I Tried The Menstrual Cup—Here’s What Happened
It began with an email.
The subject read, “The Moon Cup – Celebrating Our Sacred Ritual.” The email was from Christy Dawn, one of my favorite sustainable clothing brands, and it described the beauty of our cycles, along with the connection we have to mother nature. The message concluded with an offering of a free OrganiCup period cup.
I’d wanted to go zero waste with my period for a while, but the idea of a menstrual cup intimidated me. It felt too peculiar from the tampons and pads I’d been using since my first period at age 13. Receiving Christy Dawn’s email felt like a big sister ushering me into a new adventure. With a couple of clicks, I ordered the free period cup.
When it arrived in the mail, it felt like Christmas. (Is it weird to be that excited about a menstrual product?) I opened the package, took a minute to stare quizzically at my new menstrual cup, then set it aside until my period came a few weeks later.
The day my period started, I again felt giddy, thinking to myself, today is the day! My excitement stemmed from the adventure of it, the thrill of trying something completely new for my body. I was also feeling happy to have the opportunity to find a deeper connection to my cycle while also honoring the earth.
I sat at my dining room table, cup in hand, and watched OrganiCup’s how-to video.
Step one: sanitize the cup in boiling water for 10 minutes. To insert, fold the cup corners into an origami-inspired shape. It looked a bit like a rose. How lovely, I thought before insertion.
The cup went in easily, though I was unsure if I’d placed it correctly. I proceeded with my day, not feeling the cup at all. There were no leaks, and my usual cramping felt lessened.
When evening came, I felt ready for the finale of this process—the removal. I opened the instructions. Relax. Get into a position that feels comfortable. I started with the “leg up on the toilet” move. To my dismay, I could not feel the “stem” at the base of the cup. Panic set in. I moved to the shower and began the full squat technique, thinking perhaps I needed to get into a more advanced posture.
Still, I could not find the stem inside me. I pushed the thought away that it was lost inside me forever. Relax, the instructions reminded me. I started breathing exercises.
I went in for attempt number three and felt the stem, but I could barely get a grasp. In full dramatic hysteria, with tears running down my cheeks and a towel wrapped around my waist, I ran out of the bathroom. I can’t get the cup out and I don’t know what to do! I yelled at my husband. He looked at me dumbfounded, told me to breathe, and said if I needed help getting it out, he was there. (If that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.)
I went back into the bathroom for round four, feeling stronger and determined as ever to get it out. Squatting, I propped my cell phone up where I could see it and played the how-to video again. Finally, I saw what I’d been missing—the crucial maneuver of pushing down on my abdominal muscles while holding onto the stem! I’d also overlooked the tip about using a lubricant. I grabbed some from my cabinet, found the stem inside of me, and pushed on my abdomen while breathing. Finally, with a gentle pop, it was out!
A wave of relief washed over me. Standing there in the bright lights of my bathroom while holding the cup, I saw the rawness of my period in a way I’d never seen before. I felt a closeness to my body and its natural flow. I poured the contents into the toilet (also a new experience) and washed the cup. Deciding that was enough for one day, I opted to wait to reinsert again the next morning.
Main Takeaways & Tips
My period got heavier in the days that followed as I continued to use my new menstrual cup. The cup did leak a bit with increased flow, which means I wasn’t inserting it perfectly. I also got much more comfortable with removing the cup, though it’s still a learning curve. Everyone’s vaginal canal is shaped differently, so the removal and insertion will depend on your body; learning is a big part of this process.
In my next cycle, I’ll remember to be gentle with myself, as I know it will take a few tries to get comfortable. I should mention it is also fascinating to realize how disconnected I’ve been from the anatomy of my vaginal canal and cervix. Using a menstrual cup has brought me into more alignment with my body.
Here are a few tips for your first menstrual cup experience:
1. Clean & Store Your Cup
I clean my cup with a mild soap before and after use. When my cycle is finished, I clean it and store it in my OrganiCup cloth bag. You can learn more about cup hygiene and cleaning tips here.
2. Avoid Spills & Splatter
For me, I like being in the shower when I am removing or inserting my cup. Even if I am not taking a shower, I prefer to be in that space in case there are any spills upon removal. I haven’t had any issues with that, though.
3. Remove Your Cup Within 12 Hours
According to OrganiCup’s website, you can leave your cup in for up to 12 hours. You can also sleep in it!
For those who are veteran cup users, we’d love to hear your tips! For those new to using a cup, share your thoughts about taking the leap in the comments below!
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.