Let’s Bloody Talk About Menstrual Cups
How my queer bloody journey opened up conversations around menstruation
I never thought I’d be looking forward to sticking a silicone cup up my vagina, but here I am awaiting the feeling of empowerment
Ironically I just got my period this morning.
When I first opened up about my experience as a genderfluid monthly bleeder, I didn’t expect the positive reception that I received.
The questions, conversations, and overall openness/curiousity about menstruation was so heartwarming. Even though we’re in 2022, the lack of public and mainstreamed knowledge around bodies that menstruate is horrifying. And honestly, there's lots that even I still don't know.
I received a lot of questions regarding comfort, cleaning, and "technique". Now, I'm no cup wizard, but the first 2 times I used the cup, I got it in perfectly. No technique, just excitement. (Though the next few times weren’t as easy).
Basically you sort of make a U shape by squeezing the cup between your fingers so that you can insert it. Mind you, there are many different shapes you can make with the cup to aid with insertion; you can see them in the image below.
The tip (or ring, depending on the cup) at the bottom of the cup should be just about out of your vagina, but not like sticking out by much. You'll feel a bit of a pop when the cup opens to its circular shape inside of you. That part doesn't hurt at all.
Definitely be prepared for bloody fingers though.
Pulling it out of my vagina was a bit trickier, and hurt a tad as I felt a scraping sensation against my inner walls. But it was over pretty quickly because it's not in as deep as you'd think.
Then you got a cup of blood. Damn, how cool and powerful!
Imagine you are some vampire, or royalty with the blood of your enemies in your goblet of power!
At least that's how I feel about it sometimes.
Don't drink it. You are not a vampire.
Dump it out in the toilet (and don't drop the cup in the toilet like I did once), and rinse it out well. After you finished wiping yourself and all that, make sure you wash the cup with soap or a menstrual cup cleaner soap. Often you have to buy it separately from the cup, but if you happen to have sex toys, you can usually use the same toy cleaner for your cup.
You can dry it off or just pop it back in wet, which honestly sometimes help more with the lubrication.
Some folks' questions and hopefully some answers
Does using a menstrual cup stop you from peeing?
No! Not at all. The menstrual cup goes into your vagina, which is not where you pee from- though you do menstruate from there. You have a "pee" hole which is called the urethral opening, and that's a smidge north of your vaginal opening.
Do you push it up or down?
You push it upwards into you, at a bit of an angle. Just far enough that the bottom nib is sticking out enough to grab it and pull it out later.
How do you know if the menstrual cup is full?
Great question! Harder to answer, as it all depends on your flow. My suggestion is to remove and empty it every 6-8 hours. But again, that's based on my flow. If you have a heavier flow, then you'd want to experiment and see if you need to remove it every 4 hours or less. Play around. And don't leave it in longer than 12 hours because that ain't healthy fam.
If the menstrual cup gets full, does it overflow and have a risk of leaking?
For the first couple times using the cup, I would suggest wearing a liner because inserting the cup can be tricky and leakage can happen. Sometimes the cup isn't fully open inside because it wasn't put in properly. This can lead to leakage from the sides- which is normal.
A good tip is, when you insert the cup and it pops open, put your finger in ya and like sweep it around the edge of the top of the cup (inside of you already) to see if its in a circular shape and not concave anywhere. If it’s concave or not fully circular, it means you gotta redo it. Pull out, and pop back in. Fun.
Is it messy?
I mean yeah. But menstruation ain't pretty in general, at least a cup is cheaper! And it's a lot less smelly. When you wear a pad, all that blood gets trapped in that cloth/padding and gets more oxiginated, causing a blegh smell. With the cup, since it's internal, there's less smell. Also you won't get the stupid pad wings sticking to your skin or up your ass and around the corner!
Some Tips & Tricks
1. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know who to ask, google it. Even Youtube it if you're comfortable. Information is out there, and no question is a stupid question when it comes to this.
2. Find out what feels more comfortable for you. I found that it's easier to insert the menstrual cup when standing and having my leg up on the toilet seat. To take it out, sitting was more comfortable for me.
3. Use liners and/or pads in the beginning. You're still practicing and sometimes leakage happens. That's okay! Practice makes perfect and you will figure out the best way to insert it for you.
4. It's okay to ask your doctor or a health professional about it. They are there to help you. If they don't have the answers or information you need (or make you feel weird about it), ask them to refer you to someone who knows more.
5. Keep that cup CLEAN. You don't want to be inserting something dirty into you. Use the proper cleaning soap recommended to go with the menstrual cup. If you use regular hand washing soap, make sure you rinse all of it off before re-insertion. And make sure your hands are clean when pulling out or inserting the damn thing!
Anyways, I hope this article helped some of you out and gave you some more insight into the menstrual cup world. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments and I will do my best to find the answers!
Let’s bloody talk about it!
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