WARNING: This post is mainly for the girls, but boys are more than welcome if they feel the need for an education on matters concerning Aunt Flow.
Now, I am a grown woman. Clearly, riding the crimson wave is nothing new to me, having dealt with it every single month for just a little less than 20 years now. Between ages 10 (I started early) and 29, I can only imagine how many sanitary napkins and tampons I’ve consumed and disposed of.
Let’s do the math, shall we?
Assuming that a girl is on her period for at least 5 days (not counting discharge days before and after), and changes her sanitaries at least 5 times a day, that’s 25 napkins/tampons per cycle. Multiply that by twelve months, and for 20 years, I’m clocking in at a whopping 6,000 changes since I first started menstruating that fateful afternoon in the 4th grade!
Six thousand bloody napkins. Pun totally intended. And that’s just my personal consumption. What about the other 3, 689, 512, 508 (and counting, as of July 11, 2016, 11:22 PM, Manila time ) women in the world?
So, some time last year, word got out that these wonderful, reusable, silicon menstrual cups had come to save the day, and the earth from all our disposable, non-biodegradable plastic pads. For a while, my only option was to wait for someone to come to Manila from the US, and order it through them. Luckily, the Sinaya cup came along! It was developed by a young Filipino woman, for other Filipino women, to address their menstrual demands, and the world’s environmental problems. Of course, I needed to get myself one. And I did.
For those of you who might be wondering what the Sinaya cup is like, to the touch, it feels like an ear.
Overall, it’s been maybe the cleanest, freshest period experience I’ve had so far, ever. I like that it’s dry down there, and I no longer feel like I’m swimming in the Red Sea. But, for only as long as the cup is inside.
First, find the right size. Women have different experiences that will dictate their menstrual cup size, with age and whether or not they’ve had children being two of the most main considerations. Sexual experience, too, perhaps; I suggest shifting to the cup only if you’ve maybe had some, or have at least had some experience with tampons, so it’s not a completely traumatic experience.
Sinaya’s instructions are to boil in water for 5-10 minutes. Seems reasonable. NOTE: I got myself a new pot for this.
It might be a good idea to be somehow lubed a bit as you insert the cup. As for how, I’ll leave that up to you.
Before inserting, fold one side in, like you sometimes would your ear when you’re bored, until it forms a C. This is what works best for me, but you can experiment other ways that might work better for you. The internet has several suggestions, but feel free to be creative!
Per its instructions, you “bear down” on the cup, upon insertion. I would recommend getting into the same position that you are most comfortable with when you insert a tampon, if you use tampos. If not, seated over the toilet (careful not to drop it!) is a good start.
And, if you’re wondering how far up the cup is supposed to go, it’ll bloom at the perfect spot, like a flower.
Although it promises to be safe inside you for up to 10 or 12 hours, do check yourself every few hours to see if you’re full. There’s no fighting the tide when it is strong.
It’s a different story when it’s time for it to come out, especially as it’s coming out. Pulling it out is a lot trickier (isn’t it always). I’ve been experimenting with different ways to pull it out steadily without making a mess. I haven’t found it yet. First of all, remember that you are vacuum sealed shut — and it is air tight! — so you need to break the vacuum seal, and allow for some air to come through to be able to pull out the cup easily. I suggest that you find a cup with a ring, for an easier pull.
Maybe boil again just to clean, and store in its little pouch.
As much as I’d like to say that I’ve never leaked, I still do. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing that I got a wrong size.
My first menstrual cup experience was overall pleasant. I felt fresh and clean, and it was gloriously odorless althroughout. Then I think of all the plastic disposable sanitary pads that I’m not using, and that just makes an even stronger case for the menstrual cup. It is important to note, that my with my first experimental experience, I was mostly sitting safely at home. I had a comfortably, safe, sanitary restroom, with a proper sink and shower with clean, running water within reach, which were necessary, as this whole experience has proven to require a bit of digging, and has the potential to look like a bit of a crime scene. I’m not sure that I would be too comfortable emptying out in a public restroom, or en route a long-haul travel, or in hostels, where water sources are dubious.
And always wash your hands before and after!
Other than that, for cleanliness and environmental impact, I’m a happy camper. So, if you’re thinking about making the shift to the menstrual cup, I encourage it. There are other brands available — imported ones, at Mamaway at Shangri-La Plaza — but support local, women-run enterprises! The Sinaya cup is a good place to start!
UPDATE: Two years later, and I’m still on the cup! I’ve gotten the hang of inserting it, and keeping it in place. I switch it up between the cup and the tampons though, depending on how heavy the flow is, and (FYI, TMI) lubrication requirement — the lighter the flow, the lesser the likelihood for me to be on the cup, because it hurts.
My cup is still in pretty good condition! Two years later, and still a pleasant experience as far as monthlies go.