Warning: this post talks about things like periods and vaginas. If you're squicked out by either of those, you might want to just back up to the last post because it has a picture of my puppy looking cute in front of a bowl of popcorn, and no vaginas to be found.
Okay, so here we go. I'm writing this in case any of my friends are thinking about trying this sort of product but feel funny asking about it. You know you're wondering.
Anyway, about a month ago I read an absolutely horrifying story about a woman who had found bread mold in her Kotex tampon (prior to insertion, thankfully). And it got me thinking about things like brand loyalty, personal safety, and stuff like that. I'm a Playtex girl, myself, and for the past coupla decades, those pink boxes have sat happily in my bathroom cabinet every month. But the bottom line is, unless you peer inside the applicator each time you use a tampon, you really have NO idea what you're sticking up into your ladybits. Combine that with my increasingly-minimalist approach to living and spending, and I decided I'd look into using a menstrual cup instead of buying disposable products each month.
There are several different brands available out there - and apparently an entire community of Yay I Love My Cup! folks - so I did some research and decided that I'd experiment with the Keeper Cup brand. At $35, it would cost me about the same as a year's supply of tampons - but if all goes well, I should get about ten years of use from it. I ordered it online, and a few days later a plain yellow envelope showed up in my mailbox, postmarked Cincinnati. Inside was a pretty little floral cloth bag (hand stitched by retired seamstresses!) containing my Keeper Cup, which looks a bit like the business end of a plunger for Barbie's Dream House.
Second thing you need to know: insertion may take multiple attempts until you get accustomed to it and develop a technique that works for you. The instructions tell you to fold the cup in half, and then in half again - it looks a bit like a taco, no kidding - and then relax and insert it. Well... yeah. If you let go too soon, there's a weird slurping sound as the cup forms a vacuum inside your vagina, and your cup will sit too low, which will feel weird. Make sure you hold on to it as you position it inside - once you let go, the latex pops out into place, the tiny holes form suction, and bang, you've got a cup in your vagina, all ready to catch whatever sort of things might be headed out of you. The first time I did it, took me three shots. And it's definitely easier if you hike a foot up on the side of the tub, like you did the first eleventy-four times you tried to use a tampon.
Once it's in place, it's pretty comfortable. Certainly no less noticeable than those tampons I've been using all those years. For removal, there's a little stem at the base of the cup, which sits right up inside, but honestly, I didn't even notice it. If the stem moves around, don't worry, you'll still be able to catch it later when you need to remove your cup, it's not going to end up in your appendix or anything. And if you're squeamish about sticking your fingers in there anyway, for the love of Pete, we learned in kindergarten to wash our hands after using the restroom, right?
To remove the cup, I found that if I grabbed the stem with my fingertips and then pushed the base of the cup towards the center, it releases the vacuum with a little popping sound, and then you can slide the cup out and simply dump the contents into the toilet. Have a piece of toilet paper handy so you can wipe off the rim (and your fingers) while you move it to the sink for a quick rinse. Then re-insert.
Upsides of using a cup? Well, it's environmentally sound, it's cost effective, and OMG NO LEAKAGE. That's huge, as anyone who's ever had to borrow an emergency tampon from a stranger knows. Also, it's comfortable as hell once you get used to it.
Downsides? Well, I can see how it could be a little messy, depending on the volume of contents in the cup. If I thought I was going to have to empty it in a public restroom I might consider using a tampon for the afternoon instead. Then again, you don't have to empty a cup nearly as often as you'd have to change a tampon, so it's a pretty good trade off.
The Keeper brand also offers the Moon Cup, which is built the same way but out of medical-grade silicone, for those of you who might have a latex allergy. Other brands include Diva, Lunette, Softcup and Miacup -- I'm sure all of them work essentially the same way, it's just a matter of finding the one you like. And nearly all of them come with a money-back guarantee, so if you really hate it -- or you just can't use it -- send it back.
Anyway, this is one of those rare products that makes me stop and say OMG WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER? Super easy, super comfy, inexpensive, and just toss it in some hot soapy water when I'm done with it. I want to buy one for all my friends, but that might be seen as creepy.
Totally giving this one five stars. Or BeaDazzled vaginas, because they're sparklier.