Okay friends, let’s hit the ground running. I’m going to start out with a squirm. We’re talking about menstrual cups.
I say, “start out with a squirm” because when I brought the topic up with most of my friends, I was met with an, “oh barf”, or similar sentiments (shout out to Abby for being my only friend who was decidedly team cup). Honestly, I felt similar to most of my nay saying friends initially. I was just a carefree fresh faced young (okay, I’m sort of old, don’t be rude) girl, with a New Year’s resolution of switching to a more natural approach at self-care, while reducing my carbon footprint along the way. It began innocently enough. Stainless steel straws and developing recipes for facial cleansers and toners using natural ingredients like bentonite, and aloe vera (which I will definitely be blogging all about at future dates <3). In the midst of this google parade of crunchy shit I was thoroughly excited by, I kept stumbling upon one thing that made me grimace, menstrual cups.
Nearly every cool natural care blogger approaches the topic of menstrual cups at some juncture. So it really kept popping up. Women I admired were citing stats and singing praises for the cup. It made me bitter. Partially because I had actually given the cup a go about five years prior, but I hadn’t really committed and frankly, felt sort of like a fail bag about it. I had tried to insert it a handful of times with no real success, then quickly gave up upon realizing that figuring it out would be real intimate… and not in a fun sexy way, but in a sloppy, “did I just do murder?” sort of way. I didn’t like the idea of that at the time, so in the trash it went. Present day, it now feels like menstrual cups were maybe taunting me a bit…
I also knew enough about the stats and data I was avoiding. The chemicals in the tampons we put inside of us. They BLEACH those things yo. I barely use bleach around my house for cleaning because I worry about breathing the fumes. And here I was jamming bleach soaked cotton inside of me 5 days a month. There’s also the mountains of waste that the tampon and pad industry is responsible for (go do a google, I’ll wait). The more you dive into these things, the more it becomes like, why on earth am I NOT using a menstrual cup?
So, as I became more serious about my carbon footprint goal, I realized that I could no longer avoid it. I couldn’t keep passing over this incredibly simple solution to the amount of waste my vagina creates every single year, (and for me it’s a lot… my flow is NO JOKE). So finally, I went to Amazon, found an inexpensive cup (I was only half committed, okay?), and clicked “but it now.”
It came in the mail and when I opened it I was immediately intimidated by it. My period came a week late that month, and a close friend I had mentioned this to joked, “your vagina is trying to avoid what you’ve got planned.” But finally it came, and I promised myself I would figure this out for real this go around.
Okay, so real talk. I’ve seen bloggers, YouTube vlogers, intagram influencers, etc. that all address menstrual cups as SO SIMPLE GUYS!!… The thing is, they really aren’t. There’s definitely a learning curve. Getting it in was slightly tricky at first, but you can google fold techniques easily enough. There’s a wealth of info available about that. Making sure it pops open once it’s inside, has adequately encircled your cervix, and has a little bit of suction is a WHOLE different story, and there’s not a ton of info for quick fixes of these issues readily available. I really struggled with this. I’d think it was in correctly, and then shortly realize, “NOPE! Oh man… Gross.”
The mishaps, the emptying, the figuring it out. It was really a trial and error situation. I feel like everyone’s body is so different that this is all you can do. You move right on through the mishaps and figure out what works. And eventually the “oh gross” part just sort of fades away and it just becomes a matter of figuring out your body, which actually is awesome.
At a point, it just very much seemed like, this is what I’m doing, and why did I think this was gross enough to dread it for so freaking long? Why did I literally give up on this rather than try pretty much AT ALL five years prior? It made me really reflect on this idea we constantly have shoved at us that our menstrual fluid is some sort of icky nonsense not to be spoken of. We’ve been taught from a young age that it’s meant to be kept a shameful secret, and that it’s the ultimate embarrassing stain to end up with on your back end. Yes, it literally exists to SUSTAIN LIFE, but ladies, it would be less embarrassing to show up to work with shit on your pants. There’s even an entire Tampax campaign about tampons that are wrapped to look like MAYBE THEY’RE JUST CANDY GUYS!, so no one ever has to know you’re simply heading to the bathroom to tend to a perfectly normal female function. And here I was, in my bathroom, realizing all of this institutionalized shame had kept me from doing what needed to be done. I finally said, “fuck it” and honestly, I super duper got up in there. I figured out exactly where my cervix is, and got the cup positioned around it. I was hella successful. I won’t lie, it was for sure a bloody mess. But what I learned was, this is my body, this is what it does, and there’s nothing to be grossed out by or ashamed of.
In short: Do I know a whole lot about menstrual cups, even now, four cycles into being a cupster (oh, that’s what I’m call it guys, so tell your friends)? NOPE! I literally purchased a garbage cup, in the wrong size, that I’ve definitely decided I need to replace before my next cycle, because I failed to do any research in what at the time seemed like a cringe worthy moment. But it shouldn’t have been a thing I ever cringed about is really the point here. So if you’re thinking about trying one out, and have fears about having to see your blood, or figure out things about your cervix, my tough love advice is get over your bullshit and just do it. It’s healthier for you, and better for the environment. Yes, you might have to get a little more up close and personal with you menstrual fluid than you are used to. But seriously guys, it’s not gross, it’s part of having a uterus, and having a uterus is pretty special. Don’t let institutionalized female shame dissuade you from giving something new, and potentially better for your health, an honest whirl.