A year ago this month, I decided to take the leap and order a menstrual cup online. I’d heard so many great things about it from friends and strangers online, and I really liked the idea of using something more sustainable for my period.
My first two months of using a menstrual cup were a bit of a struggle, but by the third month I felt ready to record this video:
In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a menstrual cup, I really recommend you watch the video first, as it’s quite a complete introduction to the item. I explain what it is, how it works, how you insert and remove it… This post is more of a follow-up, so think of the video as part one.
When I filmed that video, I was still pretty much a menstrual cup beginner. I wasn’t 100% comfortable with my insertion and extraction methods (for lack of better words. Ew.), I’d still get some leakage when the vacuum didn’t form properly, and I still struggled with taking it out every now and then as it would travel up. Now that it’s been a year, I can safely say I’m even happier with my cup. So, much, happier. I honestly can’t imagine ever going back to another menstrual product.
My biggest problem in the beginning was getting my rather soft cup to open up properly and form a vacuum. That was resolved completely once I got some more practice with the 7-fold, which is in my opinion the best way to handle a soft cup. With that fold, you can easily guide the top of the cup until it’s opened. You do need to reach in quite a bit to do that though, and it took me a while to get used to the feeling. Now I can t do it in a matter of seconds, and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I’m also able to tell, feel actually, when the vacuum has formed and adjust in case it hasn’t, so I never have problems with that anymore either. I think recognising when the vacuum has formed also just takes some time and getting familiar with the way the cup feels when it’s inserted properly or improperly.
Now that I’m typing this up I realise the cup not opening properly was actually my second biggest problem. My actual biggest problem was getting the cup out once it was in. Like I mentioned in the video, my cup tended to travel up quite a bit when the vacuum wasn’t right (which I didn’t know then, but do now) so that I couldn’t reach the stem at all. As I found the process of taking the cup out rather uncomfortable as it is, that could make me really nervous and just make the whole thing worse. In the beginning I’d have to leave the cup in a little longer than intended just to relax again and hope it would travel back down a bit before I tried again, more times that I’d have liked. With time however, I realised the “disappearing of the cup” only happened when the vacuum hadn’t formed, which never happens any more. I also learned to contract my muscles down there in a way that actually pushes the cup down, so that it’s easier to grab and remove. Getting that contraction down is actually what really did the trick for me; I’m now able to remove my cup quickly nearly every time. Beginners: it kind of feels like you’re trying to poop. TMI I know, but if it helps one person, it’s worth it 😉
Another thing I learned in the past year, is I actually really like my cheap, off-brand cup. I got mine through an Ebay/Alieexpress-type online store just to see if it was something I could work with at all, and when I decided I did, I wanted to get myself a proper, brand cup. I ended up getting a Diva cup and let me tell you, I hated it. The Diva cup is SO firm compared to my pink cup, I had a lot of trouble making it come down lower so I could reach the stem (which I rely on heavily with my high cervix), and when I did reach the stem, I could hardly pull it down because the vacuum was so strong from the firm cup. The stem is also kind of short and flimsy, not enough to battle that insane vaccum the Diva cup creates, so taking it out was a struggle every time. I actually gave up half-way through my first cycle of using it and went back to my trusty old soft off-brand cup. I haven’t used the Diva Cup anymore after that first try, but I’m thinking I should give it another go now that I’ve mastered the pushing down technique. If I do try again, I’ll keep you posted.
In the comment section of that video I shared up top, quite a few people suggested I use my cup in combination with cloth pads to take care of any minor leakage. I don’t get continuous leakage anymore now that I really know how to insert the cup properly, but on my heavier days I do still get some leakage after I clean the cup. Cloth pads are wonderful for that; you just attach the cotton fabric pad to your underwear and it catches any leakage. My leakage is so minor that I can easily get by with one pad a day. I got a set of three cloth pads which are just enough for my three heavy days, so I’m all set. After they’re used I just throw them in the laundry, mine are dark blue so they don’t get stains. Really recommend this if you’re looking for a sustainable way to deal with spotting.
I’ve noticed one more major thing after a year of using the cup: my period has gotten shorter. I’d heard this could happen but for some reason I didn’t believe it, because it doesn’t make much sense, but here you go. I used to bleed for seven days straight, and now the bleeding is usually over by day five or six. An absolutely wonderful development, as now I usually don’t bleed anymore by the time I need to insert my NuvaRing.
So all in all, I now have an even more positive attitude towards my menstrual cup than I did at the beginning. I’d love to hear some of your experiences if you’re comfortable with sharing some. Feel free to do so anonymously!