For a few years now I’ve been trying to live my life a little more sustainably. Nothing too extreme, just trying to reduce the amount of single use plastics in my life and generally be more intentional and thoughtful about the waste I generate.
One item that had been tugging at the hem of my mind for some time was a menstrual cup.
Mind you, I probably produce less waste around my period than the average woman – I’m on the pill and usually have just two to three days of light to moderate bleeding in between packs so I don’t really go through a ton of pads or tampons. But still…every time I used and disposed of a tampon, I couldn’t shake the horrific image of a turtle choking to death on my Tampax Pearl.
I had to do something.
At the time, I was following local company Harmony Eco on Instagram and among their many natural and eco-friendly products I saw them promoting a menstrual cup.
After months of hemming and hawing I finally took the plunge and bought their cup at Bhagan’s Drug Store in South Park. They have a few stockists, this one just happened to be the most convenient for me.
I paid around $123 for the cup. It’s available in two sizes – Small and Large – and an array of colours. Whether you choose a small or large will depend on whether or not you’ve given birth vaginally.
Anyway, so once I got this cup in hand I, of course, posted to my Instagram stories about it.
I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people sliding in my DMs at the same time before. The majority of the messages were from other women who said they had switched to the cup and absolutely loved it. Some even called it life changing. Wow. What?
The rest of the messages were from women who said they were curious about the cup and wanted to hear about my experience with it.
To those women I say – eight months later, the time has come!!!
At the time I bought the cup, I’d just finished up my period so I knew it’d be a while before I could try it.
It was probably the most excited I’ve ever been to start my period. Given all the other important reasons to look forward to getting your period, I acknowledge this is a little weird.
So the day came for me to try this thing out. The cup came with pretty detailed instructions but I was like pfft how hard can this be?
As it turns out – my confidence was misplaced.
For menstrual cup newbies there are a few different ways you can get the cup in, all of which involve folding the cup in some way to insert. I tried the most popular – C fold at first and that didn’t work, so I took to the internet to find some alternatives. The second fold I tried was called the Punch fold and it worked like a charm. (Side note: Put a cup in it is a pretty good resource for tips, techniques and other general information)
I’ll be honest, it took some getting used to…this thing is wider than a tampon and of course differently shaped so it was like…oh…this is new.
I don’t think I intentionally had to twist the cup to get it to unfold and suction, like the instructions recommended. For the most part once it was in that was half the battle done (more like one quarter but I’ll get to that later). The cup sits a bit lower in your vaginal canal than a tampon so that took all of five minutes to get used to. Eventually I couldn’t feel it at all.
Throughout the day it was all good news – no discomfort and no leakage.
Then…I decided to remove it.
So it’s recommended you remove and empty the cup every 4-8 hours or so. I decided around hour 5 to try my hand at taking it out.
Full disclosure, I was a little anxious about this part of the process from before. One of my friends messaged me when I first got the cup and disclosed that she had some trouble with her long nails. Guess who else has long nails? Me. I have long nails.
So I was already bracing for a battle which probably didn’t help my cause because almost all the literature and YouTube references I could find emphasized the need to relax when popping this bad boy in or out. Guess who can’t relax? Me. I can’t relax.
Guys…I tried to take this thing out, I shit you not, for at least an hour. I was in hysterics – this word here used to mean laughing non stop but also genuinely panicked. I said ok let me stop and try again later.
I tried again later…not for anything I did could I get this damn cup out of me. When I tell you that suction was STRONG. And of course, because I have long nails, I couldn’t quite get my finger on the base of the cup to pinch and release the suction. I tried using my thumb and index nails to pinch but nah, I felt like my nails would break off. Imagine having to explain to the doctor why I have acrylic nails and a silicone cup inside me?! Plus side – I’d get to check out the new Arima Hospital, so there’s that.
I kept trying and failing. I remember messaging my same friend to update her on my ordeal. I think I said “If you see me like a damn crab inside my bathroom trying to get this cup out.” I really did think it was the funniest and most terrifying thing ever to happen to me at the same time.
Anyway, just as I was contemplating if it was more appropriate to go to the emergency room or to my gynaecologist, I made one last gargantuan effort, pushed through the pain in my fingers and boom! The cup was free.
When I woke up the next day I really sat and stared at this cup like…dare I try this again?
I decided to try again.
This time I didn’t try to remove the cup before eight hours. I was trying to give my thumb the longest possible time to catch itself before round two.
Imagine my surprise then when the time came to remove it and ON THE VERY FIRST TRY the cup came out!
I don’t recall doing anything differently, and I can’t imagine I was any more relaxed, given my experience the night before, but somehow all the stars aligned and removal was a complete breeze.
Fast forward all these months and here we are – I haven’t used a tampon since I made the switch to the menstrual cup. Timmy the turtle can sleep safe at night now.
Some technical notes/observations I’ve made during this time:
I still use a liner when wearing the cup. That’s just in case of any unexpected leaks, though I have to say that’s rarely ever happened. As an aside, Harmony Eco also sells reusable liners that I’m yet to try.
Hygiene is super important with the menstrual cup, as it is with any foreign object you’re inserting into your body, I assume. Be sure to read the care instructions properly. I usually boil mine before use, but I’ve read you can wash with a fragrance- and oil-free soap as well. Always wash your hands before inserting or removing.
If you’ve made it this far in the review, I have just one thing to say – clearly you’re thinking of making the switch and this is your sign to do just that.
So that’s all she wrote folks…
If you are still on the fence and need any more information or extremely personal anecdotes about me and the cup, feel free to drop a comment or message me on Instagram.