This conversation is about menstruation*.
I’ve always been a late adopter when it comes to certain things. For instance, I only started using tampons when I was 17 – and only because I would be on my period during my leavers/ matric/ prom dance. I wasn’t planning on wearing “sensible” underwear to the event, so I had to make tampons work. Then at some point, I discovered tampons with applicators. That was the biggest game-changer in my relationship with periods. While I liked the freedom that tampons gave me (think of the squish squash of walking around in the Zimbabwean heat during the school day, wearing a pad), I hated the process. This was compounded by my post-partum period with my firstborn, which resulted in haemorrhage-like menses. Not the cute, 4-day, regular tampon on a heavy day menses of my youth. This beast was a 7-day marathon of doubling up night pads and super tampons and changing them by the hour. Long meetings? Long commutes? Absolute hell. Nights spent catnapping laying ramrod straight on a beach towel layered bed and setting an alarm for 2.5 hour intervals just to try avoiding messing up my linen. I had to wear black during my heaviest flow days because the guessing game of gauging fullness of apparatus had gone wrong so many times. There were many days when that black saved me from a world of embarrassment in public spaces.
After many years, I had figured out how to ‘manage’ with what I had. Then I had baby number two, and with that, I returned to the glory days of light bleeding. I was finally, after 9 years, able to sleep through the night and wear whatever I wanted during my flow. But then, [for reasons I will not go into at this moment] I got an IUD put in, the Copper T specifically. Copper T is a non-hormonal IUD, which was my preference after going through all types of hell on various types of hormonal contraceptives, but one of the side effects of that particular IUD is a heavier flow. The beast was back. After exactly one nightmare menstrual cycle, I finally threw in the towel and decided to try menstrual cups. I remember the exact moment I made that decision – I was having back to back meetings and had to quickly duck into the bathroom for the change of guard process. It was in the process of cleaning up after myself that I realised that this wasn’t it. I couldn’t go on like this, month on month smelling like copper and flushing money down the toilet. Plus, I am too grown for that type of struggle.
As someone who is not particularly adventurous when it comes to feminine products, it wasn’t an easy process. About 6 years ago, a friend endorsed mensural cups, and I chalked it up to liberals with regular flows – definitely not for me. Now here I was, many moons later navigating what is quite a diverse landscape of products, trying to figure out what the hell this is all about. If only because it would mean that I could be at work for a full day without the drama of changing apparatus every hour. So, I started small – I bought a local product, and selected out of all the local products available because of its unbeatable price and 2 for 1 special. I wasn’t all the way sold on the whole cup thing, and I didn’t want to spend too much money on something I’d hate. I figured a ZAR 300 experiment was doable – if I hated it, I didn’t spend much more than I usually do on menstrual products monthly (yes, ZAR 300 a month for the haemorrhage management).
But I didn’t hate it. I really didn’t hate it. Though I liked the cups I got, none of them was my goldilocks cup. The local ones were a great source of information though, which enabled me to figure out what I needed in a cup. With the variety of cups that I got from My Own Cup; I was able to narrow down the things that as a first-time cup user, I needed to know to find my goldilocks cup:
- The physical size of the cup in length and width (3 millimetres made the biggest difference for me)
- The shape of the cup (there’s so much variety out there, and cups are like breasts – so many shapes and sizes)
- Rim type (smooth or protruding)
- Cup capacity (I needed a HEAVY hitter here, a +40ml cup for 6 hours of bliss)
- The firmness of cup (for me, the locally sourced super soft x-Elle cup would not deploy, making the cup thing as messy as a Twitter fight)
The website https://putacupinit.com is a great place to get information on all of this, and their cup quiz is spot on. I used this as a baseline before looking at product reviews etc. Through this, I was able to find my goldilocks cup to the exact physical size and capacity. And because of the interconnectivity of the world, you can get almost anything anywhere, which was a blessing because I settled on the Super Jennie cup, which is not local to Mzanzi, but I got mine!
Like everything, practice makes perfect. The first time around the rodeo was not seamless – there was the one time when my cup ended up in the toilet. Another time, I accidentally spilt the whole cupful onto my bathroom floor. Can you say abattoir? It’s been better since then. In fact, since finding my goldilocks cup, it’s been absolutely amazing. I’m done with disposables and I’ve never been happier. Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks. Menstrual cups? Issa yes for me.
Is there anything you want to know? Ask me below!
* This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.