Sorry mum – you’re really going to hate this one. It’s your least favourite topic my large repertoire of vaginal related discussion – the menstrual cup.
I started reading articles and blogs, even watching vlogs, about people with uteruses’ experiences with menstrual cups probably about a year ago, when I began to get a period every month. Given the torment of my bleed I was buying at least one box of tampons and one pack of sanitary towels every month, and it was adding up. The financial benefits of the cup were very attractive.
However, I despised those who sang the praises of the blessed bloody cup. There were dozens of articles and blogs where people lamented about how ‘once you try the cup there’s no going back’. How lives had been changed, transformed, improved. “What a load of bollocks,” I thought. Of course there were positives, but the emotion being expressed towards a piece of silicone that gets shoved up ones vagina, was bonkers.
Instead, I relished in the, often comedic, articles about how horrific trial runs of cups had derailed. Women who had to call in the aid of flatmates, boyfriends and mothers to fish cups out of there apparent venus fly traps. “I tried a menstrual cup and NEVER AGAIN EVER NO NEVER” were often the type of headline that went along with such stories. They were very funny, but also sounded quite traumatic – they were very much how I imagined my experience going.
And I wasn’t wrong. I first tried, after internet advice, to use the cup a few days before my period was due – no joy, I couldn’t get the damn thing in. Even though I knew full well that I hadn’t the foggiest idea how I was going to insert it, a few days later I tried while I was on my period. What a mistake. Total carnage. Texts were sent, tears were shed, photos were taken (don’t worry – I can’t even bring myself to look). Somehow, I thought I had actually inserted the cup – well, no I had inserted it but the point is I had inserted it badly – and an hour after sitting at my desk thinking how well it was all going I went to check and that’s when the bathroom fast transformed into a crime scene.
I don’t know how or why but the cup made my period heavier and more painful that it already was, leaving me doubled up in more ways than one and swearing that I would never go near the damn thing again. But, a bit like labour actually, four weeks later I had put the turmoil, and the photo, behind me and I was ready to try again – but this time towards the end of my period (a much better idea). YouTube propped up on the bath, I relaxed my body and followed the YouTuber’s instructions on several ways to fold the cup. Some forty odd minutes later I had FOUND MY FOLD. That should be a hashtag, maybe it is – but hell, you really do discover which one is for you. #FindYourFold
The next issue came in that I couldn’t get the ruddy thing to open up inside me, but again a little more YouTubing and foruming led me to the answer. I had no idea the pelvic floor muscles were equally as strong as pulling things into the vagina as they are at expelling them…
The next couple of cycles were a bit hit or miss but gradually, the cup and I are beginning to become good friends. We’ve even been on holiday together! I still, for some unknown reason, have unexplainable leakage on day three every month but it’s nothing a pantyliner can’t handle and otherwise I am starting to understand why all those people loved their cups so much. I haven’t bought a box of tampons or towels in four months, I saved on some serious packing room in South America, the space I need to occupy in the bathroom has reduced, I can wear it while I anticipate my period and while it’s dying off (comfortably!), my environmental impact has been reduced and I no longer have to deal with overcrowded sanitary bins or making sure the pockets of every bag I own are sufficiently stocked. I’ve even gotten to know a lot about my wonky cervix and how often it moves (and oh how I gagged when I realised that was what had happened). What’s not to love?
The answer to the latter question is the process. That’s what I think was missing from all those articles I read. Everyone either hated or loved their cup. I didn’t read a single article that said “stick with it, it’s going to be rough (read: disgusting) for a couple of cycles, but when you figure it out the benefits are really quite impressive”. So I’m going to say it. The menstrual cup? Stick with it, it’s going to be rough (read: disgusting) for a couple of cycles, but when you figure it out the benefits are really quite impressive.
My period is always a weird time of the month for me, and it’s often quite painful – but the faff of actually having to deal with my period is gone now, and it’s a welcomed change to my cycle when so many other things make me want to hate it.
Hilary’s menstrual cup recommendations (there’s something I never thought I’d write!)
Where I purchased my cup (I have a meluna): http://www.femininewear.co.uk/
The brilliant YouTube channel that got me where I am today: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5jJ_1US1DjRYJF_WU4sQ5w
My fold! #FindYourFold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m25SKJwWARY