It’s that special time of the month. The time we affectionately label ‘shark week’ or ‘the red wedding’. Oh yes, Aunt Flo is on her way.
You’re stocking up on tampons and pads, packing the pantry with chocolate, and getting ready for a week filled with emergency tampon runs, uncomfortable nights, and underwear stains. When it comes to the time of the ‘red monster’; life can suck.
What if I told you there was a way out? It can’t cure your cramps (get the hot water bottle onto it ASAP!) or stop your chocolate cravings (eat it I say!), but it will save you thousands of dollars and make your TOM feel like a walk in the park.
Introducing: the menstrual cup.
I’ve used a menstrual cup for 2+ years, and have never looked back. Gone are the days of stinky rubbish bins and secretly carrying tampons to the toilet. I’ve said goodbye to spending $30 on menstrual products every month, and I never have to skip yoga when I’ve got my flow on.
I feel robbed that no one told me about menstrual cups from the very day I got my period, and I don’t want you to feel that way too.
Here’s all you need to know about how to use a menstrual cup, why it’s best for you and the planet, and some cup options to check out right here at Oh Natural.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable bell-shaped cup that sits low inside your vagina and catches blood as it flows. It’s a clean, safe, eco-friendly, affordable, and comfortable way to manage your period.
On a menstrual cup, you’ll find a stem that is used to locate the cup when inserting and removing, the base grip, and breathing holes which ensure the cup will release suction upon removal. The opening edge of the cup is referred to as the rim, and the bell curve is the body.
With all these terms defined and explained, let’s brace the infamous question… how the heck do you use it?
WHY USE A MENSTRUAL CUP?
Best for your body…
When using a menstrual cup, you can swim, exercise, dance, walk, run, and jump, without fear of a tampon string getting caught or a pad dislodging. You’re able to track the amount of blood you are losing, staying more in touch with your body and monthly cycle.
Best for the planet…
Here are the facts. A tampon is made from plastic and takes hundreds of years to break down. On average, a person uses 11,000 disposable sanitary products in their lifetime. Depending on the material, a cup can be used for up to 10 years, and is the sole period product needed for most users. You do the math.
Best for your wallet…
If you menstruate, you’ll be familiar with the monthly cost of Aunt Flo. Since using my cup, I have calculated that a cup can save, on average, $240 a year. That’s $2,400 over the space of 10 years (the estimated time a standard cup lasts)!
WIN A HELLO CUP BOX!
For your chance to win TWO Hello Cup Boxes, each one containing two cups (one of each size), simply comment below with a tip for using cups OR a reason you want to try using one!
The winner will get a Hello Cup Box for themselves, and one for a cup-curious friend – you’ll both be set for your whole cycle!
Ends 10 pm 15 September 2019, NZ & AU residents only. Prize cannot be exchanged for cash.
OH NATURAL MENSTRUAL CUPS
The Hello Cup is one of New Zealand’s most popular cups, and it’s made in New Zealand too. Choose from a range of funky colours, and pop your Hello Cup into a little cotton bag between uses.
The Lunette is made from soft medical grade silicone, and comes in two different sizes for different body types. Lunette cups provide the ultimate comfort, sophistication and quality, plus their cups come in vibrant colours to fit your personality.
How to use a menstrual cup:
First things first, when using a menstrual cup it’s important that it is clean and sterilised. Before and after your period, clean your cup with a sterilising tablet and water, or boil it on the stovetop for a few minutes. During your period, you can clean your cup with the Lunette Cup Wash or Cup Wipes, or try the Hello Go On-The-Go Menstrual Cup Spray Cleaner. These products come in handy little bottles to store easily in your bag when you’re on the go. Always make sure your hands are washed before handling your cup, and store it safely in it’s carry bag whenever your cup is not in use. A dirty cup is not useful!
The concept of a menstrual cup involves folding, pushing, twisting, and a pop to finish. Keeping this in mind helps you break down the process of insertion and simplifies a daunting procedure which gets easier every time.
Step 1: Fold it!
Now that your cup is clean and sterilized, it’s time to start folding. You’re not going to get that thing inside your vagina without making it smaller!
There are two main folds you can choose from: the punch down, or the U fold. A personal favourite, the punch down involves punching the cup in on itself. Simply push one side of the rim inwards and down towards the base of the cup so it’s inside the cup body. This reduces the circumference of the rim, but ensures the cup is easy to pop open when inside your vagina – I’ll get to this step shortly.
The U fold is another popular fold that could work for you too. It’s easy: fold the cup in half. The rim of the cup should look like a U shape now.
Step 2: Insert it!
Now for the main step: putting it up there. It may sound daunting right now, but I promise that one day you’ll look back on your rookie cup insertion days and laugh at your hesitation.
Take a deep breath, relax your body, and sit for a second in peace. If your vaginal muscles are tight, inserting your cup will be difficult. Cups are best inserted when relaxed.
With the cup folded, push it into your vagina with your index finger. The stem should be facing downwards, towards the floor as you do this. Place the cup high so the stem is not sticking out, but low enough for you to reach it.
Give your cup a little twist to make sure it has popped open completely. Run your finger around the base of the cup to feel for any dents. If the cup is still folded, and will not pop open when you twist it and try to gently manoeuvre it, remove the cup, relax, and try again.
If your cup is inserted properly, you will not feel a thing. Do a little ‘cup dance’ to make sure you cannot feel the cup inside you, and continue on your merry way! You can leave your cup in for up to 12 hours, but it is recommended you remove it every 8 hours.
Step 3: Remove it!
Similar to insertion, take a breather and relax before removing your cup. Then, locate the stem. Whatever you do, NEVER pull on the stem to remove your cup. Only use your stem to locate the cup and help with manoeuvring.
Instead, pinch the base of the cup, and slowly wiggle the cup out of your vagina. Keep the cup upright as you do this, so blood does not spill. Empty the blood into the toilet, rinse your cup under warm water in a hand basin or with your menstrual cup wash, and insert again.
Top Cup Tips
- Before inserting your cup, make sure it is wet.
- Squat when inserting and removing your cup (the shower is a great place to do this).
- Don’t insert your cup when you’re in a rush.
- Cut the stem of your menstrual cup if it’s slightly too long for your vagina.
- ALWAYS wash your hands before handling, inserting, or removing your menstrual cup.
- Before inserting your cup, play around with it: practice different folds, and become familiar with an object that will soon be very close to you. You could even practice inserting and removing before your period, so you know what to expect.
- Hold your cup over the toilet and rinse it with water from a drink bottle if there is no hand basin close by.