I signed up for the Instead Softcup Challenge through For the Love of the Run in October and I have certainly had more than enough time to test it out - so here's my loooooong overdue review.
I think I managed to keep it on the low-squick factor side of things so don't be too scared about encountering horrifying levels of personal detail.
|Bloom County by Berkley Breathed|
Img via http://www.thecomicstrips.com/subject/The-Female-Comic-Strips-by-Bloom+County.php
As much as procrastination figured in, I'm actually pretty glad of the extra time I have taken to write this because I think after one or two months I would not have given it the same review I'm giving it now. I've been using Insteads on and off for the last six months and I think I've got a pretty good handle on their place in my monthly repertoire.
This was actually not my first time trying Instead Softcups. Way back lo these many years ago in the olden days I like to call "college" I learned that there were environmentally and body friendly alternatives to the usual cloth/paper based disposable feminine products and started researching which would be the best for me. I considered the mass market menstruation products available extremely uncomfortable and wasteful (not to mention of dubious health benefit), so finding that there were alternatives out there opened up a whole new world for me.
I was pretty sure I wanted to get a product called the Diva Cup because it has low environmental impact and unlike some other reusable cups it is silicone (and hence sterilize-able) but at that time a $30+ investment was a rather a big hit to my miniscule college student-type bank account for a completely outre left-field totally weird hippie granola thing.
|img via http://www.yumyucky.com/2009/10/healthy-hippie-natural-food-store.html|
If I remember correctly Instead Softcups were a fairly new item at the time, and were being talked up on various message boards as a good test run product if you were looking to get a reusable cup but were not sure. It doesn't require a big initial investment to try it out so I figured I'd give it a shot. I got a sample package and tried it out for a couple of months. While I found it a bit too uncomfortable (and disposable) to be my first choice product at the time, it did give me the practice and confidence necessary to believe that a reusable cup could be the right choice for me.
Shortly thereafter I got my Diva Cup and mostly forgot about Instead Softcups for my purposes, though I did recommend them to other people looking to test out a menstrual cup without the initial investment. They're are definite differences, but it'll give you a good feel for using cups. I've been using my Diva Cup fairly happily since. Menstruation is now MASSIVELY cleaner, cheaper, more comfortable, and far less of a hassle then I could have ever imagined using tampons and disposable pads.
Fast forward to 2012 and my discovery of fitness bloggers (notably including For the Love of the Run).
I saw a few posts about the Softcup Challenge and thought to myself that there probably weren't too many other people doing this from the point of view of a long time dedicated menstrual cup user; so why not sign up?
I received my sample package and while I can't say they will replace my Diva entirely, they have definitely been worth having around. I fully expect I'll keep them available for regular use in the future.
They are apparently more compact this time around and DEFINITELY seem more comfortable then the last time I used them, though admittedly a good part of that may simply be due to increased familiarity with the product type. Either way Insteads have gone from something I can see someone that wasn't me using, to something I found really helpful and plan to use with some regularity.
A big limitation of the reusable Diva cup is that you have to have it on hand. Unless you buy a backup there's only the one available and it has to be properly cleaned, so it's not really the sort of thing you can toss in your pocketbook at the beginning of the week like a tampon and grab it to run to the bathroom just when it's necessary. You also can't take an early lunch break to run out to the nearest drugstore to pick up a nice sanitary individually wrapped Diva Cup if you happen forget it on the day you need it.
There's only so much predicting one can do when it comes to menstruation so having the option of tossing a sealed disposable product in my bag for when I need it has been a GREAT help. This freedom alone has made this whole challenge worth it for me.
If you've ever had the thought that you were literally throwing your money in the garbage for products that leak and chafe and can potentially cause serious illness you may want to think about trying out a menstrual cup.
Instead Softcups are not for those who are ultra squeamish about the functions of the human body, but this is not exactly that crowd. If you can deal with all the sweat, blood, chafing, blisters, trail squatting, and *ahm* potential for stomach upset that goes hand in hand with regular running it follows that most of you are a fairly hearty lot with few illusions about the day to day details of human bodies.
There is a bit of a mess factor but... how to put it nicely... it's a bathroom mess (hence easily cleanable) as opposed to a laundry mess (hence get out the bleach and cross your fingers that your favorite pants/sheets/whatever are salvageable - because you know it's ALWAYS your favorite).
I'm the Jogging Jawa, and I approve of this message. Even though I received this product free of charge, the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% mine. Feel free to ask topical but terribly personal questions in comments. I will try to answer as frankly as I can.
So here's the part where those of you who bothered to read all the way through get to come in.
I coincidentally happened to win a giveaway via From the Love of the Run at the same time that I signed up for the Instead Softcup Challenge so I actually received TWO packages of Instead Softcups.
As much as I'm a little tempted to keep them all for myself it would be pretty unfair of me to hog all the freebees, so anyone who posts to say that they are interested before midnight of June 1 will be entered in a giveaway for a free sample box of Softcups to be chosen in some highly unscientific randomized way. This will most likely involve one of my cats or possibly a dart (but not both - my cats are stabby enough all on their own thank you).
Gentlemen this includes you too, but I'll leave it to you to figure out what to do with them or how to explain them to whoever you pass them along to.
|img via: http://www.spabeautyschools.com/blog/mens-holiday-gift-guide/|
Evidence of Liking my Facebook and/or pimping the blog may get you extra chances/brownie points/ and maybe a sparkly sticker or two if you're the winner.