If you clicked on this article, you are probably sick of sanitary napkins too, just like I and millions of other girls and women are. Like most Indian girls, I was introduced to only one sanitary product; sanitary napkins or pads during my very first period. In fact, I had no idea that several other hygiene products like tampons, menstrual cups, and biodegradable pads even existed up until ninth grade. And to be honest, I was completely okay with using sanitary pads during the first few years of my ‘womanhood’. My blood flow was moderate, my mum never scolded me for staining the bedsheets and my clothes. But things started getting ugly when my blood flow and cramps increased, and I started getting rashes from the synthetic sanitary pads, until one fine day, my father accosted me for staining the chair I was sitting on. No pad was big enough for me. It was after 2 years of suffering from painful rashes on the most intimate area of my body and the embarrassment of staining every surface I sat on that set me on this journey. My decision to switch to the cups, however, wasn’t made overnight.
When I told my mother that I wanted to try out a menstrual cup, she was aghast. The possibility of me hurting myself while inserting the cup in or yanking it out tormented her. She said she could never imagine doing that herself, but she gave me the green flag without any questions. A few of my classmates had the very same reaction. They were apprehensive about putting a cup inside the vaginal canal whose opening is at least 4 to 5 times smaller than the cup. But trust me, inserting or removing the cup wasn’t the tricky part; buying the cup, cup sterilizer and lubricant was!
You might not have as many choices at the chemist’s but if you shop online like me, it's like you’ve entered Baskin Robbins. As for the cup and the cup sterilizer, I went for the ones that were bestsellers on Nykaa as well as Amazon and had the best user reviews. I purchased a Sirona cup in size small and a Sanfe cup sterilizer. Purchasing the lubricant turned out to be the hardest and the most time-consuming of them all. There aren’t many options you can choose from and the ones available on Amazon did not have the best reviews. I did not want to use the cup without the lubricant because I was pretty positive I won't be able to insert it without some sort of lubrication. It's not like nobody can do it without the lubrication; most women don't bother. I just wanted the process to be smoother for a first-timer like myself. I had people suggest vaseline and organic aloe vera gel to me but I wanted something specifically tailored for the very purpose I was searching it for. I finally found and purchased a lubricant called the Gyaenocup on Amazon which only had a single user’s review. I decided to take the gamble anyway because the review gave it five stars and its ingredients were chemical-free.
I heard that getting used to the cup takes around 2 to 3 cycles, so I decided that I’ll start practicing way before my period. I used the cup the very evening the order was delivered to me. I boiled the cup in water first, cleaned it with the cup sterilizer, and then started attempting to insert it with the lubricant, which I applied after folding the cup in the punch down fold (tip: if you apply the lubricant before folding the cup, it’ll get very slippery and you will not be able to fold it properly). I managed to get it inside in 3 attempts, sucking in my stomach did the magic for me in the third attempt. And girls, it was smoother than I expected it to be. Completely hassle-free. It was like the cup had magically disappeared inside of me (not literally), and I could not even feel its presence inside me if I did not touch its base with my fingers.
Day 2 of practice was even smoother because the cup went inside in a single attempt and wore it for around 6 hours seamlessly. Though I did feel the cup’s stem, I trimmed it a bit shorter, later. I practiced for a week together and when my period came…I welcomed it. And trust me, no rashes, no odor, no leakage...I’ve never loved my period more. I now feel I should have switched sooner, but silly fears kept holding me back. I am so proud of myself to have overcome them now. I completely understand that you might still have your reservations, doubts, and concerns about cups, it's only natural. You must do your own research about it as I did and know for sure what you’re getting into. I am linking down the videos which helped me in the process. Also, a female body is designed to hold and deliver a BABY, a menstrual cup is nothing!
(1) This video got me thinking about the vanity of other sanitary products as compared to menstrual cups:
(2) Videos that gave me all that I needed to know about the cups:
(3) Some real-life experiences of famous Youtubers who tried cups that helped me:
• Shruti Anand
• Buzzfeed India
• Dolly Singh
• Shivangi Sharma