Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Keeper/Moon Cup

Before I get into my first experience with menstrual cups, I want to make it clear that I'm going to talk about my vagina in this post. In fact, to break you all in, here's a video all about vaginas.

I repeat: if you don't want TMI, don't read this post.

Ok. So I went out looking for a menstrual cup. Or actually, I looked online. But menstrual cups are getting more popular, and it's likely that you'll be able to find the Diva Cup or other cups at a local health food store. Anyway, I went online and decided on the Moon Cup, made by Keeper because of price and because I had heard that the Diva Cup is longer than it, and with my tilted uterus, I wanted something short. While you menstruate, your cervix is lower by a few centimeters and for the sake of not having something bump my cervix all day, I wanted to go with something that would be shorter. Just in case.

My Moon Cup came with its own little bag... aww... McKay's reaction to the little bag was, "So you'll have to carry that around with you?" And I was all, "You've never had a period before, have you? How is that different from carrying around pads or a tampon?"

I didn't practice putting it in or taking it out beforehand; I just waited for my period to happen. My reasoning was that since my cervix would be lower, why would practicing it a different time of month help? In hindsight, practicing probably would have helped.

I started my period in the evening. I folded it like the directions said and squished it in. The directions say to get it in and then pull it down to the bottom of your vagina, so I did that. But the little stem poked out. But I was following directions and figured they knew what they were talking about.

"Oh well," I figured and went to bed.

Some time in the middle of the night, a baby stirred and I had to nurse him. He got back to sleep, but I lied for for something about an hour because this little stem thing kept poking my labia minora. It was bothersome and hurty, so I got up to trim off about a centimeter of the stem and went back to bed. Some more time passed and I still couldn't get to sleep. My desire for a good night's sleep outweighed my desire to test run the cup overnight, so I went to the bathroom, put on some mama cloth and gave up on the cup until morning.

So I put it in the next day and walked around a bit. Having been online trying to figure how how to deal with this stem thing the previous night, I decided for the time being, to stick it up as far as it could go so the stem wouldn't poke me. Then to get it out, I would "bear down" (like pushing a baby out) a little to reach the stem and pull it out.

Online, I read many women just cut off the stem entirely. It was tempting, but I knew if I did that, I'd never be able to get the darn thing out. I decided that I would keep up at this cup thing and cut off the stem once I was an expert at getting it in and out.

Did I say I had a hard time getting it out? I did. The first few times, it took me like 5 tries (or more). I asked some more experienced friends for tips and I tried them all, without much success. I have a really hard time breaking the suction because my vagina is apparently just very squooshy. I eventually figured out a 2 hand technique: bear down and grab the stem with one hand and use my other hand to pinch the cup and "break" the suction. Nevermind the fact that I rarely did any breaking of any suction until it was almost out. Problems that arose: fingernails. When I would grab the stem, I sometimes would pinch my labia minora or the left-over skin tabs that are the remnants of my hymen with my nails. Not fun. And my nails aren't particularly long!

That was the worst part: getting it out. I always seemed to need to two hands. I'm probably doing something wrong. Or I need to get better at it. When it came time to remove it permanently until my next cycle, I resolved to remove it using only one hand. And on the second try, I did! Woohoo!

Did it successfully catch everything? Yep. The first full day with it in, I had some spotting because I don't think I had it in right, but none of the other days did I have any spotting. The first day, I emptied it once midday and once in the evening before bed. The day after that, I went 12 hours without emptying and after that, I went something like 16 or 18 hours without emptying it. I probably didn't need to empty it as much as I did the first couple of days, but I was trying to fit in more practice with getting it in and out.

I found the contents of the cup to be interesting. Right now, my periods are on the brownish side because of the lactating hormones. My periods become redder when I'm fertile. While lactation has not stopped my periods, my periods are further apart (almost 40 days as opposed to almost 30) and I ovulate a day or so before my period. When I eventually get fertile again, I'll probably have shorter cycles, earlier ovulation, and heavier, redder periods. In the meantime, there's a lot of brown and stringiness. For you fellow cup users- how do you handle stringiness when you remove a cup? I need to figure that out.

Will I try it again? Yes. I wasn't very good at using it this time, but I need to give it the good ol' college try before deciding it's not for me. We'll see how it goes next month and if I can get it in and out more easily.

Was it "cleaner?" I don't know. I didn't get any menstrual fluid on me except the first day with all my attempts to get it in and out and failing. I didn't have to rinse out any mamacloth (except for that first night), so that's a plus. But it was still kind of a hassle for me. Maybe with practice.

Have you had any experience with menstrual cups? Was it easier for you? Harder? And what am I doing wrong that I need two hands to get this darn thing out?


  1. I use the Diva and I did find it has a learning curve. It took me 2-3 cycles to get really comfortable with it. So, I'm glad you are trying again. :)

    I'm not sure I have any suggestions on the other questions -- I've never noticed any stringiness, although I have had a lot of clotting, which it handles just fine.

  2. I've been using the Diva Cup for almost 4 years, I think. I don't use it all the time - I actually prefer cloth pads because I like to have an idea of what's going on with my flow, and that's harder to do if you only look at your output once every 12 hours. But I use it for swimming, and it use it along with a cloth pad for back-up on really heavy days or when I'm doing something active and I'm worried about staining my clothes.

    Anyway, it was quite a learning curve for me to figure out how to put it in and get it out. The first month, I couldn't get it in or out unless I was squatting in the bathtub. That gave me a better angle and helped me figure out the basics of getting it in and out, and this is what I learned. First, if you go here: and scroll about halfway down, it shows you two types of folds you can use. I can only get it in with the fold in the second diagram (the one where you push the edge inward so it's kind of tapered as you insert it). And then once it's in, to pop it all the way open, I run my finger all the way around the edge. The official instructions say something about grasping the stem and turning it one full turn, but I've never been able to do that.

    Then to get it out, I push down with my pelvic muscles while inserting a finger up along the side of the cup and pushing inward to collapse the cup. This will spill most of the blood out, so make sure you're in the bathtub or on the toilet. Sometimes there's a lot of blood and it gets all over my hand and drips, so I also move the bathroom rug out of the way and actually take my pants all the way off and get them out of the way before I do it so I don't drip blood all over them and have to wash them. Then once it's collapsed, I can usually slide it out with just two fingers.

    Hope that helps you or someone else who's reading!

  3. I didn't have any trouble getting the diva cup out (or any problems with the stem) but I -did- end up with a yeast infection that led to thrush. For three months.

    A friend told me that you're not SUPPOSED to leave it in overnight, but that's contrary to all the literature included with the product, so...

    I've just assumed my body was out of balance and cups aren't a good idea at that point--but either way, I have stuck to mama cloth and left it at that forever more.

    I hope you have better luck than I did!

  4. I've also been using the Diva cup, almost exclusively, for about 4 years now, and I am just about the biggest fan out there. (Seriously--a girl in my ward called me for instructions/help a few months ago and I talked at her about it for an hour.) It took me pretty much an entire cycle, using it every day, to figure out how to insert and remove it smoothly, but now that I know it seems like the easiest thing in the world. Definitely give it the old college try.

    As for the actual questions: I don't have any stringiness, so I can't really contribute anything to that issue, but as for taking it out, it sounds like you're on the right track. I basically bear down and squeeze, like you've been trying, though, like you, sometimes I don't break the suction until it's almost out. I also almost never spill, because I've mastered the angle at which to hold it so I can dump it straight into the toilet. (That took me a while.) I also have the whole stem still on the cup, so I often use that to grab and pull. It just kind of takes some getting used to--when I first started using it, I remember it being incredibly difficult to navigate, and now I can remove and insert it while squatting over a hole-in-the-ground toilet on a moving train.

    Again, I totally adore it, but then again, I was using tampons before it, so the Diva Cup had all the "no waste, no money, no TSS" advantages for me. For you it might not be such a dramatic difference, I guess.

  5. You said something about it not necessarily being "cleaner" --is that supposed to be one of it's selling points? My impression of them is that I would make the biggest mess ever using one of those--and I guess the fear of doing that in a public restroom isn't there because you can wait a long time in between and time it for being at home?

    Second question--what about TSS? are you supposed to boil it or anything to kill germs?

    Just curious.

  6. I get it out pretty much the same as Kathleen, but I don't usually spill or anything. I actually found tampons messier and grosser because I would pull on the string and the whole thing just came swinging out like crazy. Haha, maybe I was doing that wrong. But I do know I frequently got blood on the toilet seat using tampons.

    I've used the diva for 5ish years with a pregnancy in the middle of that. I've also left it in for 24 hours with no problems at all. I LOVE that I can insert it and forget it. I was on a teeny tiny 3 person fishing boat in Mexico for 8 hours (plus driving time to get there) on the first day of my period, and there is no way a tampon or pad would have worked or been comfortable (especially since I was sea sick, blech). Or the last time I flew on a plane with my 2 yr old all by myself, I started on the way to the airport. It would have been a nightmare to try and change a menstrual product in that tiny airplane bathroom with her climbing all over the place!

    It did take me a few months to get used to it. I remember the very first time I put it in, I was in the bathroom for a half hour. But when I was 11, it took me about that long to figure out tampons and I still did it wrong. I do think it takes a little bit longer than pads/tampon each time, but if you only deal with it twice a day, you actually spend less time with the cup.

    Pain wise, it can be uncomfortable taking it out or in and I've done the fingernail thing, but ever pulled out a dry tampon? OUCH! I'm also not a fan of pads, except cloth ones postpartum. And there is no associated risk with a cup and TSS, though they do advise you to boil it between cycles.

    Hope you end up loving it!

  7. I have used the diva cup for 18 months (I also have a tipped uterus) and love it. I practiced beforehand, and then it took a few days to figure out how to take it out, but I cut off the entire stem and just grab the cup. The stem never helped me get it out. I also bear down and I can grab it and pull it out.

    I absolutely love it. I don't ever leak, I don't have to wash pads, and I have less cramps and I don't feel "gross" when I'm on my period. While using the diva, I sometimes forget I'm even on my period.

    About the tipped uterus, my cervix sits right in the cup, and I don't ever feel it bumping it. Makes it so much better than tampons, those hurt me soooo much.

  8. This was actually really useful because I just ordered a Diva Cup. I'll have to wait until my next cycle to try it, but I'm excited. Tampons make me so dry and I hate pads.

    I know you said you could feel it at night, but could you feel it walking around all day? I know it's supposed to sit pretty low, but I don't want to feel like I'm being poked all day.

  9. Jeanette - About TSS, they do recommend that you boil the cup at the end of each period. But some researchers think that the reason tampons have a TSS risk is that they absorb blood and other vaginal secretions, which can dry out the vagina and cause little cracks or tears in it that the bacteria that cause TSS (and the toxins they produce) can get into. Menstrual cups don't absorb, so there is no drying out the vagina and making little tears and the risk of TSS with them is much lower. The last time I looked into all of this, there had not yet been a reported case of TSS with a menstrual cup.

  10. Oh stringiness... I love thee... Not. I've learned to dump, wait, and do this sort of rotate-and-wiggle thing in case stuff's still clinging to the inside of the cup, then rotate again as I tip it back up vertical to be cupped in my hand before bringing it out of the toilet. Occasionally I'll still get some on my fingers, but when I'm especially gloopy, it doesn't seem to matter anyway, and it usually keeps the mess contained. Hope that helps! It does take coordination and practice.

  11. I actually cut off the whole stem on my Diva. It was so annoying, and I think I might have a short vagina! I've heard that you can use the cup while it is turned inside out, and that removes any discomfort from the stem and it makes it easier to break the suction. I did it once, but found it made it -too- easy for me to break the suction. I haven't had any trouble getting it out (short vagina, makes it easy!)

    About the stringiness, I would just have a little bit of toilet paper on hand to grab any string-a-longs. And I would try to have the cup come out almost completely right side up (that really helps contain the mess of spilling). And I also found the contents to be very fascinating!!!

    Good luck!

  12. I had too hard of a time getting the Instead out to try it again, but I think having a stem would make it easier.

    Did the cup stay in place when you urinated? Whenever I use tampons and I urinate the tampon slips down so that I end up having to replace it whether it's necessary for my flow or not.

  13. To answer a couple of questions: sometimes walking around, I would feel the stem, but I just went and readjusted that and it stopped. As far as peeing- yeah I had to readjust it a little, but I'm not sure if that's a cup thing or my inexperience in getting it in right. It also passed the "can I poop with a cup in?" test. Yes I can and it doesn't come out.

    Maybe I need a TMI warning for my comments too! ;)

  14. I used a keeper for about 9 years, and then replaced it with a mooncup keeper about a year ago. I will never be without one again. I despise spending hard earned money on pads and tampons that will just get thrown away. It will get easier.
    I just empty mine in the shower in the morning--I usually take a bath in the evening in the colder months--I just empty into the toilet then. In the warmer months, i empty into the toilet before bed. I have found I have easier insertion when the cup is wet.
    I think my favorite thing is that I can just put it in when I'm expecting my period. I don't have to carry tampons around. Then if I don't start, I can just take it out and wash it. Don't even get me started on the number of garment bottoms that I have stained before I got one. I have much less staining since using cups.
    At the end of my bleeding, I have a plastic "box", I think it held those disposable face cloths. I put in a squirt of soap, then about a cup of hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, then fill the rest up with the hottest water I can get from my faucet. I let it sit until I remember it, and I have never had any trouble with infections or yeast.
    When I insert, I know I have gotten it in right when I feel a particular pain in my cervix, I can feel it hit my cervix and suction.
    My 14 year old has been cycling for about a year and a half, she says she is fine with using disposable pads for now.

  15. Have you ever used a diaphragm? I wonder how similar it is as far as insertion and removal goes... Hoping to get pregnant soon, but once that baby comes and the periods that follow, I am getting me a menstrual cup! *B

  16. Additionally, THAT SONG has been going through my head for FOUR DAYS. I was humming it this morning as I got ready for church and right after I got home. Blessedly, I forgot all about it during the meetings!

  17. I've been using the Diva Cup and I like it, but it's definitely taking some getting used to, and it was NOT cleaner the first round. In fact, my bathroom floor is much cleaner now than it's probably been in years due to all the spills I've had to manage. Not that it's been hard to take out, I've just struggled with what to do with it in between cleaning up and getting it ready to go back in since our toilet area is separate from the sink area. (I use a bowl in the toilet closet now).

    And I must be very fertile already despite nursing, my current cycles are very heavy and very red. It's fascinating to see how much is actually being lost (over 90 mls!) and what it looks like. I've never noticed stringiness though.

    I've actually been curious and couldn't find great info on any forums, if others experience a strong odor from using it about day 3. That was the longest I could go without changing it (up to 12 hours) and I wonder if that was just it, but it worries me a weensy bit.

  18. If I put that song on my wife's cell phone as the ring, I think she would kill me!

  19. CC--
    I have also noticed a stronger smell when I have left it in for a longer amount of time. I think it is a more "concentrated" smell. Or do you mean a vaginal odor?

  20. Summers Camp--I use both the Diva Cup and a diaphragm, and there are definitely some similarities, though of course they go in different places. (The Diva Cup, at least for me, tends to sit much, much lower than the diaphragm.) Mostly the similarity to me is just that using the Diva Cup made me practiced at sticking things up my vagina and far more acquainted with my own anatomy and comfortable with the idea of using products like that. I used the Diva Cup before the diaphragm, but I'd imagine that if you were a diaphragm user trying out the Diva Cup it'd be relatively easy from the start.

  21. Susan G.6:11 AM

    I've been using a Diva Cup for just under a year, after spending a few cycles transitioning with those disposable "Instead" cups. The first few days were a lot of trial and error in figuring out how to insert it so it'd be the most comfortable, and I still occasionally have to slip off and reseat it. (I left the stem on, and it'll occasionally skew to one side. I'm noticing that the stem on the MoonCup looks longer than the Diva stem, though?)

    Despite the learning curve, I really love it. Generally I don't feel it at all, and I wind up emptying it about every 8-12 hours. To get it out, I bear down enough to reach in with a finger and press the walls of the cup together to break the seal, but it sometimes takes some jiggling. I've never had a spill, other than an errant drop or two on the toilet seat, and since my sink is right next to the toilet I can usually just reach over and rinse the cup out after emptying.

    I, on the other hand, have questions about mama cloth. I rarely need it, but some days I don't want to use the cup, and I hate buying pads. All of the starter kits I see are so expensive. Can you make it? What should you make it out of? How frequently do you need to replace it?

    (On a related note, that song delivers even more euphemisms than I heard while performing in the Vagina Monologues.)

  22. You mentioned in your post that you've used momma cloth prior to the cup. I use the Diva cup and love it but there are times when I would like to use a cloth pad (post-partum, panty liner, extra backup on the heavy day) but I've never bought any since I'm not sure how I would use it with the garment. What do you suggest? do you need to wear other panties underneath so you can snap it around? It seems like that would be hot and uncomfortable...

  23. Amanda- I do wear panties under my garments when I wear mamacloth. And I know women who choose not to wear garment bottoms during their heavy flow days and in the weeks immediately pospartum. It's up to you!


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