Menstrual Cups, The 411

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You probably clicked on this link out of interest. You either have never heard of a menstrual cup before or know a little bit and want to know if you should give it a try. I’m here to share with you my personal experience with this pad/tampon alternative.

Why Did I Try It?

Why I would consider using a silicone cup to hold my menstruation where I would then have to empty it out once full. Not going to lie, it sounded intense, a little gross and opens me up to all sorts of embarrassing moments. The push I needed was my desire to live a more sustainable life. Did you know thats the average person uses 10,400 tampons/pads over a lifetime? That’s a lot of waste created. Each tampon and pad comes wrapped in their own individual packaging and tampons typically come with a plastic applicator and pads usually have a plastic lining. That’s a lot of plastic entering our waterways and landfills.

Not to mention the money I’d save using a menstrual cup. These cups can last 10’s of years if you take care of them. Tampons are expensive, they have their own tax for christ sake. I don’t know about you but when I would have to buy tampons it turned my $20 grocery trip into a $30-$40 trip. That may not seem a lot but time after time this adds up to be a lot… like a 2-week vacay in Europe lot. On average women will spend around $2000 on tampons or pads. YIKES! I have not landed my big girl job yet so I try and save anywhere I can and this was a great switch.

Lastly the reason I switched was because of the safety aspect. Most tampons you see at your local grocery store or Target are not simply cotton. They are full of synthetic materials such as rayon, chemicals from the bleaching process like dioxin and chlorine, and not to mention some can contain ‘fragrance’ which is essentially a chemical soup and some plastic applicators contain BPA. For those of you that don’t know, BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that comes from producing plastic, and it has been linked to cancer. Also toxic shock syndrome also freaked me out and you don’t have to worry about this with the menstrual cup as much. You can actually leave your cup in much longer than a tampon for example I leave mine in all day.

So yeah, being more of a plant lovin’ lady, save money and learning about how harmful something as simple as a tampon can be is what helped me make the switch.

The Experience

Now I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to try my menstrual cup for the first time. Imagine the feeling of trying a tampon for the first time, the experience was very similar. The brand that I chose was the Lena cup in a small size because it’s 100% medical grade silicone, they use 100% post consumer packaging, it’s perfect for a woman who are active, and it was rated the number one beginner cup by cosmo. I know that last part is silly but it gave me some reassurance.

Applying the cup was very nerve-racking there are different ways you can fold the cup before you insert it. I like to fold mine in half, known as the c-fold. But the thing I didn’t realize is just how up close and personal you get with your body. You can’t just put it up there and it be fine you really have to put it up there. Like sometimes one of my fingers goes up there as I put in my menstrual cup, maybe this is TMI but I just want to be real with you guys. Then usually after I insert it I use my index finger to push it up just a little bit more so I don’t feel it. Once you have it in I like to put my finger around the base of the cup and make sure there’s no folds, and it’s completely sealed. This makes sure that your cup won’t leak, and that it’s securely in your body. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to put this in but once it was in right, I couldn’t feel it. The first two days of using it I felt a little bit bloated but I wasn’t sure if that was because of the cup for my period. After day 2 it was easy peasy lemon squeezy. Seriously! Sometimes I forgot it was even in there and inserting it was as fast as 30 seconds.

What my friend said she did was she would wear the cup all day and since you don’t have to worry about TSS as much she would just take it out each night during her shower. Which is what I decided to do. This part was kind of scary because you can’t just pull the toggle at the bottom,  you have to pinch the cup at its base to release the suction and then pull it out. If you’re not relaxed this can become very stressful and you think it’s not going to come out of you but I promise your cup will not get lost inside of you. I’ve been there, I felt that but I always was able to get it out. What I like to do in the shower is relax, stand in a squatted position and gently feel for the base of my cup. Sometimes you don’t feel it at first so you have to push as you would imagine pushing out a baby or going to the bathroom. Slowly you will feel your cup shimmy down and you’ll be able to grab the base of it and pull it out. During my period I clean my cup with warm water and non-scented soap. However, at the end of my cycle I boil my cup and water. It’s very simple you just boil water, put your cup in it, and make sure it stays on the top and let it boil for 5 to 7 minutes. I’ve only leaked once while wearing the cup because it wasn’t fully secured inside me but that was the only time. I have a medium flow and my cup typically only gets filled up a quarter to half of the way. I know someone who has a heavier flow and she said it would fill up but never overflow by emptying out at the end of the night and we both used the small cup.

Ending Thoughts

I freaking love this thing. Not only is it better for the planet, saving me money, better for my body, but it’s made my menstrual cycle experience much more enjoyable. You know that smell you get when you’re on your period? That smell that just doesn’t smell very great, it’s the “I’m on my period smell.” This smell comes from the blood coming in contact with air and there’s no way to avoid it… until now. With the cup, since everything stays inside of you, you never smell which is pretty awesome. Also I love that you only need to change it once a day and it stays perfectly intact during my active lifestyle gym, yoga, cycling it handles it all. Also I would hate when I would wear a tampon and I’d have to tuck the little string to the side of me when I peed or went number two and sometimes it would get caught up in whatever I was doing on the toilet. It was so annoying but this cup has completely avoided this issue from happening. It’s the little things that don’t make me dread that time of the month has bad.

NOTE: We women are all different types of wonderfulness, so what may work for me may not work for you. However I do suggest at least trying it for a cycle or two because it definitely does have a learning curve. Our bodies are shaped different so how I insert or remove my cup may be completely different than yours I just wanted to share my experience from a very raw and honest point of view.

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