ATTN: This post is about menstruation. That is all. You have been warned.
Ladies and... ladies! I cannot believe I've gone most of my menstruating life without even once hearing about something called a menstrual cup. When I'm done explaining what it is, you might decide it's not for you but at least you will have heard about it and hopefully will spread the word to those who may be interested. Of course I'm hoping you'll decide it's worth a shot and enjoy happier periods than you ever thought possible.
What is it?
It's a silicone or latex cup that collects menstrual flow.
Why would I want to use it?
Let me count the ways!
One: when inserted properly you cannot even feel it's there. At all. I'm not kidding. I've forgotten I'm on my period.
Two: reusable! You won't have to buy as many pads or tampons - save money and save the environment! Menstrual cups can be used for many years!
Three: no unpleasant smells. I don't think I need to go into that one.
Four: it's so comfortable.
Five: did I mention that I've (temporarily) forgotten I'm on my period while using it? Forget about all those ridiculous tampon/pad/pantyliner commercials. THIS is truly a happy and comfortable period.
Six: you'll probably have to empty it much less often than you would have to change a pad or tampon.
Seven: you can't feel it at all. Jumping jacks, summersaults, horseback riding, exercise, whatever. It feels like nothing is there, not even your period.
Eight: you don't have to take it out to use the bathroom.
Nine: many women think that switching to a menstrual cup has resulted in less menstrual blood.
Ten: have I mentioned how great it feels? No gross pad or tampon to worry about.
Eleven: it's much less likely to leak or result in stained clothing.
When would I use it?
Every day (and night) of your period. Heavy days, light days, medium days. I choose not to use it at night because, well, because. Many users say they only need to change it every TWELEVE hours. I wholeheartedly wish that was true for me, but it's not. Sadly, it appears I'm neither average nor typical. On my heaviest days I empty it every 2 to 3 hours and can go half to the whole day on my medium to light days. Again, once you know your body's patterns it's a piece of cake.
How exactly does it work?
The menstrual cup is held in place by the vaginal walls. It is not a cervical cap (like a diaphragm.) Wash your hands before inserting it. Once it's in, you just take it out however often you need to, dump the blood into the toilet, wipe or wash the cup out and reinsert. Most of the time you'll need to do it so infrequently you can usually manage to do it at home, but I've used public restrooms without too much difficulty. At the end of your cycle you boil it to sterilize it and then put it back in the cute little cloth storage bag until next month. There is definitely a learning curve to inserting it correctly and discovering how often you need to empty it but once that's taken care of you're SET. Yes, this means you get blood on your fingers and having to learn about your body a little, but for me the benefits FAAAAAR out-weigh the minor inconveniences. Really, it's no more inconvenient than having to remember to bring and then dispose of feminine hygiene products.
Softcups are single-use menstrual cups designed more similarly to a diaphragm, so not all my reasons to use apply here, but it's kind of in the same category.
Also, it should be noted that I would certainly recommend some sort of liner to wear in conjunction with the cup because spotting is typical when the cup is full. Also, in the (very!) rare event that the cup changes position and leaks, a back-up of some sort is nice, particularly as you adjust to using the cup. For this I highly recommend Amy's Rag Bag.
And that's it! Who among you currently uses a menstrual cup? What has your experience been?
If you have further questions I am more than happy to answer whatever I can. Email me: beck[at]superbeck[dot]com!