In 2011, I gave away all the tampons that were living in my bathroom cabinet. I'll be honest — it was a bit of a rash decision, but it's one that I'm glad I made. I had read enough info on menstrual cups to know that they were better for the environment, healthier for the body, and much, much cheaper than buying tampons every single month. So I decided to take the plunge and try out the Diva Cup for the first time.
It was a much easier transition that I thought it would be. Sure, it was a bit messier at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. Fast forward to today, and I love my menstrual cup. It makes everything in life easier, from working out at the gym to pooping on your period (I'll explain that later). However, there are a few things I wish I'd known before I got cozy with the cup.
It's Not Nearly as Gross as People Make It Out to Be
Some women out there still give me the worst facial expression when I tell them that I use a menstrual cup. They look at me in disgust and use words like "gross" and "repulsive." But we shouldn't be ashamed or grossed out by our periods. They're an essential part of our normal bodily functions, and the sooner we can accept our own periods, the sooner we can end menstruation taboo (and help women around the world care for their bodies in an effective way).
Real talk: yes, you will have to look at your own blood, and yes, you will get blood on your fingers. Big f*cking deal. Just put on your grown-ass woman hat and wash your hands thoroughly when you're done. I promise that you will get used to it in no time. Within two months of using my menstrual cup, the whole process became second nature.
It's More Convenient and Way Cheaper Than Tampons
I love the fact that I don't have to carry around extra tampons anymore. Since all I have to do is empty and rinse my cup, there's no need to rummage around in my purse or pockets for an extra tampon — and no need to accidentally drop one in public.
Additionally, I love that I don't have to change my menstrual cup every time I poop, which, let's be honest, happens more often when you're menstruating. When there's a string dangling down from a tampon, the bacteria from your stool is much more likely to travel up the string and into your urinary tract, which is why you should really change your tampon every time you take a dump. That's not the case with a menstrual cup, though; there's much less risk for infections and you can keep your cup in after going number two.
Finally, using a cup is light years cheaper than buying a box of tampons every month. You can use the same cup, which costs around $30, for several years (as long as you take care of it the right way), while you have to buy an $8-10 box of tampons every single month. The two don't even compare.
You Should Never, Ever Clean It With Soap
I made the fatal mistake of using soap to clean my cup in between my periods in the first couple months. Then I actually read the care directions and realized that this can compromise the quality of the cup. You're supposed to rinse it out with warm water every time you change it, but here's how you give it a deep clean in between your periods: drop it into a pot of rapidly boiling water and let it boil uncovered for five to 10 minutes. Just make sure you have a separate pot in your cabinet that's only meant to be used for your cup.
Sometimes You Have to Use Your Kegel Muscles
Anyone who has ever used a tampon knows that there are some times when it's not exactly put in the right way. It may feel like it's not inserted all the way into your vaginal canal, and it's uncomfortable as hell. If you experience this sensation with the cup, rather than taking it out and starting all over again (like you may have to do with a tampon), just do a kegel exercise. That contraction will suck up the cup and put it in its rightful place.