Hello Lovely Blossoms,
Let's talk about something we don't normally talk about... you know the "forbidden" thing. If you have followed me for a little while you would know that I have been using a menstrual cup for almost two years now... Shocking I know. This is definitely a switch I would suggest to anyone using regular tampons/ pads. When I first started out I will admit I thought to myself what a load of crap... but I kept my research up and figured out what I was doing wrong.
There is definitely a learning curve to these and I recommend doing as much research about how to use, clean and store your cup. I bought my first cup on One Day Only way back when...it was in my cupboard for a little while before I finally committed, I had a love hate relationship with it. It did its job and all but it was not the perfect fit for my body and I found it to be a little "bulky" for something that you have to feel comfortable in. None the less I did stick it out with this cup for almost a year just because I mean I already had it and I didn't want to just spend more money on the spot.
Now to understand the switch you have to get your mindset in a place where you realise you will be a little more involved with your cycle than just with a tampon or pad since you have to physically insert, remove, empty and clean the cup and not in the same way as with a tampon. My first time I was a bit unprepared for the amount of involvement...Although I understood that I would have a closer relationship with my downstairs lady, it made it a little easier for the fact that I had to check every now and then if my UID was still in place but the involvement was still a bit more to say the least... But I also realized that the world has made such a villain out of periods. You are supposed to have it in quiet and no one should ever know... This also got me thinking why are we so ashamed of going through one of the most natural things that can happen to our bodies? This is also the very reason I am sharing my experience.
I have learned to love my body in more ways than I thought and I am still a long way from loving it completely... and although I still don't like the fact that we are basically made to suffer every month with back pains and sore breasts, it also means that every month you have a reminder that you are human, you are a woman and you are healthy.
So let's get down to it... There are different cup sizes available and you will want to opt for a bigger size cup if you have a heavier flow. I used to have a relatively normal flow until I placed an IUD in, this seemed to affect my flow and I now have two days that are a little heavier than usual. My first cup was a smaller size because like clothing we always want to be the smaller option but mostly this never works out.... but my second cup I learned that I need more available volume and that it might fit better with my IUD so I opted for the bigger cup. This also made me research some different folds because since the cup is bigger it simply means I have to somehow still get it up there.
Before I give my routine here are some wonderful facts about the menstrual cup:
You can wear it up to 12 hours at a time depending on your flow.
Rest assured knowing that it cannot get lost in you.
You use your pelvic muscles to assist in getting it out.
This is one of the most environmentally friendly options available.
It is far more comfortable than a tampon/ pad.
It has been known to reduce period cramps.
In the long run it saves you a lot of money.
So, I have two folds that I use, although there are many. I just find these two the easiest and quickest to use. My favourite is the "punch down" or "tulip" fold. The second one is the "triangle". I use the second fold on days where I feel I am struggling a bit to insert the cup.
My normal routine when starting my period/ changing my cup would be as follows:
First I make sure the bathroom is clean, when you enter a bathroom that might not have a sink readily available, take a water bottle with you.
Remove the cup and empty the contents. When I have access to a basin I would wash the cup before using again, but we don't always have this luxury available so that is where the water bottle comes in, simply rinse it out over the bowl.
Fold the cup with the desired shape and re-insert the cup - it is very important to wash your cup every time before you use it again.
Make sure the cup "pops" or simply move your finger around the opening of the cup to make sure it has suctioned properly around your cervix
Finish up and wash your hands - IMPORTANT
And that's it. Now on paper this seems a little easier said than done but with practice comes perfection. If you are anything like me... my mornings are sometimes a bit of a rush. When I wake up and I am in my cycle I have to go the bathroom immediately because the cup has had the entire night to fill and odds are it is at the tipping point. On the days I have my heavier flow which is normally day 2 & 3, I make sure I have some extra protection like a re-usable menstrual pad or panty liner just to keep my mind at ease.
To clean the cup, after my cycle I place it in a container with a half water (boiling), half vinegar mixture. This sterilises the cup as well as removes some of the stains if you have a clear cup... yes, your clear cup will stain over time that is also why I opted for a coloured cup second time round... I leave it in this container for a couple of hours, drain it and let it dry naturally before storing it in the pouch it usually comes with.
There are days when I still get it wrong and struggle to get it to suction but this will never make me go back to tampons, when inserted correctly there is nothing that can beat a menstrual cup. My advice for someone new would be to do research as much as you can, don't try and buy the cheapest cup because they are usually bulky and not comfortable. Invest in a cup that ticks all the spots like size, volume capacity, comfortability. Watch as many YouTube videos you can to get familiar with the folds and how to insert before you start your period, and not on the day that you start.
Here is a great one on the different - folds-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwnK8J8fQxk
Be honest with yourself when deciding these factors, there is nothing to be ashamed of, if you have a heavy flow buy consciously to support this, if you have a long cycle choose a cup that might have an angular tip like mine for ease of removal since you will be doing it a bit longer.
Whatever your cycle looks like, embrace it and learn to love it, you will have it for almost half your life...
I hope this helps you somewhat on what to expect and how to handle the situations, maybe you are even considering to purchase one, whatever the case do it all with a smile. You are welcome to ask me as many questions as you want on this topic I will answer honestly and always assist where I can.
Photo credit - https://www.littlesnapsphoto.com
Till next time, be Blessed.