It was in 2014 when I came across a random article on social media where it talked about how a particular period product is making it easier for women in an African country to manage their sanitary needs better. I was already on it and came across the word Menstrual Cup. The idea of collecting blood in a silicone cup and throwing it away was a foreign idea to me. I was only taught one way of managing periods: to use a sanitary pad. As a woman with PCOS who struggled in every menstrual cycle, the periods and the pains were not kind enough to me. I don’t remember a cycle where I did not have any hiccups. For me, pads were not just doing it as my flow had its personality. After my brief meet-up with that social media article, I thought of giving it a try, because the pros outweighed the cons.
There was a huge problem ahead of me at this time. The concept of menstrual cups was rather unheard of and it was not easy to find them. After a long process of searching and calling shops, I found one store that was selling menstrual cups. I read up on their sizes and confirmed what I wanted. I took my sweet time to understand how to use it as well. I fondly remember going to the shop I found and they had just 4 pieces and a lady assisted me with them.
I was eagerly waiting for my next period and when it did I was super excited and nervous to try out my cup. The insertion and adjusting took some time and practice but once it was in, the switch flicked in me where everything felt comfortable. Though each on its own, the best part was when I did not worry about “disposing of” my pad. I was taught to wash it, remove the blood, and then wrap it and throw it. I loved the seamless feeling of my periods.
Once I got used to it, I started advocating it to my circle. However, the reception of the idea could have been better. It was met with disgust, curiosity, and even labeling me as weird! Some of the remarks I came across were “How can you put your fingers in your vagina like that?”, “ I can't imagine having to see our period blood,” “So you keep it in for 12 hours! Ew!”. It was hard to convince others about the benefits of using a cup as everyone was finding it hard to challenge their deep-rooted ways of menstrual management.
Menstrual cups have some really great benefits such as reduced rashes, can be up to 12 hours, and are also very easy to carry. They are also very eco-friendly and don’t make you feel icky even on your heaviest flow days. You do not have to worry about disposing of your pads or tampons hygienically in a public setting or at home if you are using cups because you can easily pour out the blood, give it a quick rinse and use it again.
There are not many disadvantages to using menstrual cups, except for the first-time investment in getting one. It could also be difficult for menstruators with concerns about getting it lost in the vaginal canal. There is a slight chance of not getting the right size according to the height of your cervix but most brands are quite self-explanatory on how you can pick the right size to suit your needs.
Menstrual cups have changed the life of many, including mine and though it has been around for a very long time, it is only recently that women have been more open to this method of menstrual management. For the last 8 years, I have only bought 2 packs of pads on two different occasions where I forgot to take my cup. I believe these cups also help menstruators to be a little closer to themselves as we get to know our bodies better. We can hope for a time when advertisements for menstrual cups are also normalized and menstruators slowly introducing menstrual cups as a great menstrual management option, without having to give an explanation or judgment.