The Menstrual Cup – in review (thanks Ava)
Many years ago, when I still managed health stores, the first menstrual cups came into the market. I was admittedly quite intrigued, however the price was astronomical. So I filled the thought away and continued as I had for years.
Better choices in tampons.
Thankfully working in health shops had given me a little bit of relief in the form of non-chlorine bleached products from Natracare. At the time, they were rather more expensive than the average tampons and pads I used, but the difference was remarkable. My cramps were considerably less, the amount of pain was less and they are better for the environment, see more here from Natracare.
Fast forward a few years.
I discovered the Ava Range. They had just come onto the market at a time when I was struggling to get to health shops to buy the Natracare range. I was so pleased to find the non-chlorine bleached Ava Range and it was available in my local Spar. There was a wide variety in their range from tampons to pads, which was also marvelous. Biggest bonus they were also priced the same as the rest of the menstrual products.
My bleeding has always been heavy, the gyne calls it dismenorrea, but after my kids it began to get even heavier and during my periods I usually experience up to three days and nights of severe cramps.
Tampons just weren’t comfortable.
At this point six months ago I was really struggling with wearing tampons. Besides the fact that I was going through them at a vicious rate – a large box of super, a medium box of regular and a small box of light – every period. I was feeling increasingly like the tampons were creating an uncomfortable amount of pressure. I was seriously contemplating switching to pads just to avoid this uncomfortable sensation.
I was out shopping one lunchtime and went to the ladies aisle to stock up on a few items. As I reached to grab a box of Ava tampons there was an Ava menstrual cup. It was so reasonably priced. Only R180! I did some quick sums and figured out that that was almost what I was spending monthly, between tampons and pads. So I put the tampons back and grabbed the cup.
Happily my period started on a weekend.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was super excited about the well priced menstrual cup. However I was a little hesitant about the use. I read the instructions carefully. Hubby was quite intrigued and thought it an excellent idea.
My period began the following Saturday afternoon. Ok I thought here we go. I followed the instructions carefully, flattening the cup and then halving it. Pinching it between fore finger and thumb, with my middle finger for extra stability, I then inserted it. I wasn’t sure if it had opened up properly, but it felt like it upon inspection. I gave a little tug of the bottom tag just to be sure and it seemed secure.
So I cleaned up, popped on a panty liner for extra security and proceeded with my morning. About for hours later there was what felt like a little leakage. I shot off to the loo. Yes, there was a little spot of blood on the liner. Ok so now to get it out. After some attempts I panicked slightly and called hubby to rescue me. Luckily he is very helpful. His longer fingers managed to grasp and pinch the cup and remove it. A considerable amount of blood was poured out into the loo. The cup holds about 10 milliliters.
Rinse and repeat and it gets easier.
I cleaned the cup as per the instructions with soap and water. Making sure it was well rinsed before reinsertion. A few hours later it was time for the removal again. I had reread the instructions and come across the “bear-down” to make removal easier section. Remembering my mid-wife’s instructions during labour, I tried bearing down as I tried to remove the cup. Lo and behold I could easily reach the tab at the bottom of the cup and was able to pinch the cup base to release the suction as instructed.
Three months later I finally have the hang of both the insertion and removal of the cup and rarely struggle. I do find myself planning a bit better to ensure I have access to a bathroom with a basin close at hand. However, when this has not been an option, I have cleaned the cup carefully with loo paper – ensuring no residue remained – before reinsertion. I have also discovered that the holder the menstrual cup comes in, itself conveniently folds into a holder which can be used when sterilizing the cup with boiling water.
So does the menstrual cup really make such a difference?
Yes. It does. Besides the fact that it does not create any sense of pressure, it is by far the most comfortable option. I am barely aware that it is there. I frequently find I am only reminded by a little leakage starting as the cup gets full. The cup creates no sensation of pressure or suction that would make me aware of it. I am especially glad to no longer be flushing and or throwing away large volumes of tampons and pads. Best of all I have not bled on the bed at night in 3 months. A revelation for someone who has always bled on the bed for at least three night during my periods since I was a teenager!!
There are various sizes of the cup available, which is particularly important as if you have not had sex or babies you may need to use the smaller sizes. I have a 10 ml cup and find it perfect. Even on my heaviest days I have found myself only changing the cup up to six times. I love that the cup lasts up to 5 years, reduces menstrual product wastage and it’s softeness makes it both easy to insert and comfortable to wear. If you needed anymore convincing the cup is made of medical grade silicone, making it toxic and allergy free.
Thank you to Ava for making the cup so affordable and available.