I do warn you, it's really long because I'm long-winded.
If anyone finds this the slightest bit helpful I am planning on doing a similar diary-style documentation for my second cycle with the cup. So, let me know if that's something you'd like to see also!
Background: Twenty years old. Sexually active for almost two years, one partner. No known pregnancies. No history of STIs, does have frequent UTIs. Had menarche in 8th grade (thirteen or fourteen years old). Strictly used pads until fifteen, then used tampons during the day and pads at night. At sixteen or seventeen switched to using strictly tampons because pads suck.
I do keep strange hours. I'm awake all night and sleep for a couple hours at 10:00am and from 3:00pm to 6:00pm in the afternoon. Oh the joys of summer and holding a strange job.
Reason for trying a menstrual cup: Constant leaking with either pads or tampons. Pads cause heat rash/diaper rash in about four hours of use. Lots of smell and general unclean feeling with pads. By end of period my labia will be chapped if I use mostly to strictly pads, which is just bad news bears. Tampons solve the smell and unclean feeling but are very abrasive feeling internally. Externally, the string has a tendency to do what ever it wants. Often what it wants to do is hang out around the anus, pick up some bad habits known as bacteria, then wander over to the urethra and teach it such bad habits. I've noticed my UTIs tend to appear either during or immediately after my period. Because of my heavy flow I go through tampons rather quickly and spend about $40 USD every two-three months on tampons and pads.
The equipment: A Divacup size 1 due to age and lack of known pregnancies
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 9:00pm
Got my Divacup today. My first impression is that it's way smaller than I thought it would be. for some reason I kept picturing it as being about two inches in diameter even though I had read up on it's dimensions online. If I had to describe it I would say it looks a little like a egg shaped silicone shot glass. I washed it for about ten minutes with dish soap while waiting for water to boil then let the cup sit in a rolling boil for about thirty seconds. I figure that if dish soap residue goes in one end of me just fine than dish soap followed by boiling water should be a-okay for the other end.
It is the second day of my period.
I inserted it at approximately 9:00pm. Was quite an experience. I tried it by squatting in the shower in case I made a mess, thank god for this foresight. I used the punchdown method since it was recommended to me since it is smaller to insert and is easier to open. I used some water-based lube on the cup. It was pretty uncomfortable to get it in. I kinda wish I had given my vagina a bit of a pep talk first instead of jumping right in. It's not an area I come in contact a lot during the day and going from nothing to silcone-shot-glass-insertion was a bit of a shock. I did have to remove it to trim the stem. Removal was kind of scary because of the suction and because I forgot to help push it out. Second insertion was much easier. I had a half-assed attempt to rotate the cup but gave up. I did stand up and wiggle my hips around to check if it was comfortable which probably helped the seal. I did make quite a big mess and was glad I was in the shower. I'm a bit worried that I inserted it too far, but I've decided that if I have I will deal with it later. My vagina is sore from all of the things getting shoved up there and pulled back out and from my period in general.
Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:30am (I'm a night owl)
Pre-empty: It's been about five hours now. I've decided to empty the cup before bed to prevent any over flow and partly because I'm really curious how much menstrual fluid is in there. So far there has been zero leaks. None at all. This is unheard of for me with either pads, they like to migrate to unneeded parts of my panties, or tampons, they also migrate. I even inserted a finger and my discharge wasn't even tinged pink. I haven't had any issue with either urinating or with bowel movements. Often time when I do either I can feel a tampon in there. I can still feel the cup but it doesn't feel as obtrusive. It doesn't completely disappear when I'm just sitting or walking around. It's just a slightly lessened uncomfortableness than a tampon. I think more of the discomfort is from my cycle itself than from the products I use for it.
Post-empty: I dropped it in the toilet! I was in the shower again. Removed it just fine since I remembered to push down and because I put some lube on my fingers. The lube was a good idea. I was going to just dump it in the shower but I suddenly got this awful image of my cat chewing on a piece of uterine lining that was too big to go down the drain and I could not live with her if she did that. So I went to dump it out into the toilet. This is where my brilliant lube idea came back and bit me on the butt. The little sucker just slipped right out of my hands and started to head down the pipe. Luckily I retrieved it before it swam away to parts unknown, or got stuck in the p-bend and silently waited to cause trouble later. Needless to say, I rewashed it with dish soap for about ten minutes while waiting for some water to boil, let it sit in a rolling boil for little over a minute and then dunked it under cold running water.
Insertion went really well. I got it right on the first go. Rinsed myself off again but wasn't nearly as much of a mess. I think next time I might actually try this while sitting on the toilet. Still unable to rotate it, but since the wiggle technique worked for me last time I'm hoping it will work again. Still didn't feel a "pop" that many people say they do. I think my folding technique might be playing a part in this.
I was surprised by the amount that was in there after only five hours. I've always known I've had a heavy flow but I expected to see a fourth of an ounce, not almost overflowing. No wonder I'm always two pounds lighter during my period.
Later: About a half hour later I found I had leaked. Rotated the cup a little and did some kegels. Seemed to work.
Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:30am
Emptied my cup. Sat on toilet while doing it and rinsed it out in the sink. Had about a 1/2 ounce, which is unsurprising. I just woke up and am far too sleepy to deal with that thing right now. I am currently wearing a pad because my vagina is feeling quite a bit beaten up right now. It seems with tampons I just put one in easy peasy, it hangs out for quite a while, then it's pretty blood soaked and I can pull it out easily. During the beginning of my period my flow is so heavy that when it's time to change I just push the tampon out. With the cup right now it feels like I'm fighting and beating my already beaten vagina. Part of this might be that I've gotten a UTI from all of the shenanigans. I'm definitely taking a break for at least half a day to drink a bunch of water and cranberry juice.
Last night it did stay completely leak free even though I was moving and grooving around cleaning my kitchen. The true test is going to be cleaning the bathroom, but I don't know if I'm going to get to that test this cycle.
I don't know if it's psychosomatic but I could swear when I laid down to sleep at about nine this morning I could feel my cup emptying into myself. I could feel some business going on down there and started feeling nauseated. I thing the nausea was from the feeling/idea of it emptying in me.
Thursday, August 6, 2009 6:50pm
Wore a pad while sleeping. Decided after waking up completely to try the cup again. Washed my hands and the cup with dish soap for a minute since it has been hanging out on my bathroom counter. This time I tried inserting the cup while standing with one foot on my toilet seat. This worked much better. I was able to reach my vagina much easier and it seems I can relax my muscles better. Still didn't feel a "pop". Did rotate the cup around, not a full 360', flexed my kegel muscles and did the hip wiggle. So far so good.
Friday, August 7, 2009 Morning
Emptied and it and accidentally dropped in the toilet AGAIN. Washed and boiled this time for five minutes since I read in the LJ group menstrual_cups that in order to sanitize it you have to boil it for a full five minutes.
This time I tried the seven-fold method. This way it went in a lot smoother and seemed to open easier, however it opened kinda soon, just past the entrance of my vagina, and that hurt a lot. However, after a second try it worked very well. I was able to rotate the cup much more easily and had no leaks.
Friday, August 7, 2009 Evening
I now have a fully blown UTI, probably from all of the added activity down there. I’m going to use pads and/or tampons for the rest of my cycle since I’m hurting bad enough without trying to struggle with my new cup.
So far, I really like it in spite of the issues. I am having a lot of trouble with inserting it and not dropping it in the toilet, but I figure I had a lot of trouble when I first started using tampons also. I’m going to try to stick with it for at least another two months or so. Hopefully, in the future I’ll get to the point where I don’t have to use lube and that I can have my nails a bit longer without hurting myself. After the first few times I inserted the cup I found that part of my discomfort with it was the fact that my nails were about a half inch in length. I also have a tendency of pinching myself between the cup and my finger, which is one of the most painful things ever. This happened pretty frequently, probably about two or three times per insertion or removal. I hope this is something I either figure out how to avoid or can toughen up a bit.
I think my main issue with the cup is that it is a much more hands-on method and hands-on an area that’s sore and achy isn’t the best.
I know a lot of people say that they can’t feel their cup at all when it’s in. I’ve found this isn’t true for me. Normally with tampons even though I’m using a super or super plus size I can’t feel them after they’re in. However, with my cup I can feel pressure inside myself at all times. I’m not sure if it’s the actual cup itself or the suction it’s causing. Granted, it’s not enough for me to consciously think about it all the time, but it’s still there.
Again though, I do like it over all. I just really wish I could get over this learning curve and be able to use it with as much ease as I’ve been using tampons. My one bit of advice to give to a new cup user would be to go into the situation expecting it to be difficult and kinda suck the first time.