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Overcoming Your Fear of Using a Menstrual Cup

I am a menstrual cup user living in India celebrating my first cup-anniversary with what else—a post on menstrual cups!

My Menstrual Cup Journey

Menstrual cups and I became buddies around a year back. Till then, I was satisfied with using a sanitary napkin. But an issue shook me out of that comfort zone.

I got a severe rash that limited my activities. I was looking into other options when I heard many women complaining about the same issue with sanitary napkins. I finally took that step towards a more economically viable and healthier alternative – period cups.

A lot of people are either grossed out or frightened or awkward about using a menstrual cup. So was I. It is messy, especially when you are initially learning how to use one. But then it gets easier. The pros?

  • You get more comfortable with your body.
  • You will be surprised by how much less you actually bleed. Cotton spreads the blood over a larger surface area—making it appear like we bleed a lot.
  • You can measure how much you bleed (most cups have measurements) and immediately know if there are any irregularities.

Fear stems from a place of mistrust. There might be a lot of questions in your mind. Once you get your queries cleared, it becomes easier to shift to menstrual cups. As we know, all big changes start from the mind.

I am listing down some common concerns regarding menstrual cups on this page. Hopefully, by the end of this page, you will feel less skeptical.

Are Menstrual Cups Messy?

This was something that worried me as well. Sanitary napkins never required me to interact with my period blood. Whereas with menstrual cups, you put in a finger or two and there is *never* a time when your fingers are not laced with blood—either while removing or inserting.

But trust me, over time you will get used to it. Just like how doctors get desensitized to blood with practice.

I am now at a stage where I just pause and admire the deep red color for a few seconds before washing my cup off.

Will My It Get Lost or Stuck Inside?

Understanding our anatomy will put this doubt to rest. Check out the picture below. You will see our vagina is a closed chamber. There is no way a menstrual cup can get lost inside.

The cervical opening at the top is way too small and opens up only during the last stage of pregnancy and closes shortly after delivery.

Are Menstrual Cups Dangerous?

There have been only a few cases of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) associated with using menstrual cups. But they only happened because of prolonged usage (the cup was left in for days, sometimes even months, without removing—probably they forgot they had it in there).

Comparatively, tampons are riskier and TSS cases are more common with tampon users.

So to answer the question, no, menstrual cups are not dangerous or harmful as long as you don’t forget it inside you for days or months on end.

Do They Lead to Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Recently an article by the BBC sent shudders down every menstrual cup user’s spine. The article claimed menstrual cups can cause pelvic organ prolapse. There is no scientific evidence to prove this assumption. This claim has been refuted by experts including doctors. The fact is that if you are prone to pelvic prolapse, you will experience it with or without a cup.

So if a person susceptible to pelvic prolapse (they might not know this yet) starts using a menstrual cup, they might end up thinking, later on, that it happened due to the cup. Instead, the reason was likely that they were actually prone to it all along. With the increase in popularity of period cups, it is all but natural that people who are probable prolapse sufferers might buy a cup too as the condition is quite common.

Words of Advice

However, this doesn’t mean you can use a menstrual cup any way you want. Two basic precautions you can follow:

  • Never pull a cup out using its stem. Always pinch, break the seal and remove.
  • A little bit of bearing down is fine while removing a menstrual cup (like your daily bowel movements). The best way is not to bear down at all, trace the cup using the stem, and remove it as instructed.

Are Menstrual Cups Hygienic?

This was among my very first questions. I was concerned about sitting with a cup inside of me for hours.

A menstrual cup is more hygienic than your sanitary napkin or tampon will ever be.

  • You are not constantly subjected to that icky or dry feeling that comes with prolonged usage of tampons or sanitary napkins.
  • Moreover, your vagina is not getting soaked in blood-filled cotton laced with harmful plastic.
  • There is no odor as your blood is not coming in contact with air.
  • Medical-grade silicone by nature does not facilitate the development of bacteria. This makes the material ideal for feminine hygiene products like a menstrual cup.

Are They Difficult to Insert?

I remember getting frustrated the first time I tried to insert my period cup. It just wouldn’t go in. The stress just added to tightening up my muscles, and it became more difficult to insert my menstrual cup.

I gave up, did more research online, and then tried it again the next day by coating it with warm water, squatting down on the floor, and changing the fold from c-fold to punch-down fold. This time it went in!

If you don’t get it right the first time around, don’t give up. Keep trying. It gets easier as you get more comfortable with the idea.

Also, get a tube of water-based lubricant ready. I never had to use one but I heard it makes things easier.

Are Menstrual Cups Difficult to Remove?

Once I learned to insert, that part became the easiest out of the entire menstrual cup process for me. I could insert it in seconds. But removal? That was a plain headache!

I lost count of the number of YouTube tutorials I had to go through on how to easily remove a menstrual cup. I just could not remove my menstrual cup quickly enough.

This tutorial below finally helped me out. The trick is to insert 3 fingers, pinch the cup for a few seconds to break the seal, fold it in the middle, and wiggle it out.

What Will Happen When It is Full?

Another question I could not find the answer to online when I was initially researching on menstrual cups was this: "What will happen if my menstrual cup is full? Will I get TSS?".

The answer is no, you will not get TSS if your menstrual cup is filled to the top. The only thing that will happen is this: The excess blood will spill over, and you will start leaking.

Are Menstrual Cups Worth the Effort?

The first time I inserted a menstrual cup and had it in me for a few hours, I knew this was a game-changer.

The difference between using a sanitary napkin and a menstrual cup was phenomenal. There was no icky feeling. I felt freer than I ever felt when I was on my period. It made me feel better about my periods. It did not frustrate me anymore. I could walk around and be my usual self while using one.

I knew I would not go back to using a regular sanitary napkin, no matter how steep this learning process was going to be.

There is a learning curve involved. But if you are like me, it will not stop you from pursuing this feeling of absolute freedom that comes with using a cup.

I welcome every period with open arms now. The cramps remain, but the annoyance of having to deal with stinky, irritating, moist pads is gone.

Where Can I Buy One?

Unfortunately, India is not a menstrual cup haven. We do not have many reputed brands that have been in the business for years. Most of the Indian brands have only started and only time can tell if they are worthy of the investment or not.

I tried the Sirona Menstrual Cup and Wow Menstrual Cup. Both did not work for me. I was almost ready to give up on cups. But then, I decided to try out a reputed brand next up.

I researched a lot and found out that the Soch Cup met my needs. The deciding factor was that it is manufactured by STERNE, a company whose core business is making medical equipment and has several quality checks and safety certifications in place.

To Quote the Brand:

“The company has settled a quality management system according to ISO 9001 & ISO 13485, with protected production environments (4 clean rooms ISO 6, ISO 7 et ISO 8). Soch Cup is made in France in compliance with quality requirements according to ISO 9001, and with medical-grade silicone, USP class VI and ISO 10993. Silicone is used in medical devices manufacturing, and perfectly biocompatible."

— Soch Green

Soch cup is an Indian extension of the brand Si-Bell. You can find many reviews of the Si-Bell cup online. Soch Cup is available on Amazon India.

You can also try other menstrual cups available in India. Make sure to read plenty of reviews before you decide on one as there are many cheap knock-offs online too.

In India, Soch Menstrual Cup is safety-verified by SMRF. The latest check was done in January 2020.

My Menstrual Cup

My Menstrual Cup

Sources:

  • Menstrual Cup Gynaecologist Opinion - YouTube
    During press conference hosted by green the red, Dr Sonu agarwal compares menstrual cups, cloth pads and sanitary napkins in terms of safety, hygiene and com...
  • Precious Stars Vlogs - YouTube
    Hey everyone! This channel is about all things period related! I mostly talk about reusable menstrual products but there are some other bits and bobs thrown in here too. So if you have no idea about AMPs (alternative menstrual products) or have heard
  • Put A Cup In It
    Put A Cup In It (PACII) is a menstrual education website and resource, primarily focused on menstrual cups & other healthy, sustainable period care options
  • Menstrual Cup: Use & Benefits | Dr. Tina and Dr. Shweta - YouTube
    A menstrual cup is a sanitary product made for women to take care of the period discharge in the most hygienic way. The cup is made with Medical-grade silico...

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Kalpana Iyer

Comments

Kalpana Iyer (author) from India on September 28, 2020:

I am in my mid 30's and I only wish I had known about menstrual cups sooner. Better late than never. I really hope those in their 20's will consider this option of using period cups. Thank you for reading and commenting, Dora. Means a lot.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 28, 2020:

Being past menstrual periods did not prevent me from reading your article, and I'm glad I did. The menstrual cup sounds phenomenal and I hope that many women will read this article. Thanks for sharing from your experience.