Let it be known being a girl has never been high on my list of priorities, nor wants. This whole monthly garbage is one of the biggest reasons why. And yet, I have a real deep seated belief that it all happens for a reason so while I have no problems adjusting a cycle - I'm really against those things that take it away completely. For me personally, this isn't a problem as anything that would take it away would also be something my doctors wouldn't let me take/have in the first place. But back to the point, each and every month I go through: "oh my fucking god (how I hate thee!)- why the fuck am I a fucking girl? Dammit it was a 50/50 chance at splitting into an 'XY'! I fucking hate this shit - it's messy, it hurts like hell, it makes sex feel like crap, it smells, I don't feel clean, I'm wasting landfill space and letting chemicals seep into the water tables, I fuck with people's sewer and septic systems, and it generally wreaks havoc for a week (or so) every month. ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"
Fast forward: I'm a member of the community IUD_Divas - well for the obvious reasons, I have one. And every so often for the last several years, someone would pop in to ask if it was ok to have an IUD and a Menstrual cup... I largely ignored said entries for squick factor (ewww - who would want to stick their fingers there during that-yuck!!!), but after a while I started to really think about the possibilities. Eventually I signed up for the community menstrual_cups just to see what it was all about, and I've been watching it for prolly a year now.
I started to overcome the squick factor and really acknowledge that this might be a good alternative to having to buy those god forsaken tampons or even worse those banana feeling fucking pads all the time. After a friend jumped on the boat completely unexpectedly (hey - it's not like we *really* bring this shit up.... "Hey, girlfriend, I use Tampax with disposable cardboard inserters, cuz I can't let my fingers get dirty - how about you?"... ok well we do - but generally only when we are test driving new product types kinda like when we screw a new guy type) I decided I was hooked enough to give it a go.
Much research on the proper fit, and which one to buy ensued - who the hell knew there were like nine different manufacturers of these things in existence! And as usual, us Americans lag far behind on the whole "lets try alternative methods" scale. Anyway, a cup generally costs from $15 - $35 and that typically includes shipping. Sizing is the most important factor, as it effects *everything* else, including comfort, leakage, capacity, and more. I spent a good while trying to figure sizing - omg how the hell am I supposed to know how big I am??? HELLO! It's not like I can grab a dick off someone I know and then try it out on all my friends to figure out if I'm smaller or larger than "average". Oh wait, we used to play a variation on that game back in college - partner swap: eh I'm done with him you can have him. Try him on for size, you might like it better than I. - but I surely don't remember EVER asking anyone if my sister, or friend was bigger than me. OH HELLS NO! There's these absolutely wonderful sizing charts over at the cups community that compare every brand size, capacity, etc... I highly recommend them. In the end I decided the smallest were meant for virgins, the biggest were meant with the barefoot and preggers type, and I would side with: on the small side of medium type. There's other guidelines and stuff that you can follow - but in the end I just followed my heart. (I can't possibly be "big" can I!?! I get too many -"wow that's tight comments") I ordered a Mooncup UK Size B - from Britain (duh). I can actually go into a lot of detail on the methods I used to pick this specific cup if it would help anyone to determine their own... but dammit at the moment this entry is already far long enough.
So, as luck would have it the damn thing came from Britain on the last day of my period. So I waited. You have to boil it before you use it the first time, just to make sure you ain't giving your hoochie germs it doesn't need, as opposed to... well nevermind. As luck would also have it, the following month I was an entire week early (stress anyone?!?!?!) and caught completely unprepared. So I waited again. Finally, December came around and DING DING DING we have a winner! The first day of my period fell on a day I was home and could experiment.
The first time you try to figure out what you are doing inserting this thing is amusing. It's very much another version of "Insert Tab A, into Slot B" and you find that "the round peg" you are inserting is bigger than the "round hole" you have been given. Obviously, this is necessary, but it's still very funny going "hmm... now what do I do? If I fold it up will it go Sprroooinnnggg and hurt my insides like a rubber band snap?" Fancy enough, that was part of my original purchasing decision - does this thing open easy - or will I have to manipulate it to make it do what it's supposed to? This time of the month, my hoochie doesn't want me, as much as I don't want it - so I better get something that will give me minimal contact with said injured party. The cups site also had many girls commenting about how hard insertion was at the beginning. So, I folded it up (expecting it to sproing before it was where it was supposed to be), inserted it and immediately went - "that's it? You have to be kidding! I've inserted many objects that were a lot harder and more uncomfortable than that!" (Oh shit. TMI again.) The rest of the week went the same way. It was really just that easy - and I must have picked the right cup for me because it never went sproing once - it just did what it was supposed to.
It occurred to me really fast that the stem was going to have to be snipped. There's this stem on every cup that supposedly is used to help remove the cup. Almost all girls chop it off to some degree. Let's just say while the cup itself hangs tight inside the entrance of the vaginal canal - the stem sticks out like a tampon string. That's one of the things I hated about those freaking tampons. And it rubs, not in any way that is pleasing. So I took the cup out and snipped it halfway off. Ahh... better, but stilll.... and then I trimmed it to 3/4 off where I've been happy since. Again I must have picked the right size/cup combo for me as I didn't even feel the thing while it was in place. I was able to do what I needed without additional cramps. I was able to go to the bathroom in any manner which was necessary. (Both of these are a complaint in some women.) Initially it was like a new toy that I had to check out to make sure everything was doing what it was supposed to and the first day I must have taken it in and out about 5 or 6 times. After that, it was 3 times - once in the morning, once in the middle of the day, and once before bed - and next month I'll be cutting that back to twice a day (I've never had the world's heaviest flow, thank god.) It never once leaked. To me, the insertion and the in place was the best monthly experience I've ever had. (Catch the foreshadowing?)
Again, I was in the bathroom thinking: "Hmmm... how does this work, this should be interesting." Part of the wonder of how the cup works is it creates a suction inside that allows it to stay in place while it's there. I never felt this suction while it was in place (yay) and different cups and vaginal shapes cause less or more suction. It's pretty obvious that this suction will need broken in order to dislodge the cup from it's resting place - but the real questions are: How do I do it without hurting myself? and How do I do it without spilling the contents (whats the point of the cup if it spills everywhere)? I'm not sure if it's true in all cups, but mine has ridges around the bottom quarter. I'm pretty sure it's not proper form but since I don't have a whole lotta flow and don't really have to worry about capacity I simply reached in grabbed the ridges and started pulling a bit. There was once or twice in the week where it was located a bit higher - a kegel or two worked very well at pushing it back down a bit. Since the cup is made of silicone when I pulled, it flexed and released the suction. Meanwhile only about the bottom quarter of the cup was contorted so I didn't lose that much in the way of capacity, as they are bell-shaped and I was tugging on the smallest part. Yippie I thought - this will be easy! Except for one thing. The top part is the biggest and while I can contort the cup and pull it out - I had forgotten about the sproing part and kinda of twanged myself by pulling a larger round (but flexible) peg from a smaller round (but not flexible) hole. I'm talking about the area right where the pelvic bone is, the rest of it was easysauce. My method hasn't changed much since that first day, while uncomfortable it's not the end of the world, and is one of the things I will work on when I get more time (brain is still wrapped around school, moving, etc.)
From here, sometimes, it's as easy as dumping the cup in the toilet, rinsing it in the sink (or whatever) and then reinserting. If you are in a public location you really can just dump it and reinsert it. A lot of the ladies scrub the thing down after the cycle ends, but just rinse where possible during the cycle. The rest of the times, and I would have to say for me it was 50/50 (Because of the IUD affecting my cycle, this is quite possibly different than most.) I was standing at the toilet with a cup in my hand, and a disgusting strand of goo extending from me to it and wondering WTF I was going to do now. I'm right handed afterall and my right hand was currently holding the cup. The absolute ICK factor was in high gear as this is EXACTLY what I was afraid I was going to hate. (That and the fact that my fingertips also have been gooed - but that's easy to take care of in the sink in just a second of washing.) I'm honestly not sure how to really deal with this, and I realize it has got to be pretty common. From that point forward I had TP in my left hand before removal, and crudely did what I could.
I'm sure that in a few months I will wonder why I even cared, but at the moment I would say that one single thing is by far the only reason I don't like the cup.
All in all my first experience was a roaring success! And I will recommend these to anyone who asks (like I do with my IUD.) So here's to not having to buy tampons, or pads for years (some say their cups have last 10+ years), helping the environment, and saving money in the process. Made of win. YAY.