Seven-ish years ago, my friend Kassi was over at my house hanging out, making food, drinking red wine — I remember it well. We were in my kitchen and she was talking to me about her Diva Cup while chopping tomatoes for homemade bruschetta. She told me how amazing and life changing it was for her, how easy it is to use and how natural it felt, how good it was for the environment — she was trying to convince me to join her period cup cult. This was the first I had heard of such a thing. A silicone cup that you stick up into your vagina that catches the blood in lieu of tampons? Come again? What the fuck? I was standing there watching her as she was nonchalantly discussing while dicing and I can still feel the look on my face: it was an ugly mix of confusion and disgust rolled into one. Nope. No way. Gross. Not for me. My friend is a crunchy granola hippy. Damn this bruschetta is good. I passed slight judgment on my friend, the night went on, dinner was delicious, and I continued to push chemical laden tampons up my vagina for the next seven years.
Fast forward to the week before last. I couldn’t sleep and was scrolling through YouTube looking for something to numb my brain and help me drift off, usually a “What I Eat In A Day” (those fascinate me), when I came across a video on menstrual cups. For some reason I felt intrigued, that or I was hoping for boredom that would help fall asleep faster, and clicked play. The video was long. It was highly detailed. And by the end it was nearly 2 a.m. and I was searching Amazon for my soon-to-be new period cup. During my search I came across a familiar looking brand that I had most definitely seen slide across my desk at some point as part of a press mailing. Could it be? Did I already have a period cup in my possession? 2 a.m. or not, it was the perfect time to rummage through the press closet in search of the familiar branding, and to my surprise I found not one, but two (one for a light and one for heavy flow) period cups sitting at the back of a shelf smiling and waving at me. I spent the next hour examining my new silicone baby in all her glory, reading various reviews on the internet — this brand had great ones — and, going over the instructions. Never had I ever wanted my period to come so badly. Actually, no. That’s not true at all. There have been quite a few times that I’d hoped and prayed for my cycle to start after a wild night of unprotected sex, but you get the point. I couldn’t wait to try the period cup. I wanted to kiss tampons goodbye. I wanted to rid myself of chemical soaked cotton and help the environment and save a few bucks. Three days later, I started my period.
Now, everyone has a period story. Yours could be one of those that arrives on time like clockwork every month, lasts the same 4-5 days, and has minimal cramping, and ease. My period story, however, involves years of irregularity, horribly painful cramps, questionably long cycles, and very heavy bleeding. In other words, mine are hellacious. Regardless of how my body sheds its uterine lining, I was all studied up on the cup. I was ready. I had chosen the regular size cup which is suggested for medium to heavy menstruation or after childbirth, and I was really hoping for a seamless, less painful menstrual cycle as so many reviews have boasted post usage. I headed off to the bathroom with my freshly sanitized cup in hand to lose my period cup virginity. Praise be.
Before I jump into how losing said virginity went, let me tell you a little bit about the cup itself. It is made of medical grade silicone. It was a pretty ocean blue color. It is flexible and soft. It has a stem for removing it from the body and came with a little cotton pouch for storage and detailed instructions with different ways to insert, remove, and clean the product. It is supposed to offer protection for up to 12 hours. You can sleep with it in, workout with it in, and do just about anything and everything you would normally do with it in. Armed with all of the knowledge I could possibly absorb, I sat down on the toilet, folded the cup into the recommended C shape and inserted it. Upon examination and a strict following of the directions, I felt proud and confident that my cup was inserted correctly. I got up to go about my day. Within 20 minutes I felt wetness, returned to that bathroom and sure enough my cup had leaked. I tried removing the cup, which came along with a slight panic, but after a few attempts and forced relaxation, I was able to remove it, washed it, and went back into the bathroom for round two. This was the cycle for the next hour and a half. Insert, leak, remove, rinse, reinsert. What was I doing wrong? Was my vagina too big? Was my period too heavy? I texted a couple of friends, called my husband, and returned to the Internet to try and solve my problems. I was determined to make this work for me.
In conclusion, I have to admit that I haven’t fully reached a conclusion yet. I want to love the cup. I love the idea of it. I feel like future me does love it, but I am just not quite there yet. I don’t want to discourage anyone from giving the cup a try when reading my first stab at transitioning. I think I just need a few more months on the saddle and I am pretty sure the cup I have is not the one for me. I took a Cup Quiz on a site called Put A Cup In It (brilliant!) and was matched with a few different cups that may fit my vagina and period needs better. I am going to order a couple different ones. I have high hopes. My fingers are crossed. I’m not giving up yet and will follow up with another more experienced cup review down the road. Last words: Thinx period panties were a jeans saver. I’ll be buying more.
What about you? Do you use a period cup? Did you go through a learning curve when you first started? Please share your experiences with me below. How long have you been using one? What have you found successful? How long did it take you to feel confident with usage?