Menstrual Cups: Everything You Need to Know
Why the Menstrual Cup Just Makes Sense
Considering my fairly crunchy upbringing, you might assume I’d been using a Menstrual Cup for my entire menstruating life. They weren’t around when I was 12, but it did take me a couple years to warm up to the research after discovering them. I’ve never been able touse tampons without severe and constant discomfort, no matter the brand or type, and was always too terrified to deal given the risks I’d been made aware of from a single article about TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) early on. Pads it was. EW.
As much as I hated walking around with a diaper every month for several days, it seemed the lesser of the two available evils. You name it, I’d tried the brand, yet no matter what, the cost, the awkwardness of locating them sandwiched between the adult diapers and condoms and the fact that I still regarded my period as a monthly interruption in my otherwise fairly carefree life, made me resent being a woman saddled with less than ideal options.
Many women in the world don’t have access to any options, so I tried to just get over my attitude and deal. What finally sent me over the edge, to know I needed to make a change was one too many wake ups to my bedsheets and my favorite pjs nearly ruined from a “heavy overnight” (freaking branding). That’s it! I’m googling this business!
How Do You Know Which Menstrual Cup to Get?
Surgical grade silicone? Hey, if people have breast augmentation with this material left inside their bodies for years, then I think it’s gonna be fine if I leave it in my body for max 12 hours at a time for a few days a month. YEAH. Then came the amazon.com reviews, and guuuuurl were they helpful. This wasn’t something I wanted to buy blind, one for the cost, and two for comfortable fit and functionality. If there’s one place on The Internet I do read the comments, it’s Amazon. There are several different brands I came across in my considerations and here’s a brief synopsis of the serious contenders, although there are more brands emerging nearly monthly it seems.
The Dive Cup is the most prominent player, and was a great starting place for my research. It’s Specifically designed to sit low in the vaginal canal, a great option for those with a low cervix.
The Lunette offers a slightly wider, stouter design than the Diva Cup
Moon Cup originated in the UK, and a solid contender.
In the end I went with The Lunette Model 2 which is typically recommend for post-childbirth women or heavy periods and I happen to be blessed with “a really heavy flow and a wide-set vagina”. I kept my first Lunette for a couple years, then replaced it with exactly the same one. This one I cut off the bottom “stem” almost completely off as that was consistently the only thing that bothered me about the cup.
Finding the Right Fit in a Menstrual Cup
I tried a Diva Cup (Model 1) as well, thinking it might be useful for lighter days, but I didn’t like the fit. Let me expand here a minute: different vaginal canals are gonna require different fits, and mine just so happens to be wider and shorter, from my experience with menstrual cups. There is most likely no other way I would have known this before just trying different brands out.
Inserting and Using Your Menstrual Cup
When inserting the cup, you just fold it in half lengthwise (like a taco or piece of pizza- what, too graphic?). One technique I’ve found particularly helpful is to choose a side of the canal to use as a slide if you will, and that helps with the counter pressure necessary to keep this sucker from unfolding before it’s high enough up that it feels comfortable and not like it’s in between your legs (you’ll know because you’ll start waddling). I always find it so much easier to place if I have already started my period, which makes total sense. But if you’re a newb who wants to practice before it’s go time, make sure the cup is rinsed with warm water so it has less resistance or consider using some lubricant.
How will I know if the menstrual cup is sitting correctly?
I’m so glad you asked; literally your one job is to make sure once it’s high enough up, you let it open up fully, so the rim forms a flexible seal in your vagina to catch all the blood and endometrium. You’ll need to run the tips of your fingers around the walls of the canal to make sure you’re also finding the cup everywhere. If it doesn’t open to create the seal, it will sit like a vacuum which you will feel pretty immediately, until you take it out and reinsert, letting it suction open and feeling that it has unfolded correctly.
Doesn’t this sound super fun?! Bodies are so amazing and this has increased my awareness of just how much work my body is doing every 29-31 days. I’ve developed what some may read as OBSESSION with the incredible mystery that is a human body — why else would an independent, child-free woman in her early 30’s listen to every. single. episode. of The Birth Hour?!
What About Emptying the Menstrual Cup On the Go?
Emptying the cup every 8-12 hours is a dream, my favorite part by far. I only recently bought the Lunette Feelbetter Cup Cleanser that I’ll wash it with when I’m home, and when I’m not at home, as long as I’ve washed my hands first, it’s my own body it’s touched and not anything else unsanitary so I don’t even rinse before reinserting, but I get this will gross some people out. You can also buy the travel wipes they sell if you are concerned about cleaning it when you’re out and about. The wipes are compostable (can be flushed down the toilet) and disinfecting.
Is Emptying Your Menstrual Cup Gross?
Back to my favorite part- emptying! After several hours of collecting what my body has created and knows to dispel in order to create again, I find it insanely cool to be able to really see things. I love seeing the portions of lining come out still together, and the different fluids as they’ve settled in the cup. It’s mind boggling! I’ve never been more impressed with my body!
If you think you’ve left it in too long, you’re probably right, it’s surprisingly easy to tell when it’s getting full, it just feels different. For my lightest days I’ve taken advantage of Party In My Pants liners, and my sister swears by Thinx because she is grossed out by the cup concept and I get it, turns out there’s something for everyone, eh? All the best to you in your experimenting, do what works for you and don’t let the shade throwers tell you how to live your life.
Guest post contributed by Melissa Filkins: Melissa lives in Manchaca, TX and when she isn’t sharing her opinions, she is busy being in tune with her body, finding places to hang her Kammok and slaying her previous days step count records/eating dark chocolate. Oh yeah, and drinking copious amounts of coffee while celebrating being alive in general.