I was 14 years old when I started my first period. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I woke up on a Sunday morning, went to the restroom and seen the massacre that had occurred in my underwear. I panicked. I went to scream for my mom, but she wasn’t home. The only one I could scream for was my dad, who upon hearing my story had zero sympathy for me. “Well we’re still going anyway” he said, in reference to our normal weekly Sunday routine of going to the house of the lord. What!? I’m bleeding out of my nether regions, I have these horrible pains in my stomach, and you’re making me go praise Jesus?! Absurd.
Looking back I have no idea why I panicked. I was waiting for this day. As most teenage girls remember, we dreamed of the day we would get our periods. Reading up on it in magazines, health class telling you what to expect. Getting your period was like the last step into this exclusive club of grown women. Your mom had a period. You older sister did. All your friends at school have already started. When will I get mine!? The only thing is, this ain’t a club you want to belong to. Nobody tells you that having a period is like having a guest at your house that over stays their welcome. Except they come every month and don’t care what else you have going on in your life. Nobody tells you that having a period will make you ask yourself the same questions month after month. Why am I so bloated right now? Why did I just cry? Why do I feel like a complete failure at everything in life? Why am I so depressed? Why am I so hungry? Where did this pimple come from? Why are my boobs so sore? Oh yea, my period. You’re also on a 40 year (give or take a few) journey of trying to figure out how to cope and manage this monthly nuisance. We all probably started out with pads because it was the easiest thing to do. Then you get older and realize that pads feel kind of gross (no judgment on women reading this who still use pads. I know everything isn’t for everyone). So you start trying tampons because who wants to wear a bloody diaper all day? (again, no judgements).
I’ve had a period for over 20 years now and I still spend 15 minutes or more staring at the tampon aisle as if we didn’t see each other last month and the month before. Which brand is cheaper? Cardboard or plastic? Sport? (nah I don’t work out) Scented or Unscented? Do I need more Ultras or Supers? Who needs 36 regulars? What the heck is a “lite” supposed to do? And what in the world does Pearl mean? Just that the applicator is pearlescent in color? *eye roll* Marketing. So you settle for buying 3 boxes at one time because one box never accommodates your monthly needs. Men clearly decided on tampon box quantities because no woman would ever decide that we universally only need 8 Supers and 82847473289 Regulars.
One month while standing in the tampon aisle, cursing Eve, I made a Facebook post about tampons and how frustrating it is trying to figure out what you need. My aunt, seeing my FB post, decided to hop on Amazon and send me a Luna Cup. She messaged me “what is your address? You’ll have a Luna Cup coming your way in about 2 days from Amazon. You’ll love it”
“Um, ew. I don’t want one of those” was my first thought. But figured I shouldn’t knock it till I tried it. I’ve heard of menstrual cups before but didn’t read up on them. I decided to before it arrived and was completely mortified. “I have to do WHAT?!” Of course most stories on google are horror stories. When I messaged my group chat of my 9 closest friends, they filled me in with more horror stories. My one friend said she wore hers out for the first time, it slipped out of her hand as she was removing it and got a mess all over her outfit. Awesome. So when mine arrived in the mail, I decided to skip it that month and just use tampons. My following period, I finally had the guts to try it.
Now there are different types of cups. You got your Luna, you have MeLuna, Lunette, Yuuki, Eva, Fluercup, and even one called The Super Jennie (don’t ask because I don’t know). I’m only reviewing the Luna cup. When it came in the mail it was in this cute little light blue box. Inside there are two cups, size small and large, a zipper case and a silky pouch.
The Amazon description describes this as “a perfect gift for a girl or woman, a loving gift to celebrate being a woman” LOL. A man wrote this. Obviously. (If you’re a man reading this, DO NOT buy this as a gift for any woman in your life.) Now here is where things got a little scary for me when I received it. The instructions say that you are to fold and insert and that it will take some trial and error. Reading this from a 1st timers point of view you’re like “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT”. But it’s really not that bad. With a few google searches I’ve found that most women prefer the “C fold” (looks like a C when folded) or the “7 fold” (look like a 7 when folded) and then insert. I prefer the “C fold”.
Now I will say that I did a few practice rounds (while period-less) to get the hang of it. The insertion wasn’t bad. It was the getting out. If you’re a tampon wearer, you’re used to your string being visible (ha, well sometimes it gets lost) and being able to remove it fairly easily. With the cup, it’s a little farther up there. I’ll tell you now, this will cause panic your first time. You’ll go to feel where a string would normally be, not feel anything, and then decide that this is it, you’ll just have to live the rest of your life with a cup inside your body. Not true. It is there, you didn’t lose it, it’s just a little farther up. Instructions say for the easiest method of removal you should get in a comfortable squatting position, relax and carefully remove by gently pulling on the handle on the bottom of the cup while at the same time using your pelvic floor muscles to push the cup down and out. That is a REALLY long way of saying, squat over the toilet and push like you’re having a baby (or a bowel movement for those who’ve never had a baby) while simultaneously pulling the cups end. This method works for me. I know this is TMI but you knew what this was about in the headline.
What I have not mastered is the guts to dump it and then go out of the bathroom stall (if I’m in public) and rinse it. I’m trying to put myself in other restroom goers shoes. How would I feel if I saw some woman rinsing a bloody cup in a sink? Probably pretty disgusted if I’ve never used a cup. So for now I dump the cup, take toilet paper, clean it up a bit and re-insert. Or if you carry feminine wipes or baby wipes (me!! I have a toddler) you could wipe it down that way.
Surprisingly I like using the cup. I enjoy not having to pack tampons in my purse. I like that it feels no different than wearing a tampon. I also like that it’s cost effective. Women will spend on average $1773.33 on tampons in their life. And that is assuming you have a 4-5 day period. Most menstrual cups last 2-4 years at $20 for two cups on Amazon. I also like that it is made of medical grade silicon. Just a simple google search titled “Are Tampons Safe” will flood you with articles about tampon and pad ingredients not being regulated near as much as they should be. Or how the long term effects of chlorine bleached cotton is unknown along with a host of other things you never thought about. And if you’re environmentally sound, cups leave less of an environmental footprint.
Are there cons to the cup? Sure. It can leak if not inserted properly, and there is a learning curve. You’re in the middle of one the most messiest moments of your life, using your bare hands, thighs trembling because you’re holding a prolonged squat over a toilet, baring down like you have to poop, rinsing and re-inserting for 4 or 5 days. But after using my Luna cup for just a few days I got used to it. I even used it at a tailgate in a port-a-potty. (My sober self is now saying to my un-sober self that we won’t ever do that again.) Am I banning tampons for the rest of my life? Probably not. There is a certain convenience to tampons. And if I know I’ll be on my period in a situation where I find the cup to be cumbersome (say at an event where there are port-a-potties LOL) I’d definitely just use tampons.
I’m glad that I didn’t let my fear of the unknown scare me away from trying something new. If I did, this lovely blog wouldn’t exist. So cheers to being a woman, and sticking random things up your who-ha and blogging about it.