My First Experience Using a Menstrual Cup
After hearing such great things about the menstrual cup, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased one from Saalt at the Wellness Summit last month. Given the saleswoman was at the booth, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to ask all my questions before purchasing, like "No, but how exactly do you put it in? how deep is your squat? what angle are you leaning over at? I need the specifics."
So last cycle I gave the cup a go. Here's a breakdown of how it works:
- The sanitization: Before you use it (at the beginning of every cycle), you're supposed boil it for 4-5 min to sanitize it. Since I was home that week it wasn't an issue, but I can imagine if I'm traveling sanitizing it may be difficult.
- The insertion: There are a few ways to fold the cup to insert it. I tried the C-fold first but struggled to keep it folded while inserting it. My friend recommended the 7-fold, which turned out to be A LOT easier. Don't make my rookie mistake -- go straight for the 7-fold. Once it's in it'll pop open.
- The positioning: Once you position it in high enough and comfortably, you're supposed to make sure it's fully open by rubbing your fingers around the edges to make sure none are folded down and the cup is fully open. You're also supposed to rotate your cup by pinching the base and turning it. This way it creates a suction seal against your vaginal wall. this is supposed to prevent leaking. Well I leaked every day, so I definitely wasn't doing this step right. I thought the cup was fully open, and I tried to rotate but that shit is hard to move when it's in there. I'm going to need to practice this step a lot more.
- The removal: You're supposed to be able to keep the cup in for up to 12 hours, which means you should be able to avoid doing this in public bathrooms. Make sure your hands are clean, and break the suction seal by pinching the base of the cup with your thumb and index finger, then wiggle the cup out. You want to keep it upright to avoid spilling, because by the time you remove it, it's a tiny cup filled with blood. You then empty the cup into the toilet. This removal step took me a couple tries to get it down. I've got pretty small, dexterous hands and fingers (all those years of piano and violin!), but it was impossible for me to reach the base of the cup. UNTIL I realized you can push, like you're peeing, which will push the cup down and make it easier to reach.
- The reinsertion: You're supposed to rinse the cup with cold water, then wash using warm water with mild soap. I don't have fragrance free hand soap, so I just rinsed well with cold water before reinserting. The saleswoman said this was ok to do. She also said if you're changing the cup in a public bathroom, keep a bottle of water in your purse to rinse off your cup.
The verdict? There's quite a steep learning curve, especially for me, because my mom never let us use tampons (not exactly sure what her rationale was). So the mere act of shoving something at a certain angle into my vagina far enough so you can't feel it a few times a day is not something I'm used to.
The whole process is intimidating and seems like a big to-do. That said, all my friends who have been using the cup for awhile love it. It saves money (only $29 and can last up to 10 years), it's environmentally friendly, and it's healthier than using tampons/pads made of toxic materials.
While my first week with it wasn't a huge success, by day 3 I was getting the hang of it. I'm going to continue using it because like everything else in life, change is hard, and practice makes everything easier.