So, despite being a 34 year old woman, who has been having periods for 20 years, I've recently reconsidered how I deal with my menstrual cycle. It started as a response to being on the contraceptive implant, which I've been on for about a year and a half I think. It meant I was having some periods that were slightly longer but lighter, and I found I was starting to feel uncomfortable wearing panty liners for 2 weeks. Like it all felt a little 'off'. You know what I mean, I know you do. So I investigated cotton panty liners.
I ordered a few online, some are small and thin like a panty liner, and some are thicker and longer like a santitary pad. Don't ask what happened to the leopard print one......ha ha....it's gone missing, and I fear it fell down my trouser leg!!! Such lols.
Then I discovered that you weren't meant to flush tampons down the toilet. Literally my mind was blown. Twitter seemed pretty split 50/50....half as in shock as me, and half surprised I'd never heard how bad it was. I asked my best mates, and they all flush too....so maybe we all skipped the same class at school?! The Guardian confirms that half of women flush their tampons but it apparently costs us all £88 million a year to unclog our sewage systems with them all! So I knew it was time to investigate a menstrual cup!
Oh, and the the environment aside, the main reason I want to try a cup is that you can wear them for 12 hours (some people even do more!) with zero fear of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and no leaking. That just seems bliss to me. It's also cheaper and better for your body.
So here is my diary of a menstrual cup (I'll update it as I go, as I'll forget otherwise!)
I've read the instruction leaflet, I've watched some youtube videos and I'm good to go. Just a heads up, I've had a lot of medical issues in my vagina region, some of which may well be making the cup more challenging for me than most, but I figure if I'm having sex and using tampons, I can master the cup too. Attempt 1. I fold the cup as instructed, but blimey it's a little intimidating to insert. First attempt aborted. I research a second fold method and try again. I get it half in, it pings open and ouch I retreat with speed. Ok, third time is a charm. I get it in. Ok. The leaflet says to turn it 360 degrees and I'm definitely not able to do so.
I wear it for about an hour, when I realise that it's leaked everywhere. This most probably means it stayed folded up, and didn't open fully inside me. I need to get to the gym, so I take it out for now, wear a tampon and vow to try it again after. Getting it out hurt a little when it pinged back into shape, so I plan to google that. Attempt 2. I watch some more videos, and hear a tip to use some lube when inserting if you're having issues getting it in. I also hear about putting it in upside down, and tilting it in different directions, so I feel a little more ready to try a different insertion method. I also watch videos specifically about ensuring it pops open inside, and feel more prepared this time. Definitely much better, and get it open fully.
I'm now noticing that although I don't feel it stood up (and still), I feel it when I'm sat down, and walking. I realise that the tail is too long for me (some women cut it all off, some women trim, and some leave, it depends how far your cervix is away from your vaginal opening). So I vow to trim one nodule off it when I take it out. Removal this time is still a challenge, but I know not to panic, and to just keep trying a few different methods. I know it will get easier! Thank the lord for youtube videos. However, this attempt, although I could feel it when sat down (a little sore) it didn't leak at all, so I definitely got the insertion right.
Attempt 3. I rather hilariously put the cup on the side, and blood flipped all over the floor. Whoops. So, insertion number 3 was pretty seamless. A smidge of lube, a well angled fold, and double checking that it opened fully. Trimming one nib off the tail so far seems to have solved the problem of feeling sore when I sat too. Winning! Removal is still a little more challenging, but I feel confident each time that I will manage it, so I go slow and squat low! Ha.
Attempt 4. I'm not inserting or removing in the bathroom yet, for some reason I think I'm more relaxed in the bedroom, but I feel like insertion I've got nailed. I found it easy this time. I wore it all night, zero leaks, and no pants.
It was a real novelty to wake up this morning, leak free, and go to the gym without emptying/changing. I figured it was in the right place, so why chance it at the gym for the first time? All good. All good.
Attempt 5, rather uneventful but I did feel it a little walking around today. I have an odd feeling it may have been to do with having a full bowel/bladder, as it disappeared after a toilet break. I left it in all day. I decided to try removal over the toilet for the first time, rather than in the apparent safety of my bedroom. OMG - the revelation. Attempt 6. I'd been anxious about trying the cup while sat on the toilet, but blimey the difference in angle was brilliant. Who knows, maybe I needed the safety of my room to get me used to what I was doing (more space!), but removal and insertion sat down was brilliant. The only challenge I had was having to get up to get to the sink, as I find there is a lot of 'fall out' when you take the cup out. I didn't use lube to reinsert this time, and it was super duper easy. I don't want to get cocky but I think I've nailed it.
Yep, I skipped a day. Nothing to report! I'm basically wearing it all day, so I'm switching morning and night. Definitely finding it easy to change while sat on the toilet, and the amount of blood in one day is teeny for me. I've been to the gym twice and it's been great. No spills or leaks. I already know I won't go back to tampons, but I may explore a smaller cup now that I know what I'm doing and less nervous of it getting 'lost'. Or I may trim another nodule off the tail. But generally I'm winning. It's a big thumbs up. It feels cleaner, its obviously better for the environment, it's cheaper, and its just bloody better to not have to deal with my period all day. It's like forgetting about it, and it's a joy.