One of my goals in life is achieving peak period comfort. I don't mean avoiding cramps or PMS, which I've accepted as an inevitable part of my life. I just want to be as comfortable as possible while keeping all that fluid under control.
I got my period at age 12 and began using tampons almost immediately. Since then, it's been a constant struggle: I hate pads and I can't stand dealing with leakage or other unpleasantness, like tampons that slip out when I sneeze. Having a period is bad enough; I'd like to have as few reminders as possible that it's happening, which is why I can't believe it took me this long to try a menstrual cup.
Last month, I had the pleasure of testing Tampon Tribe's new menstrual cup ($40), which is silicone- and rubber-free. I was already a fan of Tampon Tribe's applicator-free tampon subscription, so I trusted the brand when it suggested I try this cup. Menstrual cups are nothing new, but they've always intimidated me, which I now realize was silly. Read on to learn why I'm a convert.
How a Menstrual Cup Works
The flexible cup is about the size of a shot glass, and it looks like a funnel without a hole at the bottom. Before using, you sterilize the cup by immersing it in boiling water for three minutes; Tampon Tribe recommends doing this after each cycle. Putting in the cup was way easier than I envisioned: you just fold it in half, insert it into the vagina, and let it expand to its funnel shape. In many ways, it's easier than using a no-applicator tampon, and if you've ever worn a NuvaRing, it's basically the same process.
How Long You Can Leave a Menstrual Cup In?
But here's the best part: you can leave the cup in for 12 hours. Twelve! I tend to have heavy periods, and I was worried I'd have to empty the cup more often, but it is large enough that I really only had to empty it every 12 hours. It stays put during sneezing, sh*tting, and working out. That means you can go an entire work day without changing a tampon. Count me in! The seal created by the edges of the cup also prevented leakage of any kind.
Using a Menstrual Cup Isn't Gross
In concept, the idea of a menstrual cup sounded weird and gross to me. But I realize now I just feared the unknown. In reality, it's tidier and less wasteful than using tampons. Every 12 hours, you just remove the cup, empty the fluid into the toilet bowl, and rinse the cup with warm water. The first time, I was surprised by the volume of fluid, since I'm used to the absorbency of tampons, but the sentiment was more "Wow!" than "Gross!"
Benefits of a Menstrual Cup
A menstrual cup not only works for heavy periods, but it also works better than tampons. I experienced less pain and discomfort then I do with tampons, and I had zero leaks, so I didn't need the additional protection of a pantyliner. I have never felt as physically comfortable during my period as I did with the cup, and aside from the sterilization process, the experience was entirely hassle-free. I'm a convert.