September 06, 2016

menstrual cups-my routine & helpful tips

'menstrual cups... they're a game changer.' part of a conversation i had with a friend of mine when i said i was terrified of inserting something into my vagina that contained the same chemicals that i once used to get my plants to grow big. it wasn't a new thing to me, finding out there was something in my pads and tampons that made them extra absorbent and odor neutralizing (and whatever other purposes those chemicals have in lady bits 'care'). it was exactly what that something was that was terrifying. 

coming across this article and this article, that was enough for me to go 'nope, NOPE!' so i shopped around for some menstrual cups and bought a few to try out. i wasn't expecting to be a pro menstrual cup user right away - and i wasn't - but i was very happy to not have any leaks during my first cycle using them, and that was good enough for me. but finding a routine and having some extra items on hand definitely made it easier. 

i purchased the divacup, mooncup, and blossom cup to get me started. i also found some reusable pads to use during my first couple days (i'm a heavy bleeder) and the last day when i'm not as heavy, but too light for the cup to be comfortable (for me). i had a couple extra small wet bags on hand and decided to use those for my soiled pads. 

below are items i found to be helpful for me during my cycle (i'll post some tips at the end):

  1. reusable cup pad 
  2. divacup
  3. toothbrush
  4. extra wet bag (x2) for soiled reusable pads
  5. wet bag for clean reusable pads
  6. reusable pads 
  7. blossom cup
the reusable cup pad is what i place on the bathroom counter next to the sink. when i take my cup out, i set it on the pad while i clean myself up. i then rinse the cup out in the sink, sit down and reinsert the cup. the pad keeps your cup sanitary during the whole process.

the divacup is the main cup i use. it fits me really well and is very comfortable. it's my most preferred cup. 

i use a toothbrush to scrub my cup after a day or so. when i rinse the cup out in the sink, i just do a quick rinse and get some of the uterine lining out with my fingers. but after a day or two, i'll give it a good scrub with some fragrance-free soap and the toothbrush and switch cups. i also use it to clean the cups at the end of my cycle after i've sanitized them in boiling water. 

i have two extra wet bags from the reusable nursing pads that i purchased. i don't need them for the nursing pads, so i re purposed them to store my soiled pads in. 

when i purchased my reusable pads, they came with a wet bag. i store unused pads in there.

i have two large 10 inch and five medium 8 inch reusable pads. the large ones i use in the first day or two for any leaks i may have and then on my last day i use one of the medium size ones. these pads came with double stick tape to adhere to my panties, which is a good thing because when i bought these, i wasn't thinking about all the thongs i wear, so i definitely need the tape to keep them in place. i'll be buying reusable pads for thongs soon. ha.

the blossom cup is my backup cup. i usually use that after the first couple days of my cycle, if at all, or to take with me when i am out and about. it's a little difficult to leave a bathroom stall with your pants around your ankles to wash out a cup and i don't want to carry wipes around with me to further the waste buildup, so i keep the blossom cup with me just in case i need to switch them out. i haven't had to do that yet, but another small reusable wet bag would come in handy here to store the used cup in. 

not pictured is the mooncup and extra wet bag. i keep those at work so i'm not without should i start my cycle while there. 

i store all of my items in a convenient basket next to the sink that i used to use for my postpartum items.

a few (okay, several) quick tips:

  • when you first get your cup, follow the manufacturers recommendation on how to sanitize. all three of my cups said to boil in water - making sure to not touch the sides and bottom of pan - for 5-10 minutes. i used a mesh strainer and put mine in that, then submerged it in the water.
  • after you sanitize, scrub clean with toothbrush and a fragrance/dye free soap. you can purchase some of the washes that cup manufacturers make, but i just use Dr. Bronner's pure-castille soap. inexpensive and works great.
  • wash your hands! before, during, and after. 
  • this could just be me, because i only wear thongs and never really used pads, but... be mindful of which style underwear you use and purchase reusable pads that fit well with your unders. i purchased regular reusable pads when i should have purchased reusable pads for a thong. ugh, totally was not thinking. 
  • you'll need to have at least three small reusable wet bags. one for your clean reusable pads, one for your soiled ones, and one to take on the go with you to store either your cup, pads, or both. i suggest three even if you don't use the pads. 
  • you don't have to sanitize after each use, and can just wash the cup(s), but once your cup gets a little discolored and maybe smells a little funky, sanitize it. a quick boil for five minutes should do it. there is a deep clean solution you can find here.
  • make sure you store your cup in the breathable bag it came with in between uses. if your cup did not come with one, you can easily make one, or purchase a small muslin drawstring bag. it is important to keep your cup stored properly to ensure the longevity of the cup, as well as keeping it clean in between uses. as always, give it a quick wash before use to be safe. 
  • be patient and relax. i know it looks intimidating because of it's size, but with these folds, you will be able to get your cup in there no problem. squatting or sitting on the toilet are ideal positions. i like to change mine out in the shower in the morning and at night. i feel the cleanest in there and am able to wash my cup at the same time. i can get a good squat, too, without one of my children barging into the bathroom wondering what in the world i am doing. otherwise, the toilet will do.
  • after you insert, rub your finger around the rim of the cup to ensure the cup has popped out of its fold. if need be, give it a little push up, then a little tug and it should pop out just fine. making sure that it's popped out will prevent leaks.
  • speaking of leaks, do not go more than 12 hours wearing it or it will overflow. when you're first trying it out, check it every 3-4 hours. these cups hold menses differently than pads and tampons, so depending on your flow, you may need to dump it more or less often. give yourself three cycles to get it comfy and right. 
  • if it's not comfy, it may be too high or too low. you also should push the cup straight back toward your bum and not upward. do not let it rest directly on your cervix. 
  • there is a little stem on the cup that you may need to trim. my cervix sits low, so i had to trim mine all the way down, but if you have a high cervix, you may only need to trim a little or none at all. 
  • you might need to purchase a few different cups to see which would fit you best. most cups come in two sizes: size 1 for under 30 years of age with never giving birth and size 2 for over 30 years of age and having had babies. however; your canal is different than everyone else and you might not fit one or the other. my divacup, though comfortable and a good fit, could have been a size 1 instead of size 2. 
have you made the switch? which is your favorite cup and what sort of tips do you have? share with me below!

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