This week we chatted to Michaela (@michaela_davids) about her first time using a Menstrual Cup. Michaela, a fitness, food and travel fanatic who currently lives in London, decided to make the switch over from using tampons during the day and pads during the night due to the positive impact ditching single-use products would make on the environment. So how did she get on? We know many of you are curious about what using a cup for the first time is really like, so we asked Michaela to keep a diary during her first period using a cup, sparing none of the details, so you guys could find out exactly how she found it!
I started my period on the evening of day one, hence wore my cup to bed. For the first insert, I rinsed the cup with warm water, folded the cup as recommended (the C-fold), crouched in the bath and it went in easily. I wasn’t sure whether the cup had opened to create the seal, so I tried running my finger along the cup but honestly did not know what I was feeling for. I tried rotating the cup, but this was difficult and a little uncomfortable – the cup hardly moved! Finally, is just used my vaginal muscles and did some clenching exercises until I felt comfortable (I honestly just hoped for the best). My sleep was not disturbed and no spills overnight. It’s worth noting that I’m not a heavy bleeder on the first day.
I removed the cup over the toilet by pushing the cup down with my pelvic muscles until I could comfortably tug on the cup’s tip enough to pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal. It was 1/3 full and didn’t make a mess. I simply disposed the excess blood into the toilet and washed the cup in the shower. There were still bits of thick blood in the cup, but it was easy to wash away. I used my fingers and Dove soap. I thought I had this menstrual-cup-thing nailed! I reinserted the cup in the shower, whilst standing, only opening my legs enough to insert the cup. This felt comfortable.
During day 2, I sat during work hours but wasn’t bothered by the cup. I could not feel it inside my vaginal canal unless I clenched [which I found myself doing, because it was new, and I wanted to get comfy]. Later the day I went for a walk and it felt a little awkward. At that point I thought that I either needed to; trim the stem or insert the cup a little further. The awkwardness was feeling the stem between my vagina lips and brushing against my underwear. After the walk and before removing the cup, I did not notice any visible traces of blood on my underwear.
Day 2 is usually my heaviest day however I decided to leave the cup in for a full 12 hours. This was a mistake, as it was full and spilled over when taking it out. I got blood on my hands, but most of it fell into the toilet, luckily! I then realised I had more to learn.
I inserted the cup a bit deeper; enough to hide the stem and clenched until it was comfortably in position. This proved to be much more comfortable throughout the day. I did intermediate yoga, which included leg and pelvis overhead movements and I was not uncomfortable. I didn’t feel it much during my practice, and there was zero spillage. I removed the cup using the same method used on Day 2.
It definitely got easier and felt more natural towards the end of my period. I found what worked best for me to insert and remove (in the shower legs ajar and over the toilet, respectively), and how often to change the cup. I did lots of walking, at least 10km on day 5 and 6 but did not feel uncomfortable and, actually, forgot about the cup for most of the day.
Michaela's tips for first timers:
Make sure you’re in a comfortable space for your first use, e.g. at home for the first day or two, in order to get used to inserting and removing. You’re bound to mess but it’s part of the process.
Become okay with handling your vagina as this is key to getting comfortable with the cup sooner.
On the day that your period is the heaviest, remove the cup at mid-day or more frequently to avoid spillage upon removal of the cup.
Remove the cup for severe bowel movements, the pressure will push the cup down. Otherwise, take care when going normally.
Wetting the cup with warm water actually helps to insert easily.
For those who have not yet had sex or a baby, the feeling of inserting the cup will feel strange at first but remember that the vagina is made to expand.
Bits of your endometrial layer (thick pieces of blood) will get left behind after disposing the excess blood into the toilet – prepare for this.
The cup is easy to clean but will require you to use your fingers unless you have a designated brush.
The cup will be sticky on the outside once removed. If removing in a public restroom, ensure you either have; a cloth, wet wipes (eco-friendly) or a water bottle to rinse/cleanse.