Same warning as last time. Do not read if:
1. You are squeamish.
2. You’re male.
3. You don’t have a period.
I’m writing this because when I was searching online, all of the dead honest reviews and instructional blog posts really helped me, so if this helps just one of you, the potential embarrassment is worth it.
If you recall, last month I spent a lot of money on my period. First I tried Thinx, the period panties (which I really like). Then, I tried the Cleo cup, one of many menstrual cups currently on the market. I chose it for its longer stem, carry bag – zippered pouch vs. drawstring bag, and the fact that it came with 2 sizes. (A menstrual cup is a silicone bell shaped cup designed to “catch” your period vs. soaking it up like a tampon would. It has a ribbed ‘tail’ at the end you use to maneuver it out so you can empty the blood.)
Pros: environmentally friendly – no waste, less mess (although, this is subject to user error),nothing to carry in your purse during ‘that time’, no known risk of toxic shock (even organic tampons have some degree of synthetic material which is what causes infection).
Cons: extremely steep learning curve, longer/more care involved. (When I say ‘steep learning curve’, I’m not joking. Confidence doesn’t equal ability. It took me a whole period to figure it out.)
I tried practicing before my period, but it just wasn’t the same. My cervix (wherever it was) was in a higher position than when I have my period, so I couldn’t tell if the cup was actually catching anything, and it just didn’t feel right. The first REAL day I tried it happened to be my heaviest day. I used the “punch down” fold, put it in, did a couple hops and honestly didn’t feel a thing. In fact, I was so busy running around I completely forgot about it. It didn’t leak for a full 10 hours, then suddenly everything spilled out – cup and all. It was like a massacre ‘down there’. (The cup says it holds 30ml, but I only saw a 15ml label on it. The Internet says the average woman loses 30-60ml total for her whole period – but I don’t know if I agree with that.)
After that experience, I made sure to check it every 6 hours. In, out, rinse, and back in again. The instructions say you can just wipe with toilet paper and put it back in again, but anyone who is anyone knows you can’t wipe THAT with toilet paper alone. *Hint: take a bottle of water with you if you’re going to be in a public bathroom so you can rinse it cleanly into the toilet. You could buy the wipes they suggest, but those have chemicals and aren’t-we-doing-all-this-to-stay-away-from-putting-chemicals-in-our-bodies?!
At the end of my period, I used Thinx on their own and sanitized my cups by boiling them in water for a few minutes. (*Another hint: put your cup in a wire whisk so it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot of boiling water and melt unexpectedly.)
Many, many, MANY women bloggers have instructions, reviews, and opinions online. I read all of the horror stories about having to go to the ER to get a lost cup removed or cups leaking in the most embarrassing situations. My cup did get stuck once – I folded and shoved it in too quickly and it went in folded sideways. After more than a couple pushes and a lot of relaxing, I was eventually able to wiggle it out. (My take away from that is to use the bigger cup!)
Now that I have gotten the hang of it, I’m not going to look back, ever. I have a drawer FULL of organic tampons and all natural pads, but I think I’m going to donate them. I am also kind of looking forward to my next period, to use my newfound skill.
What I’m really excited about is traveling with my cups this Fall. An absence of tampons and pads in my suitcase equals more room for IKEA and random souvenirs!
Here’s a really good site with a list of pros and cons as well as potential dangers of using a cup: http://menstrualcupreviews.net/menstrual-cup-dangers/