What It's Really Like to Wear a Menstrual Cup

| Women's Health

Menstrual cups are getting a lot of attention these days, but what's it actually like to wear one? Women's Health writer Marissa Gainsburg decided to try it out, and she shares her thoughts below.

menstrual cup tampon

"You have to try it," insisted my hippie sister. The topic wasn't dyed armpit hair or making jam; she was gushing about her affair with menstrual cups—reusable, soft, silicone vessels (free of plastics, BPA, and dyes) that collect rather than absorb your monthly flow. I was skeptical—holding a cup of my own endometrial lining (then reusing the container) felt a bit skeevy—but I was also curious. Seems I'm not alone: Though cups have been around for 80 years, they're getting mad love again. Last year, The DivaCup saw double-digit growth in sales, and a recent Kickstarter campaign for the collapsible Lily Cup raised more than 4,000 percent of its funding goal within 40 days.

>> Read more: Menstrual Cup: Catch the Trend

Why the sudden fascination with something so. . .swing era? "Until a few years ago, talking about periods was so taboo, even feminine-hygiene ads rarely uttered the word," says Sheeva Talebian, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist. But these are the days of owning your period, as evidenced by the woman who recently ran a marathon tampon-and pad-free, and the anti-Trump #periodsarenotaninsult Twitter trend.

It was time to go with the flow.

menstrual cup women's health

The insertion: I squatted over the toilet and spread open my lady lips with my left hand while squeezing the bell-shaped cup (it's about the length of a tampon, minus the string, and the diameter of a small banana) into a U shape with my right. But when I tried to slide the device in, it kept popping back into its original form in my hands. After six tries, I just shoved it up there, then twisted the stem on the end so that the cup sat just inside my vagina. I couldn't feel a thing, and by week's end, I could finagle that puppy inside in under two minutes. It takes me about 10 seconds to insert a tampon, but since you need to change the cup only once every 10 to 12 hours (even with a heavy flow, so say the companies), it still felt like I was saving time.

The cleanup: Worried I'd ruin my undies, I decided to remove it after about six hours on the first day. I was at work and too embarrassed to wash it out in the sink, so I brought a paper cup of water into the stall. I pulled on the stem and heard a loud suction sound, like a wet kiss mixed with a toilet plunger. Who else was in the bathroom—and what did they think I was doing? I let go, and the cup disappeared back into my vag. Three minutes and one emphatic smacking noise later, success!

To read about the rest of Gainsburg's experience with the menstrual cup, click here!

>> Read more: Sync Your Period with Your Workouts and Never Skip Again