“I don’t think this will fit,” I told myself as I studied the purple menstrual cup I received from Anytime Menstrual Cup PH, one of the first few sellers of menstrual cups in the country.
Every woman who’s ever tried using menstrual cups swears by it. They shush away suggestions of returning to tampons or using sanitary pads again, and they look true to the part of happy, dancing menstruating women we all see on TV.
Since sanitary pads give me rashes, make me paranoid on possible leakage, cost a fortune (P60 for 8 pieces that will last you a maximum of 3 days), and worst, are not environmentally sound, I thought I should give menstrual cups a try.
They’re only P700 (from Anytime Menstrual Cup, at least) with a lifespan of ten years. So when you break down the economics, you actually only cough out P5.83 per period.
It all sounds good, but as I look at the bell-shaped contraption made with medical-grade silicone, I wonder how in the name of all the goddesses you can think of, will I be able to insert the cup into my body.
Here’s how it works: You fold the cup for it to fit into your vagina, let it collect your blood, and then 12 hours later, you remove it, wash it, and put it back in.
I know, I know, inserting an object in your vagina sounds painful, complicated, and something that only happens on Fifty Shades of Grey.
Except for the Fifty Shades reference, all those are true—at least for a virginal first-timer like me.
There are many ways to fold it: there’s the C fold aka the U fold, the 7 Fold or the Triangle Fold, Punchdown also known as the Shell Fold, the Origami, and so on. Choosing the right fold is the tricky part.
I recommend you try each one to see what’s most comfortable for you, and stick to it. For me, that was the C fold.
So anyway, you fold it, insert it, and once you’ve put it all in, will expand again to collect your menstrual blood.
I had already accepted defeat after seeing the cup, but I kept returning to the rave reviews about the product. I was fixating on the very many instructional videos I found online. I thought that if other women can insert an inanimate object inside their vaginas and let it sit there for hours, I sure can, too.
Paralyzed with fear and nervousness, I went to the shower and told myself I wasn’t going anywhere until I successfully put that damn thing inside me.
But after trying all kinds of folds, finding my hole, and squatting for a grueling two hours, all I had were hands full of blood, and a body full of sweat. There was still a full day ahead of me, so I gave up and put on a pad. Yuck.
At work, I almost got in trouble for reading more articles about menstrual cups and watching more tutorials. But as I left the office that day, I felt more confident and relaxed. I was going to try again that night.
After trying several folds, I finally, finally got it right with the C fold. How did I know I got it right? It felt most comfortable.
I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe I actually put it in. And after five minutes, I couldn’t even feel like something was down there.
I woke up the morning after; no leaks, no stains. Now came the removing part, which was kind of uncomfortable, but definitely easier than putting it in.
What you have to do to remove the cup is to relax. A tensed-up pelvic muscle makes the whole process harder.
Step two is to reach for the stem of the cup and get a good grip on the base. And then pinch it to break the vacuum. After that, pull it down and it’s out.
While emptying my cup, I braced myself for a stinking smell of menstrual blood, but to my surprise, there was none. I was pleasantly surprised that I was met with minimal odor. After that, I washed the cup with water and feminine wash (other girls prefer to boil it). Put the cup back in, and repeated that through the rest of my period. You can let the cup stay there for a maximum of twelve hours.
I was changed.
Menstruation became easier, more comfortable, and maaan I sometimes I forget I even have it. I don’t get as angry anymore whenever it’s my time of the month. And I love how I can let my forgetful self be: no need to beat myself up for forgetting to bring extra pads because I don’t need them anymore.
Also, thanks to the menstrual cup, I got to know and explore my own body more. And for the first time ever, I wasn’t afraid to explore it.
Illustrations: Madel Crudo