Users comment on their experience with cups
A woman co-worker suggested I consolidate your letters and other reports
about menstrual cups; here they are! They date from the most recent right
below (1998; read more recent comments in the news page) to about mid-1996
at the bottom. See also the MUM series on the history
of menstrual cups, and the links to the sites of The
Keeper and Instead menstrual cups,
the ones sold in the U.S.A. today. You can also see them compared below, almost at the bottom
of this page, using photos. I hope you
find this useful!
By the way, my association with these two companies, Instead and The
Keeper, is this: The Instead people called me with some historical questions
for their advertising campaign before they started to sell the cup, and
two representatives have since visited this museum. Instead sent me, free,
a large box of the cups, advertising material, and their video. I have spoken
with Lou Crawford, the founder and owner of The Keeper, by phone, and we
have exchanged faxes and letters about her product. She paid for two ads
in my defunct newsletter, Catamenia, and has sent me literature and demonstration
samples of The Keeper. All are nice people, and I see advantages to both
cups, and disadvantages.
Letters from you are indented like this. They
are unsolicited. I hope they help!
My comments start at the left
These are older comments,
from 1996 through April 1998. For newer comments,
read the recent news pages.
E-mail from Stanford University discusses menstrual cups:
Thank you for providing such a treasure trove of information for women.
I really enjoyed browsing through your site.
As for what I think about Instead - I
love it! I just wish I'd found out about it sooner. Due to insertion problems,
I cannot use tampons; and since my periods always come during vacations
involving swimming, it was an annoying limitation. Today was my first time
using Instead, and I still can't believe how easy it was to insert. I don't
feel it at all now, and there is no leakage. I love it! Incidentally, I
also tried The Keeper; but it was sheer horror
to try to insert it, and I just gave up. I just wish someone would make
a reusable Instead cup - I really like the idea of not contributing to
26 April 1998
"Instead . . . really changed my life"
Dear Mr. Finley,
I wrote to you a few weeks ago about my concern that Ultrafem [see
the dress Ultrafem gave this museum], the maker
of Instead [menstrual cup, and comments],
was going out of business. Well, my fears came true. The
plant in Missoula [Missouri] closed down last week, laying off all but
6 people. The stocks are down to ridiculously low prices because
everyone has sold. I am very sad about this, because I just discovered
Instead a few months ago and it really changed my life (it sounds crazy--but
it really did! About 25% of a woman's life, between puberty and menopause,
is spent menstruating, and this product really made that 25% much, much
smoother and more pleasant.)
I tried The Keeper but it won't seem to keep in place and leaks like
crazy. Instead was perfect in every way. Do you know if it is unsafe to
use a diaphragm as a menstrual cup? [I hope to put information about this
here soon.] That is perhaps my only choice left.
I find it distressing that such an excellent product is going to become
unavailable. Unless a miracle happens (i.e. Ultrafem finds a new investor
fast), Instead is gone forever.
"Tipped uterus" and Instead
I tried it [Instead menstrual cup, and comments], thought it would be great, but was unhappy
with the product. After several attempts I still couldn't figure out how
to get it inserted correctly so that there would be no leaking or FLOODING.
I've been told by my gynecologist that I have a tipped uterus; I thought
maybe that could be the problem of not being able to get it to fit.
I called Instead's 800 number [which no longer exists], asking if this
could be the problem.They were very vague - I don't think they knew. If
they are aware that this is a problem for women with my condition I think
they should note this on the outside of the package so that I don't have
to waste my money on their product. [She probably won't have that opportunity
much longer, since the company seems to be failing.]
23 March 1998
Why Didn't They Refine Instead?
Hi! Love yer page . . .
My aunt received a trial package of Instead [menstrual cup] a few months
ago and was less than intrigued. She passed the package on to me. I tried
it. I don't have a problem with the insertion/withdrawal process; I feel
very comfortable with my menstrual blood, and with my body parts in general.
My problem with Instead is that it didn't seem
to want to stay in place. It stayed in place the first time I used
it, but the second time I used it kept popping out of place. It didn't
seem all that comfortable, but I'm wondering if that's because the
one-size-fits-all thing just isn't true. Perhaps if it came in more
sizes or something. I personally think it's a fabulous concept but maybe
it needs a little more fine tuning.
I'm sad to hear about the rumors of the Ultrafem folding. [I am too.
Having a choice is always better.] If wymyn would just get in touch with
their bodies and their blood, the world would be a much better place [Absolutely!].
23 March 1998
Two Weigh in on The Keeper and Instead
Happy users recommend cups:
I have used The Keeper for three cycles now. I only wish I had discovered
it years ago. It takes a bit of practice to insert and remove, but it's
really not that messy. I'm thrilled with the thought of a safer, nonpolluting
and less expensive menstrual product.
While trying to "spread the word," however, I have been saddened
by the ever-prevalent negative attitudes about menstrual
blood, finger insertion, emptying and removal of a product of this nature.
It is indeed a shame. Now we have another innovative company (Ultrafem)
possibly on the skids because of
attitudes of this type.
Kudos to you, Mr. Finley, for an informative and entertaining site
that I have made a point of visiting weekly. Perhaps with efforts like
yours in our midst, these unfortunate attitudes about menstruation and
our miraculous human bodies will steadily dissipate.
A note on the cup.
I have used the disposable cups (Instead) for about three months and
I swear by them. I think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread!
They are so comfortable when worn properly that you really have no idea
that they are there. When first using them, it can be a little messy, but
in a few days you have the knack of it. And to top it all off, after using
them for awhile, I find it is much cleaner than using
pads or tampons. Since the cup catches all the mess inside of you
at the base of the cervix and there is no blood outside of the cup, by
placing your index finger around the rim like a hook they are easily taken
out with no mess. You also don't have the "outside" mess that
pads or tampons can leave against your [pubic] hair.
The first concern I had was, Is it going to get
lost up there? No way. [There's nowhere for it to go.] The next
concern was, Did I push it back far enough?
You will know that it is far enough back because the pink rim will "catch"
right behind your [pubic] bone and that is what holds it in place as well.
You can go swimming with them and wear them longer than a tampon; they
produce no odor, and best of all, you can have sex while wearing them.
Believe it or not, neither you nor your partner can tell when you are wearing
the cup. Well, that's just my opinion anyway.
Lots of luck on the museum!!
[9 March 1998]
Instead: Dead? But First . . .
A reader writes (see also some other letters):
Glad to hear about others reusing Instead [menstrual
cup]. I figured I reused a diaphragm for years, so how can they be
any different? I just tried my first box and like others, I found some
leakage after the 4-6 hours mark and messy to remove. I rinsed off and
washed with soap and used each of mine 2-3 times. I will try them again.
Currently they are on sale at six for $1.00 at my local Jewl-Osco in Chicago.
I've never seen any ad for them anywhere.
Fans of the Instead menstrual cup should buy as
many as they can right now - there are signs
that the company, Ultrafem, may fold, or at least stop selling the cup.
The stock price, listed as Ufem, has plummeted, the Web site is inaccessible
and the 800 phone number doesn't work, at least the last time I tried. I
have heard that some stores have greatly reduced the price, as in the letter
above; in some cases, they are giving them away.
A visitor to the museum today from an advertising agency in New York
said that she had never seen an ad for the product, just as with the writer
above hadn't, but had found some, which she has not yet tried.
If the cup disappears, it would be the fourth
in the U.S.A. to flop, leaving only The Keeper, which has existed since
the late 1980s. An interesting Australian menstrual cup with an insertion
device failed about 10 years ago. It kept a woman's fingers away from blood
My feeling is that there simply aren't enough interested women to support
a large company making cups, although a small one like the The Keeper can
supply those willing to insert an object with their fingers into their vagina
a couple of times a day, empty it, wash it off, etc.
22 February 1998
1. I have tried Instead several times
and found that regardless of my efforts, positioning, etc., I have had
leakage after just a few hours (less than 4 to 6). I am not someone with
a heavier than average flow so I don't understand this problem. Like other
users have said, I have tried to reuse the Instead with no problems. They
are so sturdy that I would simply wash them in anti-bacterial soap, rinse
well, and dry. I never reused them excessively, just 2 or 3 times. I am
interested in trying The Keeper, but the budget is not allowing the $35
at this time.
Once I do try it, I will return here and give you my feedback!
You are welcome to use my letter, I would be honored, and you have
my permission to use my age and or name, should you desire. I am 25.
Should you want further contributions from me, please do not hesitate
to contact me.
2. I have tried both The Keeper and Instead,
and both have their drawbacks. Both leak if I have a full bowel or bladder.
I feel that the Instead cup is easier to insert, but I hate the idea of
it being non biodegradable. (I reuse mine also by washing it when I empty
it- I use about 3 or 4 per period). The Instead, unfortunately, works better
for me than The Keeper because of Instead's ease of insertion. It is also
more comfortable. However, I believe in the Keeper product and its reusability
and because of that am not going to return it. The
best of both worlds, as some women have mentioned, would be to make a diaphragm
( it has a softer, more comfortable rim than the Instead) with a collection
device built in, like the Instead, but is made out of natural gum rubber
like the Keeper. Is anyone working on something like this? [Not
that I know of, but someone should!]
It's great to see a Web site like this, by the way. Thanks!
3. I recently purchased Instead. It was
very messy when inserting and taking it out. It is quite a problem when
changing in public restrooms. I am very concerned about it's environmental
effects. Since it is not biodegradable I feel like i shouldn't use them.
It is very reliable, though.
4. Mr. Finley: Firstly, excellent, excellent
Web site. Three cheers for a man who cares so much about periods! [!]
Now, I have some comments and questions about Instead. Recently I was
amazed and excited to discover it on my local NYC Rite Aid's shelf. I immediately
bought it and tried it. Insertion-- no problem (I've been using o.b. for
years.) Removal? Whoa! My first removal experience was terrible! I did
so much wrenching around down there my bladder felt sore afterward. BUT I did finally discover the secret! See, if you just
try to hook it with your finger, it slips away from you every time, seeming
to go deeper inside. Easy removal is facilitated by simply pushing hard
as if you were having a baby! The cup is thrust forward and the rim easily
accessible to a hooked fingertip. And out it slides.
Thank God I discovered this because otherwise I would have had to take
a trip to the doctor's! Now, I'm totally devoted to Instead-- I don't feel
it when it's in, no leakage, and the fact that I can wear it during sex
is totally amazing.
However, I have growing concerns about Instead's
manufacturer, Ultrafem, not staying in business! I have no FACTS
to support this, but when I called their 800 number,
it had been disconnected, and their Web site is no longer running!
Help! I just discovered this miraculous product and I'll be terribly disappointed
if they go under, like all the previous cup makers. Do you have any information
about this? Do you know whom I could contact to find out more? [I am checking
I guess I could get the Keeper if I can no longer get Instead, but
it can't be worn during sex and I'm not crazy about the idea of having
to clean it.
Thanks! Help spread the word about Instead!
I just wanted to say that I recently moved to Alabama from the state
of Washington. In Washington, I bought Instead on a regular basis, because
once I tried them, I was hooked. They are great!
I have a small problem, though. I cannot find them in any store in
I am going to have to get my sister to buy some in Washington and mail
them to me.
I have discovered, however, that Insteads can be washed with warm soapy
water and re-used probably hundreds of times. I have only two because I
was used to throwing them away. But now I have been
washing and re-using them because I will not go back to tampons ever again!
16 February 1998
A Former Midwife Talks About Menstrual
I'm enjoying my journey through MUM and just read the entire page of
comments on The Keeper and Instead.
A little herstory: I wore tampons from my second cycle (age 14) on.
Then when i was 19 I got toxic shock syndrome . . . so much for tampons!
I hated pads, but was told I had no other
alternative, so for the next few years I wore and hated my pads, how they
looked, felt, etc. When I was 22 I gave birth to my son and put him in
cloth diapers. It started to seem a little silly to me to use cloth on
him and paper on me, so I made flannel pads for myself. When my lactational
amenorrhea stopped, and my flow resumed, I used the cloth pads. [They were]
more comfortable, and I was glad I wasn't throwing anything "away"
anymore (the book Whitewash was
a big thing in my life at the time! [It should be now;
see the first article on the 8 February News page]). But they were still
PADS, bunching, riding, leaking . . . .
Then I discovered The Keeper. Wow! I was thrilled! From my first cycle
with The Keeper I was amazed. I've never once had a leak and rarely had
a "mess" to deal with. I find that I rarely need to empty it
in a public restroom because I can go at least 12 hours at a time with
it. In fact, here's a story about my very first day
wearing The Keeper.
I received my Keeper in the mail and was very excited about using it.
Two weeks later, my period started and I put my Keeper in, about 11 pm.
I went to bed a little later and was awakened at about 3-4 am by the pager
(I was a midwife -- now "retired"). A client, who lived almost
100 miles away, was in labor. I got up, dressed, and headed for her house.
I completely forgot about my period and my Keeper! I attended the birth,
and just before the baby was born my pager started going off. I couldn't
get to it at the time, and about an hour later I finally checked the pager
and found it was a "911" page from the hospital where my husband
works. When I called, they told me he had been admitted
with chest pains and was in ICU [intensive care unit] for monitoring.
It was another several hours before I could leave the home of my client,
and there was an awful thunderstorm which kept me driving 30-40 mph all
the way home. I finally got to the hospital to see my husband at 11 pm
-- 24 hours after I first put The Keeper in
-- and in the bathroom realized I was wearing The Keeper. I emptied it
-- it was FULL and a huge gush of blood came out from behind it too! But
it DID NOT LEAK!!!!
I have worn The Keeper now for about 20 months. I
have tried Instead a few times (and keep some on hand because I like having
them for times when I want to have intercourse during my period)
but it was less reliable for leakproofness and harder to insert correctly
and to remove. I have worn my Keeper through four miscarriages as well.
I haven't had any of the problems that a lot of people have had with
The Keeper, nor has it irritated my latex allergy! The only problem I've
had with it is that I finished a miscarriage the same day my dog had a
litter of puppies. I wasn't sure that I was done bleeding, so I rinsed
out my Keeper and left it sitting on the bathroom sink. My
dog was in the bathroom with the puppies. When I came in a couple of hours
later, The Keeper was chewed into a million little pieces! :^ My
own fault, of course!
I love my Keeper and wouldn't trade it for the world. However, I also
don't use it constantly most cycles (though I have, without problems) because
I like to be able to feel my blood flowing.
I have made myself a large flannel pad to sit on
(imagine those awful paper "blue pads" from the hospital, only
in soft comfy cotton flannel) and while I'm at home during my periods I
sit on that and let my blood flow.
Maka Laughingwolf, domestic goddess in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, USA
Life-after-lifepartner to Greywolf, RN, pagan, vegetarian, moon-honoring,
unassisted-birthing, extended-breast-feeding, un-circumcising, non-vaccinating,
cloth-diapering, family-sleeping, un-schooling, stay-at-home-mom to ds
Daystar (6/23/91) and many babies never held in arms and work-at-home touch
therapist & reiki master.
If a child is breathing, s/he's learning!
We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and
the tools to shape it into structure. We can drag it behind us untouched,
we can pound it to gravel, we can shape it into glory. (Richard Bach)
Instead Likes Instead!
Someone whose return e-mail address contains the words Ultra Fem
- the company that makes the Instead menstrual cup - snuck this one to me:
I LOVE it [Instead]! As a barrel-racing, horsy person, the Instead
makes my long hours in the saddle more easy to bear, no soreness, no changing
behind a tree on a trail ride. I tried the others, Keeper
and Tassaway, too hard to insert, but INSTEAD
And Speaking of The Keeper,
as this jubilant does:
I received my Keeper in the mail a month ago and just recently got
to try it!!! I'm so proud of my Keeper. The first day I used it I announced
it to the whole cafeteria at breakfast in my high school. [The
woman is mad!] I was/am really excited about these new innovations.
After I finished a whole cycle I told everyone in my gay pride group
about The Keeper and grossed them all out. Haha... oh, well.
See, I love getting my period. I can't explain it, but thanx fer talking
bout The Keeper on yer site. This is my fave Web site and I visit it often.
Keep up the good work!!!
As the editor, I should have [sic] ed right and left, but
you would not have enjoyed it as much!
The following e-mail is more a general discussion, but it does include
cups. Go to the ones following for actual experiences with cups.
Thank you for the museum and the site! I found it (this site) via the
BUST [magazine] webpage (www.bust.com).
Now on to my feminist rant!
I've never tried any (either?) of the [menstrual] cups but I think
I learned a lot from reading others' comments. Of course, I wish we could
take care of our planet a little better. The issue of cups being messy/public
restrooms is a justifiable concern, (especially under your nails - I know
what this is like and this was the first thought I had when reading about
the "dirty" issue), but women's fear of their own body/blood
made me have fear - and anger. I can't help but think: Why don't men have
this problem? They are always making references to their own bodies and
women's too. If you can't live with your own blood, what can you live with?
The blood IS the life, of you and fetuses. BUT if there are bacteria in
that blood, I wonder how good it is to let it sit and fester - way up inside
of your body? (Just a thought). But I do think that The Keeper sounds very
My main concern is just what the student of Chinese medicine pointed
out. I think that having something pressing up on an internal body part,
possibly rubbing with your movements (but I wouldn't know), crippling circulation
and oxygen flow is really very scary and I'm surprised that this doesn't
concern anyone, apparently. Not to mention my dismay at hearing about one
of these gizmos CUTTING! Think of what would happen if a, let's see, a
condom or a jock strap (?), or something, cut a men's penis! The "stronger
sex" would be in a hospital for a month for reconstructive surgery!
What I've been thinking throughout every post, is just how much history
there ISN'T to this issue of bleeding once a month by every woman, for
how many centuries (how many months is that?)! I don't want to sound like
I think that menstration is a problem (I love it for being something that
only women can experience and it is great for that!) but, yes, it is inconvenient
and messy, etc., and in my tender 18 years, I am of the opinion that if
it were a man's problem, it would have a fuller history, and be celebrated
-- (as it is here!) not a taboo subject...that is viewed as "unclean"
and everything else - you know the story. I might even get ridiculous,
as is my style, and think that the (few) instruments we have, which cause
toxic shock, bladder infections, that cut, suction, pull, etc., are really
a conspiracy thought up by "the man"! (Don't ask)
Maybe we should go back to rolling up cloth and let those men stop
collecting our money and if they don't like how big pads look, they can
shove it - somewhere else! : )
"In with anger, out with love"!
I love you all! and thanks again! Take pride in your period. It's a
symbol (nothing against post-menapausal women - that's a whole other subject!).
Readers Talk More About Instead and Keeper Menstrual
Cups (January 1998)
Here's a point for Instead:
I have tried The Keeper and Instead. No matter what I do with the Keeper,
it is painful to insert, nearly impossible to rotate, which probably leads
to the next problem - it leaks. I will be returning it.
Although Instead is more expensive and is not biodegradable, I tried
it and it is absolutely wonderful. A cinch to insert, doesn't leak, can't
feel it . . . .
I wish I had the capability of crossing the design of Instead with
the material the Keeper is made of - the best of both worlds would truly
be the answer (or at least another option!).
And another for The Keeper:
A few months ago I ordered a Keeper and I was ecstatic about finding
something that was not harmful to the environment and not a danger to my
health. Because I am one of the unfortunate women out there that has difficulty
wearing tampons it took me a few weeks to be able to insert it. When I
finally managed to insert it I thought I had dropped it because I could
not feel it inside my body. When I reached down and felt the tab I got
so excited I ran downstairs in my pjs' to tell my mother [!]. The only
downside to the Keeper is that it is a bit messy and I usually have to
wear a panty liner the first few days depending on how heavy my flow is.
I have only had it for a few months and I am sure after a bit more practice
I'll have the problem stopped. Best of luck to all those future Keeper
users and a hearty hurray to those who have it already!
And, again, for Instead:
Dear Mr. Finley,
I stumbled onto your site . . . and . . . I hope your site is on the
up and up, because I found it interesting.
About the new cup, Instead: I recently discovered it in Walgreen's
in San Francisco. I bought it because it intrigued me. I had never seen
a menstrual cup before, although I have read about them. I live in Florida
and had never seen it on the market here.
Instead was interesting. It did exactly as promised. There was no pain
or sensation of being there when properly inserted. However it DOES TAKE
AWHILE to insert properly when you first start out. And there is a little
PANIC trying to remove it the first few times. However, overall, I was
pleased. I'm going to keep practicing.
Instead is Too Slippery
A nurse practitioner e-mailed in December 1997:
I was delighted to discover your Web site today, and I plan to revisit
About Instead -- I was thrilled to see it advertised (it IS available
on the East Coast), and couldn't wait to try it. Boy, was I disappointed!
First of all, it leaked. Secondly, I had a lot of trouble getting it out
(and, yes, it was quite messy), and was able to do so only with the help
of a rubber glove, which provided a better grip. It was too slippery otherwise.
I must add that I am a nurse practitioner in women's health care, and therefore
have a lot of experience with fitting women with diaphragms, so I am certainly
experienced in the necessary technique.
The Beat Goes On: Instead vs. The Keeper
The telegraph key tapped this missive seconds ago:
My experience with Instead was not a positive one, although I applaud
the product and their marketing strategies, assuming that it must work
OK for some folks. I experienced major leaking that seemed to be precipitated
by just about anything (a full bladder, gas, an awkward sitting position,
etc). I believe Instead was inserted properly because everything would
be fine for the first couple of hours. The non-biodegradability is a tough
issue for me to accept, also.
My experience with The Keeper thus far (one cycle) has been a positive
one. Insertion was not difficult. I had to shorten the "tail"
considerably for comfort. Clearly, I need to develop better removal skills,
but it was not too messy even as a novice. I had a small leaking incident
once, but I had neglected to partially rotate the cup to develop a seal.
I intend to continue using The Keeper.
Heavy Bleeding: Instead, No Hysterectomy
I received these comments in December 1997 about the menstrual cup
I've been struggling with the problem of inadequate products for years,
having had massive fibroid tumors that went undiagnosed for way too long.
I had surgery (a myomectomy) but refused a hysterectomy, but since they
were unable to remove all of my tumors, I still experience pretty awful
symptoms, among them incredibly heavy, and fairly unpredictable, bleeding.
I've been stranded in the Port Authority bathroom on Christmas Eve, I've
been unable to leave the stage after performances, and inconvenienced hundreds
of other times because what I was using failed.
And that's exactly what you don't need to deal with when you're not
feeling well to begin with . . . .I even had to pretty much give up bicycling
because I just couldn't be out on the road away from a bathroom for long.
My life is DRASTICALLY different since I discovered
Instead on my store's shelf recently. Yeah,
it's messy to remove. So what? It's way better than running to the bathroom
at my office sometimes every five or ten minutes! And blood washes off
your hands way easier than off of your car upholstery, clothing and other
folks' furniture. Anyway, as long as you're careful and kind of tip the
cup upward a bit as you remove (rather than holding it level as suggested),
it seems you can get better control and not squeeze it so much, which is
what causes mishaps.
Anyway, I can't imagine that the benefits don't outweigh any messiness.
And it's true: I was on the verge of considering going ahead with a hysterectomy,
just because I couldn't get through a day at work, or because it'd take
me hours to drive somewhere because I'd have to keep pulling over in search
of an emergency bathroom stop.
I think now I can live with these guys!
The Keeper v. Instead, etc.
Some recent (November 1997) e-mail in the ongoing discussion of cups:
I tried everything, pads, tampons, Instead & currently own a Keeper
which I'm delighted with. When I used Instead I could feel it, no matter
how I adjusted it and worst of all, I had more leakage problems with Instead.
Plus I found Instead to be extremely messy, more so then The Keeper.
The Keeper is great! No leakage at night! For me this is a blessing.
No matter what I wore I normally had leakage problems at night. Not with
the Keeper! No more maxi's with panties! With the Keeper I appreciate the
fact that it is extremely inexpensive, when the cost is averaged over 10
years. I am not putting dioxins or toxins into my body, it's super convenient,
your wear it, you don't need to bring extra things. Women need to get over
their own personal biases against menstrual blood.
Hello, I like your site. A few comments about The Keeper and other
"suction" devices like the cervical cap, etc.
I am a student of Chinese Medicine and over the years of training have
discovered that stagnation is a key factor in many diseases relating to
women's cycles. I used to use a cervical cap and after a visit to the doctor
for a Pap test she commented on how the cervix appeared as thought it had
a bruise or hickey on it. We agreed it was from the use of the cap. After
later thinking about it, I began to realize that healthy tissue needs oxygen
and blood to flow freely around it and that the use of these products may
have its pros, its also has strong cons. These may not show up immediately
but on the long term use of these products I predict stagnation (Chinese
term) problems occurring in women using these products. Stagnation causes
pain, cramps, clots, bloating, etc., during the cycle. Just another view
point to consider.
You may like to visit my home page - I sell a RED tonic to help with
the moon time problems of women.
Compassion and Awareness to all.
Vera Zyla China Tonics (604)538-9682 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pms, Arthritis, Hay fever and Menopause tonics available at: http://home.istar.ca/~chinat/
I've been using Instead now for my second period. As I used o.b. tampons,
the insertion didn't bother me. However, I did have one night of leakage,
but as the flow was heavier the third night and no leakage, I must not
have had it positioned correctly. I do have a problem with having leakage
or having to empty and re-insert Instead after a bowl movement . . . any
one else have this problem?
I don't think I'd want a Keeper because one couldn't use it during
intercourse, and as I spot for days and days past day six, (and I dislike
washing bedding) this is a real advantage for me and my husband. Can't
The Keeper be made more like Instead, reusable and without the tail? Then
I'd probably buy one.
Thanks for all the info.
Cups Are "Totally Impractical"
You're not "getting" it about menstrual cups.
Think about them practically-- particularly in a public bathroom, for
example at the office, you'd have to take the thing out, stuff toilet paper
in your underwear, get dressed, rinse the cup, get undressed again . .
. it's totally impractical. There are exactly zero bathrooms that I use
regularly where I can reach the sink from the toilet.
Besides, if you have longer fingernails, the blood would pool under
them-- and it's a bitch to try to wash all of it off so that it doesn't
Yes to Instead, No
to The Keeper
Hi. Thought I'd give my $.02 worth about Instead, as I have just used
it for the first time (and I live in NY, so it's here on the East Coast!)
First, I'd like to state that I am unhappy about the non-biodegradeability
of Instead [menstrual cup]. I sent for and tried the Keeper, thinking this
was the perfect device for me, both physically and ethically. I was much
dismayed to find that I could not wear it comfortably. It was just too
long, and even after snipping off some of the tail (quite a lot, actually)
as instructed, it still was too long. (I ordered the after-childbirth size,
as I've had two, all natural.) I reluctantly sent it back, and received
a prompt refund.
However, as a menstruation device, Instead was great. It fit me, diameter-wise,
although I'm sure it won't fit everyone. I partially assuaged my guilt
over the throwaway issue by using a single cup for one whole period. I
just took it out and washed it every twelve hours. I could not see using
a new cup every twelve hours--the things are just too sturdy. This would
be difficult in public restrooms, however.
So, that's my Instead testimonial. Your site is great, by the way.
She Reuses the Menstrual Cup Instead
I just spent a evening browsing your site. Wonderful, I learned more
in two hours than I ever discussed with friends.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know that the Instead seems to be reusable.
I've been able to wash it with soap, dry and reinsert. I've only reused
the same cup twice before throwing it away. No ill effect yet. Yes, it
is "grot". I know Instead is not approved for reuse, but it's
not advised against it either.
She Tried the Menstrual Cup Instead, But
An allergic reaction may explain this
problem in an e-mail I received recently:
I tried the Instead cup about six months ago and found it very comfortable,
but a bit messy. With a little practice (standing over the bathtub) I was
able to remove it without too many problems. On the other hand, my body
seemed to have a problem with it. After about two hours of being in, my genitals would start to swell up on the inside and
out, as if I were completely engorged or something (it reminded
me of when I was pregnant). It then became very difficult and painful to
remove and almost impossible to put a new one in. I'm tempted to try it
again to see if my body will still react that way. I really like the cup,
I only wish I could use it.
Ripping Pads and Tampons, but
Praising Cups and Diaphragms
Modesty almost prevented me from showing you
the first paragraph of this e-mail I recently received, and other parts,
but, what the heck, I should enjoy this while I can:
First, congrats for being a man with a brain. I was surprised
(happily) when I found out that the Curator of MUM was a male-person. But
then when I began reading and looking around I decided you were really
all right, and actually totally cool.
Now I have some general comments on menstruation and
my experiences. I just had my 40th birthday last month and as far as commercial
pads and tampons are concerned, I've tried them all: pads with belts, pads
that stick to your underwear, pads with wings, long pads, short pads, reusable
cloth pads, etc, etc. Ladies and gentleman, the truth is: pads shift, bunch,
and leak. Pad technology has reached its peak; nothing can be done to a
pad that keeps it from leaking. As for tampons, the ones made by the big
commercial companies are full of chemicals and materials that at the least
aren't good for you, and at the worst may kill you. One-hundred-percent
cotton tampons are safer from a health and environmental perspective, but
they are crumbly and they need to be watched more carefully and changed
more often as they are not chemically enhanced to be extra absorbent. On
my heavy days the most absorbent don't get me through the night.
Perhaps I was blessed with a wiser-than-usual mother,
or perhaps I just have a very strong sense of self and body, but my attitudes
about menstrual blood have never been "shameful" or "unclean"
or any of those things. Also I was lucky to learn about Native American
women's attitudes and practices about menstruation in my early 20's and
they made infinitely more sense to me than the stuff pushed by Madison
Avenue about menstruation.
Recently, through the MUM site, I found the Keeper menstrual
cup - I wish I'd found it years ago! Leaks don't bother me from an "unclean"
perspective, but stained and therefore ruined clothes do bother my wallet.
And we don't live in an age or culture where we can separate ourselves
during our menses like the Native American women could. The Keeper is the
most leakproof thing I've ever used, and no matter how heavy my flow the
most I've had to empty it is three times per day.
Some of the writings at [this] MUM [site] say that previous
menstrual cups have failed because women find them "messy" to
insert and remove, and they have to put their fingers inside themselves.
I do not understand this attitude at all. I guess Madison Avenue and cultural
conditioning run very deep indeed. Women put plastic douche nozzles, chemical-laced
tampons, not to mention the penises of some men, into their vaginas without
a second thought, and then balk at putting their own fingers inside themselves?
How can menstrual blood be "unclean" or "dirty"? That
is where a baby would grow if fertilization had taken place...common sense
tells you it could not be "dirty." As the Native Americans so
wisely say, we (women and men) would all be wise to remember that it was
this same blood that nourished and protected us in the womb.
And finally, Mr. Finley, I have something for you that
I didn't see anywhere in MUM. After I told a friend of mine about MUM and
she looked around at your site, she homed in on the information on Instead.
She tells me she knows where the idea for Instead really came from. Women
dancers and athletes have used diaphragms (the kind used for contraception)
as a menstrual cup for years. [An American actress invented the cup
in the 1930s - Harry Finley.] She has been using her diaphragm this
way for nearly twenty years; she found out about it from her college coach.
She says it has all the same advantages of the Keeper and Instead, with
the added advantages that it CAN be used for contraception. It can be sized
to accommodate changes after having children, but it isn't disposable and
so causes no pollution or environmental concerns like Instead. She tells
me she has known many women who use their diaphragms this way.
Thanks for your great site. I imagine you get a lot of
flack about it and a lot of insults too; you're a brave man to venture
into this area. I will add a link to MUM on my page of links for women
and my general links page.
She MUST Use Instead for Her Health!
A reader from New York City comments about how the Instead
menstrual cup is the only thing she can
Instead is currently the ONLY menstrual protection that I can use.
I underwent recurrent urinary tract infections
for a year triggered by pad use (those nasty perforated plastic liners
that always feel wet to the touch are great breeding grounds for bacteria,
especially "Always"). A latex allergy means that the "Keeper"
is out of the question. Tampons are undescribably painful to use. Instead is messy (it helps to have a non-latex glove on
the withdrawing hand and then invert it over the whole thing) but it is
extremely comfortable and toxic-shock free. The benefits outweigh
the problems. I wouldn't use anything else.
Using Instead is very much like using a diaphragm, which is equally messy
but much used.
Trying to Remove
I . . . noticed that you mentioned the Instead product [in this Web
site], so I thought I'd throw in my two cents since I've had some experience
I'm not sure if I'm just defective or what, but I had a serious problem
with the product. I had absolutely no problem with how I had to get it
in, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't break
the suction to get it back [out]. I ended up at the gynecologist's
office to have it removed, which you can imagine was intensely embarrassing.
It may be just me, but possibly something you'd want to mention.
Compare Tassaway, The Keeper and
Instead Menstrual Cups
I was able to find information about the Keeper,
and I just received mine last week.
I have been looking for a product like this for a long
time. I remember the Tassaway from the seventies. I tried it once, but
couldn't seem to get the hang of it at all. The "sharp edges of the
protruding rings around the cup," as you put it, made it difficult
to insert. I was a teenager at the time and was easily discouraged by my
one failed experiment with Tassaway.
By comparison, the natural rubber of
the Keeper has no sharp edges and feels softer than I remember Tassaway
being, and it is softer than the plastic ring of Instead.
I was excited when I first heard about the Instead
cup on television infomercials. However, I
cannot use the Instead cup because I use an IUD for birth control. Because the Instead cup sits over the cervix, IUD users are advised
not to use Instead because there is a chance one could dislodge the IUD
while inserting or removing Instead by catching or pulling on the tail
of the IUD that trails out of the cervix. This is noted on the package
(read the fine print) and at the very end of the Instead instructions.
I don't recall any disclaimer about IUD users in the infomercial, however.
(I could be wrong; it's been a long time since I saw the infomercial.)
I bought a box ($2.99
for six) before I figured this out. [See the item above about P&G where I discuss how much money
a store makes from selling Instead compared with other products.] This contraindication for Instead use seems to not get much press;
perhaps there aren't that many IUD users? One also wonders how healthy it is to scrape or drag the hard rim
of the Instead cup over the cervix, even without an IUD.
Although the plastic ring is flexible, the edge of the inside diameter
of the ring is formed with a 90 degree square angle, not like the rounded
edges of the outside of the ring. Someone
who has actually used Instead may be able to tell you if that causes a
problem or not. [Anyone
want to comment?] (The inner edge of the Instead ring is not visible
in your diagram.)
Instead seems to be stocked in all the drug and grocery
stores around here (Santa Clara Valley, aka Silicon Valley, about 50 miles
south of San Francisco in California). I first saw the infomercials about
6 months ago, but the product has only shown up on store shelves in the
last month or so.
Instead Claims It's the First - Again
The Instead (see letter right above) people claim in recent
news releases that the advertising for their product has the highest recall
value of any new product in menstrual hygiene in history, and that a very
high rate of women actually try their menstrual cup.
According to AC Nielson figures, its dollar share in the
Pacific Northwest for the tampon market in drugstores and supermarkets was
5.3 in early March, compared with 47.5 for Tampax, 15.8 for Playtex, 15.5
for o.b., and 9.5 for Kotex.
Instead is available as of 1 April in all of the western
states, and the company claims it is used by 4% of all menstruating women
in the Pacific Northwest.
At the bottom of each release is a disclaimer: "The
statements contained in this release which are not historical facts are
forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties." Does this relieve them of the responsibility from
claiming again and again that Instead is the "first real innovation
in feminine protection in 60 years"?
There were several
cups (including one making a similar claim) made before Instead, and I wish Instead would stop repeating that
A Happy Keeper Menstrual Cup User
I've used my Keeper for about a year now and I'm very
pleased with it. I find it comfortable, convenient, and it saves me a lot
of money! It's especially great for traveling--I took mine to the Sudan with me, where I was living in a rural
village with no plumbing or conveniences like drugstores. I wore it on
a 10-hour drive across the desert where it would have been impossible to
stop or find a place to change a tampon or pad, and it saved me from having
to carry around several months worth of menstrual products wherever I traveled.
I love it!
An Australian Comments on The
Keeper and Sponges
Hi, stumbled across the MUM page, and noted with interest
an article about the Keeper and other menstrual cups. I bought one when in Canada several
years ago, and was disappointed with it. Great idea, and I was confident
of it's working, giving my experiences with diaphragms some years ago.
Despite following all instructions (e.g., once in place, give it a quarter
turn to get a proper seal) it consistently leaked. I also did find it hard
to insert (despite having been a dab hand with the diaphragm) and suffered
from small cuts/tears which of course are painful. Interested in seeing
Actually, I used a sponge for a good six months - natural sea sponge, back in uni days
when I had lots of time to lock myself in the bathroom every single hour.
Found that more comfortable and easier. Just hard to find very dense natural
sponges without holes.
A Friend of MUM Talks About The Keeper
OK, well here are my thoughts after my FIRST 48 hours
as a Keeper user.
As some background info, let me tell you that I was SO
excited to FINALLY have one! My ex-girlfriend and I were obsessed with
The Keeper for a while, but only in theory, 'cuz neither of us were sure
if we were REALLY ready to take that $35 plunge. But . . . my Keeper came
knocking at my door last week!
Well, I've exclusively used non-applicator tampons since
my second period,which was almost a decade ago, plus I am not a stranger
to the vagina, so I assumed that I would have no problem inserting one.
Well, I did and I didn't. . . . I THOUGHT that I had it in right, but it
was leaking all over the place last night, so I can only assume that I
had it at a wrong angle, or something. Something that was particularly
fun about the insertion process was that you have to kinda fold it up to
insert, and the first time that it went POP! inside of me, well, that was
kind of a weird feeling!
Another issue that I had was that the "tail"
of it was a little long - maybe I have a short vagina, or something - and
it was, like, external, and my legs kept getting tangled up in it as I
was walking around. Seriously, I could notice it when I sat down in certain
positions, and maybe the fact that I was having this issue pushed it into
the wrong position and, hence, I was Leak Girl. Finally brain-surgeon me
realized that I could trim it to a better length, and I've had a much better
time since I did that!
Something else that I didn't expect was all of that suction!
Last night, when I was trying to take it out at one point, it was actually
a bit painful! Or maybe I'm just a wuss. That was the only time that taking
it out actually hurt, but still, I can see that the whole suction thing
will take some getting used to!
However, today was a shiny, happy, Keeper day! I woke
up to find that I did NOT make myself another pair of period underwear
during the night! My Keeper and I had a lovely shower together! And I wore
it for 9 hours straight on my heaviest day and, thankfully, my cup had
NOT runneth over! The only complaint that I had about the Keeper today
is that I wish that it was available in fashion colors; I'd prefer a bright
purple to that dingy brown any day!
Also, today I decided to tell my assistant about the
Keeper. Well, let's just say that she was, ummmm, I guess "appalled"
would be the right word. For one thing, even the thought of tampons freaked
her out - she's afraid that they're going to get lost - I was like, "HELLO?
Where are they going to go?!?!? It's not like they're going to hop on a
bus to Vegas!!!"
Conceded: the Menstrual Cup Instead is
A recent visitor to the museum from Bozell Worldwide Advertising in New York,
which makes the ads for Instead menstrual cup, agreed with me that using the cup can be a messy
experience. The company does not deny
this. She said Ultrafem, which makes Instead, encourages
users to carefully read the instructions, and as with tampons, practice
An Instead user herself, she said the huge advantage of being able to keep the cup in all day, and during
sex far outweighs the faults, which include its one-time use. And she kindly
donated a box of the cups to the museum.
Studies have shown that cups in general
are safer than tampons and pads.
The visitor's companion was a man who worked for Procter
& Gamble, of Rely
tampon infamy (Rely was a tampon involved in the toxic shock terror in 1979-80). He admitted
he was skeptical about the museum before arriving - most people are - but
soon told me he had never thought menstruation could be this interesting,
or that it embraced such a wide range of topics.
By the way, men as
bodyguards have accompanied female visitors to the
museum since its founding over two years ago; I can understand this. The sooner MUM sits in a public place the better!
The couple was black, which is very unusual. Probably
95% of visitors are white women with an often reluctant male.
"I Wish I Had Discovered [The Keeper] When
I Was a Teenager."
I use The Keeper
and find no to little mess on my hands when emptying out its contents and
replacing it. Think about it. The menstrual flow is kept inside the cup.
When you take the cup out, your fingers are not in contact with that fluid.
You empty it, wipe it and reinsert it. Again, no contact with the fluid.
I think it is the greatest thing a woman can use. I am not inconvenienced
with leakage like a tampon, frequent changes of tampons, a string to contend
with, or running out of tampons. I
run long distance with The Keeper and forget that I even have a period. I wish I had discovered this when I was a teenager.
I have told a few of my friends about your page, which
is entertaining and informative, and I appreciate your gender limitation awareness on this subject
[The founder of MUM and writer of this Web page is a guy, just a guy, folks, and aware of the irony]. It makes
you more credible recognizing that. Good for you!
Here's One for the Keeper!
Well, I just finished writing to the wonderful creators
of the Keeper to let them know that I think it's GREAT!!!
Yes, it does take some practice... don't you remember
inserting your first tampon? Instructions in one hand . . . tampon in the
other . . . a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to fear . . . well,
it may be something along the same lines.
The Keeper is an excellent alternative to through-away
products that are widely used . . . and although it may not be used in
great numbers, I wouldn't hesitate to say that control over women's bodies
and lack of education is based on corporate interest, after all . . . isn't
that how it works for everything else?
If you have any more questions feel free to write to
me at NM_BINI@ALCOR.CONCORDIA.CA and remember . . . there's nothing eeeeuuuuuhhhh!
about menstruation . . . after all, it`s your body, get used to it!
Two Users Comment on the Menstrual Cup
PRO (mostly): "Right
now I am sitting here browsing the MUM and not worrying at all about the
Instead that is all snug and warm inside me. I am a major advocate for
Instead. I think any woman who uses o.b. would not have a problem, but
there are many out there who can't even use an applicator-less pon, let
alone put (oh dread) a cup in oneself. The only problems I have found are:
if I wear one for more than 4-6 hours the blood smell is super intense
when I take it out. And the other one is I can't "relieve my bowels"
without major leaking. But I think it is still worth it. I also get really
bad cramps when I use tampons; with Instead they are much less active.
Finally I have been able to babble about Instead to someone who seems to
like them; I thought I was the only one!!! One more thing: there is something
about the name that I don't really like."
An industry source told your MUM director - me - that
the Instead people started marketing the cup on the Pacific coast of the
U.S.A. because a larger percentage of women there than elsewhere in America
use o.b. tampons, which have no applicators and must be inserted with the
fingers, just as Instead must be. I do favor
a menstrual cup, but one more like The
Keeper, which can be used for a decade or more, according to the company.
But hey! I'm just a guy, as has been gleefully
pointed out to me on several occasions. I am humble about the question
of what women should use, and very humble about being a guy. I can
only present as many facts as I can; you choose.
CON: "The ones I tried
didn't fit and leaked . . . and I can't imagine trying to change one in
a public restroom because of the mess on my hands."
I thank a securities analyst for this information from
Bloomberg Business News (20 Nov 96): Ultrafem, the maker of the new menstrual
cup Instead, now says the Food and Drug Administration has approved Instead's
use for up to 12 hours in the vagina. The FDA had initially approved
it for only eight hours, but the company put 12 on the packages.
Susan Antilla also writes in the article that "There's
a reason women haven't switched in droves to the menstrual cup. And that
reason isn't because it's so tidy to use." (Italics added). This
is the problem I have mentioned before. If it were
designed to be used again, like The
Keeper cup, I might recommend it, but the Keeper itself has sold so
few (around 15,000) since it started in the late 1980's that it is not trackable
by Information Resources, a Chicago-based marketing research firm. Why?
Probably because of a generic messiness and inconvenience in inserting
and withdrawing the device with your fingers. Not many women want to
deal with it. But even a cup with an insertion device marketed in Australia,
Gynaeseal, flopped in the past few years.
The Bloomberg article mentions that Instead is one size
only (The Keeper has two sizes, for women who have and have not had children),
and will not fit everybody, unlike a diaphragm, which is fitted individually.
This causes leakage in some women, one of the vexing problems women have
with any menstrual product.
I must mention that Ms. Antilla interviewed me
by phone for the article. She was dumbfounded that there was actually such
a thing as MUM (I can't believe it either, actually) and frisked
me for some information on the history of menstrual cups, which I surrendered.
But try Instead out. Call
1-800-INSTEAD for a sample, and see it on the Web: www.instead.com
By the way, Michael Bloomberg, who founded and runs the aforementioned
Bloomberg Business News, is a college classmate of mine. Hm, if this billionaire
- he really is! - could help support his and your Museum
of Menstruation . . . .
Instead Bent the Rules!
A securities analyst kindly sent me information about
Instead, the new menstrual cup, which indicates that the parent company
(Ultrafem) advertised that the total time a woman came safely wear it as
12 hours, not the eight that the Food and Drug Administration approved.
And the company altered the composition of the product after the FDA approved
it. It's not clear that either change will harm the wearer, and I believe
the FDA and Ultrafem are discussing the changes. Ultrafem based its increased
length of usage on tests showing that the bacterial count in the menstrual
blood in the cup did not increase when retained four more hours.
Another securities report calls holding shares in Ultrafem "risky,"
because of doubts that enough women will want to deal with the insertion
and removal process, leaking, as well as other reasons. Education is the
key, the report says, and I agree.
A similar product, Gynaeseal in Australia - it even had (has?) an
insertion device - failed recently because of a "total lack of interest"
on the part of the Australian public and government. I thank Megan Hicks
of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, for this information.
I work in a federal government office, and two weeks ago I distributed six
Instead cups to interested co-workers. The one report I have so far gotten
back is negative. The tester simply didn't like the insertion and withdrawal
But there may be enough interested women to make the product viable.
May Do the Best Job - If Women Can Overcome
As discussed earlier, Ultrafem just started marketing
Instead (picture below) in the western part of the U.S.A. (Or buy
by telephone: 1-800-INSTEAD). It's a disposable menstrual cup which costs less than 40 cents. Women have been able to buy a re-usable
cup since the 1980s, The Keeper
(see also MenstrualCentral) (below), from a company
Where Instead sits (from the Instead instructions,
with added color). Ring is dark red, pouch is lighter color.
The Instead people say women can keep the cup in about twice
as long as they would a tampon, up to 12 hours on light days.
And users can wear the cup during sexual intercourse for blood-free sex.
As also mentioned below, cups are probably the safest of all menstrual
But many women are reluctant to insert their fingers into their vaginas,
especially during menstruation, and this may pose a problem for wide acceptance.
And there is the disposability factor - this is not biodegradable
Finally, apart from the great merits of the product, I must mention again
that menstrual cups have been around for decades (see the item below). The
old Tassette and Tassaway cups were advertised in mainstream, national magazines
like Bazaar, even if The Keeper is less widely advertised (it deserves better).
Advertising folks are not telling the truth when they claim that - as Padette
also does in the next item down - Instead is the first really new thing
in menstrual protection in 60 years.
There is a recent New Yorker magazine cartoon showing
a line of public relations people in front of the door to PR hell. Above
the door a sign reads (approximately, anyway), "Abandon All Hype,
Ye Who Enter Here." I wish.
The New Cup is Not That New!
A reporter for The Seattle Times called MUM and said that
the press release for Instead, the new menstrual cup (see our item below
from a few weeks ago, Try Out a New Menstrual This Fall), stated that it's
the first new thing in menstrual hygiene in 60 years. Not true, if it means
cups are new. They've been around commercially since the late 1950's,
and there's another one available right now, The
Keeper, a re-usable one, which is pretty cheap compared to what the
reporter said the new one costs.
Tampax claimed to be a new concept in 1936, whereas commercial tampons had
existed years before that (see exhibit news several items below).
What was new was the applicator, truly a good idea for many women. Yes,
I know about the disposal problems, something we are still grappling with,
as women will with the non-degradable, non-reusable Instead.
© 1997-2006 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute
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