An iNTRO to Menstrual
cups and discs
September 9, 2019
By Maddy Siriouthay
I became a habitual menstrual cup user on accident.
When I first started at Ovee, we received lots of free menstrual products, usually in the camp of organic tampons and pads — “normal” products we were all comfortable using and testing. Until, one day, we got a Diva Cup and Soft Discs (a single-use, soft menstrual cup), and everyone in the office gave each other a collective “NOT IT” look when it came time to test.
Eventually, the responsibility was thrusted upon me, since I was the only one with a regular period with no shortage of menstrual blood that needed to be absorbed or collected or ANYTHING so I wouldn’t leak on to my underwear (#heavyflowprobs).
And thus, I dubbed myself the Period Princess™.
But let me backup for a minute and review some of the terms I discussed above. Menstrual cup? SOFT menstrual cup? If you’re not literally submerged into the world of periods and blood (again, #heavyflowproblems), then these words might paint a weird picture in your head.
So there are two camps of menstrual cups:
Despite the name, hard cups aren’t hard at all. They’re typically made of silicon, so they’re pretty flexible, reusable and — you guessed it — shaped like a cup. When inserted, they sit in your vaginal canal like a tampon and collect blood, as opposed to absorbing blood like one or pad. Depending on your flow, you can leave it inside you for up to 12 hours. When it’s full, simply empty the blood into the toilet and sanitize it with soap and water or a wet paper towel if you’re in a public restroom. The most well known hard cup, and the one that I tried, is The Diva Cup.
Soft cups are less like cups, but more like a flexible disc with a film-like center that catches menstrual blood. Depending on your flow, they can provide protection for up to 12 hours. Unlike hard cups, they are single-use, so when you’re ready to remove it, remove, and throw away (do NOT flush!).
Soft cups are uhh… interesting to look at. And play with. And insert. And remove. And in a lot of ways, weirder and scarier than a menstrual cup — at least these were my thoughts going in. But I promise once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to imagine going back to a tampon or pad (for me at least).
There’s lots of benefits to using a cup —soft or hard — and I break them all down, by brand, below. But first, some more things you should know about me and my period:
I have a heavy flow. Like, a reaaaaaaally heavy flow.
Medically, it’s called menorrhagia, but personally, I call it a pain in the ass. Menorrhagia is “menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding,” but how do you really define that? For me, it’s soaking through super absorbency tampons every other hour, doubling up on pads and having debilitating cramps. See other symptoms here.
This means I go through a lot of products and often times leak on my underwear and sheets, so I’m eager to find other menstrual products that reduce my environmental impact and make my flow easier to manage.
I have extremely painful cramps.
Most likely a side effect of my Paragard IUD — I suffer from pretty bad cramps. There is a foreign object lodged in my uterus but I also won’t have babies so, it pays off. However, these cramps can be made worse by certain period products like tampons, which can cause extra discomfort when they absorb menstrual blood and expand in your vaginal canal.
I’m a pretty active Girl On The Go™, so ease of use and convenience is key.
They’ve gotta hold up to the Leg Day™ test — can’t be leaking all over the gym!
This is the context in which I test period products. Things that matter to me, might not matter to you as much, or may not be something you struggle with on your period.
how I test
I only use one product at a time. If I’m testing a cup, I don’t use pads or liners as a back up. I try not to use anything for my cramps (no matter how painful) because some period products can affect how often or strongly I feel them. If I’m testing cramp remedies, I try to free bleed or use a pad, so nothing is inside of me that could affect how I feel my cramps.
I try to document myself testing these products on our Instagram stories so you can get an in real time look at what it’s like to test them for the first time. Trying something new always has a learning curve, and you can see me through the ups and downs, the highs and the lows and the heavy and light flow days.
I tested out a variety of menstrual cups and disc, check out my #thots