Fill up that menstrual cup

Photo: 

I got my period on the fourth of July when I was 11. Happy Independence Day to my uterus, I guess.

Since then, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on pads, panty liners and tampons. I accepted these costs as an unquestionable obligation.

That was until this summer, when there was a movement against the taxation of menstrual products in Canada. While talks of abolishing the tax were underway, more and more women were talking about something called the menstrual cup.

A menstrual cup is essentially a bell-shaped blood catcher, made of a medical grade silicone, that’s worn inside the vagina during those special days. Many eco websites claim that one cup could last 10 years. The basic idea is you fill it up with menstrual blood, and then you pour it out.

At first, the idea of it all grossed me out.

But between the cost of tampons, environmental concerns and the very real threat of Toxic Shock Syndrome — which caused model Lauren Wasser to lose a leg and nearly her life — I figured it was worth a shot and I bought myself a DivaCup from Shoppers.

I’m so glad I did.

The cup is straight up revolutionary, and I suggest you buy one. But before you do, there are a  few important things to know.

Get to know your vagina

During a conversation about the menstrual cup, my friend said she was worried it would just fill with pee. This is impossible, but since sex ed was a while ago — and was frankly often lacking — now’s a good time to quickly refresh ourselves on the female anatomy.

My fellow uterus-havers, you’ve got two holes — well, actually three, but we’re not talking about your butt right now. Your first hole is your urethra, which is where you pee from. The second hole is your vagina, which is essentially a tunnel that leads to your cervix. Your cervix is where blood is dispensed from.

Here’s the thing, while every vagina has these parts, everyone is different. It’s important before you try the cup that you understand your own shape and where your cervix lies. 

The easiest way to do this is to feel around. Inside your vagina you’ll feel a protruding nub or cylinder. This is your cervix, where the blood comes from, and this is where you want your cup to be.

In she goes

Because menstrual cups are made of silicone, they’re relatively flexible. The basic process of using a cup is: folding it up, sliding it inside and then, if you’re done your job properly, it unfolds and collects blood.

You fold the cup because the rim is too wide for a vagina.

There are a number of ways to fold a cup, the most common of which is the “C-fold”, which I’m personally not a fan of. 

A common alternative to the “C-fold” is the “punch-down fold”. With this fold you use a finger to push the cup’s rim down into the cup. 

A quick Google search can provide you with a number of different folds. If one doesn’t work for you, try another. You’ll soon find the right one.

The "punch-down fold". (Photo by Kailun Zhang)

 

Taking it out

You want to empty and wash your menstrual cup at least twice a day.

Now, removing your cup may be tricky the first few times. You usually can’t just pull out a cup, because it’s most likely suctioned to your cervix. 

On the one hand, suction is good because it means things are sealed up nicely and there’s no leakage. But suction also means if you tug on the cup to remove it, you’ll likely feel as if you’re giving birth.

After you’ve washed your hands, pinch the base of the cup to release some of that suction. While holding your pinch, slowly wiggle the cup back and forth and slide it out. 

As the cup slowly comes out, you want to pinch higher and higher along the cup towards the rim, eventually making it into a “C-fold”. Throughout this process you want to tilt the rim of the cup towards your spine, rather than forward toward your urethrae, which is the sweet spot for pain.

While this description was somewhat long and complex, the process takes less than a minute and just takes a little bit of practice. Before you even know it, you’ll be a professional Diva Cup wearer. Say goodbye to costly tampons, and an arsenal of pads and toxic shock syndrome. In the end, a menstrual cup is honestly worth it. 

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.