Initial reaction: DISGUSTING. NO.
Six months later cue me ordering a menstrual cup.
HEAR ME OUT if you’re grossed out just by the thought of this. I was also disgusted by the thought of a cup of menstrual blood when I heard about this tampon alternative. Then after about six months, a friend of mine brings it back up and all of a sudden I’m “okay this isn’t THAT gross”?
So, if you’re wondering wtf a menstrual cup even is, here are some helpful links:
Another friend introduced me to the menstrual disc option, which is slightly different from the cup:
Now that you know what they are, here are the benefits and my first experience using the cup.
- Environmentally friendly!! Big plus for me. Think of how much waste comes with a box of tampons: the box itself, each tampon wrapper, applicator, and tampon itself. Times how many periods you have in your lifetime. Times how many women have a period. THAT’S A LOT OF WASTE, PEOPLE.
- Less toxic? As TSS is associated with tampons, these could potentially be less harmful to your body. Because they are made of medical-grade silicone, they aren’t absorbing things from your body and your body isn’t absorbing as much from them.
- More capacity. Depending on how heavy your flow is, a cup is safe to leave in 10-12 hours at a time, compared to a tampon that’s recommended to be changed every 4 hours.
- Travel lighter. Aka – no need to sneak tampons in your sleeve to the office bathroom. No need to run to the store for more tampons when you run out. Just pack the one cup and you’re good for the month.
- No messy trash can – since there is no waste associated with the cup, that equals no gross trash can full of used tampons for you!
- No drying out. Tampons can dry you out down there, especially if you’re using the wrong absorbency.
After hearing these benefits, I’m thinking it can’t hurt to at least try one. But now – what brand? I researched and narrowed it down to the Lena and Lunette. These two are comparable but Lena is made in the USA so that won it over for me. I typically have a decently light period – 5ish days long with only one or days being ‘heavy’ (and even then I just use regular sized tampons). I’m 25 and have not had kids. I chose the small option from Lena (after receiving and using this size – I will add that it is definitely big enough and enough coverage for me). My coworker had just purchased Lena and was having a good first experience which also swayed me to that brand. And it doesn’t hurt that they have overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon. Here are some other articles and blogs that I used to help choose the brand:
I anxiously tracked the package because I was dying to test it out. When it arrived, my first thought was “this is smaller than I expected”. After all the reviews and videos I had seen, I had expected it to be overwhelmingly large. Not the case. First, per the instructions, I boiled my cup for 5 minutes before my first use. Apparently there are tons of different folds you can try to see which works best for you to insert. I personally use the punch down fold:
Day 1: My first attempt, it opened too early which seems to be a common problem when learning to use the cup. My second attempt, success! I got it in and popped it open – mine actually made a popping sound when it came open so I was sure that it had opened all the way. I was slightly uncomfortable for a couple minutes but then it settled up a little farther and I felt nothing! Perfect!
This was day 1 of my period meaning there wasn’t going to be much substance – perfect for a trial day. I went shopping and did a significant amount of walking and the cup remained in place and comfortable with no leaks. I left it in about 8-9 hours and removed it at night. My first removal was a little trickier than I anticipated: the stem was up farther than I thought it was, so I pushed down like I was using the bathroom and had to the grab the stem that way. Then I wiggled it down far enough to reach the bottom of the cup and pulled it out– no mess! I just dumped the cup into the toilet and rinsed at the sink.
Day 2: I had a similar experience to day 1.
Day 3: This was the real test – a Monday in the office AND this was the first day of an actual heavier flow. Inserting kept going askew this day – it took me 3 tries and it still didn’t feel quite right. So I go to work anyway and am still thinking “this isn’t right” so I give in and go to attempt to reposition it. I’ll just say this was *slightly* messy as I didn’t have cleaning wipes or sink access in a stall – not anything unbearable though and it was worth it because then it felt like it was the right position – meaning it suctioned right and I couldn’t feel it. I left the cup in for 9 hours this day and just wore a liner. By the end of the day, I had three small spots on the liner and no leaks. When I took the cup out, it was about 1/4 full and I really wasn’t grossed out at all.
Day 4: Another test – Warped Tour. This was a Tuesday in July and I was going to Warped Tour for the day. AKA I was going to be hot and sweaty and jumping around and there would be potential crowd surfing. You don’t want to have to worry about your period at a time like this when you’re trying to jump around to Simple Plan and not get elbowed in the face by a mosh pit. Also we had a backpack to carry all day and there were only port-a-potties. Not ideal for packing tampons around and having to change them. I took a tampon just in case, but I can say with confidence that this is the day that sold me – I was jumping, standing and walking for 10+ hours and had no leaks and never felt gross or uncomfortable. I didn’t have to worry about running to the bathroom between bands to change it. SOLD – never going back to tampons again.
Day 5: Disaster struck. That’s a bit dramatic but really. My flow is pretty light so I wear the cup all day long (12 hours). I go to pull it out; the instructions tell you to pull the stem down until you can pinch the bottom of the cup and then pull it out by the bottom. Well, I did this but I didn’t have a good enough pinch. And it swung around and totally upended itself onto my shorts, ankles, and bathroom rug. Honestly, this was the only bad experience I had with it and I was about to shower anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. Lesson learned: make sure you get a good enough grip when removing.
Overall, I am VERY pleased with the cup. There is a learning curve but it worked better than I anticipated for the first time. I will definitely keep using it in the future and am pleased with the brand I chose. I think it can only get better with time, so I will post an update after a few more cycles. To see other experiences from my friends – check out the Q&A with them coming up this week.
Here is the link to the cup I bought:
Thoughts? Concerns? Experiences with the cup? Let me know in the comments below!
**Update as of 11/2/18** After using the cup for 4 months now, I can still say that I prefer it over tampons. Even with any small mishaps and the learning curve, the cup is totally worth it.