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?