Wanna skip over all the very detailed period talk and get straight to the point? Scroll past the gif!
I’ve been shedding my uterine lining approx once every 28 days for the past 25 years (minus the 18 months I spent making other people) and boy are my arms tired! My periods were some version of ‘normal’ all the way up until after I gave birth to my last child, then things got ugly. Cramping that used to be sharply uncomfortable at most, now felt like slow-motion labor pains, but without the baby at the end (I gave birth to a million blood clots instead). I would instinctively get through them by rocking back and forth on all fours and using lamaze breathing techniques, which is a wild-as-fuck way to manage monthly menstrual pain! I was lucky to work at home then — and I still work at home — because there’s no way I could leave my house on someone else’s schedule during my period. My flow was too heavy and the pain was too much.
Of course I immediately went to a doctor to find out why this was happening to me JK I DID NOT. I toughed it out every single month for over a decade because it truly didn’t occur to me that the pain I was experiencing was out of the ordinary at all! Tampons quickly became impossible to use — they hurt (like I’d rammed a miniature tree trunk into my vagina!) and I was bleeding faster and heavier than that cylinder of cotton could ever hope to keep up with. After a few years of using disposable pads I was like, “Oh hm shall I try a menstrual cup, mayhaps?,” which opened up a whole world of Wait What The Hell Is Going On Here.
Specifically, how was I supposed to know which size and shape and make and model would fit me best? It’s not like there are sample cups you can just try on in the store. And until you’ve held one in your hands (and admittedly even a little bit after that), it can be difficult to wrap your head around how you’re even supposed to get it in there and then what to expect once it’s there. And then! Pray tell! How does one get it out?!
Being exhausted with disposable pads (and the uncomfortable mess that accompanies them when you’re a Niagara Falls Bleeder) had me desperate to try anything new, so I bought a Diva cup, model 2. Then a Lunette cup, also model 2. Model 2 is what cup manufacturers recommend if you have a heavy flow and/or you’ve given birth vaginally, both of which are ME. But! My vagina had other plans.
It was impossible for me to wear these cups. Aside from them being stiff and having pronounced rims, I couldn’t get them to create a reliable suction, which was maybe a good thing since eventually and without fail, both cups would start making their way out of my vagina (mhm! even when it was correctly suctioned to my cervix! wow!). It was like, Bye, I can’t be in this vagina anymore. And there I’d be, calmly making a sandwich with half of a menstrual cup sitting impatiently on the outside of my body.
GladRags came out with the original XO Flo in early 2017 and I was THRILLED to try it. The rim was on the inside! It was more flexible than other cups I’d tried! The stem was thinner and not as noticeable! It had a neat XO design to help it pop open! Our Managing Editor, Rachel, LOVES HERS. But y’all, even that cup wouldn’t stay in or create a reliable seal.
WHYYY. My favorite lesbian gynecologist, Dr. Lizz Rubin, suggested I might be sporting a low cervix. My not-lesbian gynecologist who had actually seen my cervix suggested I try kegels. She couldn’t say for sure, but maybe that would help, somehow. (It did not.)
It was like I was failing at cups. My vagina just could not and would not be cupped, and it infuriated me. I mean, I started out just sad about it, but by the time I’d gone through three cups, I was livid at my own vagina. I wanted it to stop hurting. I wanted to stop feeling betrayed by it. I wanted to go back to those halcyon days of being able to put things into it whenever I pleased! I didn’t want to sit on disposable or reusable pads while they filled up every half hour, and what was a period underwear like Thinx supposed to do with all those clots? I JUST WANTED TO FEEL NORMAL.
Enter: XO Flo Mini.
You know how people talk about love? Like, you just know it when it happens, and then you understand all the songs and poems, and you believe in happiness again, etc? Ok that’s what wearing this cup is like for me.
It’s smaller than the original by about 18%, and does feel a little more flexible. It doesn’t hurt AT ALL — I can’t even really feel it inside me — and best of all this little angel STAYS IN MY VAGINA. The XO Flo Mini is my new best menstrual friend.
Want some more personal details and tips? COOL.
+ If you’re getting a cup for the first time, it’s a good idea to try to get the hang of insertion/extraction before you start your period, maybe even during ovulation so it’s nice and slippery in there. When I insert it, I get almost two knuckles in before I let go of the cup so it can expand (I sometimes end up with the full length of my fingers inside so I can position it where I want it). I always have to rotate mine to get it to pop open, and then I use my studly vaginal muscles to sort of pull it all the way up where I want it to be, because my hands can only go so far up inside me while I’m still sober and the sun’s out, you know? You know.
+ To get it out, just find the stem and follow it up until you get to the base of the cup, then kind of pinch it a little to release the seal and, again, get those vaginal muscles involved in helping you push it out if you need to (it’s like pushing out a baby! just like it!). I also rotate the cup as I remove it because it’s just more comfortable that way.
+ Because I’m a prolific bleeder, I’ve been emptying the mini every 1.5-2 hours on the heavy day(s), and then obviously less frequently on the lighter days, around 4-6 hours. You’ll empty it at least every 12 hours regardless, so you don’t die! I’ve also used liners with my cup during the day and then an enormous reusable overnight pad when I sleep, because I just bought the most delicate pale pink sheets you’ve ever seen and I’m not ready to Rorschach them just yet.
+ When you’re cleaning your cup before reinserting it, make sure to get everything out of the teeny tiny holes up at the top. Sometimes some menstrual confetti will get stuck in a hole and you’ll have to use an old toothbrush or a toothpick to free it. It’s cool we’re all friends here.
+ You can boil the cup between uses or wash it with a mild soap, then store it in a cloth bag so it can breathe.
+ Is it worth noting that you can clearly hear a suctioning sound when mine pops into place inside me? Maybe! Maybe you wanted to know that.
+ You can have sex while you wear a cup! Maybe not penetrative vaginal sex (or, listen, I don’t know your life, maybe you can!), but definitely all the other types of sex. Orgasms might move your cup closer to your cervix or they might send your cup flying across the room. Who’s to say? Life is an adventure.
I know a lesbian talking about menstrual cups on the internet is about as unsurprising as seeing a turkey at Thanksgiving, so I tried to dig a little deeper. I asked people who were interested in using cups but still had some misgivings or concerns to tell me what they wanted to know, and they did! So you already know about the environmental pros and the money you’ll save in the long run over disposable products, and hopefully you know that most cup users report having less intense cramps, and you definitely know that there is no right or wrong way to deal with your menstrual blood. We’re just some people talking about cups over here and no one’s shaming anyone else for using disposable ANYTHING. Ok let’s go!
I’m scared that it won’t fit? Even tampons that go anywhere above normal/medium flow are too big, so I haven’t dared to try the cups even though I would love to swap!
A very valid concern! The cup is obviously wider than an unused tampon when it’s popped open, but it’s soft and squishes up against your body, whereas a tampon is rigid and tight and hard. When you fold a cup for insertion, the top part does end up being slightly wider than a normal/medium flow tampon, but because it isn’t a dry cotton tube or a hard plastic plunger, it’s still a much gentler experience — at least it is for me! When a tampon fills up, it expands to a rectangular shape with a flat top and bottom (unless it’s an o.b.! bless an o.b.), and it still isn’t what you’d consider soft or squishy. The cup will fill but not expand at all (it already expanded when you inserted it) and will easily smush together and say super soft on the way out.
I can’t speak to using a cup with more serious issues with tightness and discomfort, like vaginismus for example, so hopefully if someone reading this has some experience, they can share in the comments!
How do people feel about wearing them during physical activity? I’ve got one friend who says it’s great but two who say no thanks. I play a lot of sports so that’s my number one concern.
For me, my comfort/experience will depend more on how heavy my flow is during the physical activity than just the cup itself. I think if your cup is the right fit for your body and it’s inserted properly, you probably shouldn’t have any issues with it while you’re playing sports. I asked some staff members to help me answer these questions and here’s what they said!
Eli, Technical Intern: “As a swimmer it works really well for me! The only situations where it doesn’t work for me are due to hygiene, not physical activity.”
Reneice, Staff Writer: “The only exercise I’ve found the cup doesn’t work for me with is yoga, which is pretty frustrating. Something about all the lifting and twisting ends up breaking the seal and I’ve had to run out of classes to avoid dripping blood on my mat so…that’s no good. Also when I’ve been camping/at music festivals/generally unclean places, I always bring a little spray bottle for cleaning both my hands and the cup. I do not recommend menstrual cup maintenance in a port-a-potty at Coachella though. I’m allergic to tampons, and pads make me want to cry, so I HAD to deal with the cup in those instances, but if I had the option I would gladly have chosen something else.”
Vanessa, Community Editor: “I prefer the cup for long hikes and long days because I don’t have to change it. I thought it would be ideal for backpacking bc no waste etc, BUT my hands were never clean enough that I felt super great taking the cup in/out while backpacking, so on the PCT and in other backcountry adventures I’ve used tampons with an applicator instead. AND I will say when the cup doesn’t work, which for me is like 10% of the time — it doesn’t seal, I don’t get it in right, idk — I freebleed everywhere and that’s not ideal. One day I’ll invest in a pair of those period panties and then I’ll probably do the cup + those always.”
I’m concerned that as a fat person, I don’t have the maneuverability to properly insert or remove the cup without pain, mess, and swearing.
More from the staff!
Heather Davidson, Contributor: “I use a menstrual cup, and I just had a chat with my girlfriend who is a fat person who also uses a menstrual cup – I can insert and remove sitting down, but she needs to raise one of her legs to get the maneuverability to get it in and out. Apart from that, we have the same experience, love them and would never go back.”
Vanessa: “As a fat person who uses a menstrual cup, I will say that I have to squat and kind of move my thighs out of the way to really get in there, and I def do not feel able to do so gracefully in public restroom stalls. It’s totally doable but absolutely I like to deal with my cup at home or in places where I know it’s a single user bathroom, if that makes sense?”
Reneice: “Yeah, I get into a little squat just like hovering over the toilet to pee.”
Eli: “As a non-fat person I also have to put one of my legs up to get my diva cup in properly, something about the angle works better, definitely not possible in a public stall.”
Adding my two cents, I also do an acrobatic maneuver involving me bending over entirely, with my legs spread apart as far as possible, and then kind of holding my labia apart from behind with one hand while I insert the cup with the other. It’s just easier for me that way! I do one leg up in the shower though, because if I bent over that way in there I’d probably drown.
How does the risk of toxic shock syndrome compare to tampons? I stopped using tampons because I’d have a TSS-related panic attack about once a period.
You’re going to want to empty your cup at least once every 12 hours, and I’m not a medical professional but I understand that to mean that the risk of TSS is very nearly zero!
Ok let’s talk! I’d love to answer your questions if possible, and I’d super love for you to let us know how menstrual cups have worked for you. Or sponges! Or reusable pads! Or freebleeding on bed of moss!
? There’s a coupon in today’s Autostraddle Weekly for $5 off anything in the menstrual cup category at GladRags through September! You can even use it on multiple orders! Sign up for the newsletter here or, if you’re reading this past 11am on the west coast, you’ll be able to click these words here to view the newsletter online. I do highly recommend signing up for the AS Weekly though, because I write it and we have a good time in there! ?
GladRags provided this XO Flo Mini to me in exchange for an honest review, and wow this is a very, very honest review!
I just want to say that my smol sister (<10 years old!) just got her first period so my family has been scrambling to find her some age-appropriate resources to talk about bodies, and I found this fabulous body book for girls & children with vaginas that is stylized as a how-to written by a cabin of ~16 year old campers to their ~12 year old selves and other younger campers.
They approached a lot of topics in a similar way to how you approached these qs, Laneia – multiple girls weighing in on what they think about their small or large boobs, how they deal with shaving/body hair, tampons vs. pads vs. alternatives – which was so refreshing and affirming to read! I can't wait to give it to my sister!
Which is all to say, excellent article and even as a long-time cup user I loved all the different perspectives on these questions!
Congrats on finding an amazing cup!!
What’s the name of the book? Sounds like something I might add to my list of books to recommend.
Laneia, your brain and your writing are like, some of my most very favorite things in the whole world? Your turns of phrase! Your humor! Your honesty! Your deep sincere love of periods! Goddamn, I love you.
Also this was a very very good review and made me want to try the XO instead of my trusty Diva Cup, maybe the XO would seal 100% of the time in my vag instead of the 90% success rate I currently have, hmmmm.
ALSO a fun story I like to tell is that I received my very first diva cup FROM A FRIEND ON LESBIAN LAND! I was on the fence about trying a cup, and my friend had stopped bleeding because that’s how bodies work when you get older, and she’s never ever had a yeast infection (don’t try this trick at home if you’ve ever had a yeast infection with your cup because afaik they can never really be boiled out? Idk now that I say this that seems suspicious but maybe someone else can weigh in, anyhow) so she offered to give me her old cup so I could try it! She boiled it on the stove in a cast iron pot and then ceremoniously handed it to me, and I went into the bathroom to try to put it in while three other dykes shouted instructions from the other side of the door, and when I finally got it in I came out victorious in just my underwear and everyone hugged me and then we went outside and hung out with the 17 chickens and cut back the blackberry bush from around the chicken coop because that was the task of the day and everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. The end.
My hubby is an infection preventionist with experience in hospitals including overseeing their equipment disinfection protocols, so I asked him about this. (After explaining a few important facts. Me: “Do you know what a menstrual cup is?” Him: “Um. No. Should I?” Me: “…and here are pictures!”) Between what he already knew about silicone and disinfection methods and a little googling, here’s what we’ve got:
1.) You’re correct that you shouldn’t pass on, or even reuse, a cup that has been around for a yeast infection. The Diva Cup page about medical question says “There is no known increased risk of yeast infections with the use of menstrual cups. However, if you have a vaginal infection, it is best to discontinue use of The DivaCup until the infection has cleared up completely. It is unknown if yeast (Candida albicans) can be completely eliminated with boiling, therefore we suggest replacing the cup with a new one if you had a yeast infection while using The DivaCup. Please refer to your User Guide and visit our Care and Cleaning page for detailed instructions on boiling your cup. Also, never use the cup at the same time that a topical medication is being used. The medication may compromise the silicone and ruin the cup. If this happens, please replace the cup with a new one. The DivaCup should not be used during postnatal bleeding.” (http://divacup.com/how-it-works/medical-questions/)
2.) If there’s no history of infections in the first user…you’re never really risk-free, because what if they had a subclinical infection they never knew about? But if you’re going to go there, boiling it real good (5-10 minutes with lots of water, not just “pouring boiling water over it” as a couple sites suggest) is the way to go. Here’s the Diva cup’s list of things NOT to do: “Never use a lubricant to insert The DivaCup. The ingredients in lubricants can damage the silicone, so we suggest using only water as a lubricant! When cleaning your DivaCup be sure to avoid using: vinegar, tea tree oil, scented/fragranced soap, castile/peppermint soap or any other oil based soap, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, pre-moistened wipes, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing soap, bleach or harsh chemicals as some have been known to damage or compromise the silicone (may leave a sticky or powdery film, etc.) and may need to be replaced to avoid irritations, burning, etc. If you have cleaned your DivaCup with any of the non-recommended cleansers, replace the cup if there are any signs of deterioration or if you experience irritation. We do not recommend cleaning The DivaCup in the dishwasher because chemicals, detergents and residue from previous dish washing could harm the cup.” (http://divacup.com/how-it-works/care-and-cleaning/)
tl;dr: Get your own if you can. If you’re really going to use someone else’s, ask them about history of yeast infections, only proceed if they say no, and then boil the crap out of it and hope. (But really, get your own.)
Here I thought my story of giving one to a friend for her birthday was a good story, but my goodness, this story was quite impressive!
I’m currently trying out a cup for the very second time. The first time was… a struggle. But I’m still enthusiastic about it and willing to try again and again. So I really love this article for the honest opinions and pro tips :-) Thanks.
i’m so glad you’re still enthusiastic! i hope your next cup works out!!
I have another question! Because the environmentally-conscious side of me really wants to do this but the most of me is nervous about it as someone who has never in her life had a normal period.
What if you have to empty it and you’re not at home?? Do you rinse it just…in public in front of other people then go back into the stall to re-insert it?? The way you described having to re-insert it sounds…bloody and when you’re at home and can bee-bop to the sink immediately that’s fine but what if I’m at my day job? Do I just bust out of the stall looking like I murdered someone with one hand??
It’s possible I’m misunderstanding things entirely but I have PCOS (or something like it, doctor is still trying to nail that one down) so when I’m not on birth control I bleed like a motherfucker, for weeks or months on end. And while right now my period is contained enough (thanks bc!) that I feel closer to being willing to try it, I am Stressed.
But also thank you for this post because it was hilarious and helpful and I love having a space where we can talk about this shit openly.
I’ve been using a menstrual cup for about five years now. My periods aren’t usually very heavy, so I typically can get away with just emptying it at home every morning and evening. However, when I’m out in public and I do need to empty it in a public bathroom stall, I dump the contents into the toilet, swab the cup out with some toilet paper, re-insert it, and use more toilet paper to make sure my fingers aren’t bloody before I leave the bathroom stall. Obviously it’s better to be able to clean it with water, but I’ve never had any problems doing things this way. Obviously people’s bodies and periods vary quite a lot, but I hope this helps!
I do the same! Most of our bathrooms at work are stalls, and until recently I had periods from hell courtesy of my copper IUD so leaving all day wasn’t an option. I’ve been using my cup for probably 8 years now with no problems. I will admit to dishwashering it now and again, also with no problems for my vag or the cup
Valerie Anne! So I’ve been using my cup for like two years but I’m not gonna lie, public changes are NOT easy for me. Pulling it out and dumping it is fine but re-inserting it under pressure is something I TRULY CANNOT DO. I tend to keep one tampon in my bag just in case I find myself needing to use a bathroom with stalls.
I mostly get to change at home but I have tips for changing in public bathrooms:
I dump the contents of the cup on the toilet and instead of rinsing the cup on the sink while I’m in a half squat with my underwear around my ankles as I would at home, I just keep compressed towel pills in my bag. I dampen two of them before going into the stall: one for cleaning the cup and one for cleaning my hands before and after the insertion. You can also use baby wipes or just any kind of wipe that is dermatologically safe to use around your vagina.
I actually keep my cup with the pressed towels and a foldable silicone cup I use to sterilize it in a small bag that I dump in my backpack. Filling the silicone cup and bringing it with you into the stall to aid in rinsing and washing is another option.
A friend of mine has PCOS and it’s the reason she got a cup: buying months on ends of pads was SO expensive. She loved her cup so much she offered to buy me one when I was broke.
As for cleaning it, when I was at my cousin’s when I first got mine and the toilet was separate from the sink, I took a bathroom cup of water into the toilet with me and just rinsed it. If you take it out gently, your hands shouldn’t get much if any blood on them.
Now that I’m home, I bought a fragrance-free liquid soap (so as not to put unnecessary chemicals up my lady parts) and two mini travel size bottles: cleanser in one and enough water in the other for a pre-cleanser and post-cleanser rinse. I still need to get a little micro-fiber towel since the TP at work isn’t great for drying it off, but it was easy enough to make a discrete little cleaner kit to keep in my purse. If you have to empty it really often, honestly probably just wiping it off is ok a couple of times and a good clean two or three times a day. Even on my heavier days I’ve been able to leave it 4-6 hours.
It helps that I am someone who is not embarrassed to take as long as I need in a public restroom and where I work there are employee-reserved restrooms that are never too busy.
I took it out drunk at a friend’s house once, with I guess a bit of a flourish? And created like a scatter graph of blood across her bathroom wall.
On subsequent occasions I very cautiously used a quick and gentle tug and tip in to the bowl, and the toilet paper method eloquently described above. And I love it.
I am a heavy bleeder, and use a cup. You *can* empty the cup, wipe it out with toilet paper, maybe spritz it with water from a small spray bottle you keep in your bag, and then wipe your hands with a moist towlette of some sort, before leaving the stall. That is totally fine. I have seen people say that they use some sort of wipe that’s for sex toys, maybe, or at least for “feminine” use, to clean out their cups while out and about, but you don’t need to. You don’t even need to spritz it with water. Just wipe it out and reinsert.
If I have to empty it in a public, multi stall restroom, I wash my hands and then take 2 paper towels–1 wet, 1 dry–into the stall with me. I use the wet one to wipe it down before reinserting, and the dry one in case I got any blood on my hand.
This idea of taking a wet paper towel into the stall with you is so clever! I’m going to start doing this.
I will also say, very few people are actually paying attention to what you do in a public restroom. I sometimes take out my cup, empty it, wipe & flush, then head to the sink to wash my hands while subtly also washing the cup — and then head back into a stall to re-insert it. Unless there’s a line for a stall, no one’s really likely to notice.
i also have a cervix that sits very low (you can look up how to check this for yourself, but basically just stick a finger inside yourself and seeing how many knuckles deep you get before you hit cervix). when i started using cups, i found that they were 100% uncomfortable no matter what unless i cut the stem off entirely. you can do this! if any part of the cup is hanging outside, you’re going to feel it while you’re walking around and it won’t be fun. and i can still remove mine no problem with no stem—because my cervix stops the cup from scooching up farther than i can comfortably reach. it’s really all about figuring out what works for your body, everyone is a little different.
Oh yes same! That stem has to go!
I always cut the stem at an angle, like you would cut the bottom of flowers, because i need the stem shorter but the fear of cutting it off entirely and never getting the cup out was too much when i first bought a cup. So now the stem is shorter, thinner and more flexible, but still there to grab and pull the cup down if i cant pinch it yet.
Additional tips and tricks!
*I am not very flexible, and I ended up needing to invent an applicator out of a small, sanitized hard plastic tube? I have no idea if a gyno would recommend that but it’s literally the only way I can insert mine and keep it folded until the right moment. I sanitize the applicator a LOT, so hopefully it’s okay. I would like to ask Dr. Liz about this! I should have at camp!
*Soaking the cup overnight with a denture cleaner tablet helps to get blood out of its little holes.
*While I highly doubt they’re as good as Thinx, Amazon.com has cheaper period underwear that are made of organic cotton and work just fine for preventing the inevitable bloodpocalypse from ruining your clothes, your sheets, or your day. They’re less wicking than the Thinx, I think, so I keep a spare pare in my bag.
*I’ve tried the Lunette cups and the Diva cup. Lunettes are stiffer, which helped me at first because I could literally feel it getting sucked up and suctioned into place – but the problem was as it got fuller, it would slide down a bit which pressed on my bladder or something and made me feel like i had to pee. Now that I know what I’m doing, I prefer the softer Diva cup.
*If the stem bugs you you can cut it off!
Oh and one thing I forgot – if you’re inserting on a light day and it’s just not quite sliding into place, a drop of lube on the rim does wonders.
I could talk about this ALL DAY LONG
“a drop of lube on the rim does wonders”
ok queer girl go ahead and comment award yourself plz, asap
rofl oh dear i didn’t even think BUT YES THIS IS GREAT LIFE ADVICE IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS
can we all just take a moment to appreciate the phrase “menstrual confetti”
there are so many little gems in this article that i want to appreciate, yes, yes we can!!
I love this article.
Laneia, please maybe teach us the lamaze breathing techniques that help you deal with menstrual pain.
First of all, this was HYSERICAL. And informative. I second all the award nominations for Laneia’s writing.
Secondly, I’m using my diva cup for the second cycle. I’ve been meaning to try one for a while and while I was visiting family in Cali where every other woman in the household was post-menopausal, my period came early and I had to go to the grocery store for supplies. I was FURIOUS that my period was early and I was unprepared and when I saw the price of pads I was even angrier (I SWEAR they are higher in the US than France, but maybe after 6 weeks in the US I’d forgotten…). I really wanted to finally buy a cup for the first time, but there were none. OR SO IT SEEMED.
There was a hoard of hungry high schoolers buying snacks at the check-out, so we wandered the entire store and there on the sale shelf were 30 percent off diva cups! Thank you, lesbian Jesus.
I got the smaller size diva cup, even though it said “women over 30” should get size 2, I didn’t feel like I’d need a bigger size and I was definitely right.
My first month was 99% perfect. I had zero leaks, getting it in was easy… only getting it out was a bit uncomfortable but that was entirely because I panicked and pulled it out fast and oooouuuch. Now that I know to relax and take my time to push it in so that it unsticks it comes out easily and without making a mess or causing pain.
My FAVORITE thing was that I don’t feel the bleeding. When I wear pads (I can’t stand the texture of tampons), I feel the blood come out. There are few things more uncomfortable than standing in front 45 students and feeling blood gushing out of your body. With the cup, I thought I was having a light day because I didn’t feel anything. But then I emptied my cup and OH BOY. I immediately googled “how much blood do you lose during your period?” because I was really and truly SHOOK. When it’s soaked into a pad it isn’t as impressive.
Also, unlike pads, there is no period stank. Also awkward AF: standing in front of 45 students and catching a wiff of your full to the brim pad you desperately need to change but can’t for another class period.
This time, I did have one leak but I did put it in a bit quickly that time. It wasn’t tragic since I’ve been wearing the (also oddly discounted) stock of panty liners I bought when I first got the cup and was nervous about leaking.
It didn’t leak at all when I went to the gym and did rowing/elliptical or when I swam, haven’t tried it full out running yet.
Basically, I’m furious that I didn’t try this sooner. So much money and awkwardness could have been saved. I’m so happy you finally found your perfect cup, Laneia. May everyone be so lucky.
i just read a whole thing about menstrual cups that’s how much i love you and your writing!!!!
thank you riese!!!!! i had you in my heart when i put that warning at the top ?
I got into cups because I’m extremely forgetful.
Tampons in the house? You have one left, get you ass to the store on the worst day of your life, always.
Vaguely consistent warning sensitivity? oh no, nothing actually happens until that parts over, luring you into a false sense of security and going through all your “in case” underpants, please try again
Flow sometimes take a two day break that makes super ob’s impossible to use until it resumes full force? Nah, it was just short, somebody’s got to have the short period right? Right?? (It only happens every month. Every single one.)
Maybe the cup’s learning curve was harrowing, and maybe I had to get a meluna sport because I needed the thicker cup or it just wouldn’t open on it’s own. And also when the instructions tell you to be prepared for less blood than you think there’ll be they were obviously talking about somebody else. But for my personal failings as a human they’re perfect, well, they’re working, anyway.
Yes the sport one! For those with the most hench vag muscles. ??????
I’m not exactly renowned for my athleticism but I was thrilled that one part of me is in peak condition. And where better to brag about it than here?
i’m so proud of both of y’all
THANK YOU LANEIA AND ALSO JUST FOR EXISTING AND WRITING THINGS
I play rugby in a cup, and honestly I wouldn’t wanna be thrown across a muddy field in anything else.
Some cup manufacturer should pay you for rights to that as a slogan.
***TMI, but if not here, in this very queer very menstrual moment, then where?***
I read once that everyone should try the taste of their own blood, and cups are the best way to facilitate this. It’s even packaged in an actual cup! Incorporate it into your witchcraft and spells, I dare ya. Go to town.
Commented here, scrolled the home page, found Reneice already discussing magic, art and accidents.
1) There is nothing new under the sun.
2) I love us.
Also, cups make it super easy to share your blood w/ your plants— if that’s your thing! I hear it’s nourishing for rose bushes espesh
You do you, definitely, but for me, the hardest part of using a cup was the fact I detest the smell of blood. Even the fresh stuff. I donate blood regularly, not to mention the whole monthly thing, and I’m not at all bothered by the look of it, or messiness. Just the smell.
I got a menstrual cup my senior year of college and was so excited. Now 16 years later I’m on my second one. I always wear a glad rag with it as there’s some spotting. But I love how it’s saved me so much money over the years!
Rather than risk damaging your cup by sticking a toothpick or something else in those little holes, I would recommend filling the cup with water, putting your palm flat against the top, flipping it over, and giving it a little squeeze. That should clear out any guck in the holes. Do be careful and don’t squeeze too hard though, unless you want to shoot water in your face. Which I did, even though I was warned to be careful, too.
There’s a great resource out there for cup users and potential cup users, called Put a Cup in It. The website, where they have a handy quiz you can take to help decide which cup might be best for you (there are A LOT of them out there) is at putacupinit.com. There’s also a Facebook group called, surprisingly, Put a Cup in It: https://www.facebook.com/groups/paciichat/about/. It is a closed group, but it’s very inclusive (Group Rule #3: Use Gender Inclusive Pronouns).
This is genius – the water/squeeze thing
It works *amazingly* well.
I guess it’s not recommended but I still hydrogen peroxide my cups every several months. also have definitely left it in for 24 hrs. they’re forgiving, to a point.
I get leaks but that’s only because my period is like The Shining for about a day and a half once it really gets going. it beats bleeding through a billion tampons
Okay but what about bowel movements while wearing the cup?
Cause in the past when I’d use a tampon and had a bowel movement the muscles of my pelvic floor were VERY pushy and taking a shit should not be a multi-tasking event.
I would imagine that people’s experiences vary quite widely on this point, but here’s mine: I usually have had no trouble with keeping the cup in while taking a bowel movement, without any extra thought or effort. If I’m at home, I occasionally take it out before a bowel movement just because it’s slightly more comfy, but mostly I don’t bother. Also, in a few instances of harder poops (apologies if TMI!) I’ve used a finger or two to make sure that the cup doesn’t pop out and fall in the toilet. As you say, multi-tasking while pooping isn’t ideal, but for me the menstrual cup/bowel movement combo has never been much of an issue.
Thank you for your answer
You’re welcome. A part of me cannot believe I really just said all that on the internet.
Tell that part of you it was for a good cause, said with purposeful and necessary directness?
This was a great, very informative article and also made me very glad I don’t have a period anymore. Thanks, Nexplanon!
In all seriousness, the thought of looking at a concentrated amount of my own period blood makes me slightly queasy, and pads always worked for me, so I probably won’t be using a menstrual cup ever (also have a pair of Thinx, but those would have only worked for my light days with my natural flow).
However! I too love your writing Laneia. I get the feeling that you were maybe a little self-conscious about posting this and you shouldn’t be! It was awesome. Thanks as always for your wry honesty.
this is blowing my mind(!!)
“…most cup users report having less intense cramps”
My cramps have gotten so much more intense and unbearable over the past several years, and I am just realizing that correlates pretty closely to when I stopped using my Diva Cup (!!) holy fuck. I need to get back on the cup. ❤️ Thanks y’all
Something I’ve wondered about and have never seen addressed is how does outgrowing a cup work? I realize most brands will advise buying the larger size if you are over a certain age or have given birth, but if someone has been using a smaller cup for years, should they try a larger cup at a certain age? Keep using the small cup until something seems off? What sort of something would seem off? Is that even a thing I should be concerned about knowing you prefer a small cup despite having given birth and being significantly older than I am?
My guess would be that upgrading to a larger size isn’t strictly necessary unless you start having problems with the smaller one. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! In my case, I started out with a smaller-size Diva Cup when I was ~28. A few years later, I lost my cup and needed to replace it, so I decided to try out the larger size because I’d passed 30 by that point. It did feel a little bigger than my old one the first time or two that I used it, but then I stopped noticing the difference. Never had problems with leaking, etc with either cup. I’ve also never been pregnant.
BTW, when I decided to buy the larger cup size, I couldn’t get the Mean Girls line “It’s not my fault that I’ve got a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina” out of my head for days.
This was amazing! Thanks, Laneia!
anyone know if I can use a cup with my copper IUD? I’ve heard conflicting things.
I don’t have an IUD, but I’ve seen people who say they use a cup without a problem, and other people who have problems with it. I think it’s one of those things you have to try for yourself.
Excellent article. Excellent excellent. Except all the parts about seals and suction made me cringe so bad because sometimes mine gets a little too suction-y and tries to pull my cervix out of my body and I’m pretty sure that’s the way I’m going to die.
I don’t entirely mind using pads/tampons but I did have a cup for a while and want to get back into it. This article definitely helped me feel less apprehensive about using a cup again. Thanks <3
Has anyone experienced issues getting the cups out? I have issues with my fingers, which makes removal extremely difficult, to the point where I’ve given up on using cups twice. Does the longer stem help or does anyone else have any tips for an easier removal?
The Keela Cup was designed for people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or other issues that cause removal to be difficult. https://keelacup.com/
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
I’ve been using a menstrual cup for over a decade and I love seeing stories about them. Here’s my take on them:
*There is a learning curve. Don’t give up after just one cycle. Talk to other cup users if you are having trouble and they can probably help with any specific issues you are having. There is so much more info and more options now than there was a decade ago.
*The sizing suggestions are just that: suggestions. You know your body better than anyone else. If you aren’t particularly familiar with your vagina, now is a great time to get acquainted. (You can even have someone help! See below.)
*Everyone’s body is different. What works for one person may not work for another. For example, I have short arms. I literally can barely reach inside my own vagina. I discovered that I had a low cervix from a sex partner who was describing my anatomy for me. Because of my low cervix, I struggled with using the Diva Cup. As I was searching for a replacement, I found that most of the cups on the market had a similar height. Then I found MeLuna. They are much more customizable than any other cups on the market: 3 sizes, 3 stem styles, 2 cup shapes, 2 stiffness levels, and 3 colors. Getting a cup that was short enough was a game changer.
*Finding an insertion/removal method that works for you may take some experimentation. There are tons of different folds for the cup itself that you can find demonstrated on YouTube. And different people need to stand or sit in different ways. I find that it’s not even constant for my own body. I’m fat with short arms and an autoimmune joint disorder that often makes my fingers uncooperative. Sometimes I squat and sometimes I stand with one foot propped on the side of the tub. If it isn’t working, even if it worked before, relax and try something else.
*Use some lube. Seriously, I know that the DivaCup site says not to but that’s because the DivaCup is made from silicone (this is true of most of the menstrual cups on the market now except for the MeLuna cups) and many lubes have silicone in them. As we all know, silicone object + silicone lube = bad news. Get a water-based lube and go wild. I use Sliquid Sassy and it was another game changer.
*Interdental brushes. Okay, hear me out. Most menstrual cups have tiny vent holes at the top where, as one commenter above put it, menstrual confetti can get stuck. They suggested a toothpick or toothbrush to get the holes clean. Someone else was concerned about a toothbrush causing damage and suggested filling the cup with water, holding it against the palm of your hand and gently squeezing to force water through the holes and clean them out. I’ve used the water-squeezing method but it isn’t always effective. My MeLuna cups came with these tiny brushes to clean out the holes and I realized that they were just repackaged interdental brushes. I get them at the dollar store and always have them on hand now.
Yay menstrual cups!