Two years ago I was about to start my journey with menstruation again. I had just switched from birth control that stopped my periods completely back to the standard pill for various health reasons, but my doctor made sure to warn me that my next period would probably be heavy and longer than normal. I wasn’t new to this, being diagnosed with anemia as a teen I was used to buying the super tampons and nighttime pads to wear together. I joked about just buying some depends because that would be easier.
This also ended up being a year that I would travel up to see my family 15 hours away with my two children and without my husband as a co-pilot. An already stressful trip seemed like it might be unbearable with the addition of my period starting two days before I was going to leave. I had a friend who had mentioned thinking about using a menstrual cup because it was more eco-friendly, and supposedly held more than a regular tampon or pad.
My initial reaction, like some of you I’m sure, was “Eww”. But, even so, I was curious, especially after reading that when used correctly, they can stay for up to 10-12 hours without having to empty it. This seemed ideal for my trip where I would be driving nearly eight hours for two days.
After a few days of reading about and watching some YouTube videos, I realized a cup was not any less hygienic than using other sanitary items, and it actually cuts down on some of the things, like leakage or smells that you may have during your period.
The first thing I did before buying a cup was to take this test. After answering some questions about your body type and menstrual cycle they pair you with the cup brand that will be the right fit for you. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of cups, for different body types and life stages, but I’m thankful someone took the time to put this quiz together to help me out.
Once I took the test I bought my matching cup in a starter pack that came with two sizes of cups, some cleaning wipes for on the go, and a container to hold it when it wasn’t being used. It was extremely intimidating at first, but I really wanted to be able to use it for my trip so I started to practice.
The Learning Curve of a Menstrual Cup
I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a learning curve when you try using a menstrual cup for the first time. Even with the instructions, I found it difficult to fold and hold the cup while also trying to insert it correctly so I wouldn’t have a leak. And my very first mistake was thinking I could use the smaller cup in the starter pack. When you order a starter pack and read the directions it specifically tells you the smaller cup is for teens or women who have never had children. But for some reason, I assumed having two kids definitely couldn’t have changed my uterus’ size that much!
Oh, was I wrong.
After having a slight panic attack trying to find the cup, as any other woman who’s thought they forgot to take out a tampon will tell you, I was relieved when I finally touched the small tab at the end and pulled the cup out. It had done its job, but the twenty minutes in the bathroom panicking was not worth me thinking I had a small childless uterus, and so it was disposed of, and I have only used the correct size since.
Once I got the hang of the folding and the rinsing out of my cup I began to realize how much I loved it. I couldn’t feel it any more than a tampon, and I could leave the house in the morning and literally not have to worry about it until I came back home in the afternoon. When I started my long road trip I didn’t even worry about having to clean anything out in a gross public bathroom, I waited until we got to our hotel to do anything with it and I had no problems at all.
Another great plus side to the cup is how environmentally friendly it is. A cup can be washed and used for 1-3 years. Think about how many tampons or pads you would use in three years and have that all compacted down into something smaller than a dixie water cup!
I have now been using a menstrual cup for two years and I can say with confidence that I will never go back to disposable tampons or pads, I feel much more secure and comfortable than I ever have during my periods now. Overall, if you asked me as a friend, fellow mom, or just a woman I would tell you to at least try using a cup for a whole cycle. With them becoming much more mainstream they’re easy to find the right one for you online or at a store.