Sister duo Carol Morris and Elizabeth Chapman tell us about their journey growing the Lunette (period cups) brand, and share helpful answers to all the tricky questions like how to insert a menstrual cup.
Can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and what lead to your discovery of menstrual cups?
Carol: I’m a new mum and Physiotherapist, based in Sydney. Previously I worked in the UK for seven years where I treated many women for menstrual symptoms such as cramping and bloating. I’m quite health conscious and enjoy staying active with triathlons and kite surfing.
Elizabeth: I’m a mum of three children, and a registered nurse and midwife. I’m also a triathlete and former competitive surfer. Carol and I are both really passionate about women’s health and encouraging women to embrace their potential – living a busy lives ourselves, we understand the struggles of managing your family, career and health.
So back in 2007, I received an email from a friend saying, “I’ve got a secret that I want to share”. She’d discovered a convenient and comfortable new alternative to tampons and pads; one that gave her life and everyday activities a whole new freedom during ‘that time of the month’.
It sounded to good to be true but her enthusiasm encouraged me to give it a go and I was quite intrigued by this completely new concept to the menstrual dilemma that all of us women face during our childbearing years.
Essentially, after a short while I was so inspired that I convinced Carol to give it a go, and to then partner with me and share Lunette with all Australian women!
As active females we thought it was a real shame that often women’s opportunities were limited due to sanitary requirements during the month, and we were keen to show Australian women a whole new perspective on life that was better for them, their wallets and the planet.
What inspired you to bring Lunette menstrual cups to Australia?
When we tried the Lunette we wanted to tell everyone about it, but then found that there were no medical silicone menstrual cups available in Australia, only latex.
So we though hey, we need to get this awesome product out here so that all Australian women have more choice than just sweaty pads and drying tampons and latex menstrual cups.We desperately wanted to bring Australian women up to date with the rest of the world! We didn’t – and still don’t – want anyone to miss out on the freedom that using a Lunette menstrual cup brings!
What has it been like introducing a fairly new concept to Australian women?
Despite being around since the 1930’s, the menstrual cup is a fairly new concept to Australian women.
When we first went to expos in 2007 we found women would be curious and often pull a ‘special face’ when we explained how it worked to them. It totally blew their minds! We’d commonly hear responses like, “What?! It’s reusable?!”, and “You can sleep in it?!”. Some ‘got it’ straight away and embraced the cup, whilst others were very conditioned into disposables. All that we could do was educate them about alternatives.
These days, most women have at least heard about menstrual cups and tend to be pretty fed up with the same pads and tampons re-packaged in funky wrappers, so they’re willing and ready to try something new. We’ve even had a few women buying 2-3 different coloured cups so they can co-ordinate with their outfits or mood!
I have a few questions that your answers to could be invaluable to our tribe members and others thinking about trying a cup for the first time. Is that ok?
No problem at all. With us both working in the medical industry we can usually answer most questions no matter how intimate!
How far do you insert the menstrual cup?
When inserting the Lunette menstrual cup, you push your index finger on the base and aim towards your sacrum, similar to a tampon. But that’s where the similarities end. Unlike a tampon that sits all the way against your cervix, the Lunette will naturally work its way to its ‘happy spot’ which is just above your pelvic floor muscles. You cannot feel it and there are no strings hanging out.
Do menstrual cups leak?
You will get some spotting if the cup is full, or if it hasn’t opened out fully.
Do they smell?
Pads filled with menstrual fluid are often smelly because the fluid is exposed to oxygen, the pads are sweaty against the skin and pubic hair, and this mix often stays in your undies for 3-6hrs depending on how often you change it. The Lunette cup and its contents are surprisingly odourless and you just tip it down the toilet or sink. The cup must be cleaned properly at the end of each cycle though to keep it in tip top shape.
How do you clean a period cup?
Each time you empty it, either rinse with water or wipe with toilet paper or our Lunette wipes. Then at the end of each cycle give it a good scrub and boil it for 5mins. We do sell a Lunette cup wash for those women that feel they need to use a product on the cup, but really water is all you need.
What if someone’s menstrual cup is stuck and they can’t get it out – is that possible?
The cup cannot get stuck or ‘lost’ in the vagina. But sometimes if the suction isn’t release properly it can be difficult to remove. Then if you panic your pelvic floor tenses which makes it even more difficult to get out! Take your time following the steps, and there are heaps of hints and tips for removal (check out our FAQs page).
What if the stem sticks out and is too long?
The great thing about the Lunette is that you can customise it to fit your anatomy. If you can feel the stem rubbing on your lady bits after walking around for 10 minutes, just cut one tab off and re-insert. If you can still feel it then cut another off. You can actually cut the whole thing off if needed because the grip rings on the bottom of the cup still help with removal.
What if someone has a weak pelvic floor, can they still use a menstrual cup?
Yes, women with a weak pelvic floor often find that a menstrual cup works better than a tampon as it makes a seal and doesn’t fall out. It may just sit a little low so you might need to personalise the stem.
Are there any potential health risks to using a menstrual cup?
There are no health risks to using a menstrual cup according to it’s instructions. We have heard of women leaving it in for over 24hrs, and another who used it as a contraceptive device but this is definitely not recommended and very silly.
See also: Pros and Cons of Using a Period Cup
What advice or tips do you have for someone who’s thinking about trying a menstrual cup, but is a bit apprehensive?
Elizabeth: Using a cup depends on how you feel about the whole concept of inserting something, and how comfortable and relaxed you are with your body.
Carol got it right first go and was confident enough to wear white pants!
But to be really honest, the first time that I saw a cup and had to insert it, I was scared and felt intimidated by the size of it. I had read the instructions a few time so knew what I had to do, then after a lot of procrastinating I just went to the bathroom, kind of shut my eyes and did it! I was pleasantly surprised and relieved by how easy it was – much better than I had imagined. It took me a few cycles to get used to it.
I have used tampons in the past and now use cups, and by comparison I find the cup more comfortable to use.
Using a menstrual cup is a leap of faith as it is nothing like the pads and tampons we’ve been conditioned to depend upon. You’ve kind of got to make a commitment to yourself to use it for a good three (3) cycles to make sure that you are used to it. For some people it requires more practice than a tampon, but most manage to master it after a few cycles.
Who would you recommend a menstrual cup to and not to?
Pretty much all women should be able to use a menstrual cup.
We’d recommend it to those who are interested in a healthy alternative to tampons and pads, to those who want more money in there pockets at the end of each cycle (who doesn’t?!), and to those who are eco-conscious and like to make purchases that are better for the planet.
The cup wouldn’t be recommended after a prolapse or for the first few months after childbirth.
If women have any concerns they should send us an email or speak to the retailer.
Where can Lunette menstrual cups be purchased?
You can buy the Lunette menstrual cup online or in store. It’s sold in a number of health shops, pharmacies, markets and co-ops. Head here to purchase your cup online or visit our retailer page for a list of Lunette Stockists and to find a retailer near you.
Now it’s your turn – have you got a question for Carol & Elizabeth? Ask away in the comment section below so they can get back to you. Alternatively, you can email them directly at [email protected] They’re experts at answering all the tricky questions including how to insert and remove a menstrual cup!
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