People who talk about menstrual cups fall into one of two camps. They are so absolutely obsessed with them that it’s a little creepy and you want them to stop talking, or they’ve never tried them before. I found a third category. People who are obsessed with menstrual cups but are turned off by the first group of people – the very vocal– so they keep their obsessions to themselves. A good chunk of my friends have flicked their tampons to the curb and gone full silicone. Now I know.
Like other humans, I sometimes get a little judgmental about things I don’t know much about. That was the primary reason I decided to try a menstrual cup. When I see this trait in myself, it must be squashed with experience. I hadn’t ever tried one before but for some reason I had an irrational hatred of them.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a cup for menstruation. You slide it into your vagina and it catches and holds blood. After up to 12 hours you pull the cup out, empty it, wash it, and either re-insert it or place it in the storage bag. Menstrual cups can be washed and reused every month. A cup can last years with proper care.
Don’t you get blood everywhere?
I was pleasantly surprised at how using the LENA Cup allowed me to actually acknowledge my body. Tampons and pads actively minimize the amount of contact you have with your body and with your period. That’s the point, right? This adds to the narrative that periods are dirty and gross and you shouldn’t talk about them.
The LENA Cup wasn’t the mess I’d imagined.
When the cup is inserted, it seems to take the fluids with it as it slides up. In my use, this prevented any mess. It seemed to be a cleaner process than a tampon because I didn’t have to fiddle with any kind of trash. If you’ve ever had a period, you know that any kind of period trash can be pretty yuck. Especially in public bathrooms. No wrapping tampons in toilet paper or having to toss applicators in the trash.
You have to empty the cup at some point, though!
I had never seen how much I was actually bleeding so I had no idea what to expect. If you are uncomfortable with the sight of blood, you can remove the cup while sitting and knock it back into the toilet without looking. How much blood is in the cup will depend on how heavy you bleed, where you’re at in your cycle, and how long you keep the cup in. Wash it off with a bit of gentle soap, and slip it back in.
It looks too big to insert, how does that work?
You will use a menstrual cup folding technique to get the cup in. This makes the cup insertion size about equal to that of a tampon. The cup slides up and it pops open, sealing to your vaginal walls. This process involves touching your labia and pressing up a bit into your vagina to make sure it’s securely in.
There may be a learning curve with insertion. I would recommend pairing with a liner until you become comfortable enough going solo. The removal process may also require a bit of patience the first couple of times. Having an understanding of how to flex your pelvic muscles to lower the cup downwards can assist in getting it out quickly.
The cup is made of a very smooth medical grade silicone that is super safe for your body and the environment. Because it’s so super smooth, and because it flexes to your body, you’re not likely to feel it. I had always been able to tell when I had a tampon in by flexing or simply feeling it sit there. The silicone is so thin and light that I very rarely notice that it’s there at all. The LENA Cup can stay in for up to 12 hours. The length of insertion time combined with the smooth material made my period exceptionally less aggravating.
What about the different sizes?
There are a lot of different menstrual cups out there. You may need to try more than one to find that one brand that suits you. Most menstrual cups also come in two sizes: Pre-Childbirth or Post-Childbirth. LENA Cup is cool because it bases the size recommendations on the flow you have, not whether or not you’ve had a child.
The LENA Cup costs $24.90. At an estimate, I was spending a couple of hundred dollars a year on tampons or liners. It’s saving me money. And, to be honest, it’s just cool. (Note: I still keep tampons in my bag + bathroom for those not-too-rare solidarity moments.)
LENA did not send me this product for review or pay me to say these things. I’m happy to be proven wrong once again in the judgement department. Bleed on, little uterus.
Have a question about menstrual cups? Submit anonymously by going to Ask Suggestive and I’ll answer on my blog. Prefer email response? I try to respond as quickly as possible to one on one questions: ask at suggestivetongue dot com. Today, try to challenge your preconceived notions of something you feel judgmental about. You try that green juice. You wear leggings as pants. I live in Portland and make no excuses for these examples. Until next time. xox st.