Warning: This is a long post as I go through, in exquisite detail and venturing out of my comfort zone, my experiences of the cup. If you just have 10 mins, you might want to bookmark this post for further reading or just read the first and last month.
I hate that time of the month. I hate that I feel like a bloated elephant seal, that I experience nagging cramps and soreness everywhere and that every little thing irritates me (like the sound of my husband chewing).
So for the past 20-years, I have learnt to grin and bear it, but there is just one tiny thing that I couldn’t get over: the lack of good quality sleep. I would bolt straight out of bed for the toilet whenever I feel a “leaking sensation”, which is four to five times a night. I have unfortunately stained the bed more than a couple of times and this adds on to the paranoia.
I tried all available options, like the largest overnight pads (which are in fact more like unglam diapers), to tampons and sanitary panties. Sanitary panties are gross by the way. They are literally like pull-up pants for 10 and over, and they make me feel even more depressed and feel like a male baboon with its swollen red bums. Besides they’re costly. Each night you use one, it is like throwing away a cup of Starbucks.
So finally, after the last “accident” in bed, it was the final straw and I bought myself a menstrual cup. I have heard of menstrual cups for more than 5 years now but refused to try it out as I am not sure if I am comfortable with getting comfortable with it.
Since I made the decision to get a cup, I went ahead to read as many reviews as I could, including some useful ones and some hilarious ones. With much apprehension, I decided to bite the expensive, 24K bullet and bought a Lunette, which everyone online said was a great “beginner” cup.
First of all, my Lunette is around $50 Singapore dollars and it was from iHerb.com so it was expensive. But, a cup can last you a long time like 2-5 years and sanitary pads or tampons aren’t exactly cheap either. Plus, the fact that that you are helping to save the environment adds to the feel-good factor. Did you know that a single woman will use around 4,300 sanitary pads or tampons over the course of their life? The non-recyclable plastics and micro-fibers that are used in each product also adds to the problem.
When my package finally arrived, I was genuinely excited about the possibility of being relieved from the stress of waking up, changing sheets and doing laundry in the middle of the night.
As you know, I have read many reviews and seen many videos and photos so I wasn’t very surprised at all that it looked like a tiny plunger. But it was a little larger than I thought and I ordered the Small size. There are MANY guides out there that recommend that larger size of you are an old auntie (over 30) or if you have pushed out a small person out from your baby maker. I am both but I still ordered the Small size not because I’m in denial, but because I am a beginner and I didn’t fancy the thought of stuffing up a large rubber plunger up my hooch. (The Large is not that large but still.)
So, after doing the necessary boiling/washing, I contemplated for a couple minutes on how to smuggle this much-larger-in-real-life cup into my silk purse and how I will feel about it, the cup seems to be taunting me. It was time to show it who’s boss.
My experience with reading articles meant that knew all the many ways you can origami your cup, although it was more like twisting balloon animals. (Here is the article if you want to practice.) I tried the C-fold and did a stand-with-one-leg of the bowl stance, and willed myself to relax even though it felt like everything in my body was in knots.
The sensation of it inside me was weird. Yes, everyone said (yes, the same everyone that I have been reading about) I should not feel a thing. Well, I felt a thing and that thing was weird, like something is definitely inside me but I can’t locate it. Secondly, I definitely felt the plunger’s “stem” and it was poking me on the inside and I really hate that. So I snip the stem shorter and shorter until it was completely gone. After that, I could still feel it but I was committed and so was it, so I stuck with it for one night.
That night, it was going rather well except for “not feeling a thing but feeling the thing” thing, although I still wore a sanitary pad for security, I didn’t really had to as there were no leaks. I counted that as a Success. Next, I wanted to try the next lesson in the Menstrual Cup Beginners Course: Taking it Out, also known as, Where Has It Gone Now, Ow, Ow, Ow!
In reality, after your body has “absorbed” the cup, it will settle in a comfortable spot that makes it hard to locate without the stem. You really have to go the extra mile. Don’t be afraid of using BOTH hands! There will be a lot of swearing but anything helps, and gravity also helped in my case. It also kinda hurts to take it out and I did my best to fold it to make it smaller before taking it out. Trust me, it is NOT easy to try origami a cup in a small tight space.
The next shocker is getting comfortable with seeing your Aunt Flow face to face. It is generally gross but somehow when it is all in a cup, it looks like some gory film prop. And, nope, it is not anything like ketchup.
After the first day, I decided that that was enough “training” for me and reverted back to using my sanitary pads. It was mentally and physically EXHAUSTING.
Second month: Lunette 2.0
I have not given up on the cup yet. It didn’t leak the first night I tried it so that was really promising. So when Aunt Flow came around again, I was prepared with my purple thingamagig.
This time, I tried it for a while 2 days and nights. The best thing was feeling the freedom of not having to rush to the bathroom at night because you don’t even feel it leaking and the “something there” sensation isn’t obvious when you are sleeping.
There was a few incidents this time round. I was out shopping and felt it leaking and I instinctively knew my cup had runneth over. It was never a good time to try rinsing out the cup in a public washroom but I had a pad with me so I didn’t panic. That is one thing you don’t really get taught: always wear a pantyliner if you are just a beginner to cups. By beginner, I mean for the first 6 months. If you want to be really eco-friendly, you can try cloth pads (washable) or waterproof panties. It does feel a little better to think you are saving the world, one period at a time, especially at a time when you are the most pessimistic and grumpy and want to watch the world burn. I felt like a secret eco-superhero.
The second incident was putting the cup in wrongly. There were manuscripts upon manuscripts on how to properly insert it so that it rests just right. Because wearing it has never felt very comfortable for me so far, I couldn’t really tell the difference between properly and improperly. That time however, after 10 mins or so, I felt the worst stomach cramps ever and thought it was the cup. Indeed it was. After taking it out and readjusting it, it felt a whole lot better.
By the second month it may all seem to be good with the cup and I was starting to get a handle on things and was also used to seeing a cup full of my monthly fluids, but I still had issues with getting comfortable with it inside and had hoped that it was less painful to take it out. On heavy flow days, I had to take it out as many as 4 times a day and it was starting to become really sore.
I knew I had to find an alternative, otherwise I will give it up completely. Unfortunately that meant giving up $50 spent on the Lunette because nobody wants a used cup so don’t even think about selling. (You can re-purpose it as an egg holder I suppose.)
If anything, looking for the right cup the second time is even more of a laborious process than the first time, because, if it doesn’t work out again, it will become very expensive and I might not even want to fork out for a third cup. Imagine how many months of sanitary pads $100 can get you! Also, I really really wanted it to work.
There were at least 99 cups out there for you to choose from and the search was really confusing. Who should I give my hard-earned dollars to? Which one will work? Even reading Amazon reviews didn’t help as some might say it is soft and others think that it is still too tough. That’s when I came across the website Put A Cup In It which is a lifesaver. There is a small quiz that you can take and it will suggest the most suitable cup(s) for you. I also learn that it is absolutely critical to get FDA-approved medical-grade silicons and not every cup is using approved silicon while some may blatantly lie about it on their Amazon page or website. This is the list: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfRL/rl.cfm?start_search=1&establishmentName®Num&StateName&CountryName&RegistrationNumber&OwnerOperatorNumber&OwnerOperatorName&ProductCode=hhe&DeviceName&ProprietaryName&establishmentType&PAGENUM=50
Finally, I settled for the Lena Sensitive and got it from Amazon.com and really hoped that I made the right choice.
Month Three: Lena Sensitive
It was really strange but I actually looked forward to my Aunt Flow’s visit this time round because my Lena Sensitive (Small) had arrived and somehow, rather sadistically, I couldn’t wait to try it out. What is wrong with me?!
When “she” finally came, I was so prepared. I was getting rather good at the smuggling it through the customs process. The Lena was indeed softer and therefore slightly harder to get it in place, but only slightly. Once it was inside, it felt a ton better because I could almost not know that it was there. This was the first time I felt good about wearing a cup and I didn’t even had to trim the stem because it was really soft. I used it for the entire period of the period, and it was so freeing.
The only thing I didn’t like about the Lena Sensitive was that it was translucent because that meant seeing my “ketchup” even more clearly than the purple Lunette. But who cares. It is not as if I spend long hours gazing at it.
By the end of the third month, I was getting comfortable with the cup inside me, but still trying to get the hang of the whole taking-it-out-and-rinsing-and-then-putting-it-back process. I am so very grateful that my bathroom is small and the sink is right next to the toilet. Sometimes, especially after waking up, I have to do some strange yoga poses in the shower to get it out because it is like a stubborn sucker fish. It certainly baffles my husband why I lock myself in the bathroom for 30 mins, but what does he know. Being a woman is tough work.
Then I also realized it is near impossible to go to the toilet for No. 2 while wearing the cup. I had heard stories of people trying too hard and pushing the cup into the toilet instead… not something that I want to experience so I rather endure constipation for a couple of days.
My period lasts for just 5 days and the last 2 are very light and I usually just wear a pantyliner on those days.
Fourth Month: Falling Ill
In the fourth month I fell very sick and it was much easier not to use a cup and just stick
to on a pad. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to do acrobatics and struggle with rummaging stuffs at that time.
Fifth Month: Arrival of Doubts
After what happened in the fourth month, I realized that I would easily revert back to the pad if I didn’t have determination to wear a cup. It is really strange because I had thought that things were better with using a cup but the initial struggles and squeamishness of months one and two were not forgotten. However, as I had resolved to do this for the sake of Mother Earth and all women of the world, I decided to stick with it… Or rather stick it in, would be more appropriate in this case.
It went rather smoothly except I had kind of forgotten how to play the game of “Find the Cup in Your Flaps” after falling sick last month and it took longer to find the f***ing chalice each time I went to the bathroom. However, I slept well and I was getting used to it.
Another thing big thing happened during this month. I finally had the urge to do the No. 2. I actually didn’t have the feeling for the past months but this time I really really had to go. It was futile to fight with your normal bodily functions, and so I went. Lo and behold, it did try to push the cup out at the same time. I had to do an emergency procedure to quickly take the sucker out of my innermost femininity and then take a dump with a peace of mind. So the conclusion is, pooing with a cup and writing about pooing with a cup isn’t a great idea.
Sixth Month: Final Thoughts
It is 6 months already? I seriously had thought, when I started this blog 6 months ago, that it would be enough time for me to get really comfortable with using the cup every month. In reality, I still feel like a beginner than a Diva. That said, I am slightly better at using it and I didn’t have as many problems this month and I expect that to get better in time.
Is the menstrual cup the holy grail for women finding relief from periods? The main takeaways from this experience are:
- My nights are much much better. It has never leaked on me and I can sleep so well now.
- It will get messy if you are in a public place so I still always have a pad as a backup if it overflows. I still can’t bear the thought of removing/washing etc. in a public bathroom.
- I’m changing it more often than I like on heavy flow days and it fills up too fast. Sometimes I just take a half-day break and wear a pad. Not as eco-friendly as I like but I am using 50% less pads.
Although the cup didn’t make me love my period (and I seriously think nothing will), I do love the freedom it gives especially when sleeping or doing activities like swimming or jogging. And I don’t get heat rash from pads anymore! I can say that I will continue using menstrual cups until the day menopause hits me and probably will continue writing about it if something out of the ordinary happens.
In Singapore, you can get menstrual cups in more and more places as well, just the other day I found a shop selling them at Funan. I do recommend that you just give it a try and it might change your life.