What is a menstrual cup?
For those who are unaware of what a menstrual cup is, allow me to enlighten you: a menstrual cup is a menstrual hygiene device which is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. In the spirit of Menstrual Hygiene Day let’s look at the pros, cons and my very own experience using the cup.
The menstrual cup was introduced to me as the “diva cup”, straightaway my response was “It could never be me.” It sounded so uncomfortable and nobody really knew enough about it, at the time (it was 2014) it was a seemingly western idea and honestly a nonstarter.
Five years later tholukuthi ngacouldeka. (It could be me!)
My first menstrual cup was from my aunt. It came in a velvety little pouch and smelt like coconut body mist. She threw two at me and just said “I use these because they save money.” Nothing more, nothing less. I quickly went on to YouTube and looked up videos of how to use the bloody thing. (Pun intended)
It was really weird and I remember thinking this will not fly. Here’s the link to the video that helped me.
My period came and I decided to try it out. I used a pad as well just in case things went sideways.
It was about two hours later that I went to check and to my surprise, not even a single drop. I was amazed because at first I could I could feel it and every single time I moved it would remind me of its presence. After about 4 more hours I decided to change it and it was barely even full. If it were not for the menstrual cup I would not have been aware of how much blood we actually lose when on your period, only after 5 years did I discover that you lose only 2 – 3 tablespoons of blood.
Using pads made me think I was losing a whole lot more and that I bleed throughout the day but I slowly realized that it’s only certain times and it doesn’t have to be as messy as you think it is. I am GRATEFUL that was introduced to the cup when I was because water shedding combined with being on your period is torture. Personally I pop it in first thing in the morning and go about 8 to 12 hours depending on my activity. If I’m not moving around it doesn’t move around so I’m 90 percent certain I won’t stain. When taking it out you just pour out the contents and rinse it and it’s ready for use again. The reason I love it the most is because it reduces odor, because the blood is being collected in the cup and there’s a vacuum like mechanism, it never gets exposed to air. (The bacteria in the air + blood = odor) It’s a life saver. For most women, “that time of the month” can be likened to the valley of the shadow of death, menstrual cups make it a little less uncomfortable.
Pros in a nutshell
- Cuts down costs. 1 menstrual cup lasts a while depending on maintenance.
- Less of a mess,
- Ideal for situations where water is scarce
- For my Kirsty Conventry’s, you can swim even when you’re on your period
- Can last 8-12 hours as opposed to tampons where you run the risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome if they aren’t changed regularly
Unfortunately it’s not fool proof. It has its downsides.
I didn’t always and I still don’t always get the insertion part right. If it doesn’t sit well it won’t work as well as it should and it will be mad uncomfortable. It’s more or less like learning how to drive a car, you’ll know what to do but it’ll be difficult at first and like my dad said “Driving is one of those things you can never master, you learn more and more as you go on.” The same can be said about using a menstrual cup. It’s difficult, scary and new so expect trial and error.
My advice to you is to read up and watch as many reaction videos online. Different people experience different things and to be honest you’ll learn a lot from them, I certainly have. From there you can gauge whether or not it’s for you. From there you can buy them from there you take over. Be patient with yourself and always remember you’re human. Aaliyah said it best “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”
Cups can last you about 6 to 18 months depending on the quality of the cup and how well you take care of it. Before you use it I suggest you put it in warm water so that it’s not too cold for your body, also it will be easier to mold and insert. Make sure your hands are clean and don’t have any chemicals on it. Here is an article on the dos and don’ts of cleaning and storage of a menstrual cup.
With storage, you ought to store it in a dry, ventilated area: the pouch I got was ideal, it isn’t airtight. YOU DON’T WANT THAT.
Overall it’s a good idea to look into getting a menstrual cup, it’s cheaper, reusable and allows more room for you to be you because being on your period can be really uncomfortable. Please don’t read this and feel like you have to try it out. Different strokes for different folks, it is alright if you want that cup to pass you. (Pun intended) Just wanted to let you know my experience with it.