Let’s talk about periods. More specifically, period products. I’m here to talk about the menstrual cup. I’m sure you’ve read a ton of posts about it before and you know what’s up, but i thought i’d share my not-so-great first encounter with it anyway.
DISCLAIMER: I’m gonna be talking about periods, vaginas, period blood and all that shit so if you’re squeamish, don’t like reading about the female body, or are related to me, i would advise you click away now.
I was ridiculously eager to use my menstrual cup. In my most recent contraceptive update, i spoke about how my hormones were all askew and i hadn’t had a period for 6 months. I bought the menstrual cup 6 and a half months ago. I just really wanted the revelation that women spoke about when they started using it.
“You’ll never go back!”
“It’s so easy to use, i forget about it once it’s in!”
My experience was a little different. We’re all friends here, right? So i’m gonna get completely candid and tell you all the things i also told my horrified boyfriend when i started using it. I don’t think he’ll ever look at me the same again.
what is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable period product. It’s shaped like a little cup, and is designed to go in your vagina and catch all the blood. You can’t get toxic shock syndrome like with tampons and you can’t feel it, like with pads. It’s much better for the environment as well.
The cup i chose to try is the original Mooncup. It was only around £20 or so when i ordered it, it came quickly with a handy little bag to keep it in and a full list of instructions with diagrams on how to insert and take it out.
I decided to try out a menstrual cup because i want to get to know my body better. I’m one of those people who is very much grossed out by periods and can’t stand the thought of getting any blood on my hands. But it’s my body, and it deserves more than a glorified nappy or oversized cotton wool up there.
There are a ton of brands that sell menstrual cups now, they’re slowly becoming mainstream which is incredible. The brand i would advise buying from is Hey Girls, due to their Buy One Give One policy. For every period product you buy, one is gifted to a woman living in period poverty.
the first try
I started my period at work and was thankfully expecting it so was prepared in the form of a pad in my bag and i was wearing one. I don’t trust my body to give me warning signs anymore, it does whatever the fuck it wants.
At first i was annoyed that i didn’t have my menstrual cup with me. I wanted to be prepared and use it straight away. Thank fuck i didn’t have it with me. Jeez.
I sterilised it in boiling water and a Steradent dental tablet as soon as i got home, and then headed up to the shower as i expected it to get messy and it felt safer to get experimental in the shower. I practised the folds a few times, convinced i had this down and it was totally easy.
Turns out, when it comes to actually putting the thing near your vagina, it’s a whole other story. I was genuinely like…this is not going to fit. The cup itself doesn’t feel big when you’re holding it or practising the folds, not at all, but get it near your private region and holy shit. It may as well be a baby’s head because that is how it feels trying to get it in.
Let me be the first to admit i definitely didn’t have the technique down. I haven’t mapped the inside of my vagina before so i had no idea which way i was supposed to be aiming it. I figured standing would be easier. Wrong. Squatting on the ground? Feels like i’m about to take a shit on my bathroom floor. I was SO tense even though i was trying to relax.
I eventually deduced that sitting down is the easiest way for me to get it in. Either sat on the toilet, or sat on the edge of the bath, leaning forward. I experimented with both folds and decided the fold that looks like a person getting their neck tickled is the best fold for me. Doesn’t mean it was easy though.
I literally had to force that shit in. I wasn’t even sure i had the right hole the first few times. And then i forgot to “pop” the seal before taking it out so it felt like i was hoovering out my own intestines and i could not stop myself wailing in discomfort.
I had to take it out and reinsert it so many times to get the stem the right length and my vagina just gave up. It had had enough battering for one day and i actually felt so defeated.
Where was my magical breakthrough moment where i decided i love my body, my period, and my menstrual cup?
the second try
I went to bed feeling a little glum but decided to try again the next day since i was working from home. I had to trim the stem one final time before getting it in properly (but not before popping it open accidentally before it was fully inside) and i…actually couldn’t feel it.
I wasn’t convinced i had it done properly so i popped a pad on for good measure and then sat down to do some work. To my surprise, when i went for a pee to check, there wasn’t much on the pad. There was a little bit, so it clearly wasn’t properly in, but enough for me to feel a bit smug about having nailed it.
And then i tried to take it out. Was not prepared for the amount of blood that came with it. Got a fright, somehow tipped it whilst transitioning from the toilet to the sink. It looked like someone had been killed on my lap. My favourite pair of joggies, straight into the wash with little hope of seeing them again, and i got straight into the shower to wash period blood off my ankle.
getting the hang of it
I, pretty boldly, wore my menstrual cup at work the next day. I felt pretty confident with taking it out and getting it in after wearing it for the full day previously (after my spillage disaster), but still wore a pad in case of leakage because i’m still not sure everything is where it should be.
I felt like i wanted to tell everyone that i was using one, forgetting stuff like that isn’t normally discussed in everyday life.
I’m no longer able to feel it when i’m wearing it, but i didn’t forget it was in there. I kept worrying about when to empty it, how full is it going to be when i empty it, and how i’m going to manage in the pristine white bathrooms at the office i was working from today.
Surprisingly, i managed totally fine. I think everyone was probably wondering why i was taking so long in the bathroom and i absolutely did strip down to my underwear and jeans because i couldn’t risk getting period blood on my white shirt, but i did it without spilling a drop!
my overall opinion
I know it’s only been one period, and i still have a long way to go before i’m a menstrual cup master, but i genuinely think i like it. It’s been a tough ride getting from “this is ripping my vagina apart” to “wow this is revolutionary” but i feel pretty positive.
It took me a few days to realise i had to physically squeeze my vaginal muscles to get the seal to work properly and stop anything escaping to the pad, but by the time i realised this it was the end of my period and there wasn’t much anyway. The true test will come when i start next months!
Using a menstrual cup makes me feel a lot cleaner. There’s no uncomfortable sneeze feeling, there’s no worrying about leaking out the side of your pyjama shorts and having to change your bedsheets AGAIN, and so far the blood on my hands has been minimal. Minus that one incident.
Now, this is coming from a girl who is too afraid to use tampons. I tried them once, and refused to ever use them again. The thought of going up into my vagina was scary.
But if i can do it, anyone can. I strongly urge everyone who has a period to invest in a menstrual cup. Think about how much waste you’re producing when you use pads or tampons – TOO MUCH WASTE. I could never go back to just using pads now. No way.
How do you feel about the menstrual cup?