If you've known me for more than 5 minutes then you'll know that menstrual cups and all things periods is one of my favourite topics of conversation (yes, I'm that chick at a party).
This was not always the case. If anything, I was a period denialist who closed my eyes and just "put up with" the monthly cringe-chore.
But then, at the risk of sounding like a cheesy infomercial, I discovered menstrual cups and had my "holy shit, this is legit." moment.
Just like tampons or pads, they're not for everyone but it's good to know what your options are.
There's a TON of information out there about different period products and the companies who make them offer great FAQ's and resources (the good ones anyway) but what about the questions you wouldn't dare ask on Twitter? What if the idea of reading about period products makes you seriously cringe?
Below, I've tried to answer the questions that my friends have asked me (usually in hushed whispers after a gin or two) in the most honest, learnt from experience, way I can.
So, get comfy, pour yourself a glass of wine, it's time to talk period.
But how do I even GET IT IN?!
Ok, I’ll hold my hands up. When I received my first menstrual cup in the post I opened it up and legit gasped...how the hell am I going to get THAT up THERE?
But your vaginas can rest easy my friends. All is not what it seems. Let’s take a look at the real deal:
This is what the cup looks like straight out the box, opened in all it’s glory…
Note how the cup opening resembled my gaping mouth as I stared in dismay at what was to come.
But this isn’t the circumference you’ll actually be dealing with. These babies are soft and foldable.
There are a handful of different folding methods to play with.
Such as the popular C-fold:
The Punch-down or Shell fold:
And the 7-fold of Triangle fold:
Now we’re starting to get down to the circumference of the average tampon...except instead of being a dry wedge of cotton you’re using a smoooooth silicone.
Just like tampons, your first time inserting it may still be a bit awkward and tricky. Have patience young jedi.
What if it gets stuck up in there?
Ok, next question…
Oh...No? Right, let’s go there.
Seriously though, it won’t. The first few times you use the cup you may get a little nervous as you reach in to remove it to find “Oh lord baby sweet Jesus it is seriously right up in there.” and it’s being a little stubborn of leaving.
Just breathe. If you start to get stressed then your muscles will become tense and so not work in your favour.
Quite often this happens because you’ve been lying down and your cup has got nice and snuggled up in there. Take 10 mins to walk around a bit and let gravity work it’s magic.
If you’re still struggling, just take a couple of breaths and engage those kegal muscles. Soon you’ll be able to grab the base of the cup with the tips of your fingers and give it a riggle to loosen it.
Also, squatting is your friend.
Most of the time you should have no issue. After the first couple of runs (gross pun totally intended) with mine I was inserting and removing in dark bathrooms like the period ninja I was born to be.
I’ve never heard of anyone actually getting it stuck-stuck up there.
I heard it’s really messy...ew
Not so much a question but I see this comment ALOT online. I’m shaking my head in dismay while I type this as I honestly don’t know where to even start, so let me break it down:
-- You just need to pop it out and empty it straight into the toilet...no one is asking you to flail the used cup around your bathroom in some sort of ceremonial bathing exercise.
-- I empty mine whilst sat on the loo, straight out into the bowl and then lean over to the sink to rinse any excess before putting it back in. Distance travelled and opportunity for spillage is minimal.
-- What like tampons can’t be messy? You’ve never sneezed and had one pop out? You’ve never been sat on the loo, pulled it out from between your legs and then it does that dangle from side-to-side thing resulting in two little blood dots on your inner thighs? ...No?...OK just me then.
-- Also sanitary pads are literally pieces of cotton, containing your blood that you sit on all day. Totes nothing wrong with that, I’m just sayin’.
-- If you don’t like being in any contact at all with your bodily fluids then you’ve got a bigger problem than just to-cup or not to-cup. It’s safe. It’s normal. It’s part of life. What message are we giving young girls about body acceptance, people!?
-- “I don’t like the idea of putting the tips of my fingers inside my vagina to take it out.” Again, you’ve got bigger problems here.
Sidenote: Using menstrual cups actually reduces types of mess like filling your bin with with a bunch of packaging and used period products each month. Again, just sayin’.
Why are they so gosh darned expensive?
Well, “expensive” is a relative term (and this is coming from the chick who complains about the price of frozen pizza in Norway every time I’m in the supermarket). Actually, most menstrual cups pay for themselves after around 3 months.
A box of tampons seems pretty cheap as a one-off purchase but if you times that by how many you buy throughout the month and year...yeh now we’re on to something.
We’re looking at around $30 for a menstrual cup but they literally last for YEARS. You actually save money using them.
Not to mention saving on all the waste packaging and having to stock up on emergency items in various places (such as work) to make sure you’re covered.
Also, and I am so NOT a business model expert for period product companies, but I imagine that they could make way more money from you buying products over and over and over again. Since the menstrual cup is nearly a one-off purchase they need to charge a little higher to be able to sustain the business and keep doing what they do.
If they’re so great then why is it hard to find them in stores?
Well, one of the reasons might be linked to the above. Stores want you to keep coming back over and over again. Having items that are a one-off purchase don’t feel as lucrative to them. Y’all seriously think about it.
Also, the demand and awareness is certainly growing but it’s leagues behind tampons. I remember being taught about periods in primary school as a young lass (*flashbacks to awkward childhood intensifies*) and hearing all about tampons and pads. Not one mention of menstrual cups.
Informed choices yo. How can we really exercise our freedom of choice if we don’t know enough about all our options.
Why are menstrual cup users so PREACHY?!
As a self-certified preachy menstrual cup user, although I can’t speak on behalf of all of us, there’s a couple of reasons why.
I genuinely feel like menstrual cups changed my relationship with periods for the better. Why would I NOT want to share that with other people?
There are way too many women out there who simply do NOT have the choice and I feel there is a serious wrong in the world when people are at a disadvantage (still) because of having periods. What year is this?
Whether it’s period poverty (which is a prevalent issue in the UK and US by the way), misogynistic societal pressures or simple living in a country where being on your period may literally mean you have to drop out of school.
This is more than just saving a bit of money or “ew that’s gross.” it’s about making sure we ALL have informed choices and that a monthly, basic, natural part of being human isn’t treated as a burden.
So, yeh, it’s a pretty big deal and I probably won’t be shutting up about it any time soon.
Disclaimer: This blog post is in no way endorsed by Lunette. I think they're the bees knees (so much so I forced my way in to writing for them) but all opinions here are my own, for my own blog and from my own personal experiences.
If you want to read an actual professional (and much more informative) FAQ you can find one on their website :D