I woke up in the morning fully expecting leaks. I'm still not sure that I know when this thing is in right or open properly. Surprise surprise...no leaks! (No leaks so far!) Cup was filled about half way. It is SO interesting to see my menstrual blood collected like this. I didn't realize how thick and concentrated it is. It looks so different on cloth pads and toilet paper! And when I dump it out into the toilet everything immediately sinks to the bottom, must be VERY mineral rich. No wonder plants love soaked cloth pad water! HaShem has certainly designed the human body miraculously! Nothing is for waste.
Went to the bathroom and no leaks but when I wiped I DID see blood. (Aside: Even was able to have 2 bowel movements so far with this thing in. That creeped me out a bit. I was scared to do it and also scared to accidentally push it out, but all was well!). Now, how did this blood get past the cup? It wasn't even filled up halfway...was it not open properly? Or is this my signal to change it. Again, I didn't leak, just saw the blood when I wiped. I'm having trouble inserting this again. Cold water wasn't doing it...but I've got an idea. If I roll it up like a burrito/coil, then it immediately bounces back fully open, more so then the "C" fold or any of the other folds. Let's run it under cold water and give it a shot.
Wow! Okay, that worked well...only issue was another "teachable moment" where my daughter walks in the bathroom and asks what's that in my hand. Luckily, as Wise Woman Fertility, this is my job...though I've never actually never been caught in the act like this. I told her it's a menstrual cup and that I'm having my period. She asked if that means that I do or do not have a baby (she couldn't remember which one the period signifies). I answered that this means I don't have a baby. Then she asked if this means that I can't hug and kiss Daddy.
"Yep." I say with nonchalance, "But that's okay."
"But you can only after you go to the water (mikvah)."
Damn she's good.
"So, what's that for?"
I look down in my hand. Ug, the menstrual cup.
"It's a soft cup," I begin while squeezing it gently, "that women put into their vagina's to collect the menstrual flow. Every now and again they take it out of their vagina's and empty it out in to the toilet and then put it back in."
"Of course," I repeat the familiar refrain, "we must be very careful what we put in our vagina's. You are too young to put anything in your vagina, because your vagina is very tiny and you could get hurt, G-d Forbid. But once you get bigger and, B"H, have your period then you will be able to use something like this if you choose...only it would be smaller. Or you could use cloth pads. That's fine, too."
"I'm not going to use something like that. I'm going to use cloth pads when I get my period."
"That's absolutely fine. That's also a great choice!"
She looks at me.
"Now could I have some privacy please, I'd like to put this back in but I would like privacy to do that. It's not very tzinut (modest) with someone watching me."
Whew. Close call.
Back to screwing around with this thing again. Is it open, isn't it open? I'm trying to reach up around the rim to feel if it's open and I just can't tell. Screw it. Close enough. Time to take the kids to the park.
Later that day
Okay, so while at the park I begin to feel that familiar bubbling of menstrual fluid...I can't resist checking my liner discretely. No stains. I guess we are okay.
Even later (at the second park of the day)
I check the liner again. Nothing. But I feel a wet sensation, so I wipe with the cloth liner...is that a tinge of pink? Hard to tell, the liner's colored. Maybe I should get home.
Adventures in the bathroom
Okay, I have 1 drop of blood on the liner. And again, the cup isn't even filled half way. What is the problem...maybe the cup is too soft? Luckily, Meluna has given me their "classic" cup which is much firmer in the same size. This one is colored red. I go for the insert (glad I boiled it earlier!). UG! Still don't really know how to do this. It's not feeling open. I tinker around with it a bit. I pull it out a little, I twist it. Take it out and put it back in. This time I reach up and make sure that the top part is open (because the rest squeezes in, in the vagina... the important thing is not to have a crease that prevents blood from getting inside the cup and instead spilling over the side and leaking out). I hear another familiar pop as I twist the cup around. It seems that everything is open now. Well that went faster. I'm not changing this thing till bedtime now! The only thing that is bothering me is that there is a loop on the bottom of this one (instead of the longer "stem") This means that I either have to try and wear the cup lower or need to fish around for the loop before getting it out. The stem was always easily accessible. No matter. I'm good with my vagina. If it gets lost, I can find it. :)
Several hours later
Okay, I couldn't do it. I went to the bathroom and when I wiped I saw a tinge of blood...WHY?!
YES! I had to take it out. It was almost half full. No leakage anywhere, it appeared to have been totally open, when I grabbed the bottom of the cup it was completely open. That ring has pluses and minuses...it's more to grab on to, but it's a bit higher up than the cup with the "stem." As for the added structure (in "classic" vs. the "soft"), I really like it, particularly for heavy flow days. It seems to be easier to open, though I think once I get the hang of it, I should be able to do this with the soft cup as well. My strategy this time was to go with the "punch down" fold. It seemed okay, except I realize that I need to try and get it open in the right place in the vaginal canal, and I haven't found my "right place" yet. So, I need to reach up and run my finger around the top rim to make sure it is all open. That is certainly easier to feel in the "classic" texture with Meluna. I wonder how this would stack up against some of the other silicone based cups on the market (or the latex, for that matter). From what I can tell with the sample Diva Cups I have for my lectures, they feel about somewhere in the middle of the "soft" and "classic" textures at Meluna, so that is comparable.
Anyways, The pink tinge when I wiped must have been from the pin-hole in the cup. When I took it out to look at it, that pinhole was covered in menstrual flow, so maybe a bit slipped out. No, that's not possible. The hole is really much too small. Or perhaps this is normal and the residual menstrual flow in the vaginal canal when I take out the cup and put it back in so many times (my inexperience, I know) is getting some of the flow down to the opening and showing up on the toilet paper.
Well, it's back in. I just wish I were better at gauging if the cup is fully open or not because when I feel around the sides, it just feels squished together. What does it all mean?!
Wow. I was tucking the little ones into bed and suddenly I felt the familiar feel of menstrual flow. A leak! A MAJOR leak! I kiss the kids goodnight and then run to the shower to bathe and take out the cup. Sure enough, the cup is FULL! That was 4 hours on one of my heaviest day and I filled the cup.
Now here's what I learned.
Of course, who knows when that is unless you experiment.
So using the menstrual cup really forces a woman to get in touch with her menstrual cycle. Not only that...but how exciting to actually see so much of the menstrual flow! It was smooth and cohesive and really something very special to behold. Like what you see after childbirth, but in miniature. And how important! Imagine if every woman used a menstrual cup. She would know if/when she has clots or other abnormalities in her flow. She would also notice if her flow was heavier than normal because she could simply see/measure it! I'm not a big measuring kind of person, but when we are trying to establish facts, it is important to collect things like measurements and this would help me assist women even further!
Can I just say that I have felt a bit bloated, but for the most part, I've completely forgotten that I am having my period.
And ladies, can we talk vulva's for a minute? I don't know about you, but when I'm in a cloth pad, I have some irritation from the constant sitting in wet blood. It's nothing major, but I always feel that my vulva is a bit swollen during this time. Well, I didn't realize until today that this is not a natural occurrence but directly related to sitting in wet blood. Now, all my girl bits are normal size and feel!
taharat mishpacha and I wanted to get a bit frisky with my hubby during my menses, the cup is the way to go! I could literally walk around stark naked and no one would know or see anything. No tampon string. Heck, you could wear your skivvy skivers, if you were so inclined, with finesse, when using a menstrual cup! I've even heard that some women have sex while wearing the menstrual cup, though every company I've researched advises against it (and clearly this does not offer any birth control protection). Also, I'm not sure how there would be much room for penetration. But hey, might as well mention what I've read.
Now, I started having some second thoughts about wearing the cup to bed. After all, if I filled a cup in 4 hours, seems like 6 or more hours of sleeping might be problematic. I thought about wearing cloth pads just for one night (I actually kind of miss my comfy cloth pads...it's like putting on your favorite pair of pajamas or sweats...) but decided against it. I will go to bed with only a liner and see if, even on my heaviest flow, I can sleep a full night without leakage. After all, this is in the name of Science.
After my "break" from the cup, it was time to reinsert. I think I've got the hang of this now. This time, I chose the "punch down" fold again, which seemed to be a fold that looked like it wouldn't work when I saw pictures and read about it online, but in practicality seems to be working like a charm, when the punched down end is facing my back. This time re-insertion (in the shower) was a breeze. I felt the cup open quickly and easily and it took just a few seconds. I only had to check the bottom of the cup to know that it was fully open and I felt confident about it. I'm wearing it a bit lower (after thinking perhaps I needed to wear it a bit higher) than I would have liked, but that may actually be good for the nighttime, if it doesn't work itself up on it's own. (I'm finding that no matter where I position the cup, it positions itself within a few minutes of normal activity.) I couldn't believe how quickly and easily I was able to confidently put it in. I don't want to speak too soon, but perhaps my learning curve was only 2 full days. Let's see if the same fold and positioning works tomorrow (or in the middle of the night if I start feeling leaky).
Leila tov (good night).