ht_murray: little girl, cheeks, blue rose (Default)
[personal profile] ht_murray
Some several months ago (I can't believe how infrequent my journal posting has become :( ) I made this post about... dun-d-da-DUN... menstrual cups. OMG. It was a funny story that I gakked from [ profile] menstrual_cups, and you should all really go back and read it now for a good belly laugh.

*waits for you to read it*

Done now?

Good. I have to admit feeling a small amount of guilt for having posted that. And why should I? It's a public post, right? True. It's a public post, but while it was entirely appropriate for the community in which it was posted, it was probably unfair to post it outside of a sympathetic environment where that might be someone's first exposure to the product. The comments in my post drive home the possibility that I might very well have turned some of you off the idea entirely, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. But, not having tried it myself, I couldn't really argue one way or the other.

So, I finally took the plunge, and now I do have something to say about it. It gets long, rambly, extremely personal, and entirely TMI, and will therefore be behind a cut.

I'm not going to get into huge detail about what a menstrual cup is or how you use it, just my experience with it. The community I linked above is teeming with information as it Youtube. I highly recommend just doing a general Youtube search, especially check out GloZell's little spiel on the Divacup, because LOL, the woman has no shame.

This entire topic is so far outside of my comfort zone. I have never, ever talked with anyone about my period. The first time I got it, I tried to keep it a secret, but since my mother had the only box of pads in the house, of course, she figured it out. And we had a little talk, and I felt better, kinda like we had a real bonding moment, you know? But then, a couple nights later, we, and by 'we' I mean my entire family, Mom, Dad, two sisters and brother were all sitting in the living room watching television, and my dad turned to me and said, "So, your mom tells me you had a little problem this week." I knew immediately what he was talking about, and I just ran up to my room and threw myself on my bed and cried and cried. OMG! I think maybe he or Mom or both of them tried to come up and talk to me once, but I was so mortified, I don't remember anything else about it, just that I never mentioned my period to anyone ever again. In fact, the only other thing I remember about the topic is that, once I was helping my grandma sort laundry, and she got kinda PO'd that my sister "messed in these underwear, too!" and so I always washed my underwear before I put them in the laundry after that.

Erm, so, yeah... outside my comfort zone and flailing a little bit here.

So, why take the plunge? I've pretty much been a tampon girl since the first time I found a box of obs in my aunt's cupboard while I was over there babysitting one time. I've never been able to get used to pads. They just don't work for anything that I do, not running, not riding, not dancing, aerobics, bike riding... just, what exactly can you do in a pad? I don't know, but nothing I want to do. Heck, just try sleeping when you have a hacking cough, are on your heaviest day, and have to share a bed with your sister. I just... ugh, the trauma. Tampons have always worked out pretty well for me, except that they dry me out, and there's still the issue of getting caught without one when you need it. Plus, I never thought about it, but those things (pads, too) hang around in landfills forever. So, one day I read a post in the runners community where some kind soul was brave enough to ask what other women used, since running pants are generally tight, and over long distances, anything can chafe, yes even a string if it happens to get in the wrong crease or crevice, AND well, even tampons leak. The posters were quick to recommend menstrual cups.

My reaction was, "Ewewww, is that what it sounds like?" I checked it out online, and yes, it's exactly what it sounds like, and some are even pink!

I probably contemplated making the switch for the better part of a year. I really wasn't dissatisfied with tampons, but I did hate reaching into the box and finding it empty, and the little inconveniences like having to put the bathroom trash can on top of the toilet in order to keep the dog out of it. Just, yeah, like the world needed to know there's something in there the dog might want. :/ What really convinced me to try the cup is just the reaction of the people who use them. Outside of the OP from that earlier post, most people who use them, love them. Some people even give them as gifts, and if that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is. So, yeah. I bought one. And I used it. This is my story.

As you might guess, it wasn't exactly as easy as they make it look on Youtube. Cups generally come in two size (some have a few more) one for under thirty/having had no vaginal childbirth and one for anyone having delivered a baby vaginally or is over 30. Believe it or not, I actually had some question as to which I should get. I'm definitely over 30. I'm over 35 now, but---here comes the TMI in case you wanna skip to the next paragraph or something--- I haven't had sex in over 5 years. Honestly, I found some condoms in my nightstand that expired in 2001, so it might very well have been even longer than that. :/ And I'm totally grossed out by the idea of dildoes and vibrators, and have never been to the OB/GYN, ever, so yeah. Nothing has been in there except tampons for the better part of a decade. I wasn't sure I really needed a large, despite being over 30, but the sites all say the muscles naturally relax a little as you age, so large is recommended.

I got the large. And I'm gonna be honest, it was not that easy insert. There are a couple of folding techniques, but even scrunching that sucker up as small as I could get it, the rim just felt huge and foreign. Now, they recommend wetting it a little with water or KY. I'm not buying any KY, because then I will have to explain to the mens in my house why I need it. And I wanted to not use water, because I wouldn't have that if I was in a public restroom. In the end, yeah, it was a little uncomfortable with no lubrication, but it was not impossible to insert. I'd say, if you have water or KY, use it, but if you have neither, the discomfort, for me, my body being what it is, was not any worse than inserting a tampon when you're all dried out from... inserting tampons.

That being said, you have to be very comfortable using your finger, all of it, and I'd recommend not wearing longer fingernails than what you need to grasp the bottom of the cup, because it's a tight fit in there when you're trying to get the cup to open or break the seal. I also had a little problem with getting it to pop open. That's supposedly a very common issue. Basically, when you scrunch something up to put it in, you have to makes sure it unscrunches or it won't suction onto the walls of the vagina, and the fluid will just skate on by. They recommend inserting it (not as far as you'd think, either, just to the point where it actually has room to open, which is lower than most tampons sit)and then sweeping your finger around it to see if it feels full and round or still scrunched up. You can also give it a little twist by grasping it by the base. Of course, that requires two fingers, which is why you really, really need to be comfortable with your body before you attempt it. But heck, even if you're not, what better reason to get acquainted with it?

I had a little trouble determining whether or not the cup was fully expanded or not, and I was also glaringly aware of how long it seemed to be taking me to get it right. I was like, "My God if this was a public bathroom, there'd be no question about what I'm doing in here." But here's what's awesome. Cups are made of medical grade silicone and are safe to wear even when you're not on your period. So, I did all my 'practicing' a week ahead of time, in the comfort and convenience of my own bathroom, with no mess to worry about if I didn't get it just right. Don't be afraid to experiment a little. In fact, and this might sound a little gross, but I actually got a pretty good sense of accomplishment the first time I did a 'dry run' and actually collected a small amount of vaginal fluid, which I could dump out just like menstrual fluid. I think I read somewhere that people even sometimes use these if they are going without underwear and don't want to have to worry about vaginal secretions in their pants. I didn't know people actually worried about that, but hey, if that's you...

I wouldn't say I had a huge amount of trouble removing the cup, even though, I did have that horror story in mind when I tried it the first time. I left the tail long on my cup, just in case, but what I discovered is that, if you have any control over your vaginal muscles at all, you can just bear down a little, and the tip of the cup is easily within reach unless you've put it in way too far. The hardest part about removal for me wasn't reaching or grasping the cup, but breaking the suction. You're supposed to bear down, grasp the base, and slide one finger up the side to the rim to break the seal. I either have very short fingers or a very long cup, because I could not reach the rim. But you can break the seal by pressing your finger into the side until you feel the seal break. Then, wiggle it back and forth a little and pull it out gently. (I've also found that moving it a little forward and back a couple times helps it to re-expand when inserting, too.) I was a little worried, because it seems counterproductive if you're going to fill something with fluid and then semi-collapse it for removal. Wouldn't that result in major spillage? As it turns out, no. Unless you've put the cup in and forgotten about it, I can't imagine it would get full enough for that to be an issue.

Saying that, I want to say that actually using the cup on my heaviest days is what sold me on using one forever. Y'know how, on your heaviest days, you're either doubling up pads or using super duper absorbency tampons, plus liners and maybe ultrathins, and you still sometimes get some in your panties, and you think you must be gushing gallons of fluid, because you can feel it looking for a dry place to soak in? Well, not only do you never, ever feel the fluid or the cup, but when you take it out to empty on your heaviest day and see how little fluid there really is (a couple teaspoons or even tablespoons is not really much at all) you will never be able to justify the trash can full of bulky, messy, non-biodegradable products that you've been using to clean up such a very small mess. I know you don't believe me, but you will. Caveat: Again this is my experience. I know some women have extremely heavy bleeding and large clots. This is only my personal experience. I cannot judge what yours will be.

So, there's that.

My first time using the cup wasn't entirely leak proof. I did wake up to find a little leakage one afternoon, and I'm not entirely sure what I did wrong, because the cup was not overful or anything. It most likely just hadn't sealed properly. There is a little learning curve there. But even that little bit of leakage was less than what I usually get on my heavy days with anything else. The only issue is that, once you've had a leak, there is blood lower in the vagina that you will get on your fingers. Getting blood on your fingers is not really an issue most of the time, because the rim of the cup acts a little like a squeegee and pushes it up along the vaginal wall while you insert it. However, if it's a really heavy day, and you've taken awhile to empty and rinse your cup, there's likely to be some to contend with. I didn't find it all that bothersome, but you know your tolerance better than I.

All in all, I think my first time went extremely well, and I'll never go back to using anything else. If you're worried about leaks, you might even try one of those cool reusable cloth pads I've seen around. I didn't find that I needed to go that far, but if I was worried, I'd definitely go with the cloth pad instead of the pantiliner, since now I'm suddenly hyper aware of how much waste I was creating using traditional products. I've never been able to convince myself the cloth pads were a viable option on their own, because who wants to carry that around with them after they've used it and before they can wash it. But if you're using it as backup, and I'd say you're not likely to get more than a few drops on it, why not get something cute and colorful and reusable?

Thumbs up from me.

Now, for the really curious and those from whom TMI has no effect, a couple more comments.

First, these things work on suction to stay in place. They will not fall out. They will not move around. No worries on that front. However, using suction involves air. I don't know if I was just really clumsy about my insertion or what, but there was once or twice when I definitely experienced what I once heard referred to as 'varts' Now, there are tiny little holes in the cup, at the rim for suction purposes, so I don't think it's possible to force enough air into your vaginal canal or to trap air in there using the cup. I'm no gyno. I could be wrong, but I don't think the air itself is an issue. I just know it was a little unnerving for me when I felt it come out. This happened once or twice, within a few minutes of insertion, and after that, I never felt the cup or knew anything was there at all until I went to remove it.

And for the really curious who are wondering about vaginal muscles moving the cup... hmm, it's been awhile since I took a repro class, but I'm assuming most women know that the purpose of orgasm isn't really just to feel good, but to create a wave of muscular contraction which aids the semen reaching the fallopian tubes and increases the likelihood of conception. So, if you were to experience orgasm while wearing a menstrual cup, would it force the cup higher up in the vagina and make it impossible to get out. I'll just say, not in my experience, and leave it at that.

Also, it's been a 'rule of thumb' for years that one shouldn't practice inverted yoga poses while on one's mences. I always figured this was a case of men trying to place more stigma on women for the sake of, well, being men, because I've never actually heard of anyone retaining blood inside their bodies as a result of standing on their head. I practice whichever poses I feel like practicing, but since the menstrual cup is open at the top and has no way of keeping the fluid inside once it flows in (outside the natural clotting of the blood which makes it more sluggish to do so anyway) I just wouldn't recommend standing on your head for hours and hours while on your period, whether you use a menstrual cup or something else. Why you'd want to stand on your head for hours and hours, I don't know. I've never had the urge to do so for more than four or five minutes, and I don't think I'll stop doing that now that I use a cup.

So, there you have it. I'm open to any and all questions, but keep in mind, I've only used it the one cycle, so I'm no expert. I know there are other people on my flist who use it as well and might jump in. Also, this journal is mostly flocked, but I'll leave this post open, just because I feel like it's something people should be curious about, TMI or not. So, if you're not ready to address the topic and maybe wanna mem it or link it to someone else, feel free to do so.

And now I think I want to go shopping for a pink one. :D
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ht_murray: little girl, cheeks, blue rose (Default)

June 2015


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