Menstrual cups are a great alternative to the traditional methods of managing your monthly cycle, especially for a woman who bikes, or lives any active lifestyle for that matter. I made the switch a few years ago and never looked back. They have many benefits: cost, convenience, comfort, environmental impact and empowerment.
Over the course of your lifetime, menstrual cups will cost much less than tampons or pads. A menstrual cup is a more long term investment, with a larger upfront cost that will save you quite a bit of cash in the long run.
According to USA Today women spend about $150-$300 annually on tampons. A menstrual cup will cost you about $30-$50. Even if you decide to keep 2 menstrual cups handy, which I recommend (I keep one in my bathroom and have one stashed in my purse, just in case) you still save a significant amount of money if you are choosing to purchase menstrual cups every few years instead of using tampons or pads.
With all that money you could save by not purchasing disposable feminine hygiene products, you could be buying new bike gear or registering for a for a fun and exciting event or race.
A menstrual cup is shockingly convenient.On average a menstrual cup only needs to be emptied every 8 hours. This varies depending on how heavy your flow is.
Most days I’m lucky and I get away with emptying mine when I wake up in the morning and when I go to sleep at night. I only think about dealing with this two times per day. You could never get away with that using tampons or pads- it would be a disaster.
Therefore, if you are out on a long ride, you don’t need to worry about packing a tampon, or where the bathroom stops might be along the route. You can rest assured that your ride will not be interrupted to take care of Miss Flo.
If you are touring or bikepacking, this just might be the greatest benefit to using a menstrual cup. You can get a lot of miles in before needing to worry about taking care of any menstrual cup emptying, possibly only emptying at the beginning and end of each day.
Furthermore, if you are camping along your bike tour there will be no used tampons or pads to pack out of camp and to the next trash dumping opportunity. How fantastic to be able to bike along without hauling your used feminine products along with you!
Ideally, when you empty your menstrual cup you need to rinse it out. Some situations make this impossible. You may not always have easy access to a sink when using public restrooms along a bike ride, or if camping through a tour.
But fear not, you can simply wipe your cup clean with a menstrual cup wipe and you are good to go until a private sink becomes available! At the end of your period, you simply soak the menstrual cup in a pot of boiling water to cleanse it so that it is ready for the next month.
A menstrual cup, when properly fitting and inserted, is very comfortable. You will not notice that you are wearing it while sitting in the saddle. There is no string, there is no bulk from a pad. You will forget that you are using it.
In fact, it is so comfortable that you might need to set a reminder to change it. They come in different shapes and sizes, so make sure you choose one that fits your body, and keep in mind you may need to trim the stem at the bottom of the cup as well.
Mother Nature would thank you if she could, for using a menstrual cup. First, you would save landfills the burden of the nearly 9,000 tampons or pads you would toss in the trash in the average woman’s lifetime.
There is also significant additional waste produced in the packaging. A menstrual cup typically comes with a reusable cloth sack for storage, no wrapper to throw away every time you change it.
Tampons also contain chemicals, like dioxin and chlorine, that are harmful to the environment when they breakdown. The medical grade silicone used in menstrual cups will not break down into microplastics or leach chemicals into the environment.
Throwing a handful of silicone menstrual cups in the trash over a lifetime is a more eco-friendly option than the thousands of disposable products you would be using instead. You can avoid harmful chemicals as well as limit the amount of waste you produce by using a menstrual cup.
A surprising benefit to switching to a menstrual cup is that it is empowering. When you use a menstrual cup you have to get very familiar with your own anatomy. You will learn where your cervix is, along with everything else while you are poking around down there. You will also know exactly how much blood is in your flow each day.
The data you unknowingly collect each month could potentially become useful. If anything about your body changes for any reason, you are more likely to notice. When you see a doctor to address a concern, you have the power of knowing what is normal and what is not for your own body.
Some more empowering aspects of the menstrual cup are: all the money you save (oh, hello new bike gear), all the tampon runs to the store you never have to make, and all the freedom that comes with not needing to change a tampon or pad every few hours.
You are empowered by a freedom to spend longer hours doing things you love (biking) without needing to fuss over freshening up. You are not bound to as many bathroom runs, trash that is unflushable and nonbiodegradable, or the financial burden of that extra necessary item on your shopping list each month.
It feels good to gain both a freedom and a stronger awareness of self.
I’ll be honest, there is a steep learning curve for using a menstrual cup. It is intimidating in the beginning. It can also be uncomfortable until you get it placed just right, find the correct size or shape for your body, or realize that you need to trim the stem of your cup. It definitely takes some persistence over the first few months.
However, the benefits in the end are worth the awkward struggle of figuring it all out in the beginning. It’s like riding a bike- once you figure it out, you know how to do it for life.
Making this switch lowers the cost of being a woman, is ultimately more convenient and comfortable, puts a smaller strain on the environment and it is empowering. Who doesn’t want all of these things? Here are some links to companies who are doing amazing things to improve the lives of women around the world through menstrual cups!
These rad companies run a program where for every cup purchased, one is donated to a woman in need:
Saalt Co. also works hard to spread period education, donate menstrual cups and fund education for girls in Nepal. Check them out at:
About The Author
Sarah Gorka is originally from Phoenix, AZ and attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. During her time in Flagstaff she fell hard for biking the steep and beautiful roads through the pines, as well as some of the local dirt trails near town. She now lives in Salt Lake City, UT and is busy raising two young boys. These days she primarily commutes with a trailer that is way too heavy with children (and often groceries) around the city when the weather is nice, spins indoors when it isn’t, and really appreciates the occasional kid-free ride whenever the opportunity arises.