This topic seems to be an easy discussion between women, but they get grossed out when I tell them about my menstrual cup. I would say give this article a try, open your mind, hear me out, but I know for some of you this is a tough subject to listen to. This really isn’t gross and it shouldn’t be seen as such either.
* Warning: I am not afraid to discuss in detail. So get ready for some bloody wordage.*
Being a part of this world we live in today, as a woman, it is hard to be taken seriously across all boards. When there came more options for different menstrual tools, I was 100% on board. In this society, women’s periods are seen as a connection to our “female madness” and not our human biology. That is sickening for a woman who can’t tell her body, “Hey do you think we could skip the period this month? I’ve got some big plans coming up.” Huh! Okay!
Our menstrual products are labeled as “luxury items” and are extremely expensive to buy over and over again, which is what they want women to do. Keep buying menstrual products and throw them away in a landfill.
There have been alternative options for women for years but they were never advertised or had a voice until more recently when movements for a healthier planet, women’s health, etc. starting flaring up all over the world. I am glad all this has been brought to everyone’s attention and we are now seeing these alternative options upfront and center because let me tell you, I was getting pretty sick and tired wearing a sweaty pad every day and itching like hell because you’ve got plastic sitting between your legs.
I had always been the “pad” girl. I hated using tampons for a few reasons;
- They never felt pleasant when installing them.
- I was super afraid of getting toxic shock syndrome.
- It took forever to find the right size that fit my vagina.
- Prone to leaking.
- Exposure to chemicals.
So I had always used pads as my bloody absorbent of choice. Any time a girlfriend or female coworker would ask, “Hey you got a tampon on you?”, I would respond with “Nope, but I got a pad”, there were very few who would say “Sure that works”. Most women preferred the tampons, so that worked out for me because I always had my emergency stash available for when my periods went rogue.
The pads weren’t any better though, let me tell ya.
- They STUNK to high heaven.
- They leaked.
- They got sweaty and then I’d get swamp ass.
- They itched like a bitch.
- They were a hassle to carry around.
- You couldn’t wear them with certain clothes because you could the line through your pants. Good god, that’s always embarrassing!
- Exposure to chemicals.
The worst part was the stench for me. Oh My God! They f*cking smelled like death! I hated it because no matter what I tried to keep the smell at bay, I could always smell myself. If you could smell yourself, then naturally you are afraid other people can smell you too! I felt any time I opened my legs to recross them or get comfortable in another position, I would get a nice pad wafting straight into my nostril and it would just sit there tormenting me.
Pads are advertised to “reduce” your menstrual smell so you feel more confident and comfortable to go about your day all laddy-de-da! (Que women arms linked with Starbucks Latte’s walking down a street in New York) However, this is false. Pads and tampons never made me confident. I was worried about leaking onto my pants. I was afraid the smell would be noticed by all my friends (as a teenager this was a HUGE anxiety factor that drove me to never want to go out whilst on my period). I felt uncomfortable and extremely dirty. Let’s not even begin to mention all the chemicals you are exposed to (just for reference, any part of your skin can absorb stuff, so that includes the lips to your vagina and so on). Nothing that was advertised worked for me. Even at a young age, I kept thinking, there has to be a better way.
My sister’s husband’s cousin (three times removed from his mother’s aunt’s stepfather’s grandchild’s brother’s uncle 🙂 ) had posted on her Instagram page about how she was very excited to have gotten her new menstrual cup. She had slowly been making changes to her menstrual routine and health, so I asked where she found these items. She led me to ItsjustKelli on Youtube. Kelly provides reviews about almost anything you can think of from soap, toothpaste, yoga, and motherhood; the list goes on and on. She has many reviews on menstrual products as well that she gives full comprehensive feedback on. I watched her video about her favorite menstrual products to help give me some direction on where to start and to be exposed to all the wonderful products out there that I never knew existed.
After watching many of her videos (which are amazing and very helpful because she doesn’t hold back on the truth of what a period is, aka bloody), I decided to go with the Lena Cup. Kelly had mentioned this cup was great for beginners who had never experienced a menstrual cup before, so I was sold immediately. I liked the thought of the cup because I could use one product for up to 12 hours with very little maintenance. For someone who works 12 hours shifts at a hospital, I was all on board.
The best part about the Cup:
- No Smell!
- No chemical absorption into your vagina like a pad or tampon
- Can use up to 12 hours (sometimes longer if you are light)
Photo by Good Soul Shop on Unsplash
After purchasing my cups (I bought the two-pack because I wasn’t sure what size I would be), I could not wait until my next period so I could test drive these babies! I was extremely happy there were alternatives to putting more garbage in the landfills and it was a healthier choice for my body! Since this was an entirely new experience and product for me, I practiced using the cup so when my period came, I wouldn’t be unprepared.
After I looked up some tutorial videos, I used a lubricant to help with my practice. I still use a lubricant to this day to help install the cup because it’s easier for me that way. You have to get in a squat position to place the cup correctly in order to create a suctioned seal around your cervix. If placed correctly, the cup will seal against your vaginal wall close to the cervix to capture the blood and discharge of your period. When taking the cup out, you just need to be slow and calm so as not to tip the cup. I take my cup out over the toilet so I don’t have to be too careful. I can spill the cup immediately into the toilet. And yes, you should always wash your hands after because you will most likely have blood or some kind of vaginal discharge on your fingers. Guess what, you’re a woman, and that’s normal.
Now I will say, the cup does have some getting used to. But like any foreign object we put up there, it all takes some getting used to ;P . It didn’t take long though and I eventually found my comfort zone with the cups. I would say it takes some practice placing the cup correctly, but this is honestly a good thing because you get to know your vagina better. When the cervix is lower, the tongue of the cup may stick out a bit more than when the cervix is higher (that’s right ladies, your cervix moves from a low to high position!). Having the two sizes was nice because when the cervix was in that lower position I could use the smaller cup.
Funny Story: There was a placement error during probably my 4th or 5th time using my cup. I had placed the smaller cup in overnight and wanted to change it out to my larger one before heading into work. I had got into the squat position to grab the tail of the cup in order to pull it down. Well, I guess my cervix must have moved higher because the cup was so far up there I could barely feel the tail of the cup. My fingers kept slipping off the tail and I could not get a good grip. I was starting to panic and fret, no matter how many times I tried with different fingers they kept slipping. I was so mad and thought I would never be able to get it out. I was almost in tears from how frustrated I was. Eventually, I ended up sitting on the toilet from exhaustion. Then a miracle happened! While sitting on the toilet, I went for one final grab and while forcefully grabbing and pulling, I did a kegel. This helped to push the cup downward. After I remembered kegel’s were a thing, I kept doing them until the cup came out. Sooooooo, now I’m a strong ass vagina bitch! 🙂
Through all my experiences with menstrual products, this one tops the charts. I 100% recommend this product. My favorite part about the cup was the instant realization of no smell. I could open my legs during exercises, sitting, moving in any direction and I did not smell like a garbage bastard! I was elated! The blood captured in the cup did not produce anything that made me feel disgusting or want to hide at home.
The cup changed my perspective about my period and women’s health overall. Since my purchase of the cup, I have also bought absorbent period panties and a few washable pads. I no longer use commercially made pads or tampons unless they are my only options in a time of need. These are not luxury items, they are necessities. The need for better period education and alternative products is a necessity we should openly share, lift up, and experience together.
I now feel I have true control over my period fears.
I wish I would have had these when I was a teenager because let me just say, playing snare in marching band would have been WAY easier to deal with when standing at attention.
Heres to our periods girls!
Title Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash