By: Reenita V.
It’s inevitable; I am ageing and getting older, which means I start to pay closer attention to certain parts of my life I had previously ignored. I stay in more often, get turned on by paying all my bills, love waking up with the sun, care less about other people’s drama and health, and more invested in my own. While I make attempts to eat less fried food, walk more and cut back on the wine, I ensure that I also do not neglect my vaginal health. Vaginas are still very scary for people and are often taboo to talk about but, we need to figure out how to address that, if only for health reasons. No two vaginas are the same, there is an outside and then the inside and tubes, and cervix, and this whole self-cleaning situation can make them scary but oh so fascinating at the same time. Fact is, some of us have a vagina and it is our responsibility to make sure I know what is happening with it.
I am lucky to be surrounded with a lot of folks that have vaginas so those that have their periods are sometimes open to discussing the oh-so-lovely sidekicks of periods. I’ve realized more and more that many of my friends were wearing menstruation cups. These cups support better vaginal health, are better for the environment and more economically friendly. In true baby of the family fashion, I wanted to have what my friends had – I wanted happy vagina, I mean who doesn’t? While over time these cups are nicer to the wallet, the purchase can be daunting for a tight budget. As well, it is an investment and there is no way to test if you are purchasing the right size, if the cup will fit or if you will even like it. It’s complicated, as periods can be.
As 2016 came to a close, I wanted to make the transition from tampons to cups. It was going to happen, I was determined. While visiting my family in the west coast this winter, my mother and I ended up in a drug store and I decided to see what cup options I had. I picked up the only available brand and the two size choices. I read the sizing options for a good 20 minutes, unsure of which size I should buy. I was over 30 but never had a baby, what if I spend $40 on the wrong size? Who has $40 to potentially throw away? Why is the box pink? Why are there flowers on this box? Maybe I should call a doctor first? Why is this so difficult? I made a choice based on the size suggestions and felt frustrated, but ready.
I arrived back in Toronto, unpacked my bag and placed the obnoxious pink box in my period-related drawer. Then came time for my period, I hummed and hawed, read the directions so many times but was still so nervous. One of my main concerns was that I would not correctly insert the cup and bleed all over myself and then be stuck with a cup and potentially have to purchase a box of tampons, which would defeat this whole adventure. Also, I was frustrated with having my period for 20 years and now having to learn about a new menstruation device. I’ve heard about a time when people would view menstruation in the highest regard and created ceremonies around such a beautiful, natural thing. But here I am standing alone in my bathroom holding a silicone cup and a pamphlet telling me how to put something in me, a secretive tool which is discreet and promises to make this time easier, more comfortable and convenient. I tried it, it wasn’t comfortable, it made me feel uneasy about leakage so I gave it a few days and then bought a box of tampons.
Well, the next month came and that pesky period was back again and I wanted to do this. I should have planned this better but I did what I did and learned my lesson. I had an early shift at work so I got out of the shower at 5am and started to get ready. Crouched down in my bathroom, feeling confident, I put in the cup. First, vaginas have all sorts of things going on down there, so fresh out of the shower makes for a slippery situation. You are supposed to spin the cup 360 degrees after insertion. Out of all the cup wearers I had spoken to, not one had mentioned that vagina gymnastics were involved in this process. Pre-coffee, and still damp from the shower, I am attempting to get this cup to its final destination and realized that my long nails were making for an even more unpleasant situation –ouch! But I got it in and was ready for my day. Unlike tampons, I wasn’t rushing to the bathroom every few hours and found I could manage having to only empty my cup in the comfort of my home. You are supposed to wash the cup between changing, so having the privilege of doing this at home was great and allowed me to become more comfortable with the in and out process. This is not always an option for people but being able to have the cup in longer than tampons is helpful.
I fell in love with the cup. It became easier as I got used to it and was happy I made the transition. It still takes some getting used to and is not meant for all bodies and it is so important to speak to a medical professional about any concerns. It’s always important to do what is best for your body and there is no shame in admitting when things are complicated or even perhaps a bit taboo. But at the end of this, I am an advocate for the cup and basically all things that make for a happy vagina.