If you're reading reviews considering switching to a cup, then you've doubtless already seen thousands of women telling you how great they are. I agree with them, but I wanted to offer my experience and hopefully helpful tips to do my part to spread the Gospel of the Cup.
First, I'm a maxipad girl. I've used tampons very reluctantly because they always seem to press on my bladder so I constantly feel the need to pee. And as I've gotten older, my period has gotten heavier and more unpredictable (possible uterine fibroid), so I've been using a LOT of pads. In fact, I had gone so far as to place an order for a pair of Thinx (period panties) when I saw that someone suggested a cup instead on some online forum. I canceled the Thinx and ordered the Blossom (at half the price, I should mention).
It arrived right on the first day of my next period so I got no chance for a "dry run" (which many people advise against anyway). Talk about being thrown in at the deep end.
I'm now on day three and have spent a lot of time interacting with the cup. It "frees you from your period"? I don't think I've ever spent so much time up in my business than I have in the past three days.
Before I waste anyone's time, my biggest warning is this product isn't for the squeamish. You WILL get blood on you, at least at first. My bathroom looks like an amateur horror movie set every time I try to change it. For this reason, I can't imagine having to change it in a public restroom just yet. But the good thing about blood is it washes off, and if you keep reading, you'll see a little mess is well worth it.
(Speaking of mess, I got to experience my worst fear almost immediately. Had to change it in the middle of the night the first night. Between being half asleep and having inserted the cup too far, when I pulled it out it was coated with blood and very slippery. Straight into the toilet it fell. I instantly regretted buying pale yellow (so pick a more vibrant color if you can). I had to fish it out barehanded. It wasn't the end of the world, and I've handled worse. I did clean it up and leave it to air out the rest of the night for hygiene purposes. I had been using it about 8 hours, and going back to just a pad already reminded me how much I hate them, especially while sleeping.)
So far the hardest thing about using the cup is inserting it properly. It's not an exact science and every woman has to work out the method best for her through trial and error (fortunately there are a bunch of YouTube videos and online forums to walk you through). To be more specific, for me inserting wasn't the problem as much as making sure the cup opened up once in. I had a devil of a time (so much so that I started to wonder if I chose the wrong size or firmness; I've never had a baby but I'm over 40 so I went with large) until yesterday I think I finally hit upon my method. For me, the "punch down" fold works best (makes the point of entry about the size of a tampon), but even more crucially is position. Sitting on the toilet required multiple attempts and much frustration (at one point I had to pull up YouTube on my phone while sitting there, I was so defeated). Then I tried one leg on the tub and squatting as deeply as I could, and that made all the difference. Went straight in and opened much easier. Not the most graceful of postures, but nothing about our periods is a beauty contest.
Another important factor is position inside you. At first I pushed it as far in as I could which, while it made me feel secure about leakage, pressed against my bladder like a tampon so I felt the constant need to pee (as well as led to the very unfortunate incident described above). After a day of that I tried the exact opposite, so low it was practically protruding from my opening (the instructions say that the stem is supposed to be "completely outside your body.") I also had no leaks this way, but it made any kind of sitting a very delicate and uncomfortable affair.
Obviously, the correct answer is somewhere in the middle. In fact, the technique that works for me is pushing it all the way in, then pulling down again to help open it up, then when it's down low enough to ascertain it's open push it back in about half that distance (don't forget twisting it in a circle to get the seal). The stem is technically outside my body (I have very large lips) but doesn't feel like I'm birthing a child all day, and no pressure on my bladder at all. I finally can't even feel it anymore. (Also I change it about 30 minutes before leaving the house or going to bed, so I can ensure there's no leaking while there's time to fix it.)
Pulling it out at first was a little painful too. It's not enough to pinch the bottom to break the seal, you have to get your fingers past the rim and fold it down again to REALLY break the seal. Again, all trial and error learning curve.
Now for the good stuff. Trust me, learning how to use the cup is a challenge WELL WORTH overcoming. The only leakage I've had was from the cup not opening properly, the rest of the time it's been as if I didn't even have my period. If you had told me the cup would let me go road biking on day one of my period and keep my shorts bone dry, even without underwear (except sweat, which isn't nearly as upsetting); would let me sleep through the night without suddenly waking up two or three times with that unpleasant oozing sensation, worried I would stain the sheets; would let me get through my whole cycle with just pantyliners (and hopefully nothing at all when I become a real pro); would mean not having to plan travel and major events around my cycle; would mean no more cramps (seriously, I've had none. Do maxipads cause cramps??); to say nothing of the saving money and reducing waste -- I would have bought one DECADES AGO.
It DOES free you from your period. It IS worth it. Join us!
Three-month update: This month I switched to the small Blossom (again, I'm 46 but never had children). This has been much, much easier to use so I guess size matters. I've uploaded photos (blue is the small), and you can see the difference looks negligible but it really isn't. The small opens much easier, in fact on the first try every time so far. This is good, because the bad is the capacity really is less and I need to change it more frequently (in fact, on the first night I soaked through all my clothes because I sleep so soundly with the cup). I went back to the large once, where I had leakage because I still have trouble opening it properly. So it's a trade-off. I prefer the small because trying to open the large is so incredibly frustrating for me. Fortunately the Blossom is so affordable it shouldn't be a hardship for you to try both to figure out what works best for you.
April 14, 2016