“Trust me it’ll change your life”
This is the general feedback I received every time I sat down to have a conversation about switching over to a menstrual cup. My fascination with the product that made periods less messy and also helped reduce waste started about two years ago when a colleague told me about it.
“Trust me, it’s easy,” she told me as she went about telling me everything from how I won’t get an infection from leaving it in for over 10 hours to the C-fold that helps to get the cup in to the pinch-and-pull technique that you needed to master to ensure that was no bloodbath while you emptied the cup.
Honesty, it didn’t sound simple at all, but I decided to take the leap and ordered my first, teal-coloured cup and for the first time in over two decades, waited for my periods.
But first things first…
Everyone should know that you never, never, never get the cup inside correctly in the first go. If you are thinking of making the shift, give yourself at least three months. It takes time to get the C-fold right and it takes even longer for you to stop clenching your butt and walking as if you are holding something between your upper thighs.
The whole idea of how using this cup is going to change your life led to a lot of anxiety for me as I tried to understand why I couldn’t do something that everyone said was “so easy”. I gave up on the fourth day and decided to give myself some time. Pretty much the best thing I did, because now, three months later, I can do the C-fold insert and pull-and-pinch in my sleep (although it’s not a very good idea to do that!).
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So advise number one, give yourself some time till you get it right.
Secondly, if you are going to be travelling, stressed out, or not in a space where you can spend 10 minutes in a bathroom every three hours, don’t do it just yet.
It’s completely normal to want to make 10 bathroom trips wondering if the cup is leaking–because sometimes, when you haven’t put it in correctly, it does! My solution was to wear it with a panty liner. You could also wear it with a pad for the first few days, just to avoid a stain.
Also in the first month, you may want to avoid changing and inserting it while you are outside. Doing it at home means you are most comfortable and can immediately take action just in case something goes wrong–aka blood spilling on your pants instead of going inside the pot.
I also avoided wearing one at night, just to get a peaceful sleep and not keep getting dreams about me lying in a pool of blood. #TrueStory!
Stay comfortable, do it when you are relaxed, at least for the first month, and you’ll soon be a pro. Because trust me: the tension of waiting for the office loo to empty out so that you can have the sink to yourself to wash the cup is going to help no one!
Not all brands are the same
Another big problem for me was the brand. It just didn’t feel right. During my second cycle while using the cup I came across a video that showed someone not being okay with the brand and ordering another one, which is when I ordered my second cup too.
Basically asking people for the “best brand” is a big no-no. Read reviews, watch videos and figure this out on your own. It can get expensive but then you can reuse your cup for years, so it’s worth it.
Also in my head, before I actually ordered the cup, I thought of it as a strange silicone-based thing that would have to be squeezed in, along with some tears. When I actually got my cup, the first thought that came to me was ‘Hey this is small’. So before you buy one, it is a good idea to watch a lot of videos and figure out how each one looks and feels. If the stem is too long it could poke you, if the silicon is too hard it would make it difficult to hold the fold as you put it in… you get the drift.
Next up, read, a lot. I did and it helped me figure out everything from the most hygienic way of using it, to making the fold, to storage solutions for the rest of the month. There is a lot of information out there–you just need to start researching.
Also talking to your gynaecologist is a great idea. She’ll be able to give you her experience on the best brands and keeping your vagina clean and healthy while using the cup.
A lot of people told me to shift to tampons first and then move to the cup. I don’t think it is necessary to do so. Menstrual cups are made to go in easily–you just need some practice. However, if the idea of inserting an alien object inside your vagina freaks you out, you could try going with a tampon for one cycle and see how that feels before you buy the cup.
At the end of the day…
Read and research a lot before you make the shift–don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone’s vagina is different so don’t try to mirror someone else’s experience.
Have your own journey with the cup. Trust me you both will fall in love–just give each other some time.