Using a reusable menstrual cup for the first time was a bit scary for me. I wasn’t sure how to use a reusable menstrual cup and was full of worries. I was worried it would fly out at an inappropriate time, get stuck, be messy and be painful. However, I am determined to master cup use and increase my reusable menstrual product arsenal to include both cups and reusable menstrual pads. I have been ready, with my Cups, and was just waiting for my cycle. My family was planning a vacation and I took them along just in case. Turns out, Aunt Flow wanted to go to the beach too! I had my first cup experience via hotel, beach and out on the boardwalk.
I have been ready, with my Cups, and was just waiting for my cycle. My family was planning a vacation and I took them along just in case. Turns out, Aunt Flow wanted to go to the beach too! I had my first cup experience via hotel, beach and out on the boardwalk. I learned how to use a menstrual cup for swimming and I’m convinced that if I can do it in this setting, anyone can! Here’s my possibly too detailed experience, some tips, words of encouragement and advice:
My post-partum menstrual cycle returned way before I hoped it would. With my last baby, it was gone an entire year! With baby number 4, it returned just before he was 6 months old. Luckily, I had been collecting reusable menstrual pads and knew I would need a cup for heavier days and swimming. I got a Lena cup size 2 and Lunette cup. I was ready to go and was just waiting for the knock at the door, or um uterus I suppose. Tick tock cycle!!
I was crampy for almost two weeks and started to think it would never arrive. It was my second postpartum cycle and I thought that perhaps it went away again. I hoped it went away again! I am tandem nursing (nursing two children), but my baby has been sleeping longer spurts at night. I knew this would trigger my cycle just in time for our trip to the beach. As I packed for vacation I put my menstrual cups and a few pads in my suitcase. I was glad that I did! Hours after arriving at the beach my cycle started!
I looked at the reusable menstrual cup and thought, no way. It looked huge and I was already feeling crampy. I thought there was no way I could wear this thing. However, I had 4 little ones who wanted to go to the beach and swimming pool. I knew it had to be done. I broke out the pamphlet from my cup box, gave a verbal warning to stay out of the bathroom and locked the door. First, I rinsed it off in very hot tap water. Next, I practiced folding it a few times. To my surprise, it didn’t look much larger than a tampon. I remembered how I used to pull out a fully fluffed tampon pain-free and this increased my confidence. I sat down on the toilet and began to insert it.
I held the cup near the top where it was folded. However, as I inserted it I realized that I couldn’t keep it pinched in that spot for long. I slid my fingers down the cup and kept it pinched closer and closer to the bottom. I could tell the cup was opening up as I pushed it further towards my cervix. Finally, it stopped. I knew I hit home base. I could easily touch the stem and remembered reading about trimming it. First fear…GONE! No way this was going to get lost, I could easily touch it with my finger and the stem was nice and long.
I put on my bathing suit and wore the cup for just over two hours before I checked it. While it wasn’t painful, it wasn’t completely comfortable and I knew it was there. Maybe it was my anxiety about something going wrong, but I looked forward to seeing it again. I sat on the toilet and tugged. I thought oh no… it was stuck!! I immediately pictured going to the ER on vacation to get it out and was horrified at the thought. I pulled a bit harder and heard a pop, the suction broke! Ouch! I thought I ripped out my cervix. I looked closer at the pamphlet and read that I needed to pinch it to remove it, similarly to how I inserted it. Oops. I should have read the instructions better first.
It was a heavy flow day and the Lena cup, affiliate link below, was maybe 1/3 of the way full after just over two hours. I dumped it into the toilet and rinsed it in the sink. While the tips of my fingers did get a little blood on them, it was a surprisingly clean process. The cup rinsed clean in seconds, I could see that the air holes were unblocked. I reinserted it much easier the second time. I stood up and walked a few feet. I could feel it shift and move into place. I should have rotated it, I should have rotated it!! I thought! Either way, it now well seated and I was off to the beach…
As I stood on the beach, I looked out over the ocean and wondered if there were sharks in the water. I imagined my cup flying out, releasing the menstrual blood and attracting a swarm of sharks to my location. Menstrual cup shark bait?! Then, I remembered that it didn’t come out easily when I wanted it to and started to walk into the water. I hoped it wouldn’t shoot out like one of those champagne party poppers from the fireworks store. Luckily, it didn’t and my confidence grew even more. I left it in for 4 hours this time, walked the boardwalk and even went out to dinner with my family. I was so busy that I forgot about it and eagerly waited to inspect it when we returned to our room.
This time, I pulled the reusable menstrual cup down with one hand and used two fingers from the other to pinch it. It came out easily and since I held it upright there were zero spills. I dumped it into the toilet I was sitting on and rinsed it in the sink. Then, I decided to retire it for the day and switch to reusable pads. To my surprise, it took awhile for any blood to come back out. I think that collecting it so high-up meant that the rest of the track was pretty clear. While I did have some blood on my suit, I realized that this was because there was already some on the equipment from when my cycle started and I have a nice collection of cloth pads going to wear as overflow protection.
I continued to use the cup for 3 more days on vacation. My confidence grew and grew. I did not attract sharks, it did not get stuck or shoot out like fireworks, it wasn’t painful and was a surprisingly easy and clean process. I even smelled the cup. Zero smell at all! I keep thinking, why didn’t my OBGYN tell me about this? Cups are my new obsession and I can’t wait to try more brands, share with other women and help spread the word about chemical free, zero waste, reusable products that are good for Moms and the environment!