Like many women, part of learning to love and accept my body also included dealing with the shame I had around menstruation. I started menstruating when I was 10 years old and it was a confusing and terrifying experience. My mom (bless you, mom) was not great with the explaining of the bodily functions. So I was handed a jumbo super plus tampon with a cardboard applicator and sent into the bathroom. I was so baffled about what this thing was and where it was supposed to go.
Needless to say there were tears and I used pads the size of a toddler diaper for the next several years. My mom (again bless you, mom, you tried) would place my pad in a paper bag in an attempt to conceal it. Added to my mortification was the lack of sanitary napkin disposals in the stalls at my elementary school which lead me to live in constant terror that just as I was burying my pad in the communal trash the door would be flung open and I would be met with horror and ridicule from my non-menstruating classmates. Horrifying. There is not enough therapy in the world to get rid of that memory.
Anyway, clearly I survived into adulthood somehow and have lived to tell all the Internet my most mortifying moments. You’re welcome.
Connecting with my body has been a long road for me. Navigating sex and sexuality as a big woman has been a journey that I am still on. I believe the negative experiences I had when I first started menstruating only added to the dissociation I felt with my body. I was ashamed and scared. Not a single adult took the time to explain to me that what was happening to my body was normal and natural and that all women go through it.
So I started a quest in my early 20s to better connect with my body and my sacred moon blood. And that was when I discovered this amazing invention of a reusable menstrual cup. It’s a small internally worn cup made of medical grade silicone that collects menstrual blood and is reusable over and over. It can be worn for 10-12 hours without the fear of getting toxic shock syndrome and does not absorb those good juices in your lady bits. Also, they cost between $20-$40 and last for years! Years! Think of all the savings!
The only cup available in Canada at the retail level at the time (and I think currently) is the DivaCup. So I marched to the nearest London Drugs and scooped one up in the size 1 (for women under 30 who have not given birth). I ran home with high hopes that yes- I am a progressive sexual woman! I am getting in touch with my moons! I am going to save BOATLOADS of cash!
And once again I found myself in a bathroom looking at a baffling foreign object near tears. And I just could never get the DivaCup to work for me. Over the years I’d dig it out of the drawer. Give it another try. And it always ended up the same way: with my sweaty, swearing, and throwing the cup against the wall and reaching for my multipack of Tampax Pearls.
Despite my on-again-off again with the DivaCup still I believed in the reusable menstrual cup. Much like I spread the word around about IUDs, I did much the same with the menstrual cup. I told anyone and everyone with a uterus about it. And many of them bought one and later thanked me for making them life-life converts to the cup club.
A few months ago I finally ended up sterilizing my DivaCup and gifting it to a good friend of mine who immediately fell in love with it. I started to dread when her period started and the 10 text messages I’d receive about how amaaaaazing the cup was and how she is neeeeeeever going back to tampons. I was feeling left out until it dawned on me; it may be that that cup is just wrong for me. Maybe I’m not broken after all. Maybe my vagina is not some odd misshapen cup-hating cave. So, I started researching other cups. Specifically looking for a smaller cup made of softer silicone. I ended up ordering a pretty blue small Meluna cup online after a lot of tedious research. Obviously, this would solve it all! I would finally be a convert!
When my Meluna arrived I felt excited. However, it was not long before the Meluna was sailing through the air and the cat was batting it around the floor. I’ve had the Meluna a few months and it’s done the same dance in and out of the closet until a few days ago.
I decided to try again and, for whatever reason, I got it to work. It was amazing. I’ve been successful at removing and reinserting several times now and am officially in love. I finally get what the gushing is about because Tampax is not getting any more of this sassy lady’s cash. Plus it didn’t leak through any of my daily activities (sleeping, working out, running around at work all day).
So, for anyone who is looking to get a reusable menstrual cup here are a few things I learned the hard way along the way.
Like everything made for women, one size does not fit all. Many women call it looking for your “Golidlocks cup” because some of us have to try a few until we find the one that’s juuuuuuuuuust right. What works in my vagina will not necessarily work in yours.
Be patient with yourself. Do you remember the first time you used a tampon? I’m sure it took a few tries before you felt confidant and comfortable using it.
Get ready to get really up close and personal with your vagina. If you are used to using disposable feminine hygiene products that are (in my opinion) designed to keep you from touching your vagina or menstrual blood as much as possible, it will be a new experience. The blue dye in commercials and the plastic applicators have conditioned us to feel that menstruation is something unhygienic and dirty. But it’s natural. Get to know it. It’s your body.
Tell a friend! Buy one for a young lady in your life! It’s important to share these success stories with other women. There are fewer things that feel greater in this world then empowering yourself through your relationship to your body and to other women.