This month marks my (gets out the calculator)… 260th period.
Ah, 260 weeks of inconveniences, awkward moments, leaks, embarrassments, and rushing to find a bathroom. 56 of those weeks were post-baby, which equated to heavier periods, more leaks, more ruined sheets, and more misery.
Over the last few months, I was waking up to awful morning leaks while racing a 4-year-old to the bathroom — a 4-year-old who likes to hold the toilet hostage for 20 minutes at a time. I knew I needed a better solution. To be blunt, pulling my screaming child off the toilet and dealing with an all-out temper tantrum, while cleaning up a Carrie-style bloodbath was no longer an option.
Then I remembered that, last year, one of our amazing writers, Meredith (@meredithtested), wrote about her journey into the world of menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads.
I was skeptical if menstrual cups would work for me, so I picked up one of the cheapest ones I could find – the Blossom Cup, for about $15. Like Meredith mentioned in her post, it takes a few periods to get the hang of it, but it is 100% worth the learning curve.
If you are new to menstrual cups, I hope this list is helpful! If you have questions, just ask! I’ll Google anything I don’t know. Haha!
- They Come in a Wide Variety of Sizes, Shapes, Lengths, etc.!
Try not to get overwhelmed with the varieties. Just pick one and jump on the cup train! Generally, they say that if you haven’t had a baby, use the small or medium size cup. If you have had a baby, try the large. If you start with one that’s more affordable, you could buy 2 sizes to see which works best for you. There are also a number of folding methods to try, to make inserting them easier.
- You Can Trim the Stem!
Most menstrual cups come with a stem to remove them more easily. You’ll know right away if the stem won’t work for you – it will be very uncomfortable. You can trim the stem with scissors, just be careful not to cut into the cup. You can leave a smaller stem or no stem at all.
- Menstrual Cups Shouldn’t Require a Trip to the ER.
There have been a few posts floating around social media, horror stories about women ending up in the ER to get their cups removed. I had a bit of a panic attack too after the first morning using my cup. When you sleep and relax your muscles, the cup will probably move inside a bit further than you first placed it. I could barely feel the bottom of the cup. Remember that you can use your muscles to push the cup down for easy removal.
- It’s Supposed to Suction to Your Cervix.
Ok, not exactly, but I’ve read some articles saying that the cup (horrifyingly) suctioned to a poor, unassuming cervix. The cup is supposed to create suction up there – that’s normal. It helps it stay in place and prevent leaks.
- You Can Wear It For Up to 12 Hours!
Yep, you only have to change your cup every 8-12 hours. I tend to change mine once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed (I’m up at 7am, in bed by 11pm). This also means that you probably won’t have to change it in a public restroom (whew)!
- You Can Go to the Bathroom With It In (#1 & 2)!
This absolutely blew my mind, ladies. I mean, I understood anatomy, but it seemed too good to be true. Bowel movements may cause slight discomfort and cause your cup to move down. If you’re worried about it falling out, just hold some toilet paper there while you go. After you go, push it back into place. Easy peasy!
- You May Need to Prevent Spillage.
You have to pinch the cup slightly to release the seal. Then, when you remove the cup, let it open while it is still over the toilet. Dump in the toilet or sink, and have some toilet paper ready to wipe up if needed. I promise it’s still less clean-up than the usual period horrors.
- Intimacy is A-OK!
Though you shouldn’t have sex with your cup in place, you can definitely get more intimate with a cup than you can with other forms of period protection.
- You Might Have to Pee More.
The cup can sometimes press against your bladder slightly, which might make you have to pee more than usual. You can try adjusting it to a more comfortable position if needed.
- Coughing, Sneezing, and Menstrual Cups Don’t Mix.
Some women don’t seem to have a problem with this, but others do (I Googled). Usually at night, it’s fine, but while up and about during the day, cough and sneezing fits can cause the cup to shift and move down. I’ve never had it pop out and fly across the room… but it does create discomfort as it shifts.
One more thing you might not know about menstrual cups? The Internet is FULL of info, folding techniques, Q&As, etc. YouTube was my favorite resource. Women everywhere share openly about the love of their menstrual cups, best practices, and more!