This all started back in September, when all of my giveaway groups were going bananas over menstrual cups. At first, I was repulsed by the idea (as you likely are now too), I just couldn't wrap my brain around stuffing some large-ish silicone cup up my vagina and collecting all that menstrual blood. It just seemed gross and creepy. It had caught my attention, though, and now I was starting to wonder.
By October, I thought that a cup might be worth a shot. It couldn't possibly hurt anything and it would save be from having to buy tampons every month. I started paying attention, and I was burning through over a 40 tampons a month. A month! That's insane, it gets expensive, and it's terrible for the environment. Not to mention all those warnings about chemicals in the tampons causing diseases and even death! Pass. I needed something different.
My Lena cup arrived in early November, and I have to be honest, that was the first time I've been excited to get my period since that pregnancy scare in high school. I couldn't wait to try this thing out and see if it was really worth all the hype.
Here's what I learned in that first month: these cups are not as simple as you might imagine. I watched several YouTube videos with different methods for folding the cup in order to insert it, and how to get it back out. How often to empty it. How to store it when it's not in use. By the second day of my first period using the cup, I emailed Lena because I was having a lot of leakage and I knew that wasn't supposed to happen. They replied very quickly with a long list of suggestions and tips to make it more effective. They made me feel more confident about my apparent failure by saying that it usually takes a few cycles to get the hang out it and figure out which fold works best for you.
Full disclosure, it took me 5 cycles (yeah, that's 5 months) to get this thing right. I tried a couple of different folds before settling on the "punch down" fold and I trimmed the stem on mine because it was needlessly long. Now that I have this whole cup thing figured out, I can't imagine ever going back! I don't dread my period anymore. I don't have tampons stashed all over the house, and in my car, purse, and diaper bag. I don't spend upwards of $85 a year (with coupons) while sending 480+ tampons and cardboard applicators into landfills and oceans. I have a simple, zero waste solution to a monthly occurrence that is safer for the world and safer for my body. No more paranoia about whether or not this is the month that results in toxic shock syndrome. Y'all, I'm winning.
If you are at all curious about menstrual cups, I'm happy to talk to you about it! Comment below or send me an email. I'm not shy (clearly) and I may not have all the answers, but I'll definitely tell you everything I know.
If you use the code LENALOVE for $5 off through their website AND on Amazon.com!
If you are looking for a more eco-friendly option for your period, but a menstrual cup doesn't seem like the right choice for you, check out this video by AmandaMuse. She has a whole lot of options and she's a great person to watch simply because she's so real and honest.
You can also reach out to Lena directly, through their website, or you can find them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Here are the tips from Lena:
Each fold guides and positions the cup differently in your vagina. We recommend that you try each fold to find which one works best for your body and cup. The Punch-Down Fold and 7 Fold both work really well with LENA’s shape and they both have a small insertion point.
Here is how to make each fold:
- The 7-Fold is a favorite of many users, and is an easy go-to fold in time of insertion difficulty.
• Hold your LENA cup with two hands right below the rim and squeeze tightly.
• Fold the right side in and into a 7-shape.
• Hold your LENA cup in this position and insert.
- The Punch-Down Fold is popular with both new and experienced cup users alike.
• Hold your LENA cup lightly with one hand.
• Using your free hand's index finger, punch down any side of the cup. Remove finger.
• Hold your LENA cup in this position and insert.
It is important to remember to relax your body and breathe when you insert and remove your cup. When you tense your body, your pelvic muscles also tense up which can make it more difficult to insert / remove your cup comfortably and correctly. Once you relax, insertion and removal become much easier. Taking a warm shower can help you to relax your body naturally.
It is not uncommon for users to insert the cup too low allowing for the stem and the cup base to protrude outside of their body OR to place their cup as high as possible allowing the cup to pass the cervix. Both will cause the cup to be uncomfortable and to leak. Your cup needs to be inserted past your pubic bone and beneath your cervix, as long as you are not experiencing any pain or pressure. Holding the cup folded while it is placed at the desired height is an essential part of the process – please note that this takes the most practice.
Your LENA cup forms a gentle seal to your vaginal walls and not to your cervix. When you insert your cup you can test the suction by gently rotating or pulling on the cup – if the cup gives and lets you move or rotate it, it means that it is not sealed and it is simply resting in your vagina. Best is to reinsert the cup using a different fold that allows for it to seal to your vaginal walls. Once positioned correctly and sealed, your cup will not move regardless of what physical activities you engage in.
You can insert your cup while you sit on the toilet, while you stand in the shower or with one leg on the toilet seat. Squatting is not recommended for insertion but is ideal for removal as when you squat you naturally bear your weight down which guides the cup closer to the vaginal opening.
It is important to know where your cervix is when using a menstrual cup because if your cup is not placed beneath your cervix, it cannot efficiently collect all of the blood. If your cervix is low, you will need to insert your cup lower in your vagina. Your cup is designed to collect blood directly from your cervix, so ensuring that your cervix is located above your cup, not to the side, will offer a leak-free experience.
When removing your cup, take a deep breath and try to gently bear your weight down as you visualize pushing your cup out. (Essentially, all you mommas out there, you're giving birth to the cup. Use those kegel exercises and push that baby out!) The stem is not to be relied on for removal entirely, but is there to aid in the process so that you can guide your cup lower and feel for its base. Once you have grabbed the base of the cup, squeeze it to release the seal and compress it slightly as you slide the cup outside of your vagina without allowing it to reopen again. The best body positions for removal are sitting and squatting.