If there’s no other way to kick off a good year, you master your period! 😂 I’ve been doing a lot of research the past few months about switching to a menstrual cup! I’ve always been a tampon and pads person and I’ve only recently begun trying to make more conscious changes—minimizing the waste I produce, the environment, what I put in or on my body, etc. I tried an organic feminine product subscription service for one cycle and loved it! TamponTribe was great. If you’re not ready to upgrade to a menstrual cup, I highly recommend them—they offer a customizable subscription of the products you use most down to the quantity. It was a much more affordable option than store bought products and better for me and the environment, but I still had the feeling that I wanted to use something more convenient and less fussy.
I heard about menstrual cups a couple years ago, and gave it once over and then sort of forgot about them. Then during my search for more organic feminine hygiene products and companies, menstrual cups came up again. So here I am! I read all about how they’re super convenient and the maintenance on them is so low, I had to try it out for myself. The first video I saw on menstrual cups was by Jen at FrmHeadToToe on Youtube. Her experience is what really made me want to give it a try and I even ended up getting the cup she mentioned in the video.
There is a definite learning curve to using a menstrual cup! I made it through my first cycle, and there’s no going back to tampons for me. I picked up the Sckoon Cup from Amazon for just under $20 I believe. I went with this particular cup because according to reviews and Jen, it’s a softer and more pliable silicone cup compared to say the ever popular Diva Cup. I know how I am and I know I’d have a difficult or uncomfortable time with something that’s too firm, so I’m glad I went with the Sckoon Cup. A couple things right off the bat:
- It’s super soft and flexible
- Can be difficult to get to properly seal or open
- Is very comfortable while using
I watched several menstrual cup videos that were extremely helpful and I would highly recommend that you watch a bunch of videos to get an idea of what might work for you. Here are the one’s that I repeated several times that really helped me:
- Put a Cup In It – An “Inside” Look at Menstrual Cups
- Sarah Tran – How to Insert the Cup – I Mastered the Cup!
- Precious Stars Pads Youtube channel in general
So I don’t think after one cycle I “mastered” the cup, but I did get it to work for me after two days of trying and having a hard time getting the dang thing to open. I will say, after doing my research, watching videos, and reading as many articles as possible, I am extremely comfortable with using, inserting, and removing the cup fairly effortlessly. Let me give you some history about my period:
- I was on birth control for a majority of my adult life until I went off the pill last year. I’ve been off birth control for almost a year, about 9ish months. I went off the pill on recommendation of my natural path doctor. She wanted to see what my body’s natural state was and thus my acne is so much worse these days. Birth control was suppressing it, which is a long story that I’ll get into in a future post. So now, being off birth control, my period is a tad unpredictable and lasts a lot longer than it used to. My cycle on the pill was every 25ish days and my cycle lasted about 4-5 days on average. Now, my cycle seems to appear around every 35ish days and my period lasts anywhere from 5-7 days long.
- My period used to be a steady, medium flow and would taper off to light at the end. Off the pill, now it likes to fluctuate a bit. It starts off super light and spotty at times, goes heavy for a day or two, then medium, and then finally tapers off.
- I’ve never had kids.
With the Sckoon Cup, I can confidently say, I do not need the larger size. I used to think I had a heavy flow (maybe as a teenager), but I have a light to medium flow on average. I made it a point to empty my cup twice a day—once in the morning and once more before bed. Through my whole cycle using the cup, I never filled it up too much. It was always at most half full. Let me tell you, using a cup has given me a much more “hands on” perspective (haha pun intended) with my period. As you’ll find out from videos and articles of people detailing in depth, using the cup you don’t encounter any smells or oxidized blood as you do when using tampons or pads. You also get a chance to visually see what your individual cycle “looks” like. Some videos on Youtube show real blood and I noticed some gals have a thinner/more liquid like consistency, whereas mine seems very viscose and almost thick.
To try my best to keep this from being a giant novel of a read, I will recount my experience by each day I used the cup as follows:
Day 1: Because my period is less predictable, it was a little difficult for me to know when to put the cup in. I use the Flo App for iPhone and it has been super reliable for me for the few years I’ve been using it. Since being off birth control, the app isn’t as accurate, but at least can give me a close ballpark, estimate of the week it’ll start. It’s currently around 3-4 days off though. Day 1 was super spotty, so I figured I’d give the cup a test run. It took me about 30 minutes to get it in and to pop the cup open properly. I started to become sore, so I gave up to try again on Day 2. I didn’t have any actual flow yet, so I used liners just in case.
Day 2: I finally got the cup inside and open after about 10 minutes. I very quickly figured out that getting the cup in, and “rotating” it as many people suggest to ensure you have a proper seal, was super difficult. I had trimmed the tail of my cup as short as I could to be sure it’d be as comfortable as possible my first run. This makes it a little difficult to get a good grip on the bottom of the cup to rotate it. So the next option is to use your finger and gently run it around the rim of the cup to make sure it’s open all the way. I then ran into the issue of not being to fit my finger inside my vagina while my cup was also inserted—there was just not enough room! So, I opted to do my best to run my finger around the base and as far “up” the cup as possible to ensure it was open. This worked, and as soon as I got a good grip I gently rotated the cup and found that it had in fact opened properly. I will admit my first couple tries to get the cup to “pop” open, I must have tried to push on the bottom a bit too hard, and the “pop” was a bit too abrupt and the dreaded “vagina slap” happens. You can only guess what that means—it pops open a little too fast and the sides of the cup kind of just “hit” your vaginal walls a little too hard for comfort. Not super painful, but it’s certainly uncomfortable. If you read or watch videos about menstrual cups, people will also talk about whether you have a low hanging or higher positioned cervix and how that can also affect what kind of cup you should get. I don’t believe that my cervix is too high up, because I didn’t have to push the cup too far in, and after a few days of use, the cup sort of finds the spot it should sit and stays there (for me). Day 2 my first time emptying the cup before bed I would say I had a light day. It was barely a fourth filled. Just in case and to ensure I had a proper seal, I wore a panty liner to bed in case of leaks.
Day 3: This was the only morning or day I experienced a real “leak”—it’s difficult to tell for a few reasons. I slept through the night comfortably with the cup in and a lot of people say if you put it in and can’t really feel it, then you’ve inserted it correctly and for me I didn’t really feel it at all. It’s like using tampons, you know it’s there and after using them for so long, you don’t really “feel” them anymore. Anyway, when I went to empty the cup, I found that it had actually moved up and a little further in than where I had originally positioned or pushed it to. I think this happens naturally. So, as you can imagine, it took a little effort to get the cup closer to the opening of the vagina, enough for me to get a grip on the base of the cup to pull it out. One word to help you out: kegels. I found kegels or “pretending to poop” is great way to effortlessly get the cup to move closer to the opening of the vagina for removal. A couple contractions to move it closer, and I was able to get a decent grip at the base, gently push on the base, and insert a finger in there to push on the cup, to break the seal, and out it came! However, while trying to get the cup to move closer to the opening, I ended up leaking. I can’t tell if my kegel pushing pushed on the cup a bit too much and some of the contents spilled out, or if it was from the fact that I got the cup in on day 2, when I had already started bleeding and it was leftover blood that had escaped around the cup. In any case, it was the only real leak I experienced the whole week I used the cup!
Day 4: I was able to empty, remove, and re-insert the cup a little easier now. Because I was really careful to be super gentle and not be too rough it still took me about 10-15 minutes to work with the cup overall. However, everything I’ve watched or read says after a few cycles you should be able to use the cup without it taking more than an extra few minutes in the bathroom. I did not experience any leaks this day, but continued to use liners just in case.
Day 5: My flow was starting to taper off, but didn’t really completely “finish”—a con of not being on the pill anymore. My body just does whatever it wants now! I was noticing that my cup was filling up less and by the end of day 5, it hardly filled up at all.
Day 6: Was mostly spotting and definitely tapering off, so I didn’t see a need to continue using the cup. Although if I had, it would have been fine and I wouldn’t have had to use panty liners for the next three days, but there wasn’t an actual flow anymore, so I decided to not use the cup for the final spotty days.
Moving on to cleaning! A lot of people will suggest buying a special soap or cleanser to use with any menstrual cup. I did a little research and some people use a super mild soap like Cetaphil and I’ve also seen some people state they use a homemade cleanser made of 1 part white vinegar to 9 parts water to dilute it, since vinegar is a natural disinfectant of sorts. I went ahead and did the vinegar cleanse and found that it worked well for preventing any staining of my cup and no irritation to my lady bits at all. I created the mixture and kept it in a glass mason jar in the bathroom for the duration of my cycle and while the cup was in use. Be sure to follow the directions for your cup and be sure to do a deep clean by boiling the cup for 5-10 minutes before using for every cycle, each month. Following the directions on use and cleaning should keep your cup in tip-top shape for up to 10 years!
My overall first time experience was good! I was excited that it went so well, I expected to completely fail this first cycle run and not get the hang of things for a few months! I’m excited to never use tampons again, but just so that I’m prepared, I’ve gone ahead and stashed some organic cotton liners and pads away for accidents, leaks, or emergencies. If you’re on the fence about using a menstrual cup I highly recommend giving it a shot! If you find you don’t like it, you’re probably out around $30 and if that’s steep for you, there are other options that are much more affordable and even disposable that you can test out. I hope my experience made it seem less scary for you and helped you decide whether or not you want to try it out. Please remember, everyone is different and what works for one, may not work for another. I encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you and your body!
Let me know in the comments if you’re thinking about switching to the cup. If you’re already using it, how do you like it? What was your first experience with it like? I’d love to hear your guys’ stories! Thanks again, as always for reading and visiting my silly corner of the interwebs. Until next time!