When your cup runneth over
To OB or not to OB?
I got this question prior to watching the movie Turning Red, which addresses periods but isn’t wholly about periods but the fact that it even addresses menstruation seems to be making some viewers uncomfortable? I don’t understand how and when society agreed that shit and pee are things we accept as part of everyday life but not monthly blood (I know, I know the reason why. Gross woman bad.)
That said, this issue talks very plainly about getting up in there so if this isn’t your thing, this isn’t your issue.
Anyway let’s talk about periods and specifically, newfangled ways to catch them and whom that method is for. Here is a question I got from a reader:
I've noticed that all of a sudden the supermarket and Target are filled with like a million types of menstrual cups...and yet my beloved OB tampons are disappearing from the shelves! Is it a supply chain thing or is everybody really switching to menstrual cups? I've tried them twice, hated both times, so it all just feels surreal to me. Anyway I guess I'd love to hear from people who use them what actually helped them get the hang of it, since this seems to be the wave of the future. I ended up buying my OBs online and they were ridiculously expensive.
I don’t have an answer to the OB situation but maybe a journalist witch out there can help figure that out—there are many theories online but none definitive. Re: cups, I personally like Pixie Cups because of their buy-one-give-one program. I splurge on the two-size pack so I feel like I have options.
However, I also recently learned that if you use an IUD (which I don’t) there may be some concern about the cup causing IUD expulsion (😱😱😱😱) so that’s definitely something to keep in mind when choosing how you manage your flow. All that is to say, anyone who walks around with a uterus/vagina should get a monthly stimulus, if not for our menstrual goods, just to say “I’m sorry/way to go.”
Read on for witchy advice and experiences from readers on cups or not.
“Get period panties and/or wear your cup with a pad while you get used to it, so you don’t have to worry about leakage/spillage! I used Thinx because they were the first brand I was aware of but there are so many more now! I’ve also tried Knix and just ordered from The Period Company.”
“I've been using a Diva cup for years and have been very happy with it. So much less waste, and it holds more than a pad ever could and doesn't overly dry your insides like tampons can. It's not always easiest for me in the beginning of the cycle (before there's a good flow going, giving enough lubrication) and but in general the instructions to pinch in half, fold it over, insert, and twist till it opens up work pretty well. It takes some getting used to, figuring out what it means for it to be open (I still mess it up sometimes when I'm in a rush).
-Start using it when you have some flexibility on location so you can practice not leaving behind a murder scene.
-Before leaving behind backups (pads!), figure out how heavy your heavy days are. The days you need to go to the bathroom to dump the cup every hour or two? You probably want a hefty pad underneath if you're not going to be home.
-In a public bathroom or at a friend's place: it's okay to just wipe it out with a piece of toilet paper rather than washing with soap and water if you're not home. No need to carry a bloody mess to the sink.
-I got a dedicate small pot in which to boil the diva cup at the end of each period.”
“OB fan here- they’re simply superior! And were not at my local grocery last week when I needed them. This has happened several times at several stores- someone needs to sleuth out the deets on this situation! My most comfortable cup has been the Lily Cup compact.”
“The Diva Cup has literally changed my life. I bought my daughter a Saalt brand teen one. She isn’t there yet but is interested in trying it. I think the teen one is much smaller and might be a good route to explore for a petite vag.”
“I've used cups for years and years, but still worry I'm going to cause prolapse, because I worry about nonsense. I was also terrified it would pull out my IUD, but my midwives assured me they've never seen this happen, although it's technically possible.
I've been unable to get it out several times, and all of the cup makers have good tips, such as meditative breathing, visualizations, etc. IT ALWAYS COMES OUT.”
“I was confused/intimidated by the cup for a long time, and it was a discussion with other witches that got me to try it. The first cycle or two felt a little awkward trial & error, but that was several years ago and I only wish I'd started earlier. A billion times better and more comfortable than tampons IMO.
I have no idea if vaginal size is really a thing or if it's just a trial/error/angle issue. I got the Diva cup that came in two sizes: under-30-and-child-free, and everybody else. I got the latter.
Definitely worth reading the directions and/or watching some YouTube videos as I did not initially find it super intuitive (though with practice it's very easy).”
“I’m big on sustainability etc. and yet could not bring myself to try menstrual cups. Then there was a “try it” offer and quiz here.
So I tried it. And it wasn’t too bad and actually better than dealing with tampons / pads leakage. Pro tip - use a bathroom next to a sink so you can lean over and rinse easily. I eventually upgraded and use Lena and Saalt cups primarily.
THEN a few months later during my period there was a SMELL. Like something died. WTF. That is when I found out that while many people may get away with washing their cup with soap and water and an isopropyl alcohol rinse/wipe post-cycle, others need sterilization. So you can boil the cups (put your cup inside a whisk so it doesn’t get too heated) and it will solve that problem. Or you can be super fancy and get a menstrual cup sterilizer (yes this exists:) or maybe the baby stuff sterilizer would work.”
“I started using a cup about 2 years ago. Got the Diva cup first because it was the most readily available, and could not keep the darn thing in. I would feel like I was shoving my whole arm inside my body to put it in, then walk around for 10 minutes and feel it start slipping out which was uncomfortable and very annoying. I finally found MeLuna which offers cups of several different lengths as well as widths and levels of flexibility. I’ve now been using the MeLuna classic shorty XL for most days and the shorty XL sport for running or other exercise activities that involve ab muscles (such as they are.)
On the first couple heavy days of my period, I empty the cup every 2-3 hours or whenever I pee. I wear a cloth pad as backup in case time gets away from me and the cup gets full and leaks a bit. Towards the middle/end, I empty it a couple times a day. I wear it at night too.
At first, it definitely took some trial and error to figure out how to get it in right, and there is certainly an ick factor to overcome w/r/t sticking half your hand inside your bloody vagina. Tampons were never comfortable or even worked for me, and I’m glad to have persevered with the cup as a reusable solution that keeps me feeling dry and comfortable.”
“I adore my Diva Cup. That said, it did take a bit to get the hang of it, and you definitely have to be comfortable getting your fingers up your hoo-ha. Here's my patented two-step process:
1. Fold the cup in half, into kind of a U shape and ease it on up there.
2. Once it's in place, run a finger between your vag walls and the outside circumference of the cup, to make sure it's unfolded all the way. If it hasn't, try running your finger around a few more times, or stand up and take a step or two or wiggle your hips, then check again.”
“The sizing really matters. I am also a dink, so despite being old and having given birth, I got the smallest one. It initially felt too big, but once I figured out correct placement it got a lot more comfortable. That said, I can only use them when I know I have access to a little privacy for washing up after (or have a million wipes on me). I come out of it every time looking like Lady Macbeth.”
“No advice, but my last batch of OBs was purchased at Walgreens, if that helps. They were regular price! I know "anything can be in tampons," etc. but when I don't use OB I still use the old school paper applicator Tampax tampons.”
“Empty cups while in the shower! Way easier than trying to be tidy: just dump, let it all go splat, and rinse it all away.”
Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers who may sometimes menstruate (unless, like me, your news-stress has been hitting your period like it’s early 2020.) Feel free forward this issue to someone who could maybe use this. If you haven’t yet, I hope you consider becoming a paid subscriber which gets you bonus content and threads.
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The archives live here. Here are a few random past issues for your enjoyment:
One witchy thing
Got this text from my occasionally-witchy husband: