The Menstrual Cup, Aloe Vera Gel and Me

37246833_1499816966790586_7327793031128547328_n

Never have I ever been so excited to start my period before (except of course after having somewhat unprotected sex; then I was delighted!) until I got the cup. I would have to wait about two weeks or so before I could test it out. I was a bit nervous because of course, anything new can make anyone feel a bit, what would you call it, apprehensive.

I heard a great deal about it. I did my google research and watched a handful of YouTube videos on it and started gaining some confidence.

Finally, the time came. I felt the cramps…my breasts were getting tender and I knew it was almost here. My uninvited (but yet this time very much invited) friend who would take up residence and pay a low airbnb fee to stay about 4 nights and 5 days, would finally be here. Everything she needs is here for her convenience. I mean, in reality, she just comes to drop off what she may or may not have picked up 28 days ago.

A few hours before the 13th, I wanted to go back on my promise to introduce a new airbnb feature to my friend, Ms. Assurance. She assures me that I am not carrying any little mini Mes So I call her Ms. Assurance. But I got scared and wanted to revert to my comfort zone; cotton up my vagina and a diaper-like pad that would keep me feeling like I was 2 and 70 years old at the same time. I felt safe with my tampon; the string was there to remind me that the cotton would most-likely not get stuck up there. The pad to keep me humble and help me remember that leakage with a tampon is rare but JUST IN CASE, you don’t want it to happen and everyone see that you are on your monthly cycle.

Cycles should not be embarrassing. EVER. But for some reason, society has deemed women to be “untouchable” during this time. Back in the Bible days, women were even sent away when this happened. Almost a mark of shame that they “didn’t conceive.” I mean, from my understanding, it takes two to conceive and therefore, the men should have been punished for not producing enough “good” sperm so that the woman could conceive. But nope! That didn’t happen. And even today, women are made to feel like they are somehow disgusting, gross, and “moody” during a very important time in our lives: Our Cycles!

I’m not saying I am a true fan of my period, because I am not. However, for now it is inevitable so I must embrace it. Part of embracing it more is being open to new experiences. Buying the CUP is definitely something new and unique and WAAAAYYYY OUT of my comfort zone.

See, with the cup, I feel that I had to be more intimate with myself. When using a tampon, there is very little finger/hand to vagina contact. The tampon is created in a way that allows you to easily slide the plastic applicator into the vaginal opening, push the cotton inside, slide the applicator out, wrap it in toilet paper, place it back in the little plastic covering, toss that bugger into the bin and you are off to deal with the day. Very little contact with any part of the vagina. Very little thought of what the soaking of blood in cotton, inside your vagina, could be communicating to Ms. Assurance.

Of course we all hear about TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) when it comes to learning about tampons and how to use them properly. I mean, if you don’t change them, you can get infected up there. According to The Better Health site, if you leave the tampon in for too long, it can encourage bacteria to grow up there. So it is recommended that you change it regularly and use pads overnight. But who wants to use a pad overnight, especially if you are someone who has a heavy flow? Who wants to have to get up in the middle of the night and change your pad so that you don’t leak through? No one!

Not one person! Never have I heard anyone say “Hey Mae, I love to wake up every 3 hours on the dot and change my pad. It is SO MUCH FUN.” Nope. No one has ever said that.

But that is the recommendation when using a tampon. Change regularly and use pads overnight. But that is one of the risks of using tampons. TSS is not common. In fact, the only person I have heard of having TSS was Tiffany Haddish, a lovely comedian who had no idea that TSS was even happening. She writes a bit about her experience in her book The Last Black Unicorn. She keeps her memoir 100 and I love her honesty!

Other than what is mentioned above, tampons are overall safe and so easy to use, it is possible to forget they are there. I always tell my teen that she needs to remember that she has a tampon inside of her body. The little string hanging down, is a great reminder. But it can still be easy to forget.

However, is it healthy to have cotton up your vagina for 2-6 hours a day? Was our body made to soak up blood or is our cycle meant to constantly be “moving” out? I think it was made to move out of our body. This is where having a pad is healthier than a tampon but more annoying because not only do you have to worry about a thin diaper, but you need to be constantly changing it so that you don’t bleed through.

But we can fix this bleed through issue with a CUP; yep, a Cycle Cup. It holds all the blood in an actual cup shape. It does not leak, and the material is safe inside your body. 

I was so excited for my period to start because I got to use something new. I had always thought of the concept in my head but couldn’t actually conceptualize how I would put a cup up my vagina, make sure it stays there, and then pull it out safely. And how would I make sure it does not stay in there?

So I was so happy when I made the online purchase on amazon.com  

The evening of the 13th came and I was too excited, I didn’t even really read the instructions. I ripped open the plastic holding the cup, briefly looked at the picture, ran it under warmish/coldish water, sat on the toilet, and proceeded to shove the cup into my vagina. It was as if I was opening a Christmas gift in July. Super excited and very much unprepared.

OMFG it hurt like a Muthafuker! After several thrusts, it was finally in there. Super uncomfortable. Super weird, and I was scared shitless that I would not be able to get that thing out of my body. There was no way this was all the rave.

I told my wife “ummm, it is very possible that I won’t be able to find this cup. If I can’t find it, you are going to have to play inspector gadget. Would you do that for me?” She gave me a very strange look and mumbled something under her breath.” “I hope that is a yes.” I said. “Yes!” She said nice and loudly.

I walked around for a bit….slightly bowlegged. All I could think about was how simple it was to insert a tampon with no pain at all. And then I thought about what it will be like removing this cup from my insides. I was nervous, a bit awkward and I have to admit, about 81.23% scared.

Then, from the left end of the kitchen, my daughter tells me “you are supposed to boil the cup so that it #1, is disinfected and #2, softer so that it is easier to insert.” She heard and sensed that I was uncomfortable. I was a bit embarrassed that my 15 year old was watching a video about it, while I was shoving it into me like a child who snuck a cookie and then got caught.

She was right though. So I went back into the bathroom, attempted to remove the cup, and screamed bloody murder. It hurt soooo badly to remove. I felt like I was part of a gyno visit gone wrong. I felt that I had ripped out all of my insides. It was so painful that for a long second, I considered tossing the cup and going back to my tampon comfort.

But I didn’t. I took the cup (actually both because there were two different sizes) and I threw them in water and watched them boil. The teen said it had to boil for about 5 minutes. We waited awkwardly and I could tell she had a little smirk on her face. She knew I was being a dumb fuck and failing to really pay attention to the directions made her laugh…inside and also outside.

Believe it or not, she guided me through the rest of the process. She even told me how to squeeze the cup so that it could be inserted properly (though she was 100% against trying it herself.) While the water was boiling, I did do a quick sneak at a YouTube video to confirm what she was saying.

Once I learned to squeeze it properly, insertion was super easy. No more shoving it into my vagina like a man who wants to prove he is big and good at sex, or a unlubricated large dildo <3: (yes, I had to add that for visual effects).

There! I got through the insertion phase. The cup was also softer because the boiling water softened the material the cup is made out of. So, folding it properly was easy and got easier with frequency.

The beauty of the cup is that it allows Ms. Assurance to do her job efficiently. She flows right into the cup with nothing stopping her. She feels free to flow as much or as little as she needs to. She is not hindered by anything, nor does she leak or make a mess on pads. She tells me she prefers the cup because she does not want me to feel embarrassed like I feel with pads at times. She wants me to feel comfortable too.

According to Just Say No To Tampons, Wolford says that there are less cramps: “Because the menstrual cup allows the uterus to expel both fluid AND tissue, your uterus doesn’t cramp like a crazy she-devil.” I still had pretty bad cramping for a bit longer than usual. I used my fitbit app to help me track my stages for this period. It was very helpful and it was the first time I allowed my fitbit to track this phase in my life.

I think the “more than usual” cramping came from me being anxious and not knowing or really understanding the outcome, even though the cup was securely inserted into my beautiful place.

Inserting the cup was an interesting experience. Yep…all my lady bits were touched, moved around, felt up. If I inserted it too low, or add unnecessary pressured to one area, I became a bit aroused. Never felt that before with a pad, nor a tampon. I think it had to do with me having to cover more surface area as I felt for the right spot to insert, and how I had to poke and squeeze and maintain pressure throughout the entire insertion process. Once inserted, you need to make sure the cup suctions correctly. So you need to feel around inside your vagina. You also need to twist the little step at the end of the cup to make sure it is properly placed. So that is different.

With a tampon, you don’t have to worry about suction. It’s literally “in and out” with a tampon. Your intimacy time is 1/3rd what you get to experience with a cup.

Getting my legs to be positioned just right was a challenge too. I was not sure if sitting was better, if standing with legs apart was better….if hanging from the ceiling was better….I was not sure. So I had to try them all. Yep! All.

Once inserted, I felt comfortable but kept feeling around to make sure the little stick end of the cup was still on the outside of my vagina. Which meant I used my hand often to do the “check”. I feared it would be swallowed up by my very gorgeous vagina. So, since I was constantly feeling around, there was a chance dirt or bacteria on my hands was being passed to my vagina.

Due to the way in which a cup is inserted (at least for me), I learned that I needed to ALWAYS have super clean hands. So I made sure to wash them well with safe soap.

Now for the exit.

I had to learn how to remove the cup from my vaginal cavity. I could not, nor would I ever, CHOOSE to remove it the way I had an hour or so prior. I had to learn a better way because that way was too excruciating. So I did a YouTube search again, but this time for a removal method. I decided that if I was going to be in pain every time I removed the cup, I would have to forfeit the cup and return to a pad or tampon.

As I searched, I found How To Remove Your Menstrual Cup Pain Free. This young lady was my vagina life saver. I followed everything she said and it really did help. The first time I did it, there was a tiny bit of pain but I began to get the hang of it and there was little to no pain at all.

The basis of the video is to remove the cup the same way you insert the cup. Once you have pull the cup out far enough to where you can grip it and pinch it to a folded position, you can then remove it the way you inserted it. It will take a few tries but once you feel comfortable, it becomes easier.

Like the insertion method, make sure to have your hands clean and use a type of lotion to help with insertion. Make sure you have your hands nice and clean for removal as well. Because you will be doing a good bit of feeling around on your lower beautiful parts, you will need to make sure that your hands are always in the best and cleanest condition.

For me, as soon as I was finished with the insertion, I would squirt some homemade aloe vera gel up there to help with any possible pain that was caused by rubbing or feeling around. The aloe immediately relieves any pain I may have had. Same with removing the cup; I 1st squirt aloe vera gel, remove the cup, then wash my vagina with more gel. It really helps it to feel fresh, pain-free, and healthy.

My cycle lasted its regular course but the pain was longer than usual. I think the pain was a result of the stress of trying something new (as I mentioned above) but I do believe my period did what it was supposed to do. It was, for the first time ever in a “natural” state and Ms. Assurance was super happy and in the end, so was I.

I don’t look forward to my next period, but I DO look forward to being re-aquainted with Ms. Assurance’s favorite Airbnb feature that allows her to have a natural experience free of exit pain, leakage accidents, and infection risks.

Make sure to always have your aloe Vera gel present and your experience will be a smooth one!

 

Posted in The Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment