A Menstrual What?

We’re going to start many moons ago now (excuse the pun) to a Saturday night in August 2008 at Leeds Festival.

May I start by describing the horrific “long drop” experience at a festival. Now, festivals that have portaloo’s aren’t too bad; each portaloo holds its own waste, yes it stinks, but you’re at a festival, options are limited. Long drops, on the other hand, are rows of metal cow shed like facilities, with one huge container below, where everyone’s poo and wee sits in harmony, in the heat, festering. Beware of other people’s splash backs.

Anyway, Saturday night, I really REALLY needed a wee. The arena had portaloo’s, and for the majority of my stay I’d managed to hold my wee’s until we got into the arena; but the arena had closed for the night. Rage Against The Machine had finished hours before and we’d all been moved back onto the campsites. This was the first time I’d been to Leeds Festival and the first time I’d witnessed such horrific mud, puddles and slippery ground, but I was something of a festival pro and had faced the long drops before at Download a couple of years prior (every festival before that had had portaloo’s) so I knew what I had to do.

Walk into the “stall”, lock the door, pull pants down, now…this is where the long drop skill comes in.
Don’t sit down, I repeat, DO NOT SIT DOWN! Grab onto the top of the door and lower yourself back, a bit like squatting without the risk of you inadvertently sitting on the cold, metal, filthy hole that leads to the abyss below. So there I am, casually holding the top of the door, squatting back, weeing as fast as I possible could, MUST.GET.OUT.OF.HERE.FAST! And then I spot it; mid flow, a Mooncup sticker. A moon what? A reusable menstrual cup. A cup?! Goes where? And thousands people love it? *serious confused look on face* That sounds horrific! I’m quite happy with my disposable pads; okay so I whinge every cycle, they rub me red raw; I walk like a cowboy; I get free arse crack waxes and I daren’t go without shaving else my pubes are in for it too, but everyone has to go through it don’t they? It’s that or tampons, and I don’t fancy getting TSS, so I’ll stick with my pads. No-one I know uses cups, oh god, imagine their reaction? Nope nope nope, that sounds wrong, it sounds uncomfortable, painful and dirty; only hippies would do something like that surely? (n.b. I must mention I have nothing against hippies here, but at that moment in time my narrow-minded brain dismissed it!)

And that was that, until 2013.

I’m casually sat at home wondering if there is a clean way to have sex on your period. Hmm. Google should know. Type in “how to not bleed during sex”, nope, wrong search, it discusses virginity. Try again. “How to have blood free period sex” ooh, result! Instead Softcup, Softcup? CUP? *Mind remembers Leeds Festival sticker* uch! Anyway, out of morbid curiosity more than anything, I research the Softcup. You can wear it during sex, how can that be? And neither you nor your partner should be able to feel it? That sounds too good to be true. *Orders 2 Softcups*. A few days later, a parcel drops through my letterbox, a 2 pack of Instead Softcups – these are the semi re-usable ones that you can use for your whole cycle. I open the box to grab the leaflet and inspect these cups. OH MY GOD THEY ARE HUGE!!!! No way will that ever go inside me, I know I’ve had a vaginal birth but nuh uh, no chance! I put it back in the box and left them. Google again, I want to hear other people’s stories about this Softcup. Surely they take up the entire capacity of your vagina, if you’re lucky enough to get the thing in?! I click a link and it takes me to a forum (I forget which it was now) and there were women discussing menstrual cups…Mooncups. Totally unrelated to the Softcup, but I read all of their experiences, and how fantastic they are. Hmm. So I decide to read the reviews and everything about the Mooncup on their own website. Wow, these sound too good to be true, so so many positive reviews, I cannot see any negatives. But hang on, £20?! It only costs me £1 per period with my disposables, I buy them from the local pound shop. Nope, I can’t spend £20 on a period, it’s far too much money.

Autumn 2013.

The idea of a menstrual cup has been playing on my mind for some time now (bare in mind, at this point in time, I was only aware of the Mooncup), the Softcups are still sat unopened in my living room, but the photos look much smaller. Maybe I should try the Mooncup. Right, I can buy it in Boots. Oh no, you don’t want to be going into Boots and buying it, WHAT IF SOMEONE SEE’S YOU?! Google it is. Search Mooncup. A link to a company named Earthwise Girls appeared. Right, that’ll do! Click.

Well, what on earth are all these products. WASHABLE PADS? YUCK!! (That’s a story for another post!) Ah, there it is, Mooncup. Ooooh, special offer. Ah go on, let’s try it. And out of curiosity I also purchase an Eco Rainbow regular pad and a three pack of Fuzzi Bunz heavy pads.

A few days later, before my order arrives, my best friend comes to visit (We shall refer to her as L for the time being as she’s unaware I’m blogging and mentioning her!) Ooooh, do you want to try one of these L? An Instead Softcup, you can use it on your period to have “clean” sex and use it for a whole cycle. L said yes, she is far braver than I and did try it for her cycle, successfully! (Even now I’m still not brave enough to attempt it though.)

A few days after that, again, my Earthwise Girls parcel arrives. I’d also purchased some Natracare products to see what they were like, but I ended up donating them when I gave my entire sposie collection away, but again, I digress, that’s a story for another time also.

So I’m sat at home, with a Mooncup in hand. WOAH this actually seems preeeetty big. I don’t know if I can try this. And I put it away, forgot about it, and used disposables for the following period.

Fast forward a few weeks, I go to visit L; she’s purchased a two pack of MeLuna cups. MeLuna cups? What on earth?! So she gets them out and shows them to me, hmm, another brand of menstrual cup it seems? Wow! Two companies make these things! L is far braver than I and used her MeLuna straight away (although she still hasn’t published her review on it!!) and LOVED it! Far better than the Softcups was her reaction when I enquired. Hmm. If she can do this, so can I!

*Fast forward to my next cycle*

Right, my period is due in the morning. I’ve heard I can try this cup on a “dry run” (before my period arrives), the instructions discuss a “C” fold. Right, let’s try that one. Oh wow, it’s in, I can’t feel it! WHOOP! I did it! Now, to get it out. Uh oh, I’m tugging on the stem, it feels like my insides are about to pop out. OH NO! Google! “how to remove a mooncup?” OH I SEE, I have to squeeze the base to release the suction for removal. Wow, that was easy!

Cue following morning, right, I’m bleeding, let’s try this thing out. Cup goes in, opens without coaxing, taadaa. UH OH! Texts L, “can I poo with the cup inside me?”, “Yes”.

I used the Mooncup for my entire period that cycle, and in the process, whilst researching, discovered that there are hundreds of different brands of cup. I can honestly say it was liberating, no pain, no discomfort, no leaking, no mess, no fuss. No tampon feeling like it’s stabbing your cervix, no pad rubbing you sore. I was a convert. Why, oh why did I not try this back in 2008 when I saw that sticker?