Sunday, February 18, 2018

Periods and the Menstrual Cup

Hey ya nasty,

If you are the "OMG T.M.I." kind of person then you might want to skip this one!

I woke up to my period today, but I don't mind.

I feel compelled to write a little bit about the dreaded,"menstrual cup" you all are hating on so hard. Here is my personal opinion and experience. I am not a medical health professional or expert on female menstruation so make sure to do your own research. If you're squeamish about blood and periods then leave now (or you could just get used to it because it is a natural process endured by most women).  

About two years ago I went through a phase where I got continuous UTI's during my period. This happened for about three months in a row before I realized that it could be pads and or tampons causing the irritation and bacteria transfer. I saw a Buzzfeed video about this weird bell-shaped cup and decided to do some research. All the comments were complaining about how disgusting the concept was, but I was intrigued. Easy on the environment, easy on the body, and easy on the wallet? What's not to love?

I read that the cup is made from medical grade silicone which means you can keep in in for 12 hours and you only have to replace it every decade or so. I read that you have virtually no risk for toxic shock syndrom even if you wear it all day. I also noted the major environmental and economical benefits to cutting out pads and tampons. I looked on Amazon and found the cup with the lowest price but highest reviews. The Diva Cup is the most popular but I chose another brand just because it was half the price. I didn't want to invest in the Diva Cup only for it to not be a good match for me. 

My first time with tampons was a nightmare. It took me a couple years to get used to them and even then I was never comfortable and they always ended up leaking. I understand that most people warmed right up to tampons and that's great. However I always found them to be uncomfortable. Pads are just as bad. You are basically sitting on a soggy, chunky, strip of diaper all day - and no one questions that. I am not talking about those cute little panty liners, I love those, I mean the big huge kind that essentially wrap around your entire front to butt crack.  Say goodbye to yoga pants if you want to wear a pad on a heavy-flow kind of day because you will look like a male ballerina. These two mainstream and commonly-accepted practices did not work for me. There would even be some days towards the end of a cycle where I would say eff it and just go all-natural because I was so sick of pads and tamps. Yeah... not the best idea if you want to maintain clean sheets, pants, and undies. It's never over when you think it is, am I right? 

Okay, so moving forward to the cup. I got mine in the mail, cleaned it off, and waited patiently for my next cycle. The time came and I read some tips and watched some youtube videos about how to use them properly. I folded it up, as recommended, to about the size of a regular tampon. I pushed it right in and at that point the cup unfolds to create a seal, catered to your unique shape. Everything felt fine. It felt like nothing at all. I waited throughout the day to see if anything changed in regards to comfort, but it did not. I admit I was afraid that my body would just suck it right up, never to be seen again, because there was no string. When I took my night-time shower I squeezed a bit as if I was trying to use the bathroom, pinched the little stem which scooted into my reach, and carefully pulled it out. I dumped whatever liquid accumulated throughout the day, rinsed it off in the shower, and put it right back in.   

My first experience went so well that I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. It has been about two years now and I have stained no bedding, no pants, and no underwear. I've never had an issue with leaking or discomfort either. Some people told me they are afraid to try because they don't want to change it out in a public bathroom. Here's the thing, you can wear the cup for twelve hours, so I promise that in that time you will find a private place to do so. I have never had that problem and I also read that some people keep it in for up to 24 hours. Sometimes during my cycle, I just change it once a day during my shower. It honestly makes it feel like I never even had a period in the first place. I don't mind getting my period anymore because I just forget about it. 

To this day my mom, friends, and sister still think I'm crazy and that the concept is gross. 

Just because something is new or different does not mean it is gross or stupid. 

I took a poll on Instagram and a vast majority of people thought it was gross. Okay that's fine. Periods are natural, but yes, they are a bit gross too and that's okay. But isn't a tampon gross too? It is a bleached, chemical ridden, cotton plug with a string, that fills with blood, you pull it out and then throw it away where it will end up in a landfill or the ocean forever. How is that not just as nasty, if not more gross, than a cup? Just because it is what you are used to does not make it any less gross. And let's talk about pads real quick. It is a strip of diaper for adults in which you sit in your own clots and blood for hours before it ends up in a landfill for eternity. I know there are probably some more options I am not familiar with, but these are by far the most common feminine hygiene products. Tampons have literally killed people before. Remember that. 

Here are some things people who have never tried it have said to me in response to the cup idea: 

1. It's too big
2. It's gross
3. I don't want to change it in a public bathroom

I remember as a kid people would tell me they hated sushi and that is was "gross." I would then ask if they ever tried it and 99% of the time the answer was "no," of course. This is how I see the menstrual cup haters. Let me now address these commonly heard criticisms. 1. It is no bigger than a tampon. You fold it up (look online for a video showing you how. I recommend the "C" fold) and push it in. Because it is silicone it glides right on up to where it needs to be. Any tampon bigger than super was too much for me and many people use super or bigger. This is nothing compared to that. 2. I believe it is not even close to as "gross" as a pad or tampon but you don't see that because those two methods are what you are used to. 3. Because you can wear it for so long at a time with no risk of getting sick, you can plan around public bathroom changes. Worst case, you can pull it out in your stall, dump it, and just pop it back in - but that is really not necessary.    


Benefits of the cup: 

1. It is a one-time purchase (Diva cup wants you to replace yearly but that is unnecessary. I don't blame them though because they need to make money somehow!)
2. It is environmentally friendly
3. You can wear it all day with no risk of dying
4. It is more comfortable than a pad or tampon
5. It is oder-free
6. It is virtually leak proof
7. It forms to fit your unique shape for ultimate protection
8. No harsh chemicals or bleach
9. You can use the same cup from your heaviest to your lightest days
10. No chafing from pads


Now that I've mentioned all the great things about it, I do have some negatives as well. I have a friend who gave it a try but said it didn't work for her because she felt it made her cramps worse. I did some research and found that, for some women, the way the cup pushes on your vaginal canal can enhance cramping. I was just happy she gave it a shot rather than snubbing the idea from the start. In all two years of use I had one experience where I put the cup in way too fast without taking the time to make sure it was inserted correctly. I felt a sharp pain below and realized the cup shifted sideways and was poking me. That was not fun, but I just ran to the bathroom, re-inserted it, and haven't had an issue since. You do have to boil the cup monthly to disinfect it. I use baking soda and it gets rid of the blood stains. Yes, it does stain over time, unfortunately. Lastly, I don't like how much I have to wash my hands when I change the cup in a bathroom. I wash before to avoid any UTI-causing bacteria, I wash after I pull it out to rinse it, I wash after I put it back in, and then when I'm all ready to go I wash one last time. Changing it in the shower lets me skip all that.

Based on the information above, before you immediately turn your nose up at this concept, give it a try! This product was a huge game-changer for me and my friends + family are sick of me raving about it. I have yet to convert a single person to this economical, environmental, and safe method of dealing with menstruation.  

If you want to try the one, I've been using for the past two years here you go! This one is the Blossom Cup and I adore it. You can pick between 12 colors and it is only $13.95. That is the cost of a month of tampons but it lasts for at least a decade. Read the reviews and decide for yourself if it is a viable option. The Diva Cup found here is more popular but costs a bit more at almost $30.

If you have one and love it let me know below. If you tried it and it didn't work for you also let me know!

Here is a photo from a shoot I did with Thread Attire! You can shop this look here!

Photo by Emily Arné
Outfit by Thread Attire
Hair by Gabby Tebbe
Makeup by Emily Walbeck 

(Image from Blossom Cup)








  

1 comment:

  1. 1. The cup was a game changer for me, as I have super heavy periods (regularly would go through super plus tampon and pad in 45 minutes to an hour). On my heavy days I do have to empty it every 4-6 hours.
    2. If you have heavy flow, you may want a pantyliner/pad backup- I have overflowed the cup, which broke the seal and leaked, however this is not common at all.
    3.For me, it reduced cramps and chafing, I think my body relaxed as I wasn't worried as much about leaking.
    4. I could sleep! When you have to change every 45 minutes sleep is impossible!
    5. The cups can be slippery! Make sure you have a good grip, especially around auto-flush toilets... I learned this the hard way!

    ReplyDelete