According to this calculator I’ve spent £387.39 to date on sanitary products. While approximative, this sum doesn’t even include the inevitable times I’ve forgotten to bring the products with me when it’s that bloody time of the month and so I’ve had to buy new ones.

In early 2016 the EU permitted member states to reduce the tampon tax as a result of pressures from the UK. The  ludicrous 20% VAT tax on these products was to be scrapped completely for they are a necessity, not a luxury, given menstrual cycles are here to stay and it’s hard to argue with Biology.

UK supermarkets, reduced  the tax  to the regulatory VAT minimum of 5%, and other retailers suggested they’d abide by the reduction if there was a zero rate for sanitary products which the European Commission says it is aiming to bring in 2018.

While  5% is considerably  lower, sanitary products continue to be charged for VAT at the same rate as solar panels and nicotine patches. Other countries like France followed suit and slashed the tampon tax from 20% to 5.5%, Italy’s tampon tax remains solidly at 20% which is at the same rate as a fur coat or a luxury car.

So it’s no surprise that one would want to opt for a cheaper alternative. Introducing, the Mooncup, at £19.99 and a lifetime guarantee, you’d be foolish not to want to try it. My curiosity, broke state and friends suggested I try the Mooncup. Here’s a snippet of how it went:

DAY 1

You know the feeling when you wake up before your alarm goes off? And you start pondering why must one be awake at 5:59 when the alarm clock had been instructed to, and therefore myself, to wake up at 6:10?

I’m up. It’s period day 1. I’m excited (why would one not be excited to try out the Mooncup?). The Mooncup, in its cloth beige bag, still in the box is gloriously sat on the heater waiting for me to get out of the shower. Out I go and I unravel the thing. Proceed to dutifully follow the handy steps listed on the box. Till I get to step number 4. N.B. it reads ‘easy to insert’. Errrr not so much. I try to insert it and by what I assumed would be to slip it in. Nope.

Then, legs wide open, I sat on the closed toilet seat, eye to eye with my vagina, confused, thinking that at this angle, surely I’ll manage to slide it in. Nope. I am in need to stress that I didn’t give up easily and tried several times in different (and crafty!) positions. Failing every time.

For starters, what I thought would happen, which in hindsight I can see why this was wrong, was that the Mooncup would be inserted folded and then easily unfold in the vaginal cavity once in.Theoretically it’s meant to open up and forming a light seal  will hold it up and in (the seal is why it feels like a sucker).

What the instructions failed to mention was that it doesn’t just pop open, ding dong gong, sorted. The jiggle dance that is required to position it adequately for it to seal should be granted its own step.

Knowing I’d bruised my vagina with the not-so-soft plastic, I successfully plug it in. And it was incredibly unpleasant, anti-climatic. What I’d been told were myths. To those that said the Mooncup was great; have you been paid by the patriarchy to lie and claim this is the ‘period revolution’?

Now that it’s in. Unknown feeling. The sucker awaits. Within 45 seconds I’ve attempted to pull it out. I struggle to grab onto the plastic bit at the end. My index finger slips. Right hand. Firm grip I proceed to pull it out and it feels like the sucker is dragging my vaginal wall down with it. I’ve surrendered to the sucker. Furiously, I clean it, bag it, box it and resort back to Always wondering what Day 2 will bring.

Photo: menstruationstasse.net (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

DAY 2

I am feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable after yesterday morning’s excitement and hope had been crushed. So, with much lower expectations I head to the loo. Hereby I admit that I took the cup out of its bag. Looked at it and, defiant as ever, happily placed it back in its bag and pretended ‘I was late for work so did not have time to attempt to conquer the sucker’. I returned it to the corner of my room where it resides and my second day of period was lived (relatively) gleefully.

“Maybe, subconsciously, this was a clever ploy for me to have to use the Mooncup and finally break free from the Tampax chokehold I’d accustomed myself to”

 Day 3 & 4

These days were also led in mediocre-blissfulness as I resorted back to who and what I know: tampons and pads. But, the end was nigh my friends, as on Day 4 when I got home I discovered that I’d run out of necessary period paraphernalia. Maybe, subconsciously, this was a clever ploy for me to have to use the Mooncup and finally break free from the Tampax chokehold I’d accustomed myself to.

And so this was it. The first time I properly used the Mooncup and, well, yes, as it turns out it was comfier than expected. It lasted the whole night. No leakage. No pad sticking to my thighs. Nada. A success, I thought.

Until I had to get it out. I struggled to, as I did on Day 1, to grab onto the plastic bit at the end. It kept on slipping through my fingers and it took approximately five minutes to work out how to get it out. When I managed to pull it out the cup was full but not to the brim making me trust in the notion that it can hold up to 8h of blood flow in it.

All the other days

I didn’t end up using the Mooncup again. Period.

 

 

Cover Photo Credit: Aaron Fulkerson (flickr); Licence:CC BY-SA 2.0 .

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    Francesca Monticelli graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL and is now working in PR. She is interested in popular science and food. She is Italian, from Rome and you can follow her on Twitter: @franmonticelli

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