My First Menstrual Cup Experience
Let me preface by saying that my experience would have been better had I opted to read the instructions all the way through first and hadn’t tried to figure it out myself. I ended up having a steep learning curve, so I urge you to save yourself by reading the manufacturer’s instructions because menstrual cups are unlike any of the other menstrual products that we’re used to.
I washed the cup with soap and water and after a ten-minute struggle with the rigid cup popping open before I wanted it to— like those toys that you turn inside out and leave them on the floor and wait for them to pop up— I finally succeeded and sat down with the booklet. “BOIL BEFORE FIRST USE” Okay great. Fantastic. I hadn’t done that yet.
Once I recovered from feeling lightheaded (I experienced this same faint feeling when I was learning to use tampons), I attempted to remove the strongest suction cup I had ever felt, and boiled as instructed. I reinserted once again and took a seat. Did not feel at all like a tampon. Was it sliding out? No way… the suction on this thing could pull a dent out of a bumper (having found it ironic since many women struggle to get a proper seal on it in the beginning)…
I reliably get awful cramps each month but I held off on taking any pain reliever to see if the cup would help. It did not. I ended up taking a dose of ibuprofen and microwaving my heat-ing pad the same amount of times as usual. I couldn’t bring myself to fall asleep with the cup in for fear of TSS so I swapped it with a pad.
Most manufacturers advise against sleeping with the cup in but you can leave it alone for up to 10 hours during the day before needing to empty it.
I still struggled with the cup popping open but succeeded with insertion a bit quicker, but not without some tinges of pain. It was fairly comfortable throughout the day and I didn’t think about it much, but then night came along with the time for removal. I did notice some spotting so I wouldn’t recommend wearing your finest white underwear when using a cup.
I read the instructions a bit further and realized where I was going wrong. I was supposed to push it out, like giving birth, and then attempt to fold it with a pinch to break the suction before fully removing it. I thought I had successfully and painlessly removed it, but then the cup slipped out of my hand and fell into the toilet. My only thought was how happy I was to be in my home bathroom. I boiled the cup once more and stored it to try it again the next day.
Insertion was still a bit painful, but I was beginning to expect it. It stayed comfortable throughout my seven hour workday, and I was able to use the bathroom without worrying about pee string. Maybe this isn’t so bad, I thought. When I got home, I pushed and folded and re-moved, and was surprised at the contents in the cup. What’s nice about the cup is that it only holds what needs to come out, unlike a tampon that acts like an unhealthy sponge for every-thing it comes in contact with.
I couldn’t help but notice that removing the cup felt a bit like I was trying to pull my insides out, despite breaking the suction as soon as I could reach to do it. I’m thinking it had to do with the rigidity of the cup and not being able to pinch it until it was already almost fully removed.
I thought I had it down by this point but it still kept popping open before I wanted it to. Removal was a lot easier but I was still wondering why the suction was causing pain. I am a bit of a hypochondriac so it could have been in my head.
By this point, my flow was light enough to get by on liners so I boiled the cup and stored it away.
-Wears like a tampon, lasts like a pad.
-Reduces use of tampons/pads. I normally go through 10-12 pads, but with the cup I only used 4 for overnight.
-Cost-efficient. A 40ct of pads costs roughly $8 USD and lasts for 3-4 periods. A cup costs $40 and lasts for 10 years! It pays itself off after the first half of the first year.
-I’m sure the little bit of pushing prepares for childbirth somehow.
-Difficult to use in public restrooms. I don’t know that I’d be able to just dump and reinsert being in a stall. It’s nice to have a sink within arm’s reach to wash it out.
-Painful if the cup isn’t soft enough.
-May be difficult to remove with long nails but if you’re well adjusted, I encourage you to try.
In Conclusion: Get a soft cup that’s easy to fold for insertion and removal. And don’t try to use it for the first time unless you’re at home or you have access to a bathroom that has full privacy and a sink within three steps.
Post and thoughts by: Valeri Santa Cruz