I've had plenty of names for menstruation, each one more fitting than the last—my favorite being a Game of Thrones reference—the red wedding. And sometimes Aunt Flo is an utter b*tch, especially when I don't have birth control to keep my hot headed cramps at bay.
The only thing worse than Aunt Flo herself is the astronomical taxing of feminine hygiene products—better known as the pink tax. We don't talk nearly enough about how it affects low income women or women in prison. In fact, it wasn't all that long ago that a state rep in Maine suggested that by providing an adequate supply of feminine hygiene products, it would make prison like a country club.
I say to you in my best early 2000s crunk rapper voice, haaaan?
Well, I guess he's accurate in that sadly because this is a man's world forgoing free bleeding all over yourself has become a privilege much like a country club. As someone who has admittedly been caught stealing tampons in hardship and have in recent years foregone menstrual hygiene products for the better part of my period unless I luck up and find an old one lying around the house—I can tell you that not bleeding on yourself is not a feeling next to being admitted to a country club. It's quite literally as simple as feeling good about yourself in the most basic ways, feeling clean, and shame-free.
It's feeling carefree because you're not spending the days leading up to your period worrying about whether or not the red wedding is going to hit hard, killing all your panties in the process. I hadn't felt that in a long time because my months have been dedicated to picking and choosing what bills I will foot. Menstrual hygiene has not been one. I had been leaving my tampons in all day just to ration out the intermittent use of pads and tampons.
This, of course, also led my vagina to feel like it was on its deathbed as tampons are not meant to be in the vagina for that length of time.
Fortunately, in 2020, the options to go green is steadfast in every industry marketing products. So I started to do the research by my own accord of what it means to go green (i.e. saving my money) and I decided to give recyclable menstrual cups a try...again.
(I tried one once and I spent a great deal of time flipping shit and pinching my labia minora in a panicked effort to retrieve it.)
This time, I tried out three different brands: Bloody Buddy, Lena, and Lunette cups. And this time, I fell in love.
What You Need To Know About The Menstrual Cup + Reviews
You should know that menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone that are placed in the vagina in to catch Aunt Flo when she begins to fall, it can stay for up to 12 hours of her visit before you need to remove, empty, and rinse/wash.
Most brands size their cups based on lite or heavy flows, but some will ask you to take into account matters such as whether you've bore a child and others will ask you to consider how your cervix sits. I highly recommend reading up on these things before selecting a brand that works for you.
I wanted this menstrual cup to be my fave because (hello) the name is, and don't get me wrong they were incredible—they just weren't for a newbie like me quite yet. Partially because I hadn't read up on soft cups versus hard cups prior to me troubleshooting on the toilet. After every insertion, I had this weird feeling when I was walking, like the little tether string was constantly rubbing up against my labia minora in a weird, friction-causing way. Assuming I hadn't fully inserted it, I went through the motions galloping through my hall in a side squat, taking my boots off to get up in there and rework the cup. It felt a lot like trying to jump into my jeans that barely fit. Although, eventually I was able to get it adjusted, it took a lot of footwork which wasn't conducive to my work day or productivity on any given day.
Regardless of the weird feeling I was having, I'm happy to report that I was leak-free with the Bloody Buddy. Not to mention, unlike many other brands, this one comes with two cups in each pack...periodt...and for a damn good price (the price of one through other brands), might I add. And even though the price varies by color, it wasn't a major tipping point as far as prices go.
These menstrual cups were ready for anything and easy to use just like their marketing as the "best beginner" cup suggested. My guess was that Lena cups were hard (hard cups, that is) due to how easy it was to place, as it reformed into an 'O' as soon as I inserted it. Most videos I found suggested rotating the cup after you've inserted it and so I did this with each cup to ensure that it was sealed properly, however, Lena was the only one that felt easy to rotate, only requiring the quick swirl of my index finger.
Lena was so easy and comfortable that I forgot I was wearing it and unlike tampons, there wasn't that irrational albeit urgent fear of toxins culminating in your vagina. I didn't have to lie in my bed and dig in my crotch and I appreciated that.
Price-wise they are pretty steep by comparison to the others. Nonetheless, the price point is so worth it when you consider that you can fund a good chunk of Aunt Flo's first year of college education with the money you spend buying tampons and other unrecyclable feminine hygiene products. They also don't charge you based on color preference, as it's likely included in the upfront cost. And lastly, it's easy insertion makes it well worth it.
While the Lunette menstrual cup got the short end of the stick as it didn't get to make its appearance until the last day of menstruation, it was still put to the test, especially because I knew what to look for with the cup.
I quickly discovered that these cups were of a softer variety, as well, making it difficult to expand once in my vagina. However, these were a bit easier than Bloody Buddy when it came down to adjusting them in order for it to fit properly. I had minimal issue with inserting my finger to shift the cup.
It can't go without being said: Off-top, I loved Lunette for having wipes to go with my cup and sanitizer. Despite YouTube video after YouTube video saying that while you can boil your cup to sanitize it in between cycles, you can wipe it with tissue or rinse it on the day-to-day of your menstruation—I was not fond of the former method. All I could envision is tissue residue stuck to my cup and thus internally floating in my vaginal canal. I enjoyed being able to thoroughly wipe my cup down after each 12-hour window and it was appreciated.
How It’s Going Down
Many of the products ask for you to account for a learning gap when it concerns leaking, but fortunately for me that wasn't something that I experienced. That could be due to the research I conducted prior to trying or the fact that my period is fairly light with the inclusion of my birth control. Either way, I suggest doing some additional research, plus giving your menstrual cup a trial run prior to your period.
How you fold impacts how smoothly your insertion process goes, and thus, the leakage you experience. Through YouTube reviews, I found that my favorite folds were the tulip/push down method and the seven fold—the seven became the ultimate with a little work on my grip and by little I mean my hands are a bit on the small side, so I had to remember to apply pressure to hold it down prior to inserting it into my vagina.
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Originally published on May 8, 2019
Featured image by Shutterstock