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Hi, My name is Merrill Johnson and I am doing a project for my Fostering Sustainable Behavior class.

The project is to investigate a sustainable behavior that I want to promote like recycling, composting, riding the bus etc. Briefly, a sustainable behavior is one that would be good for the planet.
I chose to focus on promoting the use of reusable menstrual cups over the use of disposable menstrual products. The behavior I am trying to encourage is for women to purchase and use reusable menstrual cups.

I have completed a literature review, some observations and this is the survey component. Lastly I will develop a strategy where I have to describe how I will reduce the barriers that prevent women from purchasing and using reusable menstrual cups and increase the awareness of the benefits of using menstrual cups. I will also have to describe how I will increase the barriers to purchasing disposable products and reduce the benefits for using disposable products.

With the above in mind could you please take 2 minutes to answer the following 2 questions:

Question 1: What makes it difficult or challenging for you to purchase and use a reusable menstrual cup?

Question 2: What do you see as beneficial or rewarding about purchasing and using a reusable menstrual cup?

Whether you use or do not use reusable menstrual cups I would be very grateful for your answers. I have been asked to receive 10 responses from women participating in using reusable menstrual cups and 10 responses from those who do not.

I AM so GRATEFUL for your responses and would appreciate all any comments. Please do not feel confined in your answers you may talk about convenience environment social taboo, health, cost, ease, education, awareness, comfort, etc.
Please feel free to include any information outside of your answers to the questions that pertains to menstruation and menstrual products and the environmental effects

If you could please send me your responses I would greatly appreciate it. All responses will be anonymous in the reporting. I appreciate the time you have taken to help me with this project.

The one trick.... This is unfortunately due very soon.... I would appreciate you taking the time to reply to me as soon as you can. Thank you!!!
 
Quinn Elisequinnthevixen on April 16th, 2013 01:26 pm (UTC)
This sounds like a really interesting project and I know a lot of us here want to get the word out about reusable menstrual cups so I imagine you'll get plenty of responses!

1. One of the challenging things for me, re: purchasing a cup, was that I was unaware that they existed until a couple of years ago when I joined nether community on here related to vaginal/sexual health and wellness. Then I happened to meet someone who used one and that clinched it for me. But I still find it very unfortunate that such an environmentally-friendly and vaginally-healthy product is rarely, if ever, mentioned by doctors and n health classes or, if it is, is mentioned only to disparage it.</p>

2. There are tons of benefits to using it! I love how environmentally-friendly it is; I've been using mine for over a year and it shows no sign of degradation. It is far less wasteful than buying disposable tampons or pads. It's also always been pretty simple for me to insert/remove, though I know that may not be the case for everyone here, maybe it as user-friendly as any other menstrual product out there. Plus, I can rarely feel it once I've inserted it; I can't say the same for tampons or pads.

Good luck on your project!

kindofalotocomxkindofalotocomx on April 16th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
1. i'm still on the hunt for my first menstrual cup. So far it's been really difficult to find places that actually sell them in stores. I'm wary of buying anything online, especially something that is going in my body. Also, (as mentioned in the comment just before this one,) i had never even heard of menstrual cups until a neighbor recommended the instead disposable softcups. I had never heard mention of them in health class when i was in school. Even after bringing up to my doctor that pads and tampons were uncomfortable, she never mentioned them either.

2. The biggest apparent benefit, imho, to using a reusable cup is that i KNOW it's clean every time i use it. I don't have to worry about harsh bleaches or chemicals, only what i choose to wash it with. The effects on the environment are another plus as tampons and pads create endless amounts of waste each year. I enjoy the idea of being able to use a cup when you're expecting your period but it hasn't arrived yet. There's nothing worse than that unpleasant surprise when you know it JUST started.

Good luck on your work and i hope you are able to shed a bit of light on the topic for others!
=)

Edited at 2013-04-16 01:48 pm (UTC)
ana.: Virginiakansassatin on April 16th, 2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
#1- The biggest thing that makes it difficult for me to buy is not being able to physically see the cup before the purchase. I like to physically read the packaging, see the product before I buy it. Luckily, I can do this with a Diva cup but I would LOVE to be able to go to a store and look at a different brand. There are so many other tampons and pads a person can go peruse, I wish we had that option with cups and even cloth pads.

#2- I see the most beneficial factor to cups is how environmentally friendly they are. They are also cost effect, even though they are pricey in the beginning, within I would say a year or less (depending how much product a person used before) the cup has bought itself! I also find that not having to worry about a "tampon run" to be rewarding. Just a quick little story on this: My aunt is going through menopause so her cycles are completely out of whack. One month she had not purchased her tampons and pads and aunt flow showed up by surprise one Sunday morning. She had to run to the store and she cried in the parking lot because they weren't open yet and it was at least another hour before they were scheduled to open. In hindsight she could have called me and stayed home and sat on a towel until I got there but she didn't think of that. I tried selling her on a cup and it's convience but she refused to buy one. I like never having that stress and after I had my daughter and started my cycles again they were all over the place. I don't have to worry about any surprises or being stuck without my box of pads or tampons anymore :)
Megan: JazzHandshdsqrl on April 16th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
1 - The challenge for me initially was lack of awareness that cups even existed, followed by a lack of availability in stores. Ordering something like a cup (that you've never before used) online really requires a leap of faith that your money won't be wasted, and that the cup you chose will work for you. Challenges about using them would include the initial learning curve (this LJ community addresses that issue a LOT), plus the challenge of emptying them in a public bathroom. If you're okay with just a quick dump and reinsert, that's fine, but I think most of us would appreciate having a private sink in the stall where we could rinse the cup and wash up afterwards.

2- Benefits - SO MANY. I no longer feel like I'm wearing a diaper (pad) or shredding my insides with a dry tampon. I no longer contribute to landfill waste. I no longer worry about wasting my disposable product stash on days when I think I might start but don't actually start. I no longer worry about being caught WITHOUT disposable products, either at the start of my period or when away from home longer than expected. I'm more aware of and in tune with my own body, and more likely to notice when something gets out of whack.

I hope this helps!
Tasha: pink hairnamelessw0nder on April 16th, 2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
1. In person availability. I have only ever seen Keepers or Diva Cups in person. I would like to be able to see more options in person to really get a sense of size and dimensions.
2. Low cost!
kodi.: snowwhiteiamenergy on April 16th, 2013 02:58 pm (UTC)
Question 1: What makes it difficult or challenging for you to purchase and use a reusable menstrual cup?

Overall, cost is a factor for me, and also the lack of being able to see them in person. I am no stranger to online shopping, but it would be easier to choose the best cup for me if I could see/feel them in person. As far as I know, the DivaCup is the only one you can buy in stores.


Question 2: What do you see as beneficial or rewarding about purchasing and using a reusable menstrual cup?

As much as I don't like shelling out the money upfront for a reusable cup, the money I save from not buying tampons is definitely the biggest benefit for me. I also felt like tampons were very cost-ineffective because I would be going through so many tampons when I still used them, but when I took them out they didn't seem to absorb much blood. Like it didn't go all the way through the cotton, only on the outside. I felt like I was wasting my money and adding so much waste to the environment that was unnecessary.
juliiie87juliiie87 on April 16th, 2013 03:06 pm (UTC)
1. Like others, the biggest challenge before purchasing was the lack of widely available information (until I found this community!), and the lack of physical presence of cups in stores, and advertisement onther than on a few very specific websites online. Then when I came across information, I needed to make a choice (figure out which cup would suit me best, again thanks to this community), and order one online, because you pretty much can't purchase cups in my country, unless perhaps order Mooncups in some pharmacies, but they certainly don't advertise for it (and lately I found some in a sex shop but that was random and I don't need a new one).
Then with actually using it... there weren't much challenge at all, since I had already read up all the information I needed online, so my learning curve (though there can certainly be a learning curve for some people) was pretty smooth. I did have a couple accidents, so I needed to figure out that it was fully unfolded and when to empty it, but overall it was fairly easy.

2. The most important factor was knowing that I wasn't submitting my body to the dangerous substances and potential infections associated with tampons. I'm also no longer dependant on the tampon/pad industry, which I've become critical about. Finally, it could be a way to save money, I certainly appreciate not having to buy tampons anymore, but I can't say it has really saved me money, because reusable menstrual products became addictive for me (cloth pads as well, which I use as an alternative to disposable liners mostly). And finally, less stinky garbage ! I especially appreciate that one now that my city has introduced a tax on garbage bags. Another reward is I got more familiar with my anatomy, since I had no idea that I could feel my cervix or where it was before.

After reading others' replies I have to add being ale to wear the cup in advance, sometimes I didn't even realise my period had started that way, and safely wear it for longer chunks of time, to the list of benefits. Also not having to carry supplies on the go, and never being caught without protection (if you're at home or bringing the cup with you). Also a minor benefit is the lack of a string to pee on (gross) and being able to change and shower publicly at the gym without a string telling other women you're on your period.

Edited at 2013-04-17 04:24 pm (UTC)
lovemycuplovemycup on April 16th, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
I found the idea of menstrual cup very good and innovative. It was actually a relief to find them. *Warning- Long reply ahead, sorry* I did not have much difficulty (I am very open to new ideas) but I face these when I try to convince others for buying cups-

1. Lack of physical availability in shops. Not everyone is comfortable with online purchase.

2. I am from India and in culture like ours hymen is given undue importance (I don't actually understand why?). It is taken as a proof of virginity (LOL).

3. The idea of putting something down there and the fear of stretching out.

4. As long as one is interested in buying the Shecup (Indian cup, 695 INR), its fine but when one is interested in buying some other brand, some factors come such as cost (1 USD = 55 INR or Indian National Rupee, 1 euro = 71 INR), high transport charges, custom charges, etc.

Benefits and rewards to me-

1. VERY very clean periods.

2. Infinite comfort as compared to pads (Even tampons are not available in Indian stores, atleast not in the one I know of and (almost) nobody has even heard of them). I have 10 years with pads and now think- why didn't I know about cups when I just started menstruating??

3. Sound sleep. With pads I was always conscious about my position and leaking, but I still leaked every night on my period. ALWAYS.

4. I can do activities like swimming, aerobics, outdoor sports, etc. Previously I had to make fake excuses to my male friends for not playing.

5. I felt ashamed in buying pads, so bye bye pads, we will never see each other again.

6. Nothing to dispose. Many drains clog due to pads.

7. Money savings. But in my case, I don't think I'll save much coz I plan to buy more cups (yes, I'm kinda crazy and obsessive!!).

I am using Shecup from 7 months. We are getting along very well :P ;) I have never had any issues with it other than the need to bear down for removal but thats not much of a problem.
pascallewest on April 16th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
Difficulties/challenges:
1. Lack of widespread knowledge/use of the product; many people don't know they exist, and some who do know about them think it's weird or gross. Finding a community of avid users was something I just happened to stumble upon. If it wasn't for these online communities of cup users, I would still be using tampons and pads and not reaping the benefits of cups.
2. Purchasing online is the only way to explore all the options. The array of brands out there are not stocked in stores.
3. Learning how to use the cup, and troubleshooting when things don't go smoothly. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what the problem is.
4. Figuring out which cup is right for my body. This involved purchasing several cups, but I didn't really mind that, because I like to have options and backups.
5. various forms of mild discomfort from the use of the cup, mostly chafing from the stem or pressure on the bladder.
6. Wariness of removing/reinserting in public or while away from home: I have to do a full squat, which I cannot do when bathroom stall doors don't go all the way to the ground. Carrying around a water bottle to rinse it off in the stall could be inconvenient, plus dealing with getting some flow on hands during the process.

Benefits/Rewards:
1. Peace of mind that chemicals and bleaches are NOT being put in my body, harming my reproductive area.
2. Improvement in vaginal health. I feel much better after starting to use cups.
3. Convenience - I don't have to repeatedly make a run to the store to re-stock on monthly products.
4. Saving money by making an initial investment, that pays for itself fast.
5. The fact that I am not contributing to the MAN (big corporations with shady ethics), but instead supporting small, niche companies.
6. Having a cleaner bathroom trash can; this includes discreetness - no one needs to know when that time of the month is.
7. Not contributing to the amount of waste that disposable products produce.
8. Being a part of a supportive community of other cup users.
9. It's kind of fun getting to choose different shapes and colors.
bsophistorybsophistory on April 16th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
1. I didn't know about menstrual cups until a friend told me that she was using one even though it's the sort of thing I would normally want to hear about. Even then, the only menstrual cup I knew of was the Mooncup (the most common UK brand) and it wasn't until I found this site that I realised what a wide choice was out there. I'm quite happy with online buying and helpful, personal advice on this community has just helped me decide what cup to try in place of my original mooncup (which I was having some troubles with) so fingers crossed. I think the other challenge for me was quite a personal one. Both tampons and pads cause me a lot of irritation because of my vulvodynia condition. I was worried beforehand about using a mooncup because I thought it would be painful to insert/take-out and this put my off for a long time, especially as I couldn't find any info online from other users with a similar condition about their experiences (there is a relevant thread on here but I didn't find it before my original purchase). In fact, once I got the hang of things, I found that it is the best option in many ways because there is no external irritation and it can last for up to 12hrs some days.

2. The benefits for me are the cost (I'm a student), the fact it's environmentally friendly, re-usable, always there on hand, has helped me feel much more confident about my body. I've not found the perfect cup for all days in my period yet but I am optimistic about the prospects of doing that now I know about the options and the reasons for making different choice. When my friend first told me about the mooncup, she has a evangelically gleam in her eyes and now I see why (not that I've managed to pass on the secret to anyone else yet...)
Kathlynekathlyne on April 16th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
Challenges:
As many other people have said: no availability or selection in stores.
My learning curve was pretty smooth, but I did have some problems with leakage and I have sorted that out. I also didn't know about them until about a year ago. There is no way to buy and use something you don't know exists.

Benefits:
No more buying boxes of tampons in various absorbencies. They stopped making the most absorbent tampons I used to buy. Before I found out they were no longer being made, I was driving to stores all over trying to find them, and sometimes the less absorbent ones were sold out. Now I don't have to think about buying tampons ever again. I can use the same cup throughout my period.

I can also put in the cup before my period actually arrives. That makes things less messy and I don't have to worry about a surprise in my underwear.

Measurement--I can accurately measure my flow each month so I can compare it with other months.
Serpent: neutralserpent_849 on April 16th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
2. well, i'm one of the (relatively) few people who didn't use tampons before cups. i hate the idea of tampons, especially of absorbing. so it was fantastic to discover a menstrual product that seemed suitable for me and is used internally. also, my cramps are gone, and my mum even reports a decrease in dizziness on her period. and of course i love not having to stock up or to borrow pads (which might be a less than ideal brand too)
1. as i had rejected tampons as an option for myself, it was hard to believe that there could be something else. and as a virgin i wondered whether i could really use them. the companies say you can, but tampon companies say the same. but within minutes i thought that at the very least i'd make the switch when i was no longer a virgin, and it was relieving to find out i didn't have to wait!
sandilg on April 26th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
Cup-User Wanna-Be
I am a wanna-be cup user, and I can tell you what the barriers have been for me, because - besides the "yuck" factor that comes from a society that for whatever reason has made exploring and knowing our bodies some sort of mortal sin - these will be common in anyone looking to go this route:

First barrier: marketing. I'd never even heard of the things until I was preparing for a Grand Canyon rafting trip, and they were recommended as an alternative to pads/tampons, since we must carry out everything we bring with us on the trip. Everything.

Second barrier: options. The GC rafting packing list only mentioned DivaCup. I didn't even know there were any other brands. Since I'd never heard of a menstrual cup before, I would not have even thought to Google it to see what alternatives there are.

Third barrier: price. This is not the kind of thing you are inclined to buy for the first time on Amazon. You're putting it inside yourself, and it's kinda pricey. You want to see what you're buying the first time. Once you have your goldilocks-cup, I'm sure you're fine buying online, but I wanted to see the thing in the store before plunking down the $35. And it *was* $35. And that was a pretty stiff plunge for something I'd never heard of, and I'm not someone who has to scrimp and save, like some on this forum.

Fourth barrier: fit. I am 47 and have had a child, so I went for the larger size. Big mistake. Big PAINFUL mistake. I must be pretty small in there, so let's just say more bodily fluids were coming from my eyes than my vagina while this thing was going in. And once in, I experienced pain. Lots of it. And not just putting it in and taking it out - pain with just leaving it in place In and out, moving around, still very painful. I quickly realized I'd probably have to try the smaller size. So...another trip to the store, another $35. And who is going to buy my "once used" Diva cup? Really???

Fifth barrier: brand. Okay, so you need a pair of shoes for a specific purpose and you go to the store and find ones you like, you try them on, and they are painful - they pinch, they squeeze. So you don't buy them. You keep trying on different pairs until you find one you do like. You buy them. If you get them home and walk in them a bit inside on your nice carpeted floor and you don't like them, you can still return them. Try doing that with a menstrual cup. DivaCup #2 was painful, so I bought DivaCup #1. Still painful. Now I've learned that there are other options - longer, shorter, wider, narrower, harder, softer...but what do I do? Go out and keep spending $35 a pop until I find one that doesn't hurt like the dickens the whole time I'm wearing it? Look at this forum and how many people have been searching for their "goldicup" and you'll see what I mean. Most of us don't know enough about our insides to know what will fit, and the process of learning is an expensive and sometimes painful or messy one.

I love-Love-LOVE the idea of using a menstrual cup, largely for environmental reasons, although all the other benefits (cost, price, convenience, etc.) are also attractive. I just don't know if I have it in me to go through this process over and over until I find something that fits without leaking and is not painful. So I've gone back to tampons. Sigh.