Unless you’ve spent the last couple of years living under a rock, chances are you’ve at least heard of the menstrual cup even if you haven’t used it. These gadgets are meant to be the answer to the expense, pollution and potential health problems associated with using tampons and pads. Since I’m a little bit of a greenie and a lot frugal, I’ve been meaning to try one. Plus, when it comes to researching a story, I’ll try anything once.
While looking for an m-cup, I found local site PinkCup. I love pink, so they came out on top. It might be going into my vagina, but I still want a pretty cup – I’m shallow like that. Menstrual cups come in two sizes, namely small and large. Women under 30 who have never had children are advised to purchase a small, whereas people like myself who are over the hill or have given birth need to get a large one. And boy was it large!
Sufficiently daunted, I waited for my period to arrive so that I could give this hopefully life-changing silicon cup a go.
The technique (or how to get the damn thing in)
Needless to say, you’re unlikely to get a menstrual cup in by shoving it up as it is. I knew this, but simply folding it in half as per the box (and most of the internet’s instructions) wasn’t working for me either. I thought I’d have to give up before I even started. A google search later and this YouTube video suggested a technique in which you fold the cup to make it into a sort-of scoop, and this has now become my signature cup-inserting style.
Here it is close up:
To get it in, it’s easiest to stand legs far apart with one foot on a higher object, my personal favourite being the edge of the bath tub. Wetting the rim of the cup with some water is helpful if you are a bit *ahem* dry, but stay away from lubricants as they can eat away at the silicone. I needed to push it up quite high, and so most of the fingers I was using to hold the cup in the scoop went way up as well.
Once in, you rotate it slightly until you can feel it pop open back into its original shape so that it can catch your flow. I never felt a pop, and I do wonder if mine was just squished in and acting more like a plug. I could feel it pop open only when I pulled it out, but was definitely doing its job as I didn’t experience any leaking. If inserted correctly, you shouldn’t feel it much, if at all, and it won’t leak either. Just like a tampon, but better.
Removing the cup (or is this thing stuck inside me forever?)
Getting it out isn’t as tricky as getting it in, but it can be a tad scary when you can’t get a good grip on the tap you use to pull it out. Menstrual cups can stay in for around eight hours, which is a relief for those who worry about having to change it at work or at the mall. Many people also worry about being faced with something resembling a crime scene when it’s time to empty the cup, but, as a moderate bleeder, I never filled more than a quarter of the cup over an eight-hour period. True story. After you have removed your cup, simply empty the contents into the toilet and rinse the cup before reinserting.
The cup life
Before using your cup, and before you put it away until the next period rolls around, it’s important to boil it for a few minutes in water. Since it is made from medical-grade silicone, it won’t melt away, but the germs and bacteria will. My PinkCup also come with a nifty little bag to keep it in while not in use – ALSO in a lovely pink.
While I may or may not have been using the cup correctly, it still worked. I had no leakage, it wasn’t uncomfortable and I didn’t have to spend money on tampons this month, so all in all I consider this experience a win. It can take a few cycles to get the hang of things and, to be honest, I’m looking forward to next month so that I can perfect my new-found skills.