August 26, 2019

Menstrual Cups: I made the switch, and Ask Me Anything!

I was 11 years old when I first got my period. It was in a Mr. Biggs in Port Harcourt - back in the days when Port Harcourt made sense and security was not an issue. I remember smiling to myself because my mum had started talking to us about periods, boys, relationships, etc. I quickly went to let her know and she hugged me, welcoming me into "womanhood."

Ever since I can remember, my periods have been two things: unpredictable/irregular and very heavy! From the very beginning, I have never been able to predict when my period will come. One month, it's 28 days in between, and another month it could be up to 35 days. My periods have lasted between 5 and 7 days, with very heavy flows. Heavy enough that even wearing both tampons and pads, I still would leak. Added to this, I usually have blood clots too - some have been big enough to push my tampon out (FOR REAL).

The first time I heard about a menstrual cup was on Sisi Yemmie's blog from 5 years ago. I was pretty intrigued but not sure how well they would hold up with my very heavy flows. After that, I came across one or two blog posts about menstrual cups a year. I decided late last year that I would definitely get one myself this year! I kept holding off though, because I thought it might be quite expensive. However, I made up my mind to just close my eyes and buy one and found some very affordable options!

I bought and have used the Dutchess Menstrual Cup, which is rated 4.3 stars out of 5 on Amazon with over 3000 reviews. There were other brands that I considered like Lena, Blossom, OrganiCup and Diva. If you're interested in rankings, the Diva Cup is currently rated #1 and #3 in Menstrual Cups on Amazon, Dutchess is ranked second,  Saalt is rated fourth (the brand says they are the best Senstive brand), and Lena rounds out the top 5 and 6 (one of which is said to be a Beginner cup). I ultimately went with the Dutchess one because they had different options, and were the most affordable brand, while ranking very high. I think I might have done better with a combination Small and Large set.

I bought the large sizes though, because according the size guide for the Dutchess brand, if you're over 25 and/or have had a child, the Large size is the appropriate size for you. To be honest, when I opened the packaging, they were bigger than I expected! BUT I had to remember that we give birth through the same vaginas, and also have sex, so it's really nothing. With menstrual cups, you're able to wear them up to 12 hours straight, so there's none of the constant excusing yourself to go and change a pad or tampon. This means you can also sleep without any issues. And with my very heavy flows (and blood clots), I did not leak even a tiny drop of blood at all!!! I have been so tripped!

Putting the cup in was a little tricky at first, but I watched a very helpful video from a different brand on How to Wear a Menstrual Cup (see below). After watching it, I was good to go. Before you use a menstrual cup, you have to be sure to sanitize it - the best way is to put it in boiling water for a few minutes (read your brand's preferred method). And after your period is done, do the same again to sanitize it. While you're on your period, if you're alternating between two cups, you can boil for sanitizing; otherwise, you can wash and rinse the same cup when "changing."

I asked my followers on Instagram to send questions about my experience with Menstrual Cups and I've answered them below.

  • Can it work with an IUD? Research shows that menstrual cups can be used with IUDs, however it is recommended to wait 3 months after inserting the IUD to use a menstrual cup. Please also note that IUDs can be expelled if incorrectly placed. But menstrual cups have not been shown to increase chances of IUD expulsion. Sha speak to your gynecologist. 
  • How does it work? They are flexible cups that you insert to collect the blood (tampons and pads absorb). If put in properly, you won't feel it and it will create a seal within your vaginal walls as the blood drips into the cup, thereby preventing leaks.
  • How easy is it to insert and take out? It's pretty easy when you get the hang of it. There are a few ways to insert the cup. Taking it out can be a little trickier as you have to insert your fingers to feel the cup and fold it to bring it out. See the video I linked above that REALLY helped me the first time I tried.
  • What is it like? Comfy? Messy or not? If you insert it correctly, you won't feel it and can go about your day as usual. I thought it would be really messy - especially when bringing it out. But I hardly got blood on my fingers when bringing it out, and there isn't that much blood in the cup when you're removing it that any will spill out. You simply fold, bring out the cup and dump the blood into the toilet bowl. The only thing you'll see is just a tiny bit of blood that you can easily rinse out or wipe off if you have the wipes. You should wash/rinse the cup if you're going to reinsert the same one. And of course, wash your hands before and after.
  • Isn't it uncomfortable? Nope, if inserted properly, you're good to go and will barely feel a thing. Also make sure to get the correct size for you.
  • Can it handle very heavy periods? Yes! I have heavy periods and bleed between 5 to 7 days with blood clots. I've had clots large enough to push out tampons. With the cup, maybe because I dump the contents directly into the toilet bowl, I didn't really notice as many or as big clots as before. They may well still have been there, but I wasn't going to look for them :p Besides, cups hold more blood than a tampon or pad can absorb, so it's better really.
  • Why did you make the switch? Any other advantage aside it being more affordable? Curiosity was the driving factor - not so much the price. I also wanted to know what it felt like to not have to wear a pad - with tampons, I still needed pads. Other women have said their cramps were reduced. Others like that they're not producing waste as much.  
  • Isn't it messy, constantly having to rinse out and perhaps having the metallic smell of blood linger? The only time there's any blood on your fingers is maybe during insertion if you've already been bleeding. But wash your hands with soap and water, and you're fine - no blood smell. In fact, the smell is soooo much less than using a tampon or pad. 
  • Does it help with cramps? Erm, I'm not sure. Some people swear it does. I still had cramps. Maybe I need to try it for a long time to see a change?
  • Does it leak? NOOOOOOOOOPE!!! I didn't see even a speck of blood on my underwear at all! I was so happy! I can't wait to go swimming with it.
  • Pulling it out... is it as gross as I imagine?  I use tampons and I'm like eww. Nope.  LOL, it's not gross! Its really not as bad as it may look. Trust me :)Your imagination is a lot grosser than reality. 
  • Any pain on insertion and removal? How many hours can it stay in? I didn't have any pain with removing and inserting. It does take a little getting used to - especially when you feel the cup sealing inside your vaginal walls. Apart from one day where I didn't insert it well, I didn't have any pain or discomfort. You can keep a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours. It works for me because I'm usually out of the house for 12 hours on a typical work day, so I insert it before I leave and "change" when I get home.
  • How do you clean up in public? Take a bottle of water with you so you don't have to use the sink out in the open. Or find a restroom stall that has a sink so you can have privacy to rinse out the cup.
  • Can you have sex with a menstrual cup? Nobody asked this one but I also wondered because I know some people have sex during their periods... Most menstrual cups have to be removed in order to have sex. However some are made of rubber (almost like a condom) and are disposable, and you can have sex with those ones. 

Okay, I think I've given a whole lot of information on Menstrual cups!!! You're probably reeling from information overload. But be sure to bookmark this page and share it so you can come back for reference if you need. Of course I am by no means a medical adviser, and am only sharing my experience with menstrual cups. Ask your doctor or gynecologist about menstrual cups if you want professional medical advice.

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  1. Mehn, this is the one thing I just haven;'t been able to get on board about. Lol. Maybe, MAYBE I will try it out

  2. I love the idea of cutting down on garbage and I hope to try a menstrual cup one day. I currently feel squeamish about the insertion process.


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