The first time I came across the menstrual cup was probably from a Buzzfeed video. It’s a fairly new product or shall I say, *phenomenon* in the female hygiene industry, especially in Asia.
An avid user of tampons, what drew me the most to the menstrual cup is that it claims to be eco-friendlier than pads and tampons. What’s more, it claims you can leave it in for up to 8 hours without changing and/or fear of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Coming from Malaysia, the menstrual cup isn’t easily available. Sure, there are some places that sell them, but it’s sort of finding a needle in a haystack. So when a friend of mine came back from London, I asked her to hook me up with one. It cost me £22, roughly RM120, which may initially seem steep, but if you compare that to the accumulated price of sanitary products you buy every month, every year — it really isn’t that expensive.
The menstrual cup I got claims that it is gentle, convenient and comfortable, and the perfect alternative to pads/tampons which saves you money too. It also comes in a handy bag making it easy to store.
Aunt Flo arrived while I was at a family BBQ. I’d been carrying the cup around town in my bag because: a) I was super excited and b) I knew it was coming. The cup was about the size of half of my palm and I was super nervous to insert it.
I folded the cup into the ‘tulip’ fold and gently pushed it in. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard at all. If I weren’t a tampon wearer previously, perhaps it would have been more difficult. The cup glided in easily, however I wasn’t entirely sure if it had been inserted correctly. The stem didn’t go all the way in like a tampon would, but it was also barely coming through.
I frantically started searching “How do I know if my menstrual cup is in my vagina”. A few key things to note; you shouldn’t feel anything if it’s all the way in AND you should feel a ‘pop’. Yes, a ‘pop’. However, I didn’t feel the pop. I texted my friend in a panic, “How do I get that pop!?” She poured me with some first timer cup wisdom.
Grabbing the bulb, I pinched at it (¼ of the cup) and twisted the cup while gently pushing it in... and POP! I was pretty much content with the placement and continued with the BBQ dinner and left it no thought. During my shower before ben and I decided to empty the cup — I wanted to sleep with it in so a fresh cup felt like a good idea.
Honey, nothing can prepare you for what you will see. The cup was filled about ¼ way with blood and it wasn’t the prettiest sight. No, you shouldn’t be ashamed of your own period blood but my virgin eyes were not prepared for it. at. all.
I regained my courage and poured the blood out of the cup, rinsed it with water, dried it and re-inserted it with the same technique; fold, push it in ¾ way through, pinch the end and twist to pop. Super easy — at this point, I could call myself the master of cups.
With a fresh new cup, I was off to bed with hopes that I wouldn’t leak!
I woke up in the morning with no leak! I’m a rough sleeper, so my pad usually moves around a lot during the night. The cup filled up overnight and did create a bit of mess when I took it out in the shower. Again, it’s really not for the faint hearted but you do get used to it.
I was quite curious to see how the second day would go. As we all know, the blood flow is the heaviest on the 2nd day — could the cup really hold up for 8 hours?
I had a family birthday lunch and was most likely to be out the whole day. I had the cup in at about 10.30am and by 4.30pm, I had to re-empty it. I couldn’t really tell whether it was filled to the brim, but it did seem like a lot. Usually on the 2nd day and on tampons, I would start to leak at about the 4th hour, so I was mildly surprised that the cup hadn’t leak at all even after having it in for about 6 hours.
It’s nice not having anxiety that I may wake up with a stained bed — wearing the cup has definitely helped me with getting a good night’s sleep!
Changing in the toilet with the cup is not the easiest thing to do. Once you get the hang of putting the cup in while sitting down, it’s not that big of a problem but cleaning can get a bit fiddly.
But most importantly, on getting to know your body:
When using tampons or pads, you only really get to see so much of your blood (or bits of your uterus lining), but using a menstrual cup — you see it all.
While this may seem like a turn off, what I realised after my week of using the cup is that you really get to know your body better. Turning a blind eye to what goes on down there might seem like a more pleasant solution, but the reality is the state of your menstruation can be an indication of our reproductive and overall health.
As women we should be in touch with our own bodies for the benefit of our own health. We should embrace what our body goes through on a monthly basis and not be afraid of it. So thank you menstrual cup, for teaching me this valuable lesson.
PS: You can get a menstrual cup at The Hive.