cup. This is something that we need to get over. As an adult woman you will bleed from your vagina once a month for thirty to forty years. Do you really intend to spend all that time grossed out by a basic bodily function? No, of course not.

Most times when I change my cup there is no mess. Occasionally you will get a small amount of blood on your hands. Wipe it off with some toilet paper, then wash your hands like you were going to anyway. In the worst case scenario you might want to invest in a nail brush, but I very very rarely need one.

What are you waiting for?

For a measly £25.99 plus shipping you can have the convenience, comfort and cash-saving powers of a menstrual cup from MoonCup UK.

And if you think dealing with your period sucks, try living in East Africa. Without access to proper supplies, and the cost of a packet of pads equal to 60% of the daily wage, women in East Africa resort to using things like twigs, leaves, mud and mattress stuffing. These substitutes are ineffective, and lead to infections and long-term damage. Young girls in East Africa miss up to 20% of their school year because they cannot afford sanitary products. If this blog was preaching to the converted, or you want to change someones life, you can donate reusable pads or a menstrual cup via Femme International.


  1. I'd check those figures again, $30,000 invested gives income of $1,200 per year using the 4% rule! I'm gonna send this article to my wife, thanks.

    1. Good catch! I mixed up my annual cost with a monthly cost. Periods are pricey but certainly not that much! Should not math when I'm sleepy.

      I hope your wife joins the revolution! It's worth it for comfort alone :)

  2. I'm two months into using the cup and while I'm still dealing with the learning curve I don't have any plans to go back to tampons. The money thing is huge but the biggest factor for me is not filling up a garbage can with tampons every month...that's a lot of garbage if all the ladies out there are doing that!
    I'm hoping next month will go even more smoothly!

    1. I promised it gets better :) the time I forgot my cup and had to use tampons was a real eye-opener. Even during the learning curve my cup was more comfortable and more effective.

  3. I've been thinking about cups forever! I don't even use tampons so I'm not sure how I will go with this. But one day I will bite the bullet and try!

    1. Absolutely bite the bullet! I won't lie, if you're not even a tampon user the learning curve will be steep, but you can do wonderful things like swim, or hike for HOURS without worrying about what's going on down there :)

  4. I really applaud what you are doing but cups are not for me - I have no complaints paying for the convenience of using tampons, which compared to the ones around when I was a teenager, are designed for comfort so I often forget I've got one in. Plus I know for a FACT that I would make such a mess with a cup!

    Thanks for posting the link to Femme International - that is something I'd like to support.

    1. Compared to a cup I found tampons crazy inconvenient! I'm disorganised so I'd always run out at the worst times.

      Thanks for supporting Femme International - I have no affiliations with them, I just think they do a good thing :)


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