I finally achieved what I set out to do for so long, but my menstrual cup journey did not start easy. Weeks and weeks of thinking about the menstrual cup. If I am honest it was more like MONTHS. I was still no further forward to buying one. I had even decided which cup I wanted but felt I could not go out and buy it! BUT WHY??
Lots of reasons – main thing was I was not ready and so was putting it off. Deep down I knew I wanted to do try it but needed to find out more – I still had so many unanswered questions!
This is why I am sharing my menstrual cup journey – I want to make YOUR journey much EASIER.
Knowing others use a product like the cup is great and really helps make it a “real” possibility especially when you discover positive stories from others who have switched.
There is something missing though…
…DIALOGUE, CONVERSATION, CHIT-CHAT whatever you want to call it.
we can be very shy to talk about such topics. In many cultures it is TABOO and has a certain STIGMA attached… PERIODS are a fact but periods or sanitary products do not seem to be an easy topic to discuss.
perhaps if we talk and share more on re-usable sanitary products we could help others make sustainable choices more easily!
LET’S BREAK THIS BARRIER
Here are the missing bits of information I needed before I was going to entertain BUYING and before I could get to the TRYING bit.
With so many cups on the market – really the choice is crazy and can be overwhelming!
Luckily while doing my own research, I came across a brand of menstrual cup called “Hey Girls” – an Edinburgh base social enterprise committed to tackling period poverty – founded by a Mother with her daughters.
They stood out from the rest and I loved their brand and ethics. What was even more interesting is their cup is priced much lower than the average cup. To top it all, they have a Buy One Give One scheme – for each sanitary product sold, another is donated to tackle PERIOD POVERTY… AMAZING!
Cup choice DONE, next comes all the practical stuff.
Might be daunting to think how on earth you insert this but bear with me…
You need to FOLD the cup, creating a shape that is easy to insert. It’s a soft cup and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. Take your time to find a fold that works for you. Once inserted and positioned correctly, the cup will open fully, creating a suction seal – hence no leakage.
TOP TIP: Good idea to go for the fold which creates the smallest insertion point like the “punch down” fold – then you need to try, try and try again and see what works best for you. It is a bit like trying a tampon for the first time – do remember it DOES get easier!
Before you use a menstrual cup you must sterilise it in boiling water – ah o.k, in what though? You may or may not want to use the pan you boil pasta in – who would ever know!
Luckily Hey Girls do a sterilising CUP CUP, it is collapsible so great for storing away or traveling with. All you need is some water a microwave and oh yes, a menstrual cup!
Seriously though, hygiene is of the most importance. You need to sterilise after your period and store away safely in the breathable cotton pouch – ready for next time.
When you are using the cup, it needs emptied, cleaned and re-inserted every 10-12 hours. Clean by wiping or rinsing with warm water and reinserting – it really is not as bad as it sounds. The frequency of this will vary but given you can leave it for a much greater time than a tampon/pad, you will find it is so much easier to manage.
This might give you visions or nightmares but there is no need. It is not as messy as you may think. Pinching on the bottom of the cup releases the seal and you remove the cup, keeping it upright as it is removed so there is minimal spillage, if any.
TOP TIP: It can be easier to remove, clean and reinsert in the shower – especially while getting used to it.
My Own Journey:
I finally achieved what I set out to do for so long, here is how the TRYING bit in my menstrual cup journey went:
Month 1 went REALLY well, minimal leaks – I thought I had mastered it, then Month 2 I felt I had forgotten it all as had a few small leaks, think I was just very lucky in the first month.
I did more research on how to get positioning right and stop leaks and was geared up to get this right. Then came Month 3 – worked on perfecting the positioning as I continued to learn – perfectly normal at this stage. Month 4 – persevered with the positioning part and success – NO LEAKS! It took a while but I was confident enough to venture into a swimming pool!
A feeling of real accomplishment and freedom – free from disposable products!
Menstrual Cup Journey… SUCCESS! No more disposables for me, EVER again!
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
I found it very helpful to know others use the cup and some ladies have been kind enough to share their advice to help you – thanks to all the ladies I approached.
Here are their tips and advice for anyone thinking about trying a menstrual cup:
- “Don’t get distracted by all the different brands. They are effectively the same so just buy one (right size of course) and try it out! … it will change your life!!” – Jennifer
- “A cup is so much better than disposables. Stick with it and perseverance will pay off. Once you have switched you will wish you made this change earlier!! It is never too late to try and – no more regimented toilet trips! Just buy one and try it, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!!” – anonymous
- “It’s not just the environmental impact that makes me feel good about using these products, it’s the money I’m saving! I wish I had switched a lot earlier as I could have saved a fortune in sanitary products over the years. These products really are a fab investment for women – environmentally and financially.” – Stephanie
- “Go for it! Do not hesitate, don’t waste years of money and using disposable tampons etc. cups should be promoted from school and education should start then” – Lee
- “Practice makes perfect with the positioning, don’t be afraid to trim the stem off and also it’s worth using a cloth pad at night alongside the cup for the first few months just in case you’ve not quite got the positioning right.” – Rachel
- “give it a go and persevere” – anonymous
Time to buy, try out and start your own menstrual cup journey?
If you are ready to GIVE A CUP A GO then go for it!
Did you know it can take an average of 3 cycles so don’t be hard on yourself if this is not the case. There is such a thing as trying too hard and there will be a reason you have not mastered it.
A cup is not like a tampon – here you can insert and go! With a cup you need to INSERT and POSITION – the position is what can take time but don’t give up YOU CAN DO THIS and it does get EASIER once you have figured out what works best. Remember we are all unique so “try and see” and lots of practice!
TOP TIP: Once cup has been inserted, rotate the cup fully – at least one full turn. This can help open the cup all around and over time you will get an idea how this helps to get it in the right place.
So now you know the basics and MUCH MORE… let’s recap:
- Sterilise before use
- INSERT and POSITION,
- REMOVE for cleaning every 10 to 12 hours
- RE-INSERT and POSITION
I hope this all helps and perhaps you are now ready to GIVE A CUP A GO if not, there is even more information below. Don’t forget there are lots of women using a cup – most likely your friends too! There are also groups and menstrual user communities online/on social media if you need further help. Talk to others about this and let’s all help raise awareness while removing stigma and help each other on a sustainable path that we know is better for us and for the planet!
Last but not least, GOOD LUCK and remember PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT and it DOES get easier!
Further Sources Of Information:
These videos are a MUST watch:
Give a Cup a Go – by Hey Girls – video and faq’s
How to fold your cup – YouTube video
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What I write are my own personal views and I don’t endorse any content on external websites. I am also not advising on best course of action and recommend you do your own research.