Disclaimer: This might gross some people out tremendously. Click here and read my post about second weddings if you only want to read about rainbows and ponies.
- HOW IT ALL STARTED
Imagine you are on a trekking trip in India. You get caught up in the rain in the middle of nowhere and find shelter in a shepherd’s shack for the night. You get into your sleeping bag… and then your period comes. Boom! Your period never misses any of your trips. That was the claim in a famous pads advert from the 90s in Spain. It was in this context that I found out about menstrual cups.
(SHORTCUT – Cut the crap and take me to the pros and cons)
My friend that likes that kind of a trip (did you really think for a moment that was me? 😉 told me that she used to travel with millions of tampons until she discovered menstrual cups. Nowadays they are more less everywhere, but 8 years ago this was REVOLUTIONARY.
I ordered one immediately. My poor mother had to go a remote herbal remedies pharmacy to get it, because they were not available in Singapore or anywhere nearby her home in Spain. Remember E-commerce was not great back then.
Now, before I start ranting about my experience with menstrual cups I have to say that I have not used anything else ever since, but It was not love at first sigh. It was very far from that. Menstrual cups are gross, there’s no other way to put it. It’s just disgusting but they are a game changer and people don’t talk much about them.
I’m writing this because I recently found out that 8 years later, still people don’t know as much about them as I thought. I have friends that don’t know anybody that uses them except me. They looked at my like I have three heads when I told them. So here’s to them, for education and entertainment. There are good things about them and also bad things. So let’s continue.
- FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The box finally arrived, and it was all very cute! With the little pouch and all. Then I opened it with the excitement of a child at Christmas… and I freaked out completely. Jesus! It was huge! How am I going to put that on? It’s massive compared to a tampon.
Then I remembered when my first period came. How I used to tell my mother I would never, ever, ever, EVER use tampons because I didn’t want to put a rocket up my VJ. (exact quote) I was 12 then. It was August in Spain and by my second period I was begging for them.
My mother must have been very proud of me that day. She thinks of tampons as tools for the liberation of women. She proudly tells how she used to buy them secretly and sneak them in the house, so my grandma wouldn’t notice. It’s hard to think of it as a some sort of forbidden item nowadays, but this is a true story. Now I think of Menstrual Cups in the same way my mother thinks about tampons. They are #girlpower providers that people still keep secret. ENOUGH!
Back to the day I got mi first Menstrual Cup. When I saw that the box it was a size 1, and that there’s an EVEN bigger size 2(if you had given birth naturally) I freaked out a little more and broke into some sort of nervous psycho laughter. I was home alone luckily.
At that very moment my Pros and Cons list of having a C sections just got its first entry on the Pros side. My motherly instincts vanished instantly. I must lave looked a bit like this:
- GETTING OVER WITH IT
My menstrual cup lived in a drawer for a few months. When I showed it to my family and close friends they started calling it The Mug, instead of The Cup. (it’s big) But I bought it and I was determined to try it. So I put myself together at some point and went on to give it a go.
I read the manual int he cute little box and found how it actually works: You have to fold it and insert it, like the picture below. Ahh… that makes sense.
Really? HA, Ha, and ha! As if it was that simple.
Firstly, the thing is not that soft, I needed all my fingers to hold it closed like the photo. Secondly you forget about the fact that our guts are all squishy inside and like to change shape (call it air and food in processing).
I made it as far as to hold it in a U shape with one hand. Then I remembered what the gyne says when you have a vaginal ultrasound: push out so that it comes in. It worked. It went in and popped up open, but I still had the tip coming out of my down under.
You are not supposed to feel this thing at all and I feel like I was delivering a silicone made alien. It’s a bit like when you get braces. They are really tiny but they feel gigantic in your mouth.
At this point an image came to my mind. An image from Thailand’s infamous ping pong shows. I held my breath like if doing that will remove the visual, and just pushed further in with two fingers. It doesn’t move much but I don’t feel it anymore so I let it be.
Big and loud EEW at that moment!! I think I got my first crow’s feet that day. The expression of EEW on my face remained there the entire day, until I went to sleep.
- THERE WILL BE BLOOD
You may think, oh she’s just a drama queen. That was just the first impression and now it’s all going to be fine. Warning! NO. That’s not the case. At the end of so much hassle It didn’t work, and leaked all day and I had to use panty liners.
It was time to ask my friend who is into trekking and camping in India about the actual way of using this. The answer: You have to wiggle it upwards until it finds its spot. Menstrual cups are made to fit in a particular place where they settle, and then they don’t move. At all. If you wiggle a bit before releasing the grip it goes there to that sweet spot.
For a moment I imagine doing this, behind a bush, under the rain, in India. My admiration for my friend grows even bigger.
This time it works, but at the end of the day I have to face taking it off. It’s time to remove the cup and reveal what happens in there. This is one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced. The secret to such an effective period blocker is basically that the cup works like a sucker (Gross alert!) So you have to pull it out from that little tube that works as a string. Until it pops, it makes THAT noise, and then you pour the contents out in the toilet.
Sometimes the little bugger gets a stuck and you have to put the fingers inside the VJ again, and squeeze it to let some air in. Eew Eew and Eew! If that was not enough, what get collected in there is thick as shit. Soooo heavy it sinks to the bottom of the toilet like crude oil when you pour it . I always thought I would have way much more blood than that though. But at the end of the day this is just the liquid, the not a compressed piece of cotton soaked with part of it. Menstrual fluid also has a high level of viscosity. That makes it stick to the bottom of the toilet, so make sure you flush properly.. and watch out for splashes.
In summary, it’s a bloody mess. Not for you if you can’t take that sort of thing. You had enough Gross alerts and escape buttons so don’t tell me you were not warned.
- THE HONEYMOON PERIOD
The truth is that after the initial disappointment I become an evangelist of Menstrual Cups. And this happened in a matter of days. The advantages are just smashing. No smell no leaks no mess no nothing! It’s really life changing .
Remember again I live in the tropics, where it’s hot and humid ALL THE TIME. Bacteria thrives here and Brazilian Waxing is a first necessity. A Menstrual cup has made its way to second l on this list, right after waxing the down under. You just forget you have your period. That’s how good it is.
I told all my friends at the time about my new discovery. I had to! It was socially responsible to do so! I got many shocked faces and eews, but that was 8 years ago. I thought people were over the hype now. So I had to write a post in the blog about menstrual cups and continue my evangelic mission, but with a big dose of reality.
This goes out to all skepticals out there: Ladies!!! It really is super comfortable and a great period experience! Try it! Join the #putacupnit movement!
Forget about smells, about leaks, about being conscious when having your period. Forget about carrying emergency kits of liners pads and tampons everywhere you do. You only need to keep it clean and ready. Put it on as soon as you start spotting, and empty it in the morning and in the evening. That means you can do it at home.
Menstrual cups have actually been around since 1937. So it’s tome to get an upgrade ladies. You can learn more about the history of menstrual cups here.
Getting rid of pads and tampons is so great that I often forget I’m wearing my menstrual cup. Yes you read well! I forget I have my period (gross alert!) so I forget I have my cup inside.
I take it off a few days later, when I remember, or when it’s ful and it leaks. Come on now… cut me some slack. I’m sure I’m not alone in the world. It only leaks when it’s full and I don’t bleed much, I’m sure you heard a million stories of people that lose tampons in there so there had to be something along the lines with this method.
It’s not 100% sure you don’t need to empty it before the evening. If it happens that you need to empty your cup you when out of home, you have two options:
- Go to the nearest disabled bathroom. It usually has a basin and toilet the same room. Then you can calmly wash your cup with soap and put it back on. Wash and wipe the basin afterwards please.
- In a normal toilet cubicle the operation is a bit more delicate. You would need to empty the cup in the toilet (Gross alert again! Press escape button to read about flowers instead) throw your menstrual flow in the toiler, wipe the cup with some toilet paper (in and out) and put it back inside your VJ.
Needless to say that both options require thorough hand wash before and after. In case you were wondering, my friend in the bushes uses gallons of hand sanitizer.
Thanks for making it this far!
If at this point you are convinced. Clink here to buy yours in Singapore for S$42. From my favorite online market place, Carousell.
- THE ‘WE NEED TO TALK’ MOMENT
After the honeymoon period, there comes the moment in every relationship to have ‘that’ conversation. In this case it goes a bit like this: ‘My darling cup, you look old an ugly and it’s only been 8 months. I boiled you and washed you thoroughly after each period. I even used cotton buds to go through the holes and remove the bits there. It didn’t matter, you got all stained and stubborn anyway. I don’t feel so hygienic putting you in my insides anymore. I’m upset’.
It says in the instructions manual that you need to get a new cup after a year of use. What? I spent 35 euros in this gadget and it suddenly didn’t look so pretty or so economical anymore, although it does continue to be eco-friendly.
I would have used 120 tampons in that time if I didn’t have the cup. That’s 33 euros plus 3 euros liners. The math is not good here, and I’m not a genius at it.
By this time my sister was already using it. She’s quite crafty so I asked her how she cleaned it. She told me she soaks it in water with a bit of bleach overnight. Then brushes it with a tooth brush and more bleach in soapy water. Finally she boils it before using it again. Her cup always looks like new, but I conclude she has too much free time and I’m not going to go to such extreme for a piece of silicone. I’m not friends with bleach either. The bad thing is that there’s no way I’m going back to tampons at this point. I end up buying a new one.
- FAST FORWARD SEVERAL YEARS
At the end of the day it all worked out for me and my cup. I have there cups now. One Lady cup and two Iris cups. I had a fourth one but it disintegrated. My trekking friend told me it happened to her twice, and she’s not alone. If you boil you cup and you forget the stove is on it just vanishes.
Mine literally melted at the bottom of the pot . So learn from us. Boil your cup, but use a timer. Both cup and pot were ruined of course. I have to admit I was furious with myself at the moment for being so absent minded. The cup is not cheap and the put was a very fancy WMF I bought to warm up milk during my ‘no microwave’ phase.
This is how menstrual cups have aged. You can see the different gradients of staining.
The first one is 8 years old. It has never been bleached but it didn’t stain that badly. It has hardened with the years making it more difficult to handle. It’s the emergency cup now. I wonder if this happens to cosmetic silicon implants too… ouch!
I got my sister to wash the second one with ‘her method’ and eventually it stained again anyway. It’s my fault actually. After being washed I kept it in a dark colored pouch and it became stained with that material straight away. Another lesson learnt, use the right pouch.
The third one less that a year old. It’s the ‘new one’ but it’s already beginning stain. I’m currently trying the baking soda cleaning method to see if it works but I think this is just another bunch of internet BS. It just doesn’t do anything to the stains and I find it hard to believe it actually cleans.
Conclusion? The stains don’t really affect the use, but they are ugly and make the experience look even more disgusting. As long as you boil it, sterilize it, you are fine, but my next menstrual cup it will be… a brown one! EUREKA! I found the perfect solutions to avoid stains. Out of sight out of mind! This one is called The Keeper cup and I really get the name. It’s latex no silicone so not good if you have latex allergy.
So here they are, the pros and cons of menstrual cups based on my experience:
- No need to carry anything
- No SST
- No waste
- No leaks
- No smell
- Muslim friendly ( I’m pro inclusion!)
- Last longers than tampons
- Putting it in is tricky. You need to try a few times and learn how to place it
- Taking it out is gross. I don’t need to elaborate much on this.
- It gets stained and looks dirty even when clean.
- You can’t do pretzel Yoga poses with it. You will feel it and its weird. It can even feel a bit painful.
I insist. It’s life changing and I encourage everyone to give it a try and get over the EEWs. It’s time to reduce waste and get a bit more freedom.
Until next time!
Have a happy period!