Hey guys. I know it’s been awhile.
I’ve actually been doing quite a lot over at Idionity and I’ve even joined Instagram and have been posting things over there. I’m trying to be more socially engaged and put myself out there more, but this blog in particular has definitely seen some tumbleweeds. Luckily, I’ve got a Topic That Doesn’t Fit Anywhere Else to bring some life back to Cat Caddy!
I wasn’t going to write about this because number one, it’s a pretty personal (and TMI/gross out) topic, and number two, it’s pretty uncomfortable for a lot of people to think about.
But I’m so excited about this experience (and was so desperate for information about it when I was starting out) that I feel compelled to write about it.
So, here we go:
Why the menstrual cup is a game changer for period-havers, behind the cut:
(Warning: Shark Week descriptions ahead!)
Just so we’re clear, this isn’t a review of menstrual cups and everything you need to know, nor is it a pitch for any particular brand. This is just me talking about my experience with using one of these for the first time.
This is a menstrual cup:
(Not a photo of the one I’m using. You’re welcome.)
I was inspired to get one by Oh Joy Sex Toy’s review of a cup that looked pretty awesome. However, it was too expensive for me, so it sat on my wish list for months. That big paycheck never came, though.
In the meantime, my friend informed me that it might be a good idea to do a trial run and test the thing out before making a 30 dollar commitment, because for some users the menstrual cup is prohibitively difficult (particularly if you are not a fan of tampons). So…I bought the above pictured model on Wish for like a dollar. By all accounts, it looks, feels, and works like any of the brand name versions, so I might not even be “upgrading” to a brand model at all.
I’m all about supporting independent businesses that are making patented designs and awesome products, and the OJST recommended cup above is still on my list, but if you’re just starting out and want to experiment with this new method? A dollar. How can you beat that?
Anyway. So I got the thing and gave it a few dry runs. It was…disappointing and discouraging at first. I have severe medical phobia that sometimes gets triggered by even me touching my own body, and the result of this is that I have always refused to use tampons. Reading about TSS as a kid scared me off them. I have used a tampon, I kid you not, once in my lifetime. My friend warned me that jumping from pads to menstrual cups is much harder than jumping from tampons to menstrual cups and that it might be a good idea to get comfortable with tampons first. But I didn’t have time for that, so I jumped straight to the menstrual cup after being an (unhappy) pad user my whole life.
What. A. FUCKING. Difference! Holy shit, you guys. But let’s backtrack to the beginning:
Inserting it was kind of a pain. The typical fold they recommend is the “C fold” and that didn’t work for me because the stupid thing wanted to fill with air and pop open before I had inserted it, making the whole experience very frustrating. Then, when I did manage to insert it, it wouldn’t pop open and stayed curled up inside. Removing the thing after the vacuum seal had formed was alarming in its difficulty. Eventually I just gave up and went to bed, cup-less and defeated. Maybe I’d be stuck with pads forever.
But then I read instructions online and watched a few videos and discovered some new folds that both let me insert the thing AND get it opened fully so it’d collect properly, and when I managed that…I started my period. Just in time.
Can you feel it? No. Amazing! It’s super comfortable (though when you are starting out you are going to worry every time you shift or turn that you’ll break the seal or leak, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t).
Is it invasive? Yes. I have to say this: if you are going to use these, you need to be very comfortable with your period fluid and your body. TMI moment here: pads do not allow you to hide from your period like tampons do. They are messy as hell. The main complaint I had about my period is the fucking mess. Blood everywhere. Leaks galore. My wardrobe consists of black pants and underwear because I don’t ever want to have to deal with staining my clothes and ruining them. Pads do nothing but sort of catch most of the carnage when it’s already outside your body, and your job when you wake up in the morning or go pee is to engage in a little bit of crime scene cleanup. GROSS! But menstrual cups? SO NEAT! SO TIDY! NO SMELL, OMG!
But you do see your blood. I’m pretty okay with that at this point, but I know a lot of people aren’t. If you like to rip out that tampon without looking and jam another one in with your eyes closed, menstrual cups aren’t for you.
Also, you’re going to be playing gynecologist a little bit and fishing your fingers in there to move stuff around, check the seal, correctly position the cup, etc. If you’ve never taken the time to explore your vagina, you’re going to be a little uncomfortable. I’d recommend doing that FIRST before ever using one of these. Where is your cervix? What sensations are you comfortable with? What is the shape of your vagina? Figure this stuff out first or your cup will be figuring it out for you.
Now, I know that earlier I said I have medical phobia (the sight of FAKE blood makes me want to pass out) and that I never used tampons because I couldn’t stand things being inside of me. It has taken years, but I have managed to overcome my discomfort with my body and now have a familiarity with both my parts and the fluid. Besides, period blood doesn’t count as squicky to me because it’s a healthy process, not the result of a wound. So, if I can do this, so can you.
Now, let’s talk about what it’s like when you get past that learning curve of inserting the menstrual cup and sealing it and getting it to work right. It feels incredibly empowering, that’s what it feels like. I’m not much of an environmentalist, per se, but the waste I was creating was astronomical and I’m so glad to not be taking part in that anymore. The whole process is much neater than I was expecting. For a person with OCD, Shark Week cleanup can be a nightmare, but this cup has cut 95% of the bullshit right out. Think about what you hate the most about periods (besides the pain). The smell? The mess? The inconvenience? Remembering to change your product frequently? The hassle? The products themselves?
All gone. Wow.
Things I didn’t even think were possible on a period are possible. You no longer have to rush to bandage yourself when you get out of the shower or are changing clothes. No more dripping, no more leaks. (No, you can’t have sex with these in. Think about it, you can’t have a cup and another object in there at the same time.) Bedtime is comfortable because you’re not constantly shifting, worrying about leaks. The mess is gone! It’s all in a neat little cup! And you don’t have to change it as frequently. Generally speaking, I have a rather moderate flow most of the time so that works great for me. Your mileage may vary.
So, in sum. I feel like a boss and will never go back, and would recommend these to anyone who is able and willing to use them. I do think there are certain people out there who would find these undesirable to use, and that’s fine. It asks a lot more of you than throwing in a tampon. But it’s so much more comfortable and opens a whole new world, especially if you were chained to pads. I can’t praise menstrual cups enough!
There are a ton of tutorials and videos out there demonstrating the folds and how to insert/remove the cup. It gets easier as you do it more often, so once you get past the hurdle of the first few disappointing and frustrating tries you will be rewarded.
A few things I would recommend:
Have a panty liner or backup pad, especially for your first few attempts. You want to really know what you’re doing because if you don’t seal it right or it doesn’t unfold properly inside of you it could end in leaks.
Empty your cup in a private bathroom, not a public one (unless the public one is a single room with the toilet and sink together). If you have to dig around and remove the cup, rinse it, and reinsert it all while trying to pull your pants up in a public bathroom stall on your way to the shared sink you’re going to have some awkward moments. Luckily, you don’t need to empty menstrual cups that often so you can get through a whole shift at work or out in town without having to change it. Also, you can pee just fine with it in. You won’t need to remove the cup every time you pee. Very convenient!
Have any questions? By all means ask!