Tuesday 4 September 2018

My First Time using a Menstrual Cup

What do you think of when you hear the words menstrual cup? 

Gross? Messy? Disgusting? I thought all of those when I first heard about them, I'm slightly squeamish and at the time, they just weren't for me. I liked the convenience of grabbing a tampon and getting on with my day but as I've got older and taught myself more about my period, my cycle and my body I kept going back to the idea of using a cup especially since having a baby. 

If you're not into blood, mess or TMI details then this post isn't for you...

I decided to document my first time using a menstrual cup on Instagram stories and I've added everything to a highlight if you want to have a catch up. I was overwhelmed by the amount of messages I received from people who loved them, people who weren't sure and people who thought they were gross as well as lots of requests on a post so here it is! 

I had Joshua via caesarean so I'm not that different down there but having a baby weighing down on my insides for nine months has changed things or at least I feel like they have when trying to use a tampon. I don't think anyone really mentions how horrific periods are once you have a baby. I've always been quite lucky in the period department because I've never really suffered with cramps or heavy bleeding but my god has that changed. I started using tampons again from my first period after having him but they never seemed comfortable. I was finding them really difficult to use and I was going through quite a few because they never felt right so it was taking three or four tampons just to feel slightly comfortable and by that point I'd be sore, dry and stressed out.  

I have a tilted cervix but it seems more tilted if that makes sense? Maybe they didn't put me back in position while they were digging around, who knows. 

I've always used a mix of tampons and pads but pads aren't exactly sweat and chub rub friendly in thirty degree heat so I desperately needed an alternative and so I started looking into menstrual cups. It was my last period in July that prompted me to buy a menstrual cup as I'd had the most uncomfortable and heaviest period known to mankind and after asking a few questions on Twitter the decision was made. 

I ordered a Mooncup in size B which is for people who are under 30 or have not given birth vaginally. Size clearly matters! The cup is made of soft silicone and comes in a rather cute drawstring bag for storing. 

Just a few of the benefits include:
Comfortable, cause no dryness or leave fibres behind
Convenient, reliable and a great money saver
Latex free, hypoallergenic & good for the environment

I was quite excited to get my cup and start using it. I read the leaflet found inside the box a few times, boiled up my cup in a pan of water for its first deep clean before practising ways to fold it. I found pushing the rim lol inwards until the cup looked like when you curl your tongue the easiest way for me. There's some great videos and support online on ways to fold it the best way for you.

I'd started my period the morning the cup arrived, so when I finally plucked up the courage and gave myself a pep talk, it was operation get that cup in! I didn't find it as squeamish as I thought, I know what I look like, we've all had a look with a mirror and by the time you've had a baby you've shown your vagina off to so many people and had various midwives and doctors fingers in there that it's not as bad as you think it will be. I was quite proud of my first attempt, yes it felt strange but you really don't feel it if it's in correctly although the feeling of the cup unfolding was a bit odd. 

The cup is designed to fit quite low in the vagina so cutting the stem may be necessary. I put mine in and could really feel the stem so I took it out and cut it but then panicked I'd cut it too short and thought I'd end up in A&E with my legs in the air having it removed. After a quick chat with some very lovely people on Instagram and much reassurance, I put it back in and told Arran that I was just going to go for it and if it got stuck then, he'd have to give me a hand, the lucky sod. Not quite foreplay he was expecting I can tell ya!

That first night, I slept so badly and I think I got up to check that I could still get to the stem four times which when you have a teething baby, ultimately equals no sleep. I also slept on towels to save our mattress just in case it did leak so it was a very unsettled, uncomfortable night. The following morning after no leaks, I squeezed the bottom of the cup to release the seal then very carefully pulled it out, emptied it in the toilet and gave it a quick rinse. I felt a bit unsure about it the following day  and my cup fear was definitely there but I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did because it was so much easier that second day. 

I did take the cup out and check it more than I probably needed to but I think it was just first use jitters. That second night, I cleaned it, put it in and feeling brave cut the stem a bit more before putting it in ready for a nights sleep. I slept so much better and the following morning I woke to a pretty full cup and no leaks. I then just cleaned it up and popped it in and because I felt more confident I left it in throughout the day until I had a shower that evening when I emptied, cleaned it before putting it back in ready for another night. There wasn't a time that I needed to change it in a public bathroom so I haven't experienced that but it's advised you either carry a bottle of water to rinse in the cubicle or use a wipe. Pampers Pure are great for this because they're 99% water.

By day three I was really happy that I'd taken the plunge to try it and I had the easiest and shortest period with no cramps since before I'd had Joshua and I don't think that's a coincidence. I've read countless articles while using the cup and kept coming across how periods seemed shorter because the menstrual blood is collected in the cup as it's meant to be rather than absorbed with a tampon or pad and by day four my period had stopped. My first Mooncup experience was over! 

Was it messy? Yes but ultimately it is more of your own fluids so you just get on with it and as long as you don't tilt the cup too much you don't end up covered in a cupful of blood. I'm clumsy and I managed not to spill a drop which I was very happy about.

I felt a bit triumph that I'd successfully used my cup for the first time and it was nice not seeing a bloody tampon! I felt like I had a really positive experience and really understood why so many raved about them. The reason I hadn't tried one sooner was because I'd never had a bad experience with tampons or pads but with it being so uncomfortable since having Joshua, it was as if that choice was no more and I had to find an alternative plus the environmental reasons for using one was another selling point.

I'm a total convert and I've already packed up all my extra sanitary products and donated them to The Homeless Period Southampton who distribute the donations to vulnerable people across Southampton. It's worth searching if your local area has something similar.

I'm going to be sharing questions and answers in another post in the next week so if you have any yourself, let me know in the comments or tweet me @alicespake

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