“Try harder! You are almost there. Yes, Yes, Yes!,” I screamed in uncontrolled excitement. If you thought I was fangirling at a football match or motivating a labouring mother in the delivery room, you are absolutely mistaken. All I was trying to do was help my sister try her first menstrual cup! After twenty minutes of squatting, groaning, cursing and sighing, my sister emerged from the bathroom yelling, “I AM NOT GOING TO EVER HAVE A GODDAMN CHILD. IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO GET EVEN THIS FLIMSY THING IN!” We both heaved a sigh of relief as she came out of the bathroom with all her bones intact. The same scene repeated in our bathroom every time for four months before the goddamn menstrual cup went in! We celebrated that night with dinner and wine.
If my sister, as a beginner, had required 4 months, endless Youtube videos and blog articles to finally “do the deed,” I wondered how difficult it would be for beginners who virtually have no information or support to fall back on. Here are some quick tips for beginners that will ease the process of trying out a cup for the first time.
This is the key factor that could literally change the game. From the time you decide to buy a menstrual cup till you eventually get one and are all set to go, explore! Get to know the female reproductive anatomy in detail. As beginners, many girls do not know where a menstrual cup should even be worn! Exploring with your fingers will also get you accustomed to the idea of eventually using an internal product like a menstrual cup, especially if you haven’t used any internal product before. The idea is that you should first be comfortable with your own body before you try anything new!
Thanks to the internet, we now have plenty of good YouTube tutorials, blog articles, Facebook groups and discussion forums that can be of great use for beginners! When I first started using the cup, I barely did any research and ended up having the cup get stuck inside me. For beginners, the YouTube channel Precious Star Pads is a great resource by a young girl who creates engaging videos that answer a lot of cup queries. The Indian channel HygieneandYou curates and creates content on a variety of cup-related topics and provides simple, yet in-depth videos with product comparisons and clean and care instructions. The Facebook group Menstrual Cups Cloth Pads is an open forum where cup-curious women can post all their queries and doubts. And research is extremely important even while you are buying your cup! You don’t want to end up buying the wrong cup, do you? To find out which cup would be the best fit for you, HygieneandYou presents Cupstrolger. All you need to do is enter a few details, and it will predict the most suitable cups for you.
- MEASURE YOUR CERVIX
Before you make your first purchase of a menstrual cup, remember to measure your cervix. The cervix is a marble-like part of the female reproductive anatomy that connects the end of the uterus to the vagina. The opening of the cervix is where the menstrual fluids come from; therefore, it is not only important to learn where the cervix is, but also learn how best to place your menstrual cup so that it doesn’t miss the mouth of the cervix. For more information about how to measure your cervix, read this article.
- NO DRY RUNS
You may be really excited to try your first menstrual cup as soon as it arrives in the mail, but contain your excitement and wait for your period to arrive. Why? Because a menstrual cup is best tried when you are on your period. There are three reasons for this: first, the menstrual fluid acts as a natural lubricant; second, your cervix is at the lowest while on your period – making it easier for insertion/removal; and third, it’s easy to break suction when the cup is full. Unsuccessful dry runs may make you never want to try a menstrual cup yet again, which defeats the whole purpose of this exercise.
- USE A LUBE
This is a highly recommend tip for beginners. While you may question if you “really” need a lube, using a lubricant would ease the insertion of a cup, especially the first time. Once you are familiar with what works for you, you could stop using it. Though KY Jelly seems to be the most popular one, LOX Jelly is its Indian version, which you can buy at any pharmacy. Alternatively, you can also order any water-based lubricant online on Amazon on Flipkart. Just ensure that you don’t buy an oil-based lubricant as oil can degrade the quality of the cup. If you can’t get hold of any lubricant, just run the cup under cold water right before you try it on!
When I tried a cup for the first time and ended up having the cup stuck inside me, apart from having done no prior research, I also did the ultimate mistake of panicking. The simple rule to remember is that if you panic, then the vaginal muscles tighten and any kind of insertion/removal becomes difficult. Just before you try a cup, make sure you are calm and relaxed. Even while removing the cup, ensure that you are relaxed, and are not in a hurry. Breathe in, breathe out, listen to music and do a little jig. This will quicken the process for you!
- DON’T GIVE UP
First time users often get bogged down and feel demotivated if their first ever excited attempt is not successful. It is important to remember that it may take more than 2-3 cycles to get acquainted with how to use a menstrual cup. You can try different positions and folds. For those who are trying out a cup for the first time, remember to use folds like Punch-Down fold, which make the rim really small, as compared to other folds like C-Fold. Videos of cup folds can be found on the YouTube channel Precious Star Pads. As and when you get comfortable with using a cup, you can experiment different other folds/positions/techniques. Bottom line is, don’t give up!
- OOPS, THE HYMEN
Right before we end, you are probably wondering how I left out mentioning the Hymen, whose presence (or the lack of it) causes much misery in most women’s lives. Will a menstrual cup TEAR or COMPROMISE your hymen? Firstly, ‘tear’ and ‘compromise’ are too loaded to describe what actually happens during insertion! Whenever you try to put anything into your vagina – be it a finger or a menstrual cup, your vagina is going to naturally STRETCH to accommodate the new object. Initially, it may be difficult for you to insert anything inside your vagina, but over time, this should not be a problem at all! So, keep the gory images aside, and have a period, cupping!
Now that you have learnt about the most important things about using a cup for the first time, here are HygieneandYou’s top reading/watching picks for you!
- Learn more about the Hymen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qFojO8WkpA
- Read a few FAQs from cup-curious folks – http://www.hygieneandyou.com/5-frequent-questions-of-cup-curious-folks/
- Glance through the Menstrual Cups Comparison Chart to get an idea of the variety of cups available in the market – http://www.hygieneandyou.com/menstrual-cup-india-comparison-chart/
- Watch a video on how to insert your menstrual cup – https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLdn87RYhFrpCIEV7FbmrOzl_QlVgUAZir&v=FySg10iN9bo
- Join Menstrual Cups Cloth Pads to ask all your doubts and questions – https://www.facebook.com/groups/MenstrualCupIndia/