This blog post is for the ladies, and maybe a few curious gents. We are talking about menstrual cups! We are going to be graphic about it, too. So, if your stomach is weak and you aren’t up for a full-on adult discussion about periods, pads and cups, this would be your cue to exit stage left. If you are still reading at this point, I assume you need no other warning, and since I tend to write quite descriptively, you know I won’t tiptoe around the subject at hand. So here we go.
A few years ago, I found out about menstrual cups and had an ‘on-again and off again’ interest in trying them. I’ve always had issues with cotton menstrual pads chaffing the living daylights out of me. I don’t know what you know about periods, but I am dog tired of them. Truly. Tampons were my ally, but I found post-baby that they were no longer comfortable at certain points during my time (we’ll get into why), so I found myself using pads all the more and hating it some more. All that to say, the cup thing seemed interesting enough that I decided to try it. And boy was it interesting! I thought I would share with you ladies some things to consider before trying a menstrual cup yourself.
Recently, I dug deep with the research into cups, and talked to a few gal pals, pleasantly learning that more women I know have tried them than I thought. So, armed with the readiness to try something new, a few friends in my pocket to reach out to for advice and the promise of saving hundreds of dollars each month, I bought my first two cups.
What is a Menstrual Cup anyway?
If this is your first rodeo, a menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene device in the shape of a flexible ‘cup’ made of silicone or latex rubber. It is inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid by creating a suction seal to the vaginal walls. Because of its construction materials, it is a re-usable product maintained by washing with gentle, cleansing soap and sterilisation and/or boiling. Now that’s you know what that is, here are a few things to consider when thinking about trying a menstrual cup.
1. It’s a learning curve.
Menstrual cups are a learning curve. This is probably the first piece of advice you will find anywhere. And though I thought was prepared for it, I really wasn’t. The first day I tried my menstrual cup, I’m pretty sure if my puss could have drop-kicked me in the face, she would have. From pinching myself in places no-one wants to be pinched to incorrectly breaking the suction to using a too-strong suction cup, my kitty was vexed! My friends, videos and articles told me to try for three cycles to really see if I liked it. Me? I tried for about eight months, though not consecutively. There were some months when I just didn’t feel like hassling my vagina any more than mother nature was already doing for me, so I left her be. But I will say, the excitement once it clicked it well worth the effort to learn. For me, that is.
2. Your Cervix moves. Probably.
This one kind of there me for a loop. So if your first reaction to this “Huh?“, don’t worry. You are not alone. When I heard the talk ‘high’ and ‘low’ cervix I was utterly confused. What did it all mean? How did one determine whether that had a high or a low cervix? I’ve heard this talk for years, and until now, had no real reason to pay attention. Here’s how I figured it out. A few years ago I had a Copper IUD put in. The IUD requires periodic checks to ensure it’s still in place, and considering mine was displaced about three months after getting it put in, I have been somewhat diligent with my checks. (No surprise baby in these parts… Hopefully.)
I noticed that during my monthly cycle, my cervix felt funny. Simply put, it took a while to locate it. I would kind of need to move my finger and body around to find my thread tip. Even more surprising was that sometimes, it wasn’t actually facing straight down at all and may very well be hugging the vagina walls. At certain points, it also is just so low, a pad is simply the most comfortable option.
It turns out, for some women, the cervix may change its position during our menstrual cycle. (Huh! Who knew?) This is important because the use of the menstrual cup requires the cervix to sit inside the cup or above it so that the suction seal to the vaginal walls can be properly made. This is a challenge when the cervix is tilted to the side and or sitting low (closer to the vagina entrance, but I found that once I searched for my cervix prior (in the shower), I’d have a much better idea of how to angle the cup for suction. If you are thinking about trying the cup, get comfortable with going ‘cervix hunting’.
3. Size Matters. So does shape and firmness.
There are as many shapes as there are brands. Typically, brands carry more than one size. Finding a menstrual cup that fit one’s vagina is a very personal endeavour if you can imagine. It may be a little like finding the right hair products for your natural hair. I was surprised to learn that menstrual cup has been around for decades, the first commercial useable menstrual cup was designed and patented in 1937. That being said, the number of different cups around are so varied, there is bound to be one out there that is a fit for you. My first purchase (two-cups from the same brand) were not it, and I later learned that the shape, rigid firmness, and the ringed tail were just not a comfortable fit for my body. My second purchase was a much better fit and feel, a though it still took me a few months to learn the best tips to use it, it was a hallelujah moment to stop bruising my cooch in my attempt to comfortably insert the menstrual cup. Remember how I said there were times when my cervix was too low to fir a cup, well there are actually flat cups, I just haven’t gotten around to trying one yet.
All in all, I was super excited to try the cup. What about you? Have you ever tried a cup? Let me know in the comments.
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