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Let’s talk about Why you should make the switch to a Menstrual Cup

So, in 2020, there is no excuse to have a non-eco-friendly period. There are more eco-friendly menstrual products on the market than you could ever need. I have been tempted for quite some time to try the menstrual cup and recently, the day finally came.  So I’ve decided to make this ever-so-detailed honest menstrual cup experience of my first week using the OrganiCup. Have you been interested in trying it for yourself? Maybe give this a read first!

*Reader discretion advised. We’re getting graphic!

The Benefits of Using a Menstruation Cup

  • Menstrual cups are environmentally friendly. In an average year, 7 MILLION tampons go to landfill, with another unbelievable 12 billion pads. We can stop this by using menstruation cups.
  • Save money – Let’s break this down. According to the Irish Times, the average Irish woman spends €132 a year on tampons and pads. That’s roughly €7656 in a lifetime. Instead, you can buy this cup once every couple of years – saving you a whole lot of mula.
  • Never having that “shit I didn’t buy tampons” moment. Just keep your cup in your handbag and you’ll always have it when you need it.
  • Most cups you can leave for 12 hours before changing instead of the tampon 8 hours. Sounds good to me.

What Menstruation cup did I buy? – What are the Best Menstrual Cups

I have been looking at these cups for a while. While working in boots, I had my eye on the Mooncup but I was always wary of making the jump. Recently “Organicup” had an offer on their cups. Buy one get one free. My sister happened to get one and I was her lucky number 1 in line to get the free cup. Yay for me.

The Organicup is 100% bleach, glue, perfume and anything-bad free! And the packaging is great, it is all recyclable/compostable.

There are endless options for you though. All different shapes, sizes and materials. For a run through some of the best options, take a read of this:

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/body/health/g23117116/menstrual-cups/

But I would really recommend the OrganiCup.

Menstrual cup, honest review and experience, eco friendly periods

How Do Menstruation Cups work? – My Honest Menstrual Cup Experience

Menstruation cups once inserted properly, fill up the space, and release a vacuum in your vagina, preventing any leakage or odor. The cup collects your blood for up to 8-12 hours (depending on the cup).  Because they’re made of silicone (usually), they can be folded up, pushed inside where they literally pop out into their natural cup shape. It really does make a pop sound.

When the time is up you just tug (when I say “just tug” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, it may be more of a tug of war with your vag) or pinch the cup and pull it down. You can pour the blood down the toilet, wash and reinsert. Where has this been all my life?!

This all sounds very easy and straight forward, but is it?

My First Week using the Menstruation Cup – a Brutally Honest Review

DAY 1 Using the OrganiCup for the First Time – My Honest Menstrual Cup Experience

Day one was interesting (traumatizing). But please read to the end, because there were ups and downs, and each day was very different!

My thoughts at the end of day one – This feels like I’m sitting on a fist. 

Inserting the cup for the first time – be warned we’re getting pretty honest and graphic

I took a look at the instructions which very handily are printed on the actual “OrganiCup” box – very zero waste. The cup itself was quite rigid I found. But I folded it up as best I could. Luckily the packaging gives some options for the best “folds”. I went for the simple looking “C-Fold” (it wasn’t simple). Then braced myself and went to try and insert.

While I was trying to get the rim fully inside, it popped open and I had to start again. I quickly realised there is a bit of a knack for holding it folded while inserting it at the same time. I also found it really hard to get it inside initially. When folded up, the shape is not all that …streamlined. My first period day is quite light so in order to push it inside, I had to wet the cup to try and lube it up a bit.

Once the rim had gone inside, it popped open again so I couldn’t get the rest of the damn thing in. This was really difficult for me at first. Eventuallyyy after a few tries, I got it inside fully before I could feel the “pop”. The little wick at the end was poking out but looking at the image on the packaging this seemed normal as long as it isn’t uncomfortable. I was just glad it was inside and left it at that.Menstrual cup, honest review and experience, eco friendly periods

Really really quickly I came to the decision I hated it. I read on the pack that you are not meant to feel it. Well for me, I would quite simply describe it as sitting on a fist. Is that descriptive enough for you? I told you it’s my honest menstrual cup experience! I could feel every single atom of that silicone cup inside my vagina and it was torture. Luckily I was working from home so I could shuffle around in my seat every few minutes trying to get more comfortable. So many times I thought “right that’s it. I’m taking it out”. But I actually didn’t have any maxi pads or tampons so I had no option. I had to brave it out. Which brought me to my next obstacle. Peeing.

Peeing with the Menstruation Cup in – The Menstrual cup Pressing on Bladder

So I couldn’t pee. I physically couldn’t do it. I felt the need to, and once I tried, I would get a shooting pain in my bladder area (I can’t actually tell you where exactly the pain was coming from) and nothing would come out. As women, all our “bits” are quite close together. Our urethra is right beside the vaginal canal. When you’re a very petite woman it seems, they are even closer. The cup can cause pressure on your urethra and/or bladder and make it tough to go to the bathroom or empty your bladder fully. For me, it seemed to block the whole thing completely. This is about the time I realised this seemed to be a losing battle for me. I hated it even more.

One of the perks of the cup is that it lasts for 12 hours. Well no, because if you can’t wee, that just isn’t the case.

For the entire day, I had to remove the cup when I needed to wee. In one sense it was a good way to get practice putting it in and out but it was absolutely frustrating as hell. A menstrual cup and a bladder the size of a peanut do not go hand in hand. I kept leaving it until I was fit to burst before going to the toilet for another removal and reinsertion. It felt like I spent half the day in the bathroom fiddling with this cup.

I read online that if you pull the cup closer to your vaginal opening, it should release tension and make it easier to go. For me, it did not work at all. Nothing. I mean nothing. Not a drop, not a dribble.

Day 1 overall – My honest Menstrual Cup Experience

So overall, day 1 was a bit of a nightmare. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. I could feel it there all day. It felt like when you have a tampon too low but x10000. That coupled with the fact that I could not go the toilet with it in, had to yank it out and re-insert it every time I had to pee (once every hour), just meant it wasn’t that enjoyable to me funnily enough!

My thoughts at the end of day one – is it worth it to feel like you are sitting on a fist all day and struggle to pee for 5 full days a month, just to save the world a little bit. While I thought the answer SHOULD be yes, I just didn’t know anymore.

Menstrual cup, honest review and experience, eco friendly periods

Day 2 – How does the Menstrual Cup Feel? How far to Insert the Menstrual Cup

I hope you’ve stayed with me. Because on day two, things started to look better. I refused to give in and did some more research about the correct positioning for the cup. It shouldn’t be just inside the chacha (I’m getting bored of typing vagina so I’m gona use some variations gals and guys!). Even though the picture on the packaging looked like the stem should be at the entrance, that’s not the case.

Getting to grips with the positioning of the cup

This time when I inserted it, I used my fingers to push it up as high as I could manage and removed my fingers wincing, waiting for the awful discomfort to hit me. BUT IT DIDN’T. It felt fine. I could slightly tell it was there but it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. FINALLY. So turns out it really was just like when a tampon is sitting too low.

I was raging with myself for not realising sooner. Although this brought a new problem, the higher up it was, the harder it was to get out again. Luckily using my muscles I could push it low enough to reach the wick and take it out without much hassle.

Taking the cup out after 12 hours – Is it as gruesome as it sounds? Honest Review.

I was absolutely over the moon to discover that once inserted, I could push it up higher inside and the discomfort went away. It also made it possible to wee, success!!!!! Although after my morning, I was worried about having to take it out the next time. At least you get 12 hours in between so there is not as much fuss as with a tampon. One thing I was half dreading, half interested in, was how it would be to finally remove the cup after 12 hours. I’d read some horror stories describing how disgusting it all was. It wasn’t. Duno what they were moaning about. It was absolutely fine. If you’ve had a period before you’ve already seen what it looks like. Seeing it in a cup is no different. Our bodies really are nothing to be disgusted by.

Thoughts at the end of day 2: I have mastered the menstruation cup. 

Day 3- Menstrual Cup too Far Up – Continuing on my Brutally Honest Menstrual Cup Experience

Each day posed its own challenges. Day 3 was, it got stuck! I should have been expecting this issue to crop up. Strap in for this one, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I had left it in for the full night for the first time and I have to say it was great. I really enjoyed getting out of bed and not having that awful feeling between my legs. Like a waterfall that was blocked and all of a sudden let flow again. That feeling of a night’s worth of period blood oozing downwards by the magical force of gravity once you step foot out of bed.

BUT, I am not a morning person. I rolled out of bed 15 minutes before work (yay for working from home). I thought I’d become so good at removing the cup the day before that it would be a quick job. Well, I was wrong.

I think the cup had somehow moved further upwards throughout the night. To start, I had a bit of a rummage around for the stem. I was blindly rooting around for the bloody wick (no pun intended). Eventually, I found it but panic quickly set in. It was wet and slippy and every time I tried to grasp it, it slipped away. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the most room up there. I couldn’t get my fingers up enough to have the movement to actually grab it but was trying to catch the stem between my fingers and pull it down. Couldn’t do it.

Because it creates a vacuum, it was sitting there so snug and tight, that when I went to pull I could not get enough force to pull it downwards, instead, the wick would slip through my fingers and spring back up. Plus I have long nails and kept stabbing myself in the hoo-haa. For those of you with fake nails, I pray for you.

eco friendly periods, zero waste

I ended up going out to my boyfriend in a panic having these horrific visions of me calling sick to work, rushing into the doctors during a pandemic so that I can lie on a bed with my legs up in the air and have someone wrench this god awful cup from my vagina. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and I only had a few minutes left before work started.

How I got the cup out

Good aul google. I took to my phone and picked up some tips for removing the cup. One is using your abdominal muscles to push it down. Only instead of one long push which is what I was naturally trying, do short repeated pushes to gradually push it further down the canal. The other tip was to squat down, because this shortens your vaginal canal. A combination of these tips and a bit more time meant I finallyyyyy got it out.

It turns out “how to get my menstrual cup out” and “I can’t reach my menstrual cup” have plenty of articles. You’re not alone! If you’re really stuck there is a method called the “spoon trick” which I didn’t want to try. But if you’re ever desperate..

Thoughts at the end of day three: Is it worth it to have to struggle to take out a cup once every 12 hours for 5 days of the month so that I can reduce my impact on the planet – yeah I think it is!

Day 4 & 5 – Finally Getting the Hang of it All

The last two days went by without any further hiccups. I had gotten a lot better at inserting it in the right position. This stopped any discomfort and I couldn’t feel the cup inside anymore. I also learned not to freak out when I couldn’t get it out quickly and knew I had these tips to push it down. It wasn’t so bad after all and is something I will be happy to continue using. And I know next month we should be smooth sailing.

Thoughts at the end of the week: Yes it’s a bit tricky and a bit more messy, but it’s not that big of a deal when compared with the impact using a tampon is creating.

Final thoughts on actually using the OrganiCup. My Experience

It is definitely something that takes some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t so bad. And is something I would prefer using to tampons from now on, mainly for the environmental aspect.

Menstrual cup, honest review and experience, eco friendly periods

Disadvantages of using a Menstruation Cup – Suppose we better talk about the Negatives

  • Takes a while to get used to – practice definitely makes perfect with this cup.
  • Uncomfortable if it moves too low – after using the bathroom I would always have to push it further up again. It seemed to wedge it’s way down each time.
  • May affect your ability to wee!
  • Much more messy. The taking it out and reinserting it during your full flow can be messy. I read this article where someone said something like “you don’t understand how disgusting a period is until you remove a cup of blood from your own body”. I don’t agree. If you have periods, you’ve already seen some horrific stuff each month. This is no different at all. Calm down.
  • You have to get used to having a root around your vag for your cup.
  • Still a risk of toxic shock

Toxic Shock Syndrome  – Why Menstrual Cups are Bad

Like all menstruation products, there is always a risk of toxic shock. While it was previously thought that the cup reduced this threat, a recent French study says otherwise. As the shape of the cup allows extra oxygen to enter the vagina, this may allow bacteria to grow rapidly and attach to the cup. New evidence suggests that to reduce the risk, to thoroughly wash hands before and after insertion and to not leave the cup in as long as 12 hours. The study suggests only 6 hours.

While it has been previously advised that if you are out and about, rinsing the cup and popping it back in is enough, this has now been challenged. This method does not remove the bacteria and it is advisable to sterilise the cup throughout using it.

This French study is strongly opposed by some, as the test was carried out inside a sterile plastic bag and not an actual vag. But I think it is still good to be safe and take precautions to reduce the threat of TSS.

Although the risk is soo low, I think one of the only actual dangers of using a menstrual cup is becoming complacent by thinking you can’t get TSS.

eco friendly periods

How to reduce the possibility of TSS

  • Wash hands with antibacterial soap before and after handing the cup
  • Wash the cup THOROUGHLY between taking it out and putting it back in – if you can’t sterilise it each time, wash the cup with anti-bacterial soap.
  • Sterilise the cup if possible between uses, it is recommended to boil it for 5 – 10 minutes

If you have any symptoms of TSS, remove the cup and speak to a doctor. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Low blood pressure – dizziness when going from sitting to standing
  • headaches, confusion, muscle pain

Tips for using the Menstruation cup – Tips for Beginners

  • When inserting it at the start of your cycle, from experience I have learned that lubing it up a bit can make the experience much easier!
  • Try and pop it in at an angle.
  • If it gets “Stuck”, use short repeated pulses with your lower abdominal muscles to push the cup downwards
  • Squat down to shorten your vaginal canal in order to make it easier to reach.
  • I’ve read online that you shouldn’t pull on the stem to get it out – which is what I was doing by the way – but instead, pinch the base of your cup with your fingers to make it easy to pull down. Now maybe I am an anomaly but I can’t easily get my whole hand up there or get enough up there to be able to extend my thumb and finger enough to pinch around the cup! But if you can, try that!
  • The one we all hate – Relax.

So there is my Full Honest Menstrual Cup Experience & a bit of extra info for ya

I hope you found this post helpful. It may seem a bit dramatic but I wanted to be completely open and honest about my experience. Yes, I didn’t get off to the best start! But as the days went on, it got SO much easier to use the cup and by the end, I couldn’t really feel it anymore. I think it’s better to be completely transparent about this. I could have given up after my experience on Day 1, but once you keep going you realise it is such a great option. The menstrual cup is really great, both for me and for the environment.

Going forward, I’ve also purchased a pair of “Wuka” period underwear to try on the days I can’t be bothered messing with the cup. Going to pick up some reusable pads too. Sure we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to products for having an eco-friendly period.

Have you tried the cup? How did it go for you? 🙂

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If you found my “Honest Menstrual Cup Experience” helpful. Be sure to pin it:

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For some more Eco Friendly Content, take a read of these:

Plastic Free Shopping Tips

11 Tips to reduce Plastic Waste

 

Why I didn’t buy new clothes for my Holiday, and why you don’t need to either.

 

Why I didn’t buy new clothes for my Holiday

I didn’t buy any new clothes for my Holiday to Portugal this year. One evening a couple of years ago, Eoghan and I sat down and watched a documentary on Netflix – Minimalism, a documentary about important things. Although I have always been one that cares for the environment, something in this documentary really hit home.

Plastic-Free shopping

Plastic free shopping can be really difficult. The main players in the Irish supermarket game are not making all that much effort to reduce their environmental impact. It seems it us up to the consumer to make the necessary changes. I’ve come up with some simple tips, to help you reduce the unnecessary packaging you’re bringing home with you. Hope you read something useful.

The Filling Station

Galway city has seen it’s first zero waste shop open it’s doors. The Filling Station is Galway’s first Eco Store. An article came out recently on micro plastics being found in the ice sheets of Greenland. And I’ve seen a crushing video where a manned dive went to the deepest unexplored parts of the ocean. What did they find? Plastic littering the ocean floor. In fact,

“half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away”.

Our plastic problem is beyond out of control. The Filling Station is here to change that.

The final part of this reducing waste series is here – General waste reducing tips. As with the other two posts, I’ve come up with some tips to reduce the amount of rubbish you’re throwing away. Although it seems daunting there are so many steps you can take to reduce your footprint. I have some other ways of reducing the amount of waste you’re sending to landfill. These 9 tips can really help:

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