Fair warning: This post is ALL about my menstrual cups, and bleeding! If you’re not into that sort of thing, you might want to turn back now….
First off, regarding menstrual cups, I just have to say. I. LOVE. THEM! Seriously… they have changed my life. I want to yell it from the rooftops. I want to tell everyone I know about them. I have a desire to try to convert more women. I feel like if every woman was willing to just give them a try, they would see how amazing they are. But.. alas… generally, people still don’t really want to talk about their menstruation and they are resistant to the idea because of our societies treatment of menstruation as a taboo subject; something that just isn’t discussed about openly. I feel like there is such a double standard regarding female sexuality. By talking about sex, you are inevitably talking about vaginas. And yet talking about menstruation is “gross”. I don’t get it. But I have found that people are sometimes a little put-off, or seem uncomfortable, if I speak openly about mine. It’s something I strive to work on. I want to be as open about it as I can, in the hopes that my openness and willingness to discuss it will have an effect on other women, and then together, we will all change the world! (That might be going a bit too far…. but anyway.)
I wanted to give a little overview of the cups that I have tried so far, and a little bit about my experience with them. My first cup was the Diva Cup. I bought it at a Whole Foods circa 2005. I tried it a few times when I first got it, and had little to no success. I found that the stem was painful and poky (see below). I also could never get it to form a good seal, and not leak on me.
In the above photos, you can see the measurements in ml on one side (7.5 ml at the bottom and 15 ml at the top) and in oz on the other. Personally, I don’t find the measurement lines to be useful at all. I’m never keeping track of exactly how much my cup is holding. I am usually just looking more for rough gauges, like “cup is 1.4 full today after ___ # of hours” This is how I track my menstrual flow on my iPhone period tracker app. The cup is also clearly labeled: MADE IN CANADA , and inscribed with its name. I guess this would be useful if you had several clear colored cups that were all very similar looking and needed to distinguish between the brands.
Here is a photo of the style of pouch that the Diva Cup comes with. They might be different now, but when I bought this cup in 2005 this is what the pouch was like. It’s just colored cotton with a yarn draw string. I remember it also came with a little flower pin that said Diva on it, but I am pretty sure I don’t have that anymore. I remember thinking to myself “Who would want to wear this pin and advertise their love and use of menstrual cups?!” But, if my other cups had come with stickers or buttons, you better believe I would be flaunting those HARD.
These photos below show the stem of the Diva Cup. It is hollow and pretty stiff. I have always had issues with cramping with this cup, I think because the stem would poke me. It was quite a bit longer when I first purchased it, but I decided to trim it down as low as I could, while still having a little something to grip onto while removing it. If you look at those little horizontal ring lines around the stem, there were probably 2 or 3 more of those, just to give you a sense of how long it was originally.
This photo is just to show the over all length of the cup. Compared to other cups I have tried and read about, the Diva is rather long. I always struggled with it’s length. Even after trimming the stem shorter, I still had a lot of issues with poking and cramping. My biggest problem with the Diva Cup however was that it always leaked. I tried again and again, different folds for insertion, rotating, squeezing.. no matter what I did, it never formed a good seal for me. I have read other women love this cup, and never have any trouble with it, but it just wasn’t for me personally. I tried to trouble shoot what the issue might be with the leaking. The position of my cervix, the firmness of the rim of the cup… I decided that since I couldn’t feel my cervix with my fingers, then that must mean that it was plenty high enough. I read that firmer cups are supposed to be better as far as popping open and forming a good seal, however, that has not been my experience personally. The Diva cup has the firmest rim of all the cups I have, and it never popped open correctly. My other cups are much softer and work great for me. I diagnosed myself as having very tight “squeezy” vaginal muscles, (this has not been confirmed by a doctor, but I do plan on asking my gyno about it the next time I am there) which was actually preventing the cup from opening. As opposed to the soft cups, which sort of form and flex with my vaginal walls. Potentially unscientific, but it makes sense to me anyway…
The second cup I purchased is the FemmyCycle.
FemmyCycle is made in California and is relatively new on the market. As of right now, you can only buy them directly from their website. I had a really great experience with the company. They provided great communication, and responded to my email inquiries very quickly. When the package arrived, there was a nice letter with instructions and a thank you note addressed to me. It felt very personal, and I thought it was a very nice touch. Also, the shipping was totally reasonable, and it arrived in the mail really really fast! The FemmyCycle is only sold as a 2-pack. So, naturally, I kept one for myself, and then I sent the other to my wife/bestie @ little wren doula services <3. I don’t have a photo (that I took) of the kind of pouch that it comes with because I sent it to her. But it was a large, breathable mesh type material, with a plastic snap closure and it was large enough to fit 2 cups in it. Here is a stock photo from the web:
The FemmyCycle is very non-traditional as far as menstrual cup design goes. It has a very unique shape and features. It is more rounded in shape, and shorter. It’s signature feature is that is has a lip that folds inside to act as a spill-proof barrier. Instead of the traditional stem, it has a really nice wide loop at the bottom that makes it super easy to remove.
The cup is very, very soft and when it’s inserted you can’t feel it at all. I haven’t had any of the issues I had with my Diva Cup. In these next photos you can see how the design of the lip prevents your flow from spilling out. It’s pretty amazing actually. This cup is turned completely upside down, and all of the fluid is still contained inside. sheer genius.
I mean, not that you are going to be standing on your head all that often, while you’re menstruating, but hey, you never know right? Could this cup be a yogi’s dream come true?!
Ok, so here is the part where I start gushing… I love my FemmyCycle SO MUCH. I don’t even know if I can fully explain what it has done for my period experience. Before the FemmyCycle, I was feeling self conscious about my periods. I didn’t feel fresh or clean. I was noticing that pads and tampons created a very unnatural odor. **Note: your menstrual blood should not have an odor. There will be a future post on that topic altogether. When my period started, the very first day, I inserted the FemmyCycle, and I almost couldn’t believe it. On the very first try, it just went in, and there was no leaking. NO. LEAKING?! Is this heaven..? Every subsequent day of my period where my flow was relatively heavy, I just put the FemmyCycle in, and forgot about it. Its like those infomercials… set it and forget it. I wore the cup all day while at work (I work really long, like 11 hour shifts) for a total of 12 hours or more, and when I removed it, it was about 3/4 full.
The FemmyCycle has literally changed the experience of my periods forever. I have had crazy fantasy day dreams about swimming, festivals, road trips, vacations… all the things I can do, all while not worrying at all about my period. That is priceless.
Also, worth mentioning I think, is how it has made me feel about myself. I noticed right away, from the first use, that it gave me a feeling of security and confidence that I have never experienced with pads and tampons. I no longer felt like everyone and their mom knew that I had my period. I felt fresh and clean and dry and secure. I felt all of those things that the tampon commercials try to promise, but don’t actually deliver. You totally want to try it now don’t you….?!
The FemmyCycle is a hard act to follow… but nevertheless, the third, and most recent cup I bought is the Sckoon cup.
Sckoon organics is also an American company, based in Florida I believe. They sell other nice products like cloth pads and baby diapers and baby clothing. I actually bought this cup through Amazon, but if you sign up for their mailing list on their website, you can get $3 off your cup if you buy it on their website. Since I ordered it through Amazon prime, I got it super fast in the mail. They have a nice option that they call the ECOPAC, that doesn’t have any packaging, other than a simple ziplock bag, which cuts down on unnecessary waste. I chose that option, I think it was even a few dollar less! Bonus.
Sckoon cup wins for having the most adorable carrying pouch too. Just FYI.
Compared to the Diva Cup, the Sckoon is super super soft and flexible. It has more of an inverted bell shape to it. Its is significantly shorter in overall length, and has a gentle curvature, as opposed to the more long narrow taper of the Diva Cup. The Sckoon cup has much larger suction air holes, which I find much easier to keep clean. I forgot to mention that above, but the air holes on the Diva are so small that they are basically non-existent. I tried to enlarge them, but nothing I tried worked. They just kept closing up to their original size.
There is a nice flower pattern of ridges on the bottom, which provides a good surface to grip when you are removing it. I have never had any trouble getting it out.
The stem on the Sckoon cup is very thin, and extremely soft and flexible. I have read that some people even trim this stem down, but I think thats kind of silly. Its so soft that there is no way you can feel it. Also, it just flexes and moves with your body, which I think is great. I never really use the stem to pull the cup out, I just locate the stem and them move up to the base of the cup, give it a little squeeze and then pull the rest of the cup out. Works really really great.
I have had a little issue with leaking with this cup. Compared to my FemmyCycle, I find that I usually have to give it a couple trys before I get it right. I usually have to put it in, and take it out once before I get it in just the right position to catch all the flow. Otherwise, I think that my theory about the softness of the cup, as compared to the super stiff Diva Cup might be accurate. What I really like about my Sckoon cup is that because it is significantly smaller and softer than my FemmyCycle, I can switch to it after Day 3, when my flow is a little lighter and doesn’t require the carrying capacity of the FemmyCycle. It’s perfect for my light days towards the end when I only fill it about 1/4 full after 12 hours.
Here is a fun comparison photo of my three cups. From left to right: FemmyCycle, Sckoon Cup, Diva Cup. You can see pretty clearly how much longer/taller the Diva Cup is compared to the other two. The Sckoon cups stem extends above the Diva, but like I said above, its so soft and flexible that its barely there. You get a nice view of the FemmyCycle’s loop-style stem in this photo too. As well as how the lip flips inside to hold back the flow from leaking. Also, don’t let the round shape of the FemmyCycle scare you. It looks like it might be too wide, but I can personally attest that it is not. Its so soft that your body just hugs it and the cup molds to the shape of you. No matter what shape the cup is in, it catches every single drop. I have never had any problems with leaking with the FemmyCycle at all!
I just wanted to include a quick note about cleaning here too… When I am out on the go, I usually carry a peri bottle with me just incase I have to rinse my cup while I am out. However, I have yet to have to use it. **This is not a real perinatal irrigation bottle, its just a dollar bin shampoo squeeze bottle, but it works, and it was a dollar. So, theres that. Any bottle like the would work. Its just so that you can fill it with some water, take it in the stall with you, and rise your cup before you re-insert.
As far as cleaning and care of my cups, They were all boiled when I first purchased them, but after that, it is not really necessary to boil your cup. Some people do it every month, but I feel like thats too much work. There are other things you can do to make sure your cup is nice and sanitary. I like to soak my cups before and after each period in a pyrex bowl with a mixture of hot water, baking soda and vinegar, or hot water with tea tree oil. You can also use hydrogen peroxide, which works really really nicely for removing any staining that might occur in clear silicone cups.
Between uses (on a daily basis), I just rinse with cold water (to prevent staining) and then wash with hot soapy water. Thats good enough. You only really need to do a thorough cleaning before and after your period!
So that’s it for menstrual cups for now folks… Thanks for reading!