Currently, the menstrual cup is all the rage. Just take a stroll down the tampon aisle at your local Target or Wal-Mart and you’re bound to find a small selection of menstrual cups that boast to provide freedom from the oppression of those wasteful tampons. As a low-key granola girl, I find the idea of sustainable period products exciting. Additionally, my hubby was thrilled with the idea of us saving money on disposable menstrual products and not having to make late-night tampon runs. So, naturally, I had to give them a try for myself. Hence, why I promised myself that after my laparotomy I would invest in my first blood cup and join the period cup club.
When my post-surgery period finally arrived I couldn’t wait to head over to Target and start shopping for menstrual cups. So full of excitement, nerves, and curiosity I found myself in the feminine care aisle staring at cups agonizing over which lucky cup would be the one.
Choosing My First Menstrual Cup
Here’s a fun fact for you, there are over 29 different menstrual cups developed by over 18 different manufacturers. And, there are no two menstrual cups that are alike. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and capacities. Needless to say, this can be a bit intimidating when you’re choosing which menstrual cup will be your first. And, while I had spent a lot of time (try months) researching and learning about all things menstrual cups I still felt a little anxious staring at the different options available to me.
After picking up and evaluating each cup I decided to go with the SAALT cup in size small. It stated on the package that it was perfect for first-time cup users and well I was a first-time cup user. So, this was obviously the cup for me. I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait for my hubby to get home so I could share this experience with him, as well as get some help if necessary. Luckily, the SAALT cup contained some handy instructions on how to prepare the cup for use as well as how to insert and remove the cup. Upon, properly sanitizing and cleansing the cup I was ready for insertion.
Just A Little Apprehensive
Even though I was excited about using my menstrual cup and wasn’t squeamish regarding my vaginal fluids. All to which I owe to fertility charting which makes you comfortable with cervical fluid and identifying your cervical position. In other words, you learn to get comfortable with your bodily fluids really quick.
Nevertheless, I still found myself convinced that my bathroom would turn into a crime scene. I’m sure that if you’re a first-time cup user this thought has also crossed your mind. I mean blood is flowing out of the most intimate part of your body whilst you are popping a cup in and out. It’s bound to turn into a bloodbath. I mean right?
This is why I decided that until I got the hang of this process I would stick to inserting and removing at home. Preferably I would wear it all-day and remove before my shower, give my body a break and insert it before bed. Then I could remove it post-workout in the morning and re-insert for the day. I was prepared or so I thought.
How’s It Supposed to Fit?!
I don’t know who was more curious and excited my husband or me. We each had our own unique reasons for our curiosity. Mine was focused on comfort and the cup actually working to catch my menstrual flow. Whereas my husband wanted to know how the heck I was going to get it in my lady parts. Hence why he begged me to be present for the insertion process (sorry for calling you out babe).
So, post-shower we gathered in our small apartment bathroom with directions, lube, and cup in tow. My husband read the instructions to me and guided me through each of the different folding methods. The first method I tried was the standard C-fold which was a colossal flop. It was super uncomfortable and painful. I was finding it difficult to maintain the shape of this fold due to the combination of the cup’s firmness and my slippery fingers. Next up, was the punch down fold which spoiler alert was a complete fail. I found that this shape didn’t work with the natural contours of my body and felt awkward and uncomfortable. Plus, again I struggled to maintain the shape because of my nervous, slippery fingers. Finally, I tried the 7-fold method and sweet success! I found this particular fold better to maintain and easier to insert without discomfort and agony.
It took me two tries to perfect the insertion process with this particular fold but I managed it. As I slowly inserted the cup I struggled to “feel” when the cup was in place and popped open. To the amusement of my spouse, this involved me making the most unusual faces and strange noises. Being married to me is nothing if not entertaining. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I felt (and heard) the cup pop open. Was it really in? I proceeded to squat around the bathroom kicking my legs and jumping just to make sure it didn’t slide or plop out. It didn’t, it was really in there. And, just like that, I’d successfully inserted my cup. After exchanging high-fives and fist bumps with the hubby it was off to bed. Now came the test of how well it would hold up and if there would be any late-night leaking.
You Think This Is Easy?
I was wonderfully surprised at how comfortable the cup was. I literally felt nothing, it was as though I wasn’t even on my period. This was especially nice because usually for me it’s a struggle to get comfortable on my period due to my heavy flow. I always had to double up on protection which meant a super plus tampon and an overnight pad. Let’s just say it was uncomfortable and bulky. But, with the cup, I easily slipped into a comfortable restful sleep feeling secure.
Somewhere early in the morning, I found myself drifting awake. I had to pee and I felt a sensation that almost felt like I was leaking. Freaking out and assuming the worst I ran to the bathroom to check and found no leaking issues. It was in my early morning brain fog that I got the brilliant idea to take the cup out and inspect it because it must be full by now. Since I had found the insertion process to be fairly easy I was certain that the removal process would be just as easy and not a big deal. Oh, the naivete. After pulling out my handy instruction sheet and proceeding to locate the menstrual cup and try to pinch it and break the seal I quickly discovered two things. One, I’d pushed the cup up too far the night before. Two, I couldn’t reach the cup properly with my thumb and index finger as outlined in the instruction sheet.
Instead of Keeping Calm Let’s Freak Out
The first rule of the period cup club is you don’t freak out when you’re removing your blood cup. The second rule of the period cup club is you do NOT freak out when removing your blood cup. The third rule of the period cup club is if you’re struggling to remove your blood cup take a break, walk around, practice some Kegels, and relax. The fourth rule is to relax, bear down, push and use those vaginal muscles to push out your blood cup.
I broke all the rules and freaked out. This resulted in me pushing my cup up even higher which made me freak out worse and become somewhat frantic. But, thank goodness some sanity trickled into my brain and I decided that it was too early for this (it was 5 am) and I would go to sleep, take a shower, relax and you know play by the rules. That would’ve been such a solid plan but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t be able to get this thing out. Consequently, this anxiety led me to once again go and try to remove the cup which led to another failed attempt and increased anxiety.
After another failure, I grabbed my phone and YouTubed how to remove a menstrual cup. And, of course, they all said the same thing. Relax, push, bear down, use your thumb and index finger to break the seal and pull the cup out. To which I responded: “What do you think I’ve been doing!”
But Did You Bear Down and Push?
Upon watching those videos I came to the conclusion that I had two choices. One, I could relax and go about my morning as normal. Which consisted of gentle exercise, and a nice little morning shower and then try to remove the cup. Or two, if all else fails my husband would have to do the honors of removing my blood cup.
Even though in the back of my mind I was anxious and concerned about my little cup fiasco I was able to complete my morning routine without incident. Then suddenly, the moment of truth was upon me. I started with the basic removal recommendations. I tried removing it in the shower. Fail. I tried bearing down as though I were pooping to push the cup down and make it easier to access. Fail. I tried squatting really low and doing Kegels while bearing down to access the cup. Fail. No matter what I did, I kept running into the same issue. The problem I encountered was that my arms just weren’t LONG enough. And I wasn’t able to grasp the cup properly before it slipped from my fingers and traveled further up. Aargh!
It’s Turtle Time!
It was then that the little wheels in my head began to turn. If I could somehow position myself in such a way that I was on a stable surface and could tilt my pelvis up to meet my hand I could compensate for my awkwardly short arms. This would allow me to relax and focus on grasping the cup, breaking the seal and pushing it down and out. It was then that the turtle was born.
I put a towel on my bedroom floor and laid down with my back on the ground, my left leg at a 90-degree angle with my foot braced against the wall and my other leg at a 45-degree angle on the ground beside me. And, after a few slippery missteps, I was able to grasp the cup, break the seal and use my vaginal muscles to push it downwards while simultaneously pulling it out. After what felt like a decade I heard a disturbing sucking sound and there stood in my slippery little fingers my precious blood cup. I don’t think I can adequately describe my excitement. It felt like I won an Emmy, an Oscar, and a Grammy. With screams of delight and awe (and a look of judgment from my dog) I ran to the bathroom to dispose of my offerings in the toilet.
Breaking the Barrier
All in all, my first time using a menstrual cup wasn’t a complete and total disaster. It was comfortable to wear and I didn’t feel it at all. I didn’t have any leaks or accidents. And my fear of having a bloody mess while inserting and removing was for nothing. I had no issues with this and only had one time where I sloshed blood from the cup on my fingers while emptying it. Which was comparable to the amount of blood I would get on my fingers inserting and removing tampons.
While my awkward removal method definitely has room for improvement. Especially, if I want to replace tampons with the cup altogether. I enjoyed the SAALT cup but, I’m not opposed to trying out other cups if I’m not able to get the hang of removing it better. To sum it all up I would categorize my experience as pleasant and see myself using it in my next period.
So, I raise my blood cup in gratitude to those before me that have guided me thus far and welcomed me to the period cup club. And to those that are debating whether or not to join I assure you the reward is far greater than the risk.
Meet Me In the Comments!
Share your story about your first time using a menstrual cup. Was it easy? What parts did you find the most awkward?
About the Author.
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator. My personal struggle with infertility, endometriosis and ovarian cysts made me realize that there just isn’t enough information out there available to women to help them learn more about PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids. Basically there’s a serious lack of information concerning a variety of women’s health topics and issues and well I got fed up. I decided to be the change and created this blog in an effort to spread awareness and advocate for women’s health issues. It has now become my passion to educate and empower women to redefine their health and be their own advocate. You can find me on YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!