Me and my menstrual cup

I decided to experiment with a menstrual cup. It was mostly motivated by a somewhat puerile desire to send an angry letter to a politician written in menstrual blood, but I decided against that plan as it was a bit of a silly idea. The desire to send blood-stained missives to politicians obsessed with my uterus was only one reason, though. I was also sick of spending money on tampons.

When I unpacked my shiny new menstrual cup, I had a good look at it. It looked like a very fancy rubbery egg cup, possibly procured from the kind of shop I am usually priced out of. It was the same size and shape as an egg cup, though made of a squidgy, rubbery material. A rubber stem protruded from the base of the cup, and inside the cup were volume markings, like the world’s stingiest shot glass.

After boiling the cup for a few minutes to sterilise it, it was time to insert it. As per the instructions, I folded it in half, then in half again, rendering it approximately the width of a large tampon. I squatted slightly, and began to push the cup inside me. . It was going well. In it went. “I’m doing it!” I thought to myself with joyous rapture. “I’m actually doing- oh.”

Perhaps a salient aspect to this story is that I do not have the best coordination. I was in special needs for my early years at school on account of the fact that I could barely hold a pencil. These days, “Stavving it” is a simile for buffling something in a comical fashion.

And I totally Stavved my first insertion of a menstrual cup. The thing sprang open aproximately half of the way in. With a sigh, I practiced my first removal. It was probably a good practice run seeing as it was not completely inserted.

As per the instructions, I squeezed the cup. There was a hiss of air as the seal broke; for some reason I was reminded of the explosive bolts in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I folded the cup again. This time it went in.

For the next two hours, I kept checking. I could not believe that a rubbery little egg cup stuffed up my cunt could possibly be up to the task, yet there was no leaking. Despite the lack of leakage, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to take it out.

With grim determination, I re-read the instruction booklet. I slightly squatted, fingers poised at cunt. I squeezed the cup. I pulled the stem. And nothing happened. “Oh fuck,” I thought to myself. “I have an egg cup stuck up my fanny.”

I tried every angle I could think of, performing a gymnastic display all over my bathroom floor. In the end, the original position, a semi-squat proved to be The One, in conjunction with a little bit of Kegeling (a push then a squeeze). I looked at the contents. Over two hours, I had barely filled the bottom of the cup. I was nowhere near the 6ml marker, the first of the volume markers. I felt disappointed. My uterus was clearly not up to the task of filling a little cunt-cup.

My first night of sleeping with a menstrual cup exceeded my expectations. I had heard that some women experience a little leakage due to rolling around in their sleep, but this did not happen to me. It actually functioned better than a tampon. I was pleasantly surprised.

Over the next few days, I became familiar with a few quirks of the cup. First, I discovered that sometimes after I went for a wee, it would leak slightly. It was not a leakage problem with the cup; it was something to do with the relaxation of my pelvic floor muscles while pissing.

I also became familiar with the noises the thing made on removal, and eventually learned to stop giggling like a four year old. You see, when something with a rubber seal is removed from a cunt, it makes a noise that is a cross between an airlock opening and the meatiest queef imaginable. It is absolutely hilarious, a loud fffPARP which I am sure was probably audible for miles around. If not, my laughter certainly was.

I had two minor incidents with the cup during my use of it, and both were attitubutable to human error. The first was removing the thing while drunk, with the hiccups. Hiccups, as it happen, affect the pelvic floor, making the task slightly more difficult: each time I had a good grip, I would hiccup and the cup would move itself back up again. With some good timing, I finally managed to get it out, and *hic*! The jolt caused a minor spillage.

The other incident was a morning removal. The cup had worked its way slightly further up than usual, and I Kegeled away. I may have Kegeled a little overenthusiastically, and it slipped out quicker than expected, cheerfully spilling an entire night’s contents of menses all over the floor, causing a scene reminiscent of one of those terrible torture-porn films.

Even after these accidents, though, I did not end up with blood on my hands. The cup does a brilliant job of catching everything, and the seal means that everything is inside the cup and nothing outside, on the bits that you touch. As long as one is not too squeamish about the sight of a small cup of blood, it is absolutely clean.

Will I use a cup again?

On the whole, absolutely. The minor accidents aside, it was very convenient. I often forget to bring tampons out with me, so end up spending a fortune on back up supplies. With a cup, there is no such issue here: it’s inside, and all it needs is emptying once in a while. It also seems to have a better capacity than tampons, and I have not seen anything about a risk of toxic shock.

Yes, it’s fiddly, but isn’t everything? Towels require alignment and faffing about with stickers. Applicator tampons are quite possibly the most confusing thing I have ever tried to use. Non-applicator tampons are fine, but require a bit of practice. And so does the cup.

I would say, this is probably not for you if you have any problems with touching your own cunt. It requires a lot of intimate handling. It is also not for anyone who dislikes the sight of blood.

I would consider myself a cup-convert. With a little practice, I think I can avoid the accidents. And if I ever need to write letters to politicians in menstrual blood, I am ready.

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13 responses to “Me and my menstrual cup

  • Dawn Foster

    I love mine, though have inexplicably lost two in the past (God knows where they are now). I found, after a few days, that like many, cutting the stem off makes everything easier. I find it a lot more comfortable too: sticking bleached, often scented, cotton into an area that’s supposed to be permanently moist and a certain pH is a pretty bad idea, when you think about it. It might be psychosomatic, but I think it’s lessened my period pains too, though I’m not sure why.

  • Helen 'Snert' Clavering

    This is different and yet similar to my own experiences. I gave up the cup pretty quickly but then, I’m quite small – no tampons, thanks, I’ll stick with pads.

  • Emelyn

    I love my cup, but it did take some getting used to. I found this lj community (http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/) to be a really great resource! I found the I needed to use the “punch down” fold, and to hold it folded side down to get it to reliably pop open. And everyone is different, so the instruction in the box won’t work for everyone.

    I love the freedom on not having to carry tampons everywhere, and not having to try and change half-dry tampons (which, with my irregularities, happened all the time). It also has the capacity to get me through the night, which is wonderful!

    You are right, that it is a bit fiddly, at least until you work out what tricks work for you. If you perservere for a couple of periods, you will hopefully find that you can pop it in and out without a second thought. For anyone comfortable enough to use non-applicator tampons, I would definitely recommend a cup. I hope your experience is a good as mine :) (ok, so I wouldn’t describe my periods as “good”, but that is a whole different issue). Good luck with it!

  • C

    You’ll get used to it soon, but meanwhile, try changing it whilst stood in the bath or shower if you are finding it tricky. Much easier to sort out any mess.

  • theoriginalparmaviolets

    I totally love my mooncup. I would never describe myself as squeamish, but I hated non-applicator tampons, probably due to the difficulty of getting them in the right place. However with its environmental and money saving benefits there is nothing not to like with a mooncup. It took me several periods to get the hang of it properly and as time went on I definately became a lot more cavalier about fishing about for it! I was initially amazed that some women remove the stem but now I can easily remove it without one and prefer to do so as it makes you pop the seal properly when you grip it. I use the pushdown type of fold as it makes a little point which helps with insertion. I did have several hilarious spillages but an old towel under you helps in the early days. I have very heavy periods and spent some years needing to be near a loo all the time but I never have any leaks now, and as you can tell am pretty evangelical about the whole thing! I wish I had got one years ago!

  • ofmindandmatter (@janeclarejones)

    One day a friend just marched me into a store and insisted I buy one and it would change my life. I was a little reluctant, but was a total convert, for all of the many reasons you have pointed out…they don’t leak, they don’t need changing as often, there’s no toxic shock and you don’t end up with a bathroom cupboard half-filled with half-filled boxes of tampons, plus of course, the cost and environmental issues. I fully endorse also the two tips above…cut off the stem…its much more comfy, and with a bit of practice you can just pull it out with a well aimed pincer movement…And, the shower is by far the best place to change it. Good luck!

  • ofmindandmatter (@janeclarejones)

    Ps – as a collecting receptacle it would also be pretty handy if you do ever succumb to that desire to send letters to MPs in menstrual blood..

  • Sarah

    I am a menstrual cup addicted. Due to some allergies to pads I started with washable pads.. then heard about the menstrual cups and did not hesitate to buy it. As you said a bit hard to decide which one by getting online. In one cycle I got used to it and learned to position it avoiding leakage. The trick is to check always if it opened properly. When I’m in a hurry and know i’ll be out for a long time I use a panty liner (washable one) “just in case”… One site discovered makes shipping worldwide is http://www.coppetta-mestruale.it

  • Queen Aethelburga

    I really want to try a mooncup. I am fascinated to see how much I bleed and what it looks like. What shops sell them? I don’t order from the internet as I haven’t got a bank card/account.
    I can’t believe you find non-applicator tampons easier than applicators! I can’t do non-applicators at all.
    I hate that awful dry feeling when you pull a tampon out, it’s so horrid! And sanitary towel use makes my vulva itch after a couple of days, moon cups sound brill.

  • Mooncup adventures « The World Is Watching

    [...] I’d read a few things about it – most notably in another feminist’s blog (‘Me and my menstrual cup‘) – and the women in my feminist facebook group totally raved about it. In excitement, [...]

  • Steph

    Too funny. I’m trying to find with cup I want to try. This post isn’t helping me!

  • jon

    My girlfriend decided to try a menstrual cup. It did not go well. This morning at about 7am, she woke me up and explained that she couldn’t get it out. Despite having been in the bathroom for over an hour, she hadn’t been able to get it.
    With more humiliation than I think anyone should have to bear, she asked me to try to retrieve it for her.
    Having longer fingers than her, I was able to remove it.
    Being a man, I was somewhat put off my breakfast by the whole experience, we agreed never to speak of the incident again.

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