I spent a lot of 2017 feeling guilty for every diaper I peeled off my still-too-young-to-potty-train baby’s bottom. But she just wasn’t ready to give the pot a shot and I just wasn’t ready to deal with the mess. For a while, I dealt with the situation by letting the father of the child handle diaper duties, till one hormone-fuelled morning… I died a hundred times looking at the bin full of diapers and sanitary napkins. Since the diaper wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, I decided to do something about the STs.
I’d heard rave reviews of the menstrual cup, but the idea of something that was clearly the size of a shot glass sitting inside my vagina, and having to be pulled out and put back inside wasn’t quite cutting it, with me.
It was during a conversation with Sunita Jaju, of Rustic Art, that she suggested I try their menstrual cup. I hemmed and hawed, but she insisted: “I’m sending you one. Try it.” And two days later, there it was, lying in front of me. Sunita also WhatsApp-ed me a bunch of videos to help me get a hang of it. This was in April. My first successful menstrual cup period was in September. Here’s what took me so long…
May: I hesitated.
I opened the packet. I studied the cup. I studied the literature. I saw the videos. And then I put it away. I couldn’t imagine how it would work. I mean, everything was great. The cup was squeaky clean. It had a great pouch to keep it that way and handmade organic soap to clean it up between uses. The literature was self-explanatory. The videos demonstrated everything so well, with curled fingers joining the thumb, to recreate the vagina, talking about how everything is C-shaped. Eh? So just as carefully as I’d opened it, I wrapped it up again and put it back into the box, and away.
June: I realised it may be at odds with an IUD.
I wondered if it was possible to wear both the cup and the Intra Uterine Device, like Copper T, together, so I turned to Google. At first glance, all I found were forums where women spoke about the possibility of a premature expulsion of the IUD, when you use a menstrual cup. Naturally, I freaked out. I finally came across the website of the Ruby Cup, which had a detailed article on IUDs and menstrual cups. I spoke to my gynae, who assured me I could go ahead with using the cup. The menstrual cup sits at the base of the cervix, and it doesn’t meet the IUD, though it may touch the threads. So, there’s no way the IUD will come in the way of the cup, and unless you fail to break the suction while pulling out (which will anyway cause discomfort), there’s no real danger of IUD expulsion.
July: I tried and failed.
Day 1 of my period, I diligently sterilised the cup, revised the steps, sanitised my hands and got to work. The literature and every video I’d seen recommended folding the cup in a C-shape and inserting, and that’s exactly what I did. But nothing. It felt like my vagina was sealed. I tried again. And then I gave up.
August: I learnt new things.
The world is divided into two kinds of women: Those who’ve used tampons and those who haven’t. This revelation came to me via a 70-strong, all-girls WhatsApp group. A friend, who was using a menstrual cup, had decided to ‘cupvert’ everybody. ‘It’s just like using a tampon,” said those who spoke of its awesomeness. I belong to the category of tampon non-users, because hello, Toxic Shock Syndrome! This conversation didn’t help as much as another did, with a friend who’d just got her own cup, and sent me a chart of the different folds: a C-Fold, an S-Fold, a 7-Fold and a Punch-Down. I was already on Day 3, by the time I tried the Punch-Down, and suddenly I felt the cup going in. It was like the seal had finally been broken. But just as quickly, my nerves took over, and I pulled it back out, and just like that, another period went by!
September: I made it!
This time, I knew what to do. I was armed with everything I needed: information and moral support. Or so I thought. With the Punch-Down, the cup slipped right through, and had disappeared inside, before I knew what had happened. Panic surged through my veins. Nobody had warned me about the possibility of the cup getting lost inside. I called my knowing friend, who told me to feel the rim, which I couldn’t find. Her next instruction was: relax, breathe, look again, and watch the videos on taking the cup out. The videos didn’t help, but I got a pretty neat tip out of one: When you’re taking the cup out, do it over the commode, so you don’t mess up the bathroom. Once again, I found my answer on the Ruby Cup website: If you can’t find the cup, squat and bear down. You can also just sit on the WC and push down a bit, and you’ll be able to feel the cup. I grabbed it in a pincer, but using the middle finger instead of the index, and used my index finger to break the suction. In my panic, I’d sworn that once the cup was out, I was never wearing it again. But it came out so easily, I cleaned it up and just as quickly popped it back in, and yes, the reviews are glowing!