How my menstrual cup changed my life (seriously though).
I have always felt disconnected to my womanhood.
That many things about being a woman are shameful and should be hidden. Bleeding. PMS. Pain. Emotion. That the very things that make us as women so powerful are the same things that we should downplay (hello patriarchy).
Oh, you bleed out of your vagina on a monthly basis? GROSS, hide that please! This bloody miracle needs to not be seen thanks. YUCK. I have heard women say this about their own god damn menstruation.
Menstruation is a god damn gift. It is a miracle. We lose up to 80ml of blood once a month and can still kick-ass like a boss. Go to work. Go to the gym. Go be a mum. Slay. Etc.
I remember when I got my period for the first time. It was at my friend's pool party at a public pool. I shoved toilet paper in my underwear (heaven sent is that solution sometimes, am I right?) and felt equally thrilled and scared at the same time. Fuck. I am a woman now?
I was forced to get to know tampons from the get go because I was a squad swimmer and obvs pads weren't going to fly. I was even told that pads were "gross" (and tampons are somehow better?!).
Mum basically shoved the tampons into my hand and said go and learn how to use these. Trouble was, my hymen still wasn't broken (should have ridden a god damn horse or something first). The tampon got stuck, or so I thought. I really had no idea what was going on down there! I poked my head out and yelled at Mum for help...Her answer, figure it out. Fuck that was a traumatic experience.
Tampons were never really comfortable for me. And I didn't like using pads. As soon as I could get my hands on the pill, I skipped my period like there was no tomorrow. Get it gone!
Hide it. Skip it. Pretend you don't have it. Do whatever it takes but take care of it. Right? Advertisements tell us our period should be sterile. Keep to ourselves so no-one knows we have it. Blanketed in specially targeted pain-killers and brightly coloured menstrual product wrapping.
When I kick-started my wellness journey around six years ago, one of the first things I stumbled across was the humble menstrual cup. Back then, they were just emerging as an option for dealing with your period, and only truly dedicated hippies and wellness fanatics were starting to talk about using them.
My first reaction? GROSS. I could never use one. IMAGINE inserting a cup to collect your menstrual blood and then tipping it out in the shower? Crazy I know to think that I thought it was gross (if you are thinking that, you're not alone, hang in there).
Then I started reading about the benefits of using a cup...
Saving money probably being the most exciting one. The investment up front is around $50 I believe, so it feels like a lot. But when you think about how much you spend on tampons and pads for just one period, and your cup lasts many years, your investment quickly pays off.
Environmentally, menstrual cups are obviously the smarter choice. WAY less wastage than other period products. Reusable. And not made out of chemical-laden fibres and wrapped in plastic that goes straight into waste. Win.
In terms of period pain, I have read that it reduces period pain and personally I have found this to be true.
For me, it's mostly the convenience and the comfortability of my cup that has changed my life.
Also, the relationship between myself and my menstruation has grown stronger. I am learning to love that I bleed. I am honoured to have my period. And I feel this is inextricably linked to using a cup.
As I said, tampons were never comfortable for me, I have some weird bend in my uterus that makes it hard for them to stay in properly. With the cup, it's set and forget. It feels right. Once I got it there that is...
The first few times I used it was an absolute nightmare. I struggled to get it in. I struggled to get it in the right place. I struggled with it leaking, to the point where I gave up and used tampons in between attempts. I struggled with changing it. I almost gave up so many times. I cried. I got frustrated. I spent many minutes huddled over in the shower trying to get it to work. It hurt. Both physically and mentally. But I persisted.
I read heaps of blogs (like this one). I watched heaps of tutorials. I tried a million different methods of getting it in. I went and bought a different one (I ended up using the larger sized one, seems to work for me best).
Finally one day it clicked. It went in. I couldn't feel it. It didn't leak! Hooray. Unfortunately, this was a fluke, and took me another few tries to figure it out for life. Between tries, panty liners were my saviour (back then I used TOM Organic ones, but now you can get reusable ones, by the same brand that makes the cups in Australia, yay).
You need to find a method for you, most importantly. Try everything until you find it. Trust me, you will eventually. Be patient!
For me, I change it morning and evening in the shower (unless I can't, in which case I have learnt to do it over the toilet and rinse in the sink). I squat down or put one leg on the edge of the shower, fold the cup up and pop it in, then let it suction open. I then have to do a little wriggle dance to gently move it across into the perfect position. Over time, I have learnt what that feels like, but for ages I had to run my finger around the edge and do a few kegels to get it in the right spot.
My secret hint is once you have it in, but it still seems like it hasn't opened fully, to push down on it (kinda like you want to do a vagina fart). That always seems to work for me!
I promise you won't look back. It has seriously changed my life. Getting my period isn't a drag anymore. The cup makes it so much more pleasant.
I have really enjoyed getting to know my body better and appreciating the awesome nature of how the female body works. It's not to be shamed. It's to be applauded.
Bleeding is beautiful.
Enjoy getting in touch with yourself and your body. Track your cycle. Notice the changes as you go along. Honour the different parts of your cycle as you flow through them.
It's time for us to come back to the womb as the centre of power (don't believe me, take a stroll back in time). As the centre of creativity. And allow ourselves to be proud of our womanhood. Our cycles. Our changing bodies.
We're all qweens after all!
PS I am using a JuJu cup.