So, more intimate issues here for the lady travellers – guys you can skip this if you’re squicked out by things like women’s periods and other bodily functions! [This post will be updated in 2016 with new info and pix, stay tuned]
Still here? let’s keep going…
I did a review of the Lunette menstrual cup earlier when I was looking for an alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. If you’re not familiar with what a menstrual cup is or does, do have a look at the post to see what I’m talking about. Since then, I’ve been using the Lunette regularly at home and on trips and have generally been quite happy with it – it’s less obtrusive, I feel cleaner when using it and it is more environmentally friendly to boot as I’m not constantly tossing used pads or tampons.
Recently I was approached by another company called Victoria’s Love (VL) to test out their version of the menstrual cup. Slightly cheesy name aside, their cup is a little different from your usual cup – it comes with a valve at the tip of the stem, so you can empty out the discharge from the cup without the inconvenience of having to remove the cup from your body.
It’s a surprisingly simple idea, but quite a good one – How it works is that there are 2 holes on the side of the stem where the discharge empties out. The flow is controlled by a little white ball in the stem that acts as a stopper – you push it up and down the tube to block and unblock the holes accordingly.
*ADDED LATER: My contact at VL tells me that it’s better to push the ball above the holes rather than blocking the holes directly – apparently for some people the ball has fallen out of the hole, perhaps from pushing too hard!
During my heavy flow, I have to empty out the cup every 4 hours or so, and sometimes I feel a little bit sore after a few days of constant removal and reinsertion. With this built-in valve, you don’t have to remove the cup to empty it, so there is much less removing and inserting going on. I think it’s particularly useful for travelling as this means less chance of leakage when on a long transit and you don’t have much bathroom access, or you really don’t want to go through the trouble in a dingy toilet. (And if I had another situation like that time on the boat, it might be easier to deal with!)
The first thing I noticed is that the VL cup is quite a lot bigger than my Lunette, in length and in shape. They sent over 2 sizes, which you can use for different flows or just whichever fits you better – the smaller one is about the same width as my Lunette. The VL cup has a much longer and thicker stem which is hollow to collect the discharge, while the Lunette’s one is just a piece of silicone to help you pull it out. The VL cup material feels different – more smooth plastic (added later: liquid silicone to be exact) vs the matt texture of the Lunette, and is also springier.
These differences result in several things – I have to insert the larger VL cup using a different folding method from what I use with the Lunette because of the size and material. Also, I’m a lot more conscious of the longer stem, and can feel it more obviously, whereas with the Lunette it doesn’t feel like it is there at all when I insert it properly.
(Added later: VL did some tweaking and the new version of the cup is now shorter than previously, see below for comparison)
The discharging system in the VL cup however, is quite the wonder. During the day with the Lunette, it usually takes me some time to remove the cup, wash it a bit and insert it back in because I’m a little fussy about keeping it clean; but with the VL cup all I need to do is sit on the toilet, activate the valve to discharge, put the ball back in block position, wipe and I’m good to go – it’s kinda like a tap that you can control for your vagina (bet you can’t unsee that imagery now hahaha)! If you do get more solid bits of clot in your discharge though, you’ll need to squeeze it out through the holes so it doesn’t block up the tube. It takes a bit of practice to do this neatly and not get discharge all over your hands – my tip is to use a piece of toilet roll to cover the holes before you move the ball lock out of place, that way the spread is controlled by the toilet roll and things don’t start spurting all over your fingers.
Also, I’m not sure if it’s the material, size or shape, but the VL cup so far has been fairly leak-proof for me, even on heavy flow days, which is great news as I don’t have to wear back up pads as I had to with the Lunette. Correspondingly though, the suction power in the VL cup is quite a lot stronger than the Lunette and sometimes it’s harder for me to break the airlock and remove it easily*.
*ADDED LATER: According to my VL contact, one way to break the airlock is to make sure the holes are unblocked and then kinda wiggle it side to side as you pull it out. Whether that works better, I’ll have to test it out and see!
Right now, I switch between the VL cup for heavy days, and the Lunette on light days when I don’t have to empty it out so often, just because it’s less obtrusive. For travellers, you’ll save a lot of space without having to pack sanitary pads into your bags and could carry both, but if I had to pick one, the VL cup might be a more convenient choice.
You can get the Victoria’s Love Menstrual Cup right now off ebay – you can get the whole set which includes the sterilizer, something useful if you rather not dump your cup into a pot of water which you use for your food. I steam irregularly and sporadically though, and still use the soap from my Lunette set to keep things clean on a daily basis. Menstrual cups may be a little pricey for a start, but it will save you a lot in the long run!
If you’re interested in my other menstrual cup reviews:
Have any of the lady travellers out there used the VL cup before? Do drop a note on your experience in the comments, or if you have tips a a fellow menstrual cup user or just have any burning questions at all!