Menstrual cups: my first time

berrycup , cup for you , Ekaterina Nikolayeva , approved by Sexshopers , menstrual cups , test drive

Our editor looked into a modern hygiene product and its peculiarities in practice.


Text by: Ekaterina Nikolayeva
Photos by: Aliona Ryne

Russian version

Note that saying “my first time” I mean three cycles, not only one: this is the amount of time one needs to get used to the cup, manufacturer says.

I heard of cups about 20 years ago, but it used to be rather difficult to buy one. Nowadays we can order any cup online or just buy it at an off-line store. I haven't got a cup until recently as I wanted to touch it, have a close look, I mean, not to try it, but to have an idea of how useful this device can be. Fortunately, I came across a store, Cup for you, on the web, and I rushed there the very day I discovered the store. I chose a cup by Berry Cup, a Russian brand, because of its price: I didn't feel like paying 2 or 3 thousand rubles for a new hygiene product that might not fit me, besides, I have always supported Russian manufacturers. But wait a moment: before the cup, I used to buy Korean hygienic pads, those superabsorbent ones, at 800 rubles for 12 pieces, the pack was sufficient for two cycles. Additionally, I used to buy a lighter version of pads, not so greatly absorbent, at 600 rubles for 12 pieces. Summarizing, one period used to cost 700 rubles. The cup costs a bit more than 1500 rubles: paid off in two cycles. So, a cup is a synonym of economy and ecology.

Berry Cup is a Russian brand making menstrual cups. Cups are made in Saint Petersburg while the head office is located in Yekaterinburg. Therefore, cups are sold at a very affordable price because no custom clearance is needed.

The range has three colors: blackberry, raspberry and blueberry, and two sizes: one cup for maximum 22 ml and another cup for 28 ml. Knowing how abundant my periods have always been, I didn't not hesitate to choose the size 2. This cup is 46 mm in diameter, its length without tail is of 54 mm, the tail's length is of 2 cm and the cups weights 17 gr.

The cardboard box contains the cup itself, a zipped cotton purse to store the cup and the user's guide. You are sure to appreciate the manufacturer's concern for ecology at the stage of packaging: you find no plastics or polyethylene there! The cup itself looks like a diaphragm having a ribbed tail, ribbed stripes on its bottom and ribbed petals on its outer surface. The ribbed stripes prevent the cup from slipping out while the "petals" serve as additional stiffening ribs. The upper part of the cup has a solid rim that also lets the cup open properly. The rim has a joint, almost invisible, while the cup in general has no joints that might cause discomfort. Under the rim, there are four small unnoticeable holes: they are necessary to avoid vacuum developing when the cup is inside the body. Otherwise, the cup would have sucked shut. That is why you should clean these holes thoroughly and make sure they are not clogged with discharge while washing the cup.

The purse for storage proved to be very handy: the zipper is well-functioning and durable, it ensures your cup's safety. The point is that the purse is big enough to be placed a flat-pack silicone glass and a blister of pills for disinfection. Unfortunately, the brand's lubricant won't fit in there.

Menstrual cups in practice

Ok, if you are still unfamiliar with cups and their work, I will tell you. The cup is a silicone diaphragm placed into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. Thus, the blood is collected within the cup and is stored isolated inside the cup during its wearing. You can wear the cup up to 12 hours.

Reality: in my case, during the first two days, five hours were enough to fill the cup of size 2. After that, the cup got overfilled provoking leaks as you may guess. At home you can easily settle this problem. But when you are at work or travelling... After three hours, you have to recur to additional safety-the pads. Honestly, this facts makes me upset. But during the first three hours you feel like heaven! No disgusting sense of a wet nappy in your panty. I saw some feedback from girls who missed the moment when the cup overflowed. As for me, I can feel it right away, even when I am asleep, I just wake up.

Actually, if you feel insecure or afraid, you can use your pads as a back-up while you a freshman. However, I can state that you don't have to use those superabsorbent ones, just use those simple ones, some girls just use panty liners.

Inserting the cup is similar to using a tampon, the removal is also quite the same. But, unlike tampons, the cup doesn't swell and causes no discomfort.

Reality: removing a tampon is much easier and faster than the cup. And your hands stay mostly clean. With the cup, unfortunately, it is not the same story, to be honest. However, it is not as easy in my case: my discharge is abundant and my cervix is located very high. To catch the cup's tail, I had to put my fingers a couple of cm deep into the vagina. As a result, I had blood on my hands. But I repeat: this is my particular case. Oh, the specific inconvenience was that related to my long nails: I couldn't avoid pinching the mucus each time I was removing the cup.

I know some girls who even cut the cup’s tail to make it shorter as it was hanging outside. This information made me explore the possibilities to find a specific model of cup that fitted me, and I never thought of abandoning the cup. My personal piece of advice: remove your cup while you are in the tub. During the three cycles, insertion and removal of the cup sitting on the toilet provoked a panic thought in me: what if the cup slips from my hands to be washed away? Another tip: it is not enough to drag the tail; you have to squeeze the cup's basement, if you do so, the cup is sure to be removed easily.

By the way, selecting the cup, pay attention to ribbed stripes on the tail and the basement-thus, the cup won't slip from your hands.

To ins ert the cup, you need to fold it (some options are available), once the cup is inside, it opens to take the right position. The right position is when the cup is pressed against the vaginal walls and the cervix is right above the cup. For easier insertion, you can use just a couple of drops of any water-based (!) lubricant.

Reality: I managed to ins ert the cup correctly and wore it for 12 hours on the first try. At the first and the second cycles, I wore it comfortably, facing the problem of overflowing twice. But at the third cycle something went wrong. Leaks occurred again and again. After moving while asleep, also after moving on my chair at the office, I realized something had gone wrong, the blood went off target.

I wrote immediately to the store. Well, ok, to be honest, I wrote to Anastasia, the project's mastermind and author, as we made an interview with her and I only had her phone number at hand. Anastasia gave me a tip: to try other ways of folding the cup (exactly, now I am skilled at origami with menstrual cups). She also told me that sometimes the position of organs can change (rise and fall). That is true: it happens due to weight gain or loss, trainings, including those related to pelvic floor muscles.

Anyway, to make sure the cup has opened well to avoid leaks, do the following: introduce your finger and run it around the cup (one phalanx must touch the cup). If the cup has opened well, its surface will be smooth. If it hasn't, you will discover a fold right away.

Reality: it sounds frowny, but it proved to be simple. On the first try I actually inserted the cup, with no anxiety about the cup's opening, I just felt it had opened well inside. What helped me a lot was a life hack: after inserting the cup, I lay for a couple of minutes, and the cup took its correct position-the fact I could even feel inside.

Generally, the cup causes no discomfort at all. You do not even feel it. You can sleep, do sports, and you can even go to a swimming pool. As for doing sports, I am a person who can't swim, but I attended classes of yoga and zumba without problem. There were fears that the cup would fall out, though. I recognize it.

One of the frequently asked questions I came across at different forums and even at blogs of gynecologists talking about cups, was related to the following fear: what if the blood flows back if I lie down?

It is a sad story that in the XXI century girls and women are, first, unfamiliar with the term "menstruation" (yes, there were questions of this sort!), and, second, they know nothing about their own anatomy. No, nothing can flow back, this is a matter of physiology. Sperm, by the way, cannot flow there either, it gets to the womb thanks to those rapid tails of sperms. So, you can feel free to lie down with your cup inside.

An important advantage of the cup against tampons is that using tampons you run the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome, because they are a perfect culture medium for staphylococcus aureus.

Reality: you can find information on the web that staphylococcus aureus can also develop on silicone and it can only be killed while boiling. However, even gynecologists rely on the latest studies that didn't confirm this theory.

Wash your cup with soap (intimate care gel is even better) during the period and clean the cup through boiling between the cycles-that is enough. There are disinfecting pills and flat-pack glasses for cup's disinfection: solve one pill in water (one glass) and place the cup into the solution for 10 minutes.

Reality: I am an alarmist, so I boiled the cup twice a day: in the morning and in the evening while I was taking a shower. I tried to put the cup in the solution with pills, but the solution had a slight smell that I personally did not like: after that my cup seemed to have retained this smell, as a result I boiled it once again. Actually, in Yekaterinburg, the tap water is usually rusty and smelly, it leaves plaque on bathroom equipment or even contains sand. It is scary to use such water, even with pills, for washing the cup. That is why I boiled the cup each time using bottled water.

By the way, at the moment of washing your cup, do not let water flow get right in to the cup: its tank will be a perfect ski jump for water and you run the risk of pouring the water down on everything around you, including yourself, especially if the water flow is intense. My recommendation: lean the cup with its open side towards the sink to protect yourself while washing.

In addition to the cup, I bought the brand's lubricant. The bottle of 30 ml and has a dispenser. The lube is water-based, it has only 5 ingredients: distilled water, aloe (regenerating and anti-inflammatory action), carboxymethyl cellulose (for texture building), lactic acid (for vaginal microflora) and sage essential oil.

The dispenser releases a big drop, perfectly enough to insert the cup: apply the lube on the cup's rim. The lube has a lovely scent of sage, long-lasting on skin, a gel-like texture and a sour taste. The latter is due to lactic acid and the PH-balance equal to 4-the optimal for healthy vaginal microflora. This lube can be also used for sex, but it is too runny and fast-absorbent, you will need lots of lube.

Summarizing my experience of using the cup

I am happy, against all odds!

First, the cup is actually ecological and economical. Second, it is easy to get used to it. However, many girls ask themselves: will I manage to put it in there? Dear ladies, don't try to sweet- talk yourselves! It is easy. And comfortable. Third, using cups you get rid of that disgusting sense of a wet nappy in your panty, you stay dry, no diaper rash-this is what I call “comfort”. Thus, cups will be especially welcomed by girls who do not use underwear, yes, there are girls like these. Fourth, no smell thanks to the cup! And even when you take it out and wash, there is no smell (if your flora is ok and you do not wear your cup for over 12 hours). Fifth, I have made a discovery: menstruation is shorter with cups! How come? That's simple: the discharge goes directly to the cup instead of taking some time to run down the vaginal walls. This fact was enough for me to fall in love with this modern hygiene product. What I got to do is sele ct the ideal model for me!