Let's call a spade a spade. Having your period SUCKS. Yup, no matter how many happy, smiling, laughing, tennis-playing, diving, or white-pants wearing women we see on menstrual product commercials, you will NEVER be able to convince me that having a period is not the absolute worst part of being a woman.
This Kotex commercial pretty much sums up my feelings about my period and about period commercials. We all remember this one, don't we?
I still remember the first time I got my period... but let's be honest, what girl doesn't?
Mine wasn't some huge traumatic scene at school, luckily. It happened at home.
I was in middle school and when I told my mom she literally responded with a heavy sigh: "that's a bummer." So, needless to say, I've known since I was 13-years-old that my period was going to be FUN. Hashtag blessed.
I started using tampons right away and although I never had any horribly traumatic experiences with them, I never loved them.
After being put on birth control at age 15 in order to deal with acne issues (double hashtag blessed), my period was a bit all over the place.
I hated getting it and often would forget to take pills throughout the first three weeks and then stock up on them in that last week in order to try to skip the bleeding all together. I did this for about six years and honestly consider myself lucky that I never had any serious health issues after my neglect and abuse of contraception.
When I was in college, however, I was pretty fed up of the boomeranging pill cycle, and after a quick trip to my college doctor, committed to getting Nexplanon, an arm birth-control implant.
The first year was perfect for me... I NEVER got my period. Not even occasional spotting. It was heaven.
However, around the one year mark I started getting occasional spotting and eventually full on, unannounced, heavy periods. It was not fun. Plus, I lived in a sorority house and I honestly never seemed to have any tampons (cough cough I know you thieves on the second floor kept taking them).
During a particularly nasty nine-week period experience (no, I am not exaggerating), one of my sorority sisters, Sophie, mentioned how she used menstrual cups, specifically Softcups. I had seen a little bit about these before, but was picturing the reusable cups that you would hand wash after each use. No thank you.
Sophie reassured me, however, that she LOVED her softcups. She explained how you cannot buy them everywhere, but that they are safer, with less risk for TSS. Typically tampons suggest being used for no more than 6 hours at a time - which for a busy student like I was, could sometimes be difficult. Softcups, however, can safely be left in for a full 12 hours.
For me, this was a HUGE plus. I had never felt overly comfortable leaving a tampon in overnight, but was always worried about sleeping with only a pad.
It was perfect: I would put one in right away in the morning when I woke up, and leave it in until I went to sleep, when I would switch it out. It would switch from using about four tampons a day plus one overnight to just two softcups a day: hooray!
Now, I'll be straight with you. The first time I inserted it, I literally made Sophie come into the bathroom with me and talk me through it. I had watched every video available on how to do it and was still pretty freaked out.
I'm going to be honest with you, though. For a woman, before using Softcups, I literally knew practically nothing about the anatomy of my vagina or the breakdown of my period. This was the first time I really learned what was where and how it all worked.
Now, a lot of people are grossed out by the idea of inserting a cup during your period. I'll clear up a few of the most common questions I get.
"Do you have to stick your fingers, you know, up there?"
Yep. You do. But you know what? You get used to it. I was fairly grossed out by it at first, and honestly, I've learned how immature I was about it all. It's just another part of my body for christ's sake! Get over it. I'm glad I did.
"Do you get blood on your finger?"
Sometimes. But honestly, not very often. And it's really made me realize... why is that blood any worse that a bloody scraped knee? It isn't. The very rare times I get a little bit of blood on my hands, I just wash them right away, and honestly, my life goes on.
"Is it hard to put in/ take out?"
To be honest with you, the first month or so I used it I would sometimes not do it correctly. The idea behind it is that you have to kind of hook it up so it's pressing against your cervix bone (which I literally did not know existed until I began using these), which will keep it in place. The first few times I would maybe not get it pushed up into the right crevice, which would mean it was not secure. Now, however, it takes me about ten seconds to unwrap the cup and pop it right in. Taking it out can, honestly, be a bit more of a challenge at times. If you ever do get a little bit of blood on your hands, this is when it will happen. To take it out you have to hook your finger into it and just pull it out. If you are able to keep it facing upward the whole time (which, with a little practice, you should have no problem doing), you'll be able to get it out with no spillage.
"Do you just throw it away afterwards?"
Yup. I wrap it up, and throw it out. Why, for whatever reason, this grosses women out more than a used tampon in the trash is beyond me.
"Can it get stuck or lost?"
No. It can't. Honestly, I couldn't have answered this question before. However, now that I've learned a little more about my own body, I can reassure you that there is literally no where for it to go. You can't lose it.
"Do you have sex with it in?"
So this is one I cannot attest to from personal experience. However, many women claim that you can have mess-free period sex with a Softcup in. I have friends who have done it and claim that their partner could feel it slightly, but that they'd take it over not having sex. This seems to me like a personal preference, but I highly recommend giving it a try if you're comfortable with it - from my use of the cups, I can only imagine that it would work just fine!
SO. Am I telling you that this is going to make your period flowery and easy? Absolutely not. That being said, it does relieve me of the stress of worrying about leaks or TSS. Until I can totally avoid getting my period forever, this is the best it is going to get!
Let us know below what your experience is with different feminine products!