Because of people hoarding supplies due to COVID-19, I actually started doing my research about menstrual cups to replace tampons and pads.
The photo I included into this post was at the very beginning, when hoarding was starting to take place. Feminine products were looking extremely scarce. Ironically, it wasn’t much longer after I took this photo before these same shelves were completely empty. Luckily for myself and those close to me, we all were pretty well-stocked with pads and tampons. I’m grateful that I always liked to keep stocked up and never liked to run low on feminine products. I did feel very bad for anyone out there who was caught off guard and not as fortunate to have a stocked up cabinet.
This entire ordeal just made me rethink my periods. No matter the situation, periods will keep on going on!
It’s a scary time to be out shopping, plus hoarders weren’t making shopping any easier, and even without COVID-19 affecting all of our lives, periods are still such an annoyance for many of us every month. I think of the hundreds to thousands of dollars spent on pads alone (and I started at the young age of of 9), and all of the waste that entails.
The menstrual cup (once you find the right one) is practically a one time fee, with almost no zero waste.
I think as with all women, I never gave the menstrual cup a second thought in the past because of how scary it sounded. I wasn’t familiar with my genital anatomy to maneuver a cup in there and be able to take it out. I remember being so scared of just a tampon!
I have a heavy flow at the very beginning of my period and when I am at work, sometimes I have such a busy schedule that I won’t have time to change until 4-5+ hours later. That’s just a recipe for leakage…so my solution these days is to double up by wearing both a tampon and a pad. By lunch time, both will be soaked. I’m hoping if I can get the menstrual cup down successfully, I will only need to empty the cup out 2-3 times a day. The cup is supposed to be safe to keep inside your body for up to 12 hours!
If I can succeed with the cup, I do plan to wear a period panty as a supplement to the cup, just in case.
Thanks to the stay-at-home orders, I had a ton of time to just test the waters at home with my first cup during my period. Boy was it a struggle! I was hoping I’d be one of the few lucky women who found it a breeze their first time. Definitely not me. I had such a hard time getting it in at first because it is nothing like inserting a tampon. You have to fold it properly and you have to insert it at the proper angle for your anatomy. With a tampon although it is helpful to insert at a proper angle (I learned you wanna aim horizontal instead of vertical), I feel like there is a lot of leeway even if your angle isn’t perfect.
The next struggle was getting the cup to pop open properly after successful insertion…otherwise you would just leak through the folded cup.
The NEXT struggle was the scariest one…removing it. Apparently I have a very high cervix and my cup just disappeared way up in there. I could touch the tip of the stem, but just barely. Forget about being able to pinch the actual cup out properly, which is the correct and safe way for removal, I could barely touch the tip of the stem! I ended up having to pull at the stem a ton until I could finally pinch the cup itself and take it out.
It was a heart pounding and extremely sweaty (you know, the sweat you get when you’re super nervous) experience! Lol! Gosh was it a scary experience at first. I almost had to ask my boyfriend to come over so he could help me take it out…luckily I was able to do it myself in the end.
Obviously I still have some practice to do before I can get it down correctly. I read that it does take a few cycles to get it, just because each cycle you’re really only using the cup a handful of times during your period. I suppose you could do a “dry run” where you practice even when you’re not on your period, but I personally was slightly too traumatized to try again so soon.
I’ve been super invested in making this work for me, so I joined two menstrual cup communities on FaceBook and gained some valuable tips that worked for me personally. One is the type of fold; you have to experiment with a few folds and see what works best. Most popular are the punch-down fold, the 7-fold, and the half diamond fold. Who knew this would involve a bunch of origami folds for your cup haha!
Secondly, bearing down like you’re pooping is essential in using your pelvic muscles to push the cup downwards (as I mentioned I have a very high cervix so the cup is reeeally up there) when you’re removing the cup.
Other tips include performing insertion/removal while sitting on the toilet with one foot up on the seat, wiggling your toes and keeping an open mouth/throat to help relax the muscles during removal, and curling your back like a cat when sitting on the toilet.
I currently own five menstrual cups…lol. I never thought I’d grow a collection, but I really want menstrual cups to work for me and it’s been a bit of a quest to search for the right fit.
This is an FDA list of registered companies for cups. Very handy since you’re investing in something that will be inside your body and hopefully it is a quality product that will last years to come.
I’ll have to make a separate post sometime and write about the different cups I’ve tried and how they fared for me.
Other related posts in my menstrual cup series: Menstrual Cup Reviews (Saalt, Peachlife, Lily Cup, Ultucup), 20 Reasons I Love My Menstrual Cup, Menstrual Cup Guide and Tips