One of the most difficult parts of being a woman is having to deal with our monthly menstrual cycles. I’ve never known anyone who looked forward to having their period; they are inconvenient, messy, and sometimes dealing with PMS just makes us want to curl up in a ball and die. Unfortunately, we’re all stuck with them and will be for several decades of our lives. While nothing can change that–unfortunately–there are ways to make dealing with periods easier, and one of them is by switching to the menstrual cup instead of using sanitary napkins or tampons.
Despite the fact that this product has actually been around for decades already, it’s still relatively unknown, and those who do know about it are often intimidated by the idea of using one. As a menstrual cup user myself for over two years now, I’d like to share some information about menstrual cups that would be helpful for anyone considering making the switch or anyone who currently feels too intimidated to use them.
1. It takes practice to be comfortable using one.
I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat anything here–menstrual cups do take some getting used to. The first time I tried to use one during my monthly cycle, I ended up very frustrated and almost gave up, as inserting and removing it takes some practice. I decided to persevere, though, as I was desperate to find a way to make my periods more bearable, and I was hoping this was the answer. It took a few tries before I was able to get the hang of it, but once I did, it was definitely a game changer for my periods. You might not be able to get the hang of it on your first day–or even by the end of your first cycle–but once you do get comfortable, it’ll never be a problem again. It’s like riding a bike: it’s not always easy to learn, but once you got it, you’ll never have an issue again.
2. There is a cup for everyone.
One thing that intimidates a lot of women about menstrual cups is the actual size of the cup. When you’re looking at one or holding it in your hand, it seems ginormous, and you can’t help but wonder how it can possibly fit inside your vagina. Let me assure you, the makers of these menstrual cups know what they are doing, and it will fit just fine, no matter how it seems. Menstrual cups do come in different sizes, though, so make sure to get the one that fits your needs. Retailers of cups will usually have a chart recommending which size to use if you’re a virgin, if you have a heavy flow or a light flow, if you’ve already had children, if you’re active in sports, or if you have a short vagina. Rest assured that whatever your needs are, there will be a cup that suits you.
3. You will never have to worry about leaking again.
I do recommend using a pad or pantyliner simultaneously while you’re still learning how to use it properly, but once you’ve got the hang of using menstrual cup, you’ll never have to worry about leakage again. As long as you’re wearing it properly, there is no chance of it leaking at all. There will be no more frequent trips to the bathroom to check if your tampon or sanitary napkin is full yet, no more stained underwear, and no more waking up to stained sheets. The cup can be left inside your vagina for up to 12 hours without any worries, and it’s definitely a stress reliever! The cup forms a seal against your vaginal walls that ensure there will be no leaking, even if you accidentally leave it in for longer than you’re supposed to. In fact, for those with a normal flow, you’ll usually find that even after 12 hours, the cup isn’t even full yet. For those with heavier flows, you’ll still have to change it more often, but a lot less frequently than you have to change your pads or tampons.
4. They are safer to use and better for your body than napkins or tampons.
If you’ve ever bought a box of tampons, you’ve probably seen the warning on the side about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). For this reason, it’s very important not to leave a tampon in for longer than the recommended amount of hours on the box (usually four to eight hour), when the risk of TSS becomes greater. TSS is an increased risk when using tampons because the tampon absorbs not only your menstrual flow, but also healthy, necessary bacteria that your vagina needs. Additionally, both tampons and napkins contain chemicals that aren’t good for your body. On the other hand, the menstrual cup is made up of nothing more than medical-grade silicone or latex. There are no chemicals or additives that are harmful for your body, and because it catches your flow rather than absorbing it, the cup also doesn’t absorb the necessary fluids and bacteria that keeps your vagina healthy.
5. Changing it can be a little messy.
Another big concern women have about using a menstrual cup is whether it’s going to be messy or not. Let em be honest with you: yes, it can be a bit messy when you’re changing it. Since the menstrual cup is reusable, you will need to remove it, dump its contents in the toilet, then rinse the cup before reinserting. Obviously, this means you’re going to have to see and deal with your menstrual blood a bit more than usual, so if you’re squeamish, it might not be for you. Many women are concerned about having to do it in public restrooms. While that would, admittedly, be uncomfortable, since you only have to change it two to four times a day, you probably will never actually need to do it in public. I only need to change mine twice a day: in the morning when I wake up and again before I go to bed. When you get the hang of it, spilling isn’t much of a concern but many women, like myself, choose to do it in the shower just in case there’s any mess. Then, just dump the contents into the toilet, rinse out your cup, reinsert it, and you’re good to go for 12 more hours!
Using a menstrual cup may not be for everyone, but most women who decide to try it and see it through end up loving it and never going back, myself included. There is definitely a learning curve, but once you got the hang of it, the convenience, money saved, and lack of worries about leaking will make it worth it so many times over. As an added bonus, many women also report experiencing less cramps while using a menstrual cup. There are many advantages to making the switch, so perhaps it’s time you give it a try and see if it’s right for you! You can get them from local retailer Mama.Baby.Love.
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Abby is from the USA and moved to the Philippines to be with her husband, David Christopher Hizon, who also happens to be her photographer for most of her writing endeavors. A gamer, a bookworm, an animal lover and a self-proclaimed foodie, she is passionate about everything that she does and hopes that will come across in her writing. Follow her at http://facebook.com/WritersInTandem & http://www.thewritersintandem.wordpress.com