Thinking about making the change to a menstrual cup?
For centuries, women have become exposed to strictly using only pads and tampons. These societal norms were pushed upon women through the dominant eyes of society because they are deemed as “normal.” But when introduced to new menstrual cup products, it may seem like a taboo subject. However, in today’s age and time, we as women need to step out of our comfort zone and really experiment with new things that are beneficial to our bodies and health.
This is where the menstrual cup comes into play. Menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s, and on the market in the United States since the late 1980s. However, at that time, the cup was not popular among women because it was too different and wasn’t deemed acceptable to the masses.
But in today’s era, menstrual cups are making a comeback. There are more on the market than ever before because the demand for them is quickly rising. Women are now acknowledging that there are other ways to get through their menstrual cycle, and it doesn’t have to include bleached pads and tampons, which may lead to contracting the life-threatening infection—Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Menstrual cups are quickly gaining their well-deserved fame and for many good reasons.
First off, let’s get down to the basics
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a small and flexible cup made from medical-grade silicone or latex. It is inserted inside your vagina and catches the period blood, instead of being absorbed through a cotton material.
Benefits of a menstrual cup
- Safer than tampons
- Decreased risks for Toxic Shock Syndrome
- More capacity to hold more blood than pads or tampons
- Increased time between changes
- Worn with an IUD
- Less carbon footprint
- Environmentally friendly and less landfill waste
- Reusable and long-lasting
- Regulates vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria
How does it compare to a pad and tampon?
A pad is a rectangular material that consists of a sticky side to adhere to the underwear and an absorbent side that catches the menstrual blood. A pad is usually the first thing introduced to women when getting their period for the first time. They can come in all different sizes and models, such as: with wings, without wings, super-sized, or slender. There are a plethora available to cater to one’s unique flow of cycle.
A tampon is made up of absorbent material, usually cotton. It is then inserted inside the vagina with an applicator—plastic or cardboard—to get the easiest application. Tampons are generally the next step of action for women who are becoming comfortable with their periods and the usage of pads.
The menstrual cup, like the tampon, is inserted into the vagina and suctions to the vaginal walls. This allows the menstrual blood to be caught cleanly. The differences between all three of these are, pads and tampons need to be disposed of after every use, whereas the menstrual cup can be reused for many years.
The absorbent material in pads and tampons is usually bleached to get a pure white cotton color, leading to the harm of one’s body. But because menstrual cups are made of either medical-grade silicone or latex, there aren’t as many harsher chemicals within the product.
Now that we have a better understanding of it… let’s get into my very personal first-time user journey
Menstrual Cup Brand: Lena
Day 1: Light Flow
I tried many folds that I have learned through the multiple YouTube videos I watched beforehand. Out of the three main folds—C-fold, Punch-down fold, and the 7-fold—I have come down to the punch-down fold, which allows for a smaller insertion width. Just like my first experience with a tampon, I thought this was going to be easy-peasy.
But boy, was I wrong! I think I’ve tried to insert it for about 45 minutes, but no luck. It just wouldn’t go in, and when it did, the cup would open in a very tender spot that was not fun since the cup was not all the way inside my vagina. And about 15 more minutes of torture with sweat coming down my forehead, I had to give up and try again tomorrow.
Day 2: Daytime Heavy Flow
Alright, it’s a new day, and although I tried and failed yesterday, I will succeed today! This time, I will attack it a different way with my leg posted up on my toilet so I can really get in there. I fold my cup with the punch-down fold and just push it up there. And sure enough, I pushed the cup all the way inside before letting it open and suction to my vaginal walls. However, I’m not going to lie; I was very surprised by the “popping” sensation coming from the cup.
But low and behold, 30 minutes later, I successfully got it to open and suctioned. Throughout my heaviest day, I didn’t discover any leaks! I was so ecstatic, and I know the spirits above have answered my prayers. Just like a tampon, I didn’t feel like I was wearing anything. But instead of changing my tampon every 4-6 hours, I didn’t have to change it for about 12 hours.
Disposing of the menstrual blood inside the cup was not as bad as I thought. All I needed to do was loosen the suction from my vaginal walls by pressing along the menstrual cup, pulling the cup out, and pouring the blood into the toilet. Next, is to rinse the cup and it’s ready for the next insertion! It was as easy as that. Once you get comfortable with your own body and using the cup, it will become like a routine.
Day 2: Nighttime Heavy Flow
My usual nighttime routine during my heavy flow days consist of using a super heavy-duty nighttime pad and laying down a towel, just in case of leaks. But I wanted to see how this tiny cup could hold up throughout the night. I did everything as usual—punch-down fold and suction. And you wouldn’t guess what I discovered in the morning. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. There were no leaks on my towel or my underwear. And the best part is there’s no waterfall sensation after getting up from bed!
The final verdict
I have truly found my holy grail. I don’t need to worry about leaks throughout the day. Asking my friends to spot-check my butt in public will be a thing of the past. I won’t need to change my cup for at least 10-12 hours. Although I was only able to experience the cup for one cycle, that was enough to switch me away from tampons and pads.
Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it also provides less landfill waste. It regulates vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria, but it’s also a new way to change your outlook about menstrual periods. So now go out there and experiment with what is best for you and your body!