Tuesday, February 28, 2012
My First Menstrual Cup (The Moon Cup) Experience
If you read my Mama Cloth Demystified post, you know that I LOVE my cloth menstrual pads. I love them so much I was hesitant to try anything else for fear I would want to ditch my mama cloth. I have been curious about menstrual cups for some time, and I finally decided it was time to give one a go since I will be carrying them in my store and always like to be able to offer my customers help that comes from personal experience. You may have noticed that carrying products Made in the USA is very important to me, which led me to The Moon Cup. It's from the makers of The Keeper Cup, and it's made of medical-grade silicon (The Keeper Cup is made of gum rubber). The Moon Cup comes in two sizes, A and B. Size A is for women who have given birth vaginally, size B is for those who have not. The cups are the same size as far as volume, but size A has a slightly larger diameter. Both sizes are suitable for normal to heavy flow. Since I have given birth vaginally four times, I went with size A.
I waited quite impatiently for my cup to get here and ripped opened the box before my mail carrier could even get back to his truck. In the box were the cup, a cotton fabric carrying pouch with drawstring (color/patterns will vary on these) and an instruction booklet. I read the directions, washed my hands and the cup thoroughly and gave it a go.
Insertion was much easier than I thought it would be, especially considering the positioning of my uterus/cervix that makes tampon-wearing impossible and exams very painful. The directions have you smoosh the sides together and fold it in half again so that it looks sort of like a very odd fortune cookie (see pics below, courtesy of GladRags). I have to say when I first folded it, I thought it looked big and bulky and really awkward, but I was pleasantly surprised it was none of those. Once you insert it and have it in the position you desire, you simply release the sides so it opens up and stays in place. I was even able to easily push it up a little after I'd let go of the sides. As easy as it was for me, I can see that insertion could take a few tries for some women to get comfortable with. You can wet the rim with water or a water-based lubricant to ease insertion if necessary.
I had only one slight issue on my first try--the stem at the bottom used for removal. It should sit just inside the vaginal opening, but I could feel it was too long, and it was slightly uncomfortable. It was a super easy fix though--I simply trimmed a little off, tried it, then trimmed a little more off so it was half as long as when I started (it's stated in the directions you should not cut more than half of it off). Since women (and their vaginas) come in all shapes and sizes, it's quite common to have to trim the stem length, so I wouldn't call it an "issue" as much as a "need for customization." If you feel the stem is too long, I would first make sure that the cup is sitting up under the cervix where it should be, and then resort to trimming from there. Once the stem was trimmed, I couldn't feel anything at all, which is of course what you're going for.
Removal was a bit awkward at first compared to insertion. You pull on the stem and push in on the cup with your finger/s so that the suction breaks. It was a little uncomfortable until I figured out a method that worked for me. I found removal quicker and much easier if I channeled giving birth for a moment and sort of let my body help push it out as I pulled on it. You then empty the cup into the toilet, rinse and reinsert.
You can safely wear The Moon Cup for up to eight hours, but of course how often you need to change it depends on your flow. The beauty of a menstrual cup is that when you change it, you can clearly see if you need to change it more or less often. I changed mine approximately every 3-4 hours during the day.
Rinsing your cup between uses and then washing with a natural soap (and rinsing well) when you're done with it until the next cycle is sufficient for most cups, though you should check the manufacturer's instructions on the cup you choose. Boiling is not necessary and not recommended for some cups/materials (don't let the chemically-bleached bright white color of a tampon fool you into thinking it's remotely sterile!).
I am sure you're wondering about leaks. The only time I experienced leaking was overnight. My flow has been freakishly heavy lately, overnight especially. The leaking could have been due to the super heavy flow, and/or my bladder could have been full and pushed the cup slightly out of alignment. Either way, the leaking was very minimal, and I always wore a backup pad or pantyliner anyway.
Pointing out the obvious here, but when you insert and remove a menstrual cup, you will get blood on your fingers. You wash your hands well afterward as you would anytime you use the bathroom, no big deal. I can see how emptying/washing your cup in a public bathroom might be intimidating though. I haven't had to so it yet, but should the need arise, I plan to keep wet cloth wipes in my purse to wipe the cup and my hands off with. If you don't do cloth wipes, a travel pack of wet wipes would work great (thanks to one of my awesome Facebook fans for this suggestion!). I've also seen women suggest small bottles/spray bottles of water stashed in a purse/bag.
So, am I ready to ditch my beloved mama cloth? Well, not completely anyway. I love The Moon Cup, and I most definitely plan to keep using it. I will use it for swimming and exercising, and probably overnight as well since my flow has been such a nightmare then (terrible pun not intended). When I wear cloth pads, I don't really notice their presence much like I did with disposable pads, but I do have to say that the absence of the occasional "damp" feeling was really nice while using the cup. I might still wear my mama cloth around the house, and I will for certain use it as backup for the cup. As much as I love my mama cloth, I am really happy I finally tried the cup and found something that will provide me with a little bit more comfort and convenience in certain situations!
I am happy to answer any questions you might have, either here or via e-mail (tinyowlshop at gmail dot com)! :)