We’re all friends here, right? Lol okay so, I have been using tampons since I got my period at the tender age of 13 because that’s what everyone else was using. I never had a pad phase, but sometimes I used them to double up at night because I had a tendency to leak. I never really enjoyed using tampons––I know that sounds ridiculous because who even enjoys their period?––but tampons, I felt like made my periods worse: the smell, the fear of leaking and the whole underlying possibility that you could be genetically susceptible to TSS and die from just having one up there too long.. When wearing tampons, It didn’t matter how clean I actually was, I always felt dirty in a gross and unshowered way. I assumed that my period was always going to be like this so I just had to make the best of it.
Enter the menstrual cup.
A few years ago, I had a friend at work who started using a menstrual cup and couldn’t say enough good things about her experience with it. I had never heard of them before she introduced me. After having many conversations with her about her cup, I decided to look into them more and purchase one myself. I’m all about trying alternative options and new things, so I bought a DivaCup from Shopper’s Drug Mart and haven’t looked back since. I now definitely declare myself as one of those menstrual cup evangelists, and I suggest it to most of the woman in my life when the opportunity strikes, and even sometimes when it doesn’t. I wish I could gift menstrual cups and my enthusiasm for them to everyone! Of course menstrual cups aren’t for everyone, but if you are even a little bit interested I would recommend trying one out and if you don’t like it, no harm done, you can always go back to what you were doing before.
WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO YOU USE IT?
Menstrual cups are reusable period products that are typically made of silicone or latex rubber or elastomer and can last up to 10 years; disposable single-use menstrual cups also exist. The cup simply fits inside your vagina, around your cervix opening and catches the blood as it comes out, instead of soaking it up like tampons and pads do. Cups can come in different sizes, shapes and colours. Cups can also come specialized for before and after childbirth, and as well as by age group. Your whole situation down there changes as you get older, and it definitely isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing
I’m not one who is overly grossed out by my own bodily functions, so I didn’t have a tough time getting my fingers in and experimenting with placements and the suction. If you are someone who is weird about that kind of stuff, once you’re able to get over the ick-factor of being all up in your own business, it really is quite fascinating to experience your period in a new and more intimate way.
It took me probably two or three cycles before I was comfortable using it. You know, getting the stance down, putting it up in the right spot, taking it out without spilling it, getting the suction right on the first attempt etc. I also snipped off the tail that came on mine because it was too long and stuck out of my vagina. That tail is supposed to make it easier to guide the cup out, but I found I didn’t need the help.
When inserting the cup, I run it under water first to lubricate it, making it easier to get in. When putting it in, I get down in a good squat position and I use what is referred to as the c-fold, which basically folds the cup into itself and makes it a smaller tip to insert. There are multiple folding ways to get it in, I’d recommend watching some YouTube videos with reviews (1, 2) if you’re unsure. And be nice to yourself! It can take a couple of attempts to get it right. If the cup is inserted properly you shouldn’t be able to feel it.
When taking it out, I wet my index finger and stick it up along the side wall and press on the cup to break the seal, and then I pull from the base with my index, middle finger and thumb, making sure to keep the cup flat so nothing spills out. I have spilled it before, but thankfully never dropped the cup into the toilet or anything horrific like that. The first time I went to take it out, I pulled pretty hard without breaking the suction and felt like I had yoinked my cervix with it. Would not recommend. Always break the suction before you pull!
Speaking of suction, when inserted, the cup is basically fastened to your insides so there is no fear of it falling out when you pee or poop. I know those kind of questions come up a lot, so I wanted to address them! You will not poop out your cup no matter how hard you push (unless it’s in wrong). You will not pee into your cup, it’s impossible. It also won’t fall out if you’re doing yoga, or upside down. I don’t feel it when I’m on a spin bike either. I never really had any concerns or fears that it would get lodged inside of me. I’ve read a few posts from people having those fears before hand, but it’s pretty hard to lose.
WASHING AND KEEPING IT CLEAN
The instructions that came with the cup said to boil it for 5-10 minutes and I did that for my first couple periods, but it’s kind of inconvenient because I had to go out and buy a pot specifically allocated for the cup. Now I just wash it with dish soap and hot water after my period finishes and then leave it in the cotton bag it came in. To keep the cup clean during my cycle, each time I take it out I wash it with hot water.
If you’ve had a long period, the cup can develop a strong odour and become discoloured but that is easily fixed by leaving it out in the sun for a few hours. Some people choose to get rid of the odour and discolouration by soaking it in vinegar, using baking soda but I personally really like leaving it on my windowsill and forgetting about it. The sun does such a good job.
MY EXPERIENCE, HOW I USE IT AND WHY I LOVE IT
So like I said, I have zero regrets about making the switch from tampons. Throughout my experience, I’ve honestly grown to love it more. I almost look forward to using it (weird, I know.. huge fan). What I like the most about the cup is that I don’t have to worry about leaking and I can just go about my day like I’m not bleeding. There have been a couple of times that I’ve put it in and had to take it out and readjust it because it was uncomfortable, but that’s all part of the learning curve. I take it out when I shower and put it back in after I’ve washed everything.
I change my cup in the mornings and evenings, and sometimes before bed. There are days I have forgotten and not changed it until mid-afternoon, or gone to sleep without dumping it. If I’m at home, sometimes I’ll throw in an extra check and just dump whats in it for peace of mind––but it’s usually not necessary. I’ve emptied it once in public and I didn’t find it to be overly annoying. If you can find somewhere like a Starbucks where they have single room bathrooms, it makes it much easier.
My period isn’t a big deal anymore, I will say that I do have off cycles like anyone does. But for the most part, I’m much happier now than I was using tampons.
OTHER AWESOME FACTS ABOUT MENSTRUAL CUPS
My favourite features of the cup beside it’s utility are:
- That it’s a one-time cost. My DivaCup cost me around $40 but there are cheaper alternatives online. The average cup costs $23. Cups are made to last about 10 years but I’ll probably end up purchasing another cup just for variety and back-up purposes, and to increase the lifespan of my cups by not using them as often. The average Canadian woman under 30, spends over $200 each year on menstrual products alone!
- It’s environmentally friendly. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ve reduced my monthly waste output and that will have a long-term environmental impact, even if it’s small, at least I’m doing what I can to help.
- There are no chemicals being absorbed by your body. I think this is my favourite feature because have you ever seriously thought about the chemicals that enter your body via feminine products? Google it if not.
- And lastly, it’s hygienic.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE BEST ONE FOR YOU?
Menstrual cups have risen in popularity in recent years and now there are so many amazing brands to choose from. PutACupInIt is a great resource that offers quizzes and more information for anyone on the fence about their decision. Taking the quiz helps you narrow down which brands are best for your needs. A lot of brands offer a satisfaction guarantee which is an awesome perk if you are
I recently found HeyGirls which has a buy one, give one program. The Blossom cup comes with two cups, one for heavier days and one for lighters days (and its on sale right now!). From my surfing the internet, I’m thinking my next cup will either be a Saalt or OrganiCup.
Let me know which brand you’re using and loving!
OTHER GREAT RESOURCES