I’m writing this as a public service announcement for all women who have a period… my life will never be the same, haha, and I just had to share this because I wish I had tried it sooner.
But first some backstory.
I was a very late bloomer. I did have some periods in high school, but they were fleeting and unreliable. I think because they were so infrequent, I was terrified by them. I couldn’t count the days and know when it would come… it would just show up after not being there for eight months or whatever, and for those entire eight months I’d be convinced that today was the day it would come. My mom was also a late bloomer and I didn’t have any health issues, so it was more of an inconvenience than an actual problem.
While I did have a fear that it would show up at any given moment, it was nice to travel, swim, play sports, etc without a period. In fact, I had never had to figure out how to swim with a period or travel or compete in a regatta wearing a unisuit with a period because I never had one while I was swimming or traveling or competing.
I was a little more regular throughout college but would still label it as irregular. Again, frustrating when in the middle of some random day, without warning, I’d start my period. Ugh, hi there I guess.
Eventually, I went on birth control to try to regulate it a little. I did ultimately get one every month, but it was still random and did NOT line up with the sugar pills. It got to the point where I figured this was something I’d have to deal with until menopause and was, at least, thankful to be deemed healthy in every other regard. I stopped taking the pill because I didn’t like taking hormones… and weirdly when I went off the pill, I had regular periods. For the first time in my life. I have no idea why, but I was just thankful to be able to track it more easily (FYI, I use the app “Clue” and love it) so I didn’t question this newfound regularity.
Now that I could track my periods, I was never surprised or caught off guard. And I’m also super thankful/lucky to have a very manageable period. I know everyone’s is a little different and some are more challenging than others. Even with a short, easy period though, it can just be plain annoying at times. I did end up figuring out how to travel/swim/workout while I was on it and just went about my life as usual.
But with tampons, you have to kind of plan your day. Or least I did… For example, if I was traveling, I’d make sure I used the bathroom whenever I could so I wouldn’t be stuck in a pinch later in the day. I was always making sure I had tampons in every purse and made the monthly orders on Amazon to restock.
One of my friends is currently upending her lifestyle to eliminate as many chemicals and waste as possible. She’s the one who inspired me to use reusable straws and switch to natural deodorant. Every time I see her, she has some new tip on what to use to replace something… like what to use instead of Windex or some kind of glass canister instead of a plastic one. When she recommended switching from tampons to a menstrual cup, I thought she had lost her freaking mind. It was a hard no from me (and my other friend who shared the same sentiments as me lol). But we did have a lot of questions, which she answered as best as she could.
I watched one video on Youtube and then for three months following that, I had a recommended video every day on my homepage about menstrual cups. I don’t know why but I’d watch another, and then another. I found it bizarre and oh so fascinating. It seemed way too good to be true. A little cup you insert into your vagina and you can just leave it there for 12 hours?! Instead of a tampon which absorbs, the cup collects. I liked the idea of not having to worry about my period for the entire day. Also, as I’ve been making changes in my life to reduce waste, not throwing away tampons multiple times a day for a few days in a row seemed like a no-brainer.
So, I bought a Diva Cup.
Spoiler alert: it’s amazing.
As I mentioned, I watched quite a few Youtube videos about using menstrual cups. There are women who go into extreme detail and bless them for it because it’s so informative. Whatever question you have, they have answered it. I highly recommend doing the same thing before using one for the first time. (This is a good video to start with.)
Very basically, when inserted correctly, it creates a seal and collects what you shed while menstruating. You shouldn’t feel it at all, too. As long as you’re relaxed (the key!!!!), it’s easy to insert and remove. My friend recommended trying to put it in and remove it for the first time while in the shower and it definitely helped to get comfortable with it. The first day was a little bit all over the place for me. I was nervous and not relaxed. I didn’t put it in correctly and felt it pressing on my bladder so I basically felt like I constantly had to pee. After 30 minutes, I panicked, removed it and decided to try again the next day. After that, it was a breeze, I had zero issues. I will say, it goes in farther than I was expecting and it kind of disappears “up there,” unlike a tampon. At first, it made me nervous, but after the first retrieval, all my worries disappeared… as long as you’re comfortable with yourself and able to relax, you will not have a problem.
It was the most liberating period I’ve ever had. I forgot that I was even on my period. You can go to the bathroom, swim, workout like any other day. Because the cup creates a seal, you’re free to do ANYTHING. I will likely use a menstrual cup now for every period I have for the rest of my life. But if you’re not into it for frequent use, it would still be valuable if you have a big trip coming up or compete in sports or are heading to the beach. I kept thinking how nice this would be for long trips when you’re not guaranteed to be near a bathroom at all times or on a vacation with frequent dips in the pool or ocean.
I have a super short and light period and can get away with light tampons on the first and last days of my period and regular on the middle (heaviest) day. Even still, I was shocked at just how little fluid there was. For my first time using it, I was emptying it out frequently because I was a little paranoid. Then I decided to test it during what would be the heaviest 12-hours of my period. It was a whopping 1/4 of an ounce. One. Quarter. Ounce. (The DivaCup holds up to one ounce and you could always empty it earlier than the 12 hours. Even if you had to remove it every six hours, I’d still consider it worth it.) After that, I went to just emptying every morning and right before I went to bed (so ~12 hours).
My biggest takeaway was how this tiny, tiny bit of liquid can cause such annoyance in a woman’s life. Beyond being liberated from tampons, I kept thinking, “THIS is it?!?!” Obviously, menstruation comes with other side effects like cramping that can be uncomfortable if not completely debilitating for some women. But even to pull the curtain back and make one element of it easier is liberating.
I can’t stop talking about it with my girlfriends. The idea of a menstrual cup was so terrifying and just plain weird, but to actually use it was…. nothing. It’s a big deal at how little of a deal it actually was. I wish I had tried it a whole lot sooner and want all of my friends to convert now too.
I have to know if I’m just totally late to the game on this one or if you’ve been afraid to try it too!