I have not been a very lucky person when it comes to menstruation. Every month I had to face severe pain, leakage, and irritation since my period started almost over 10 years ago. There was not a single day of my menstruation cycle that I didn't face leakage issues. Stains on clothes and bed sheets were usually due to heavy flow on my second and third days. Not knowing any other alternative I was pushing through with the pads and tampons even though they were itchy on some days and were constantly sliding back and forth making feel the wetness, which is gross for many of us. My l adhesion to pads was due to my lack of better alternative until I came across the Blossom menstruation cup. Like other girls, I had this perspective that menstrual cups, tampons, and other period supplies are dangerous. One day I broke my stereotypical mindset and used a black menstrual cup at my friend's insistence. Dear God, what a life change and until today you cannot tell me anything against menstrual cups.
Like other teenage girls, I also didn't know how to use menstrual cups as a beginner. I had various thoughts in mind such as “will it be painful?”, “Will it start leaking?”, “how do I remove it”. Instead of wasting time on all such random notions, I tried it. It worked like a charm for me. Keeping in mind my personal experience, I will share a guide with you about “How to use menstrual cups”.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is made from medical grade soft reusable silicone. It looks like a small flexible cup which can be inserted into the vagina. Menstrual cup is an alternative to pads and tampons and once inserted into the vagina it will collect blood released from the cervix during your menstruation.
A menstrual cup doesn't absorb, rather it collects blood in the silicone cup. It works very well for over 12 hours. This means you can work, play, sleep and move without any tension or leaks for up to twelve long hours. Simply remove and empty the cup when it gets full. Wash it with clean water and reinsert it. Menstrual cups are a very hygienic way of menstruation.
How do menstrual cups work?
The reason why menstrual cups are leakage resistant is their working principle. My friend, who was a gynecologist, had given a complete lecture of thirty minutes about how menstrual cups works.
There are small air holes around the upper rim of my black menstrual cup. These air holes are used to create a suction. When we insert the cup into the vagina these air holes store air and the cup expands. Once the cup fits properly, all the air is sealed between the cup and the vaginal wall. This seal prevents leakage. It does not allow even a drop of blood to leave the cup's surface.
We gently push the bottom of the cup when we need to remove the cup. What this process does is, break the seal, release air, and remove suction. In this way, we can easily take the cup out of the vagina.
How to use menstrual cups?
It's a common question of every new menstrual cup user. The first time is always difficult. But once you get used to it, it will become a piece of cake. So, stick with me, I will explain my knowledge in a few simple and easy steps.
Step 1: Wash your hands
Your hygiene is your responsibility. Before using a menstrual cup it's important to wash your hands and cup properly. Make sure that the air holes of the cup are open and not blocked by anything. I have heard a few girls complaining about leakage. The main reason for leakage is clogged air holes. Blocked air holes don’t create suction and the result is blood flow from the side of the vaginal wall. So, make sure you check that before inserting.
If you are using a new Blossom menstrual cup then sterilize it first. It's an extra step for hygiene because sterilization kills all germs.
Step 2: Make yourself comfortable
Nervousness and anxiety are common for first-time users. I was very anxious while using the menstrual cup for the first time. It made the process difficult. Because our vagina is just like other normal muscles. When we are in a state of stress, our muscles contract the same way and can cause discomfort. That’s why I recommend staying calm and comfortable.
Stand or sit, do whatever makes you comfortable.
Step 3: Select a fold
We need to fold the cup into a shape that could easily enter the vagina. You can fold the cup in many different shapes such as:
C-fold is also known as U-fold. It is a basic fold. To achieve this fold, you need to push the cup from the center and squeeze. In this way, it creates a C. while inserting if you notice the top part opening soon, you can use both hands.
I started with a punchdown fold. It’s a beginner-friendly fold. In the punchdown fold, we take the rim and bend it toward the base. In this way, it creates a narrow opening and the cup glides smoothly into the vaginal wall. I prefer to use this fold in my first attempt.
It is also known as a triangle fold. Take the top of the cup, make it flat, and bend it halfway. It will make seven. You can do the same process to achieve a triangle shape.
The diamond fold is the one that gives you a narrow tip. To achieve a diamond shape, take the top of the cup, but this time just take the half upper surface and bend it to the bottom. Join the sides together and you will get the desired shape.
After folding the cup in the desired shape, get ready to insert it.
Step 4: Insert
Hold the rim firmly to maintain the fold and insert it into the vagina. Normally, the cup expands and fits properly among the vaginal walls after insertion. But in some cases, it doesn't expand completely. You can check by feeling whether the bottom is fully round or not. In case, if it's not round, move the bottom slightly and it will get the accurate position. There is nothing to panic about.
Step 5: When to remove
It depends upon your flow. When you have heavy flow then empty your black menstrual cup 3-4 times a day. Whereas in the last days of your menstruation cycle, go for 2 times a day.
All menstrual cups have measuring lines. You can learn your flow by looking at these lines after removing the cup.
Step 6: How to remove
A cup works well over 12 hours. Again, you have to be comfortable removing a cup. Being tense will contract your muscles. Wash your hands. Hold the bottom of the cup and gently press it a little. It's helpful to break the seal.
Step 7: Sanitize
Empty the cup in the toilet and rinse it completely with water. Sterilize it properly before and after the menstruation cycle.
These seven simple steps are the solution for “How to use menstrual cups”. Nobody excels on the first attempt. After two or three trials, you will get comfortable. My first three menstruation cycles were a bit of a learning curve. I am now a pro user and can insert and remove super quickly
Menstrual cups are better than pads and tampons
In my early days, I was also a pad addict. But after using the black menstrual cup, all my feelings for pads started to blur. There is a prominent reason why menstrual cups are better than pads and tampons. Such as:
Every month we need to buy a good two packets of sanitary pads. Along with other things, the price of period napkins is also increasing day by day. Whereas, a one-time purchase of Blossom menstrual cups saves you for a good ten years. No need to spend your monthly savings on just buying expensive tampons. Just save it once and enjoy it for a long time.
The chances of leakage are close to zero when we talk about cups. Its blood collection mechanism is so efficient that you will not get a single stain on clothes. Whereas, tampons and pads absorb blood. When the flow of blood exceeds the limit of absorption, it starts leaking. That’s the main reason why I switched to cups.
Menstrual cups are the most hygienic period supply. They are made up of silicone which is very safe for the body and internal organs. Whereas, if we talk about pads and tampons then bleached cotton is used for them. Chlorine which is not a healthy product for the vagina is added to such pads.
It was my experience with a black menstrual cup. I have shared what I have learned about how to use menstrual cups. I think it's high time to switch to menstrual cups from pads. It’s suitable for us as well as for the environment. In the era of “keep the country clean'' movements, we are polluting the environment with pad waste. Start using menstrual cups to protect yourself and your earth.