Thursday, 10 October 2019

Trying Out Menstrual Cups


If you're a bit nauseated by people talking about periods then this isn't the post for you.
Avert your eyes immediately!

However, if you're a grown up who understands menstruation is a completely natural thing and you aren't childish then please, make yourself welcome 😉

Recently I've been making an effort to be more sustainable in all aspects of my life including that time of the month.

Tampons and sanitary towels accumulate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste a year!! 😱

I wanted to do my part for the environment but I wasn't really sure where to start.


My first inkling that I wanted to give menstrual cups a go was when I first met my friend Bec (the ultimate girl boss). Bec has a business called Zero Cup where she sells menstrual cups and when she was telling me about it, I admitted I'd been reluctant to try them as I have a retroflexed uterus.

Let me explain what that is because it's later mentioned in this post. 
A retroVERTED uterus is quite a common condition where your uterus is tilted slightly out of the usual position, it doesn't tend to cause too many problems but can make sex a bit painful.

However, a retroFLEXED uterus is when it's completely bent backwards towards your rectum. 
This means any sort of vaginal examination (smear tests etc) can be really quite painful. I bleed very easily, and on top of that, I also have endometriosis. I've never been able to use tampons as they aren't flexible and just dig into my cervix and cause unholy amounts of pain. So I've been using sanitary towels all of my adult life.

When I spoke to Bec about it she mentioned that menstrual cups are silicone so they tend to be a lot more pliable. She couldn't guarantee that they would suit me but it was always worth a try.

This left me with something to consider and after some deliberation I decided there was no harm in trying and so I decided to try a variety of sustainable period options so that I could document my experience and share it with you. And first up is menstrual cups!

Bec really kindly offered to supply me with one of her Zero Cups and I couldn't be more grateful!


Ordering and Arrival 

Ordering is super easy and I was given an option for colour choices. I chose pink! :)
There are two sizes. Small and large. Large tends to be if you've been altered by having a big ole baby or if you're over 30 so I was sent a small one.

The packaging was minimal and the delivery was ridiculously quick. I'm sure it arrived in 2 days. Very impressed with that!


The cup was actually really cute! It has measurements on the side so you can monitor how much you are bleeding and then you can wonder how the hell you are still alive! :) It came in a little bag which is great for if you're travelling! It also came with really clear instructions. 
They included methods of insertion, common mistakes made with the cups and what to do, cleaning instructions, a bit of history about the company and their purpose and information on sizing. Anything you need to know is guaranteed to be on the leaflet. 
First impressions were really good! 


Insertion 

I thought it would be a good idea to practice inserting the cup before my period started as I presumed it would be less messy and gave me some time to master it before the flood.

The first time was a learning curve. I had to figure out the best method for me and it took me around 15 minutes to get it in but it worked! 
I was really surprised that I couldn't feel it once it was in! I could dance around and it was completely comfortable so I was really happy. I knew the time inserting it would reduce with practice so overall I was really happy with the first impressions.

To get it out was a different story :') it didn't get stuck at all but I removed it completely incorrectly.

Menstrual cups have a suction so that they cling to your walls and therefore don't leak and stay in place. They cannot get lost inside you so that isn't something you need to worry about.

So I read in the instructions that you kind of your push your muscles to ease the cup down.
My mistake was made when I started pulling the cup out by the stem.
The correct thing to do would be to pinch it at the base. This releases the suction.
If you just pull it by the stem, it's still clinging to the walls. 

I just kept pulling and pulling until eventually it just POPPED out and trust me I felt it :')
Because I didn't ease it out side by side, I kind of had to stretch to the full width of the rim of the cup. This resulted in me bleeding when I wasn't due to bleed and I felt quite sore afterwards but I had learnt my lesson and it didn't put me off because I knew it was just my stupid mistake.


I decided to wait until my period and oh my god, insertion is SO much easier when you're bleeding.
The leaflet does suggest that you can use a water based lubricant but I didn't have any so I just wet the cup before putting it in.

It went in so so so much easier this time and was totally pain free.
It was comfortable and I was quite happy to keep it in this time and really test it properly. 


Comfort and leaking

You really can't feel that it's in there. The only part that I could sometimes feel was the stem but cutting that down is an option. 

Once it was in I cracked on with some household chores and I kept feeling paranoid that I would leak because this was my first time but nope! Every time I checked, completely leak free! After the first 1000 checks I started to actually feel more secure than when I wear a pad.

Because of my endometriosis I bleed very heavily so I'm forever asking people to check that I haven't bled through when I'm walking down the street. I have 100% faith in my menstrual cup that I'm secure.

Once I had finished tidying around the house I decided to have a nap. I still don't understand how you can sleep in them and not leak but I didn't! LIFE SAVER. (However when I used a pad on a separate occasion I did bleed all over my white sheets).

It was comfortable and I was starting to fall in love with my cup. The leaflet suggests that your first couple of times you should empty it every 4 hours just to get used to it but you can actually keep them in for up to 12 hours!! That's amazing! 

People presume it's more effort to spend the time inserting the cup but you do it sooooo much less than tampons and pads. This is probably the most effort free way of dealing with period protection!

However, I did hit a little bump in the road. I spend 90% of my time curled up on the sofa with my legs up in foetal position so after my nap I made my way to the sofa to chill and watch Waterloo Road (lol).

After about 15 minutes I started to feel a bit sore and uncomfortable and it took some questionable positions for me to realise that when my knees were up, it pushed the menstrual cup into a position that doesn't sit well with my retroflexed uterus. I didn't give up though. I took it out and reinserted to see if perhaps I just needed to put it in at a slightly different angle.

Unfortunately for me it was still uncomfortable which is a shame because it doesn't cause any discomfort whatsoever in any other positions. 

This isn't something that will affect everyone, it is purely just my body and the way that it is. So please don't let this put you off because I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the cup!

I'm still not giving up on it and I'm going to exhaust every other position before giving up. It would be so so useful for me if I can get it to sit comfortably. If not, I'm going to invest in reusable pads because either way I want to find a sustainable replacement.


Conclusion

I love this invention! You only ever have to buy one and it's so easy to carry around with you. It's completely effortless and takes up way less of your time. Yes you can pee with it in! You can sleep in it. You're unlikely to leak if it's in properly. You can't feel it once it's in. It's super easy to clean and only needs sterilising once before each cycle. You can wash it in the sink in between changes. 

I really don't have anything negative to say about it! It may not end up being my 'holy grail' if I can't get comfy but it's not been a waste because I will totally use this for my jogs, for days out where I'm walking a lot, when I need a back up and also to sleep in because I'm actually less likely to leak!

Huge thank you to Bec and Zero Cup for gifting it to me and introducing me to the world of menstrual cups! I can see why they are becoming so popular. 

Would you try a menstrual cup? Let me know in the comments below and if you have any questions feel free to message me or Zero cup, I'm sure they would be happy to answer any enquiries!

If you would like to try one out you can buy a Zero Cup here. It's just one small investment that will save you so much money in the future and make a difference to the planet! :) 

Happy bleeding!






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