I am always on the quest to try the newest period technology. Nothing thrills me more than finding new products that make the five-day parting of the red sea more bearable. For years now, Kotex and Tampax have tricked me into thinking that their luxuriously pearl stringed tampons and wider expanding wings for overnight protection enhanced my experience with my monthly uterus shedding — newsflash: it hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t fall victim to false advertising again. So when my friend gave me some free samples of the mysterious and intimidating “SoftCup” I was really excited for my vagina to be clogged up with what I thought was absolutely the latest and greatest — it deserves it, right?
The menstrual cups, sold under popular brands such as SoftCup and Diva Cup, is a flexible cup or barrier that collects menstrual blood as opposed to absorbing it like tampons or pads do. It works by resting on the cervix, which collects the menstruation fluid, and creates a seal around the vaginal walls. There are different variations of the menstrual cup in terms of size and form. The SoftCup looks like a diaphragm, and boasts advantages such as: twelve-hour leak protection, elimination of odor, no risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome, highly associated with tampon use), re-usability, and the ability to have cleaner sex during your period (WHAT?!).
With all of these advantages, I don’t know why I had not heard of the menstrual cup sooner. The menstrual cup is truly a gift from Venus, and she was clearly only letting an elite club know about the wonders of such a product.
When I opened the package, I was so shocked to see the device that I played around with in my mother’s bathroom growing up as an innocent, prepubescent eight-year-old. Oh, so THIS is what the menstrual cup is. The next thought I had was…now how am I supposed to fit that up there? The size is a bit intimidating, as it is literally the size of my palm. I immediately had a flashback to the time when I first used a tampon, and how scared I was as a tween to put something inside of me. I gave myself a pep talk as I positioned myself over the toilet seat: If a baby can come out of this, this can be put inside me.
Surprisingly, I could not feel it in the slightest. Normally, with tampons, I can definitely feel them—probably because that annoying dangling string serves as a reminder of my cycle—but because the soft cup is inserted all the way up to my cervix, it vanished from sight. My period quickly transformed into a “set it and forget it” situation.
Similar to all period commercials that depict the experience of “freedom” during a period, I felt like I could jump, prance, and run through a field of flowers.
The thing I loved most about using the menstrual cup was how clean I felt using it; as personally, I feel really icky when using tampons and pads. And because there was no dangling string, I could finally pee in peace without having to worry about urine getting on my hand. Since your menstrual flow does not come into contact with air while using the menstrual cup, there is no odor as well. The only messy part about this was changing and dumping my menstruation fluid into the toilet. It’s a bit tricky at first, and your hands will get messy, but with practice, the mess lessens.
As an extremely busy person, the twelve-hour protection as opposed to eight while still feeling clean is also wonderful attribute; the mini panic attacks of potentially contracting TSS are finally gone. The twelve-hour protection serves as a benefit for overnight period protection as well. I cannot express enough how nice it is to be able to sleep more than ten hours on a Sunday morning and not have to wake up early to change a tampon or open my eyes to find blood-stained sheets and underwear.
Although this device seems very fancy-schmancy and high-tech, I found that I saved money with the menstrual cup. I’ve dropped a small fortune on my monthly supplies the last ten years, but the reusable SoftCup comes in a pack of two for six dollars at CVS. You can reuse one menstrual cup per period with this brand, meaning that you can potentially get year-long period protection for $36. The menstrual cup also holds more menstrual fluid than pads or tampons. Considering these factors, the menstrual cup is beneficial for your wallet, the environment, and your vagina.
The only real issue that I have had with menstrual cup is the occasional freak out I’ve had with removing it. I was so proud of myself for getting it in, but getting it out was a completely separate struggle. I thought it was stuck inside forever, but after three minutes of wiggling my finger around, I was able to pull through. The removal procedure requires you to come into contact with your fluids, which may be unsettling for some that are not comfortable with having menstrual fluid on their hands.
I have yet to have sex while wearing the menstrual cup, but I am certainly excited at the prospect of not forgoing a week of potentially great sex at the comfort of my sexual partners.
In sum, I would most definitely recommend the menstrual cup for people that want longer period protection, prefer the feeling of being clean, and are trying to save money while being concerned about sustainability for the environment.
I would not recommend the menstrual cup for those that have limited experience with tampons or are a bit squeamish by seeing and handling menstrual fluid so quickly.
*I am in no way being paid to sponsor any brand of the menstrual cup mentioned*