Trying Out Menstrual Cups
This post is a little bit more up close and personal as I will be talking about my experience with menstrual cups.
If you are new to them, menstrual cups are a type of reusable menstrual product.
These days they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, and are made of medical grade silicone – just like many sex toys actually!
A lot of women have tried them and loved them, although I have seen comments and videos where the cup didn’t work out for some.
I did a fair bit of research on different brands and cups, and I chose Ruby Cup mainly because of their social mission statement (and also because they offered a pink version!)
The Ruby Cup Social Mission
Whenever you buy a cup for yourself, Ruby Cup donates one cup to a schoolgirl in East Africa, to keep her in school.
You may not be aware of this problem – I certainly wasn’t until I found an article and started reading up on it – but a lot of girls in developing countries either can’t afford or don’t have access to pads and tampons, and sometimes accessible toilets too. So they either have to miss school and stay at home during that time, or use unhygienic alternatives like cloth rags, newspapers, dirt or even cow dung.
Because of this, these schoolgirls aren’t able to get the full education that is their human right, and then they can’t go on to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that might otherwise have been open to them.
We all know that economies thrive and grow when women successfully participate in the workforce, so resolving this problem helps the global economy as well.
That was a bit of a tangent but I am so passionate about the work that Ruby Cup does.
Back to the cups now!
I own two cups, the small and the medium (both in pink of course).
I started off with the small, which I think was a good choice for me as I needed a really long time to get used to mine. Even now I have some occasions where I’m not sure what just happened, but it gets a lot easier with practice.
Some women take to it very naturally and with no issues, and some, like me, take longer.
I decided to purchase the medium as well because on my heavy days, I didn’t want to faff about with emptying the cup out at work and re-inserting it.
The beauty of using menstrual cups is that you can keep them in for up to 12 hours at a time. Insert it in the morning before you head off, hustle and do your thang, and then empty and re-insert it after your shower and you’re good for bed! You might never need to worry about changing your period gear at work again!
These cups are also good for 10 years. A one-time purchase and you’re good to go.
How Do I Clean Them?
During your period you can just rinse them under the tap before re-insertion, or even use a tissue to pat off the excess (I have done this before in a pinch).
When you are finished your period you just sterilise it and keep it in its little cotton bag ready for the next time.
To sterilise them you can either boil them in a pan or use the Ruby Cup steriliser. I did buy that because I thought if I ever need to use it in a public restroom, rinsing it out in that would reduce the risk of freaking anyone out. Also at work, if I were to rinse it someone might see me. It’s not that big a deal really, but I find microwaving my cups more convenient.
Anyway, now I’m good for 10 years and don’t need to worry about buying any huge pads or tampons again unless I get caught unawares one day.
I have also been avoiding tampons like the plague because not only does the Tampon Tax make me furious, but I saw an article about a young woman who got toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from her tampon and had to have her leg amputated. She nearly died. It has not stopped her from going after her dream, but her life may have been very different if she had known about the risks of TSS before using tampons.
What About Leaks?
Some women don’t seem to get leaks. It’s a little TMI but I do no matter what, so I will always use a liner of some sort together with them. But to be honest, I had the same problem even when I was using tampons so it’s fine for me.
I’ve tried troubleshooting and incorporating suggestions, but there is often a bit of blood that makes its way out. If I’m honest I think it is the blood that is already lining the walls when you re-insert the cup so it’s not like the cup itself is leaking.
I also find that the medium cup has less leakage than the small cup. I think this is because the small cup is softer and squishier, and therefore easier to insert and remove, but it can shift around more with the vaginal wall and leak (is my theory). The medium sized cup is stiffer and bigger, and so can be a bit harder to put it and remove, but it holds its shape better inside the vagina and so doesn’t really leak.
And the medium size is plenty big for anyone with a heavy flow. Of course this is subjective but my first two heavy and most painful days I only need to put it in in the morning and then change it before bed at night. So convenient!
Pros of Using Menstrual Cups
You really get acquainted with your body when using cups, there are no two ways about it! It can be a little eww at the beginning, but it’s your body working as it was meant to and you do get used to it.
You also don’t realise what other stuff is in there until you start using a cup! It’s not just blood but other stuff mixed in too, like mucus (I guess).
And it’s really quite fascinating when you pour it all out into the loo and see how much blood has been collected.
No chances of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, and as the cup collects blood rather than absorbs it you don’t get any dryness. Also no more worrying about which absorbency to use.
It’s great for travel and long flights when you don’t have to worry about changing your pad or tampon in the loo as you’re good for 12 hours.
If you’ve inserted it correctly you don’t feel it at all! You can also do all the regular activities you want to do without that sweaty pad feeling.
There’s also no smell as the blood isn’t exposed to oxygen (which is what makes pads smell not very nice).
According to the Ruby Cup website, using a cup strengthens your pelvic floor muscles which in turn makes you have more amazing orgasms. Oh yeah, I’m up for some of that! Aren’t you?
Maybe I haven’t eliminated waste 100% and am not as eco-friendly as I could be, but I’m still reducing my waste and contributing a little towards protecting the environment and it feels really good to do what I can.
Cons of Using Menstrual Cups
It can seem really pricey as you are paying a big sum upfront as opposed to small amounts each time. Of course, if your cup is going to last ten years its a great investment.
There is always the risk that it doesn’t work for you.
This is why I chose Ruby Cup – even if it didn’t pan out, at least I could say I donated to a great cause.
You do have to get used to using them; there is definitely a learning curve involved.
Finding the fold that works for you (I use the punch down method myself, none of the other ones work for me), figuring out when it had unfolded correctly, when you know roughly how far it has to go in so you don’t feel it – even now I sometimes don’t get it in one go and have to adjust it a little. But when I think that I don’t have to worry about it until I get home, I don’t mind so much.
I totally recommend using lube like KY Jelly. I used to struggle a lot at the beginning but using that really made the process easier and more frequently painless. Depending on your anatomy I guess and your insertion method it might hurt a little sometimes. I need to ask fellow cup users!
Some girls say cups make them feel stronger cramps, but there’s only one time I can say that I suddenly felt crazy intense cramps just after inserting my cup. Maybe I put it too far in or maybe it was just coincidence. Painkillers are usually necessary for the first two days with my anyway, so it’s hard to tell.
I took a two month break but then the next time I tried it I was fine.
Some women might just not be able to handle it if they get very queasy with the idea of blood, having all over your fingers, and having to get their fingers up close and personal with their vagina.
Even now as I empty my cup out I sometimes think, “eeeuuuuurrgggghhh this is SO gross!” but then I remember my body works as it should, and is beautiful and wonderful in its own way and I am grateful.
Concluding Thoughts on the Ruby Cup
Only you can decide if reusable menstrual products, and indeed menstrual cups are right for you. And the only way to find out is to actually try one.
If you are curious, please do visit the Ruby Cup website for more information.
I also really recommend Bree Farmer’s channel on YouTube, Precious Stars Pads. She is seriously an amazing, inspiring person. She is passionate about reusable menstrual products (RUMPS) and has been using them since she was 16. She does comparison videos, offers tips and tricks and is generally a really down to earth and lovely person. I watched so many of her videos before deciding to get my first Ruby Cup.
Also, Ruby Cup offer a sister pack where you can get a pack of two and split it with a friend, which could be more economical if you’re just trying out your first one.
I am quite happy that I have started using menstrual cups but know that I still have a lot to learn about my body and get even more used to using my fabulous Ruby Cups.
Have you ever tried using reusable cups or pads? Did it work out for you or not? I’d really love to know. It’s about time we got over this taboo of periods once and for all!
Love you all to bits!