Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

To trim or not to trim…

14 Oct

That little stem!

Every menstrual cup comes with a little stem. They say you may cut it off if you like.

I was scared to cut mine off. I depended on it to pull the menstrual cup out for the first four months or so. I tried not to put pressure on myself to be all cool and independent, but rather to get entirely comfortable with the cup before I do anything to jeopardise the value of my little R395 investment!

But the stem pokes! I learned to pull in my vaginal muscles and this helps because it pulls the cup higher up into the vagina. But every now and again I would become uncomfortably aware of that little stem, pushing against the skin that covers the vaginal opening. (I don’t know what the technical name for that skin is).

So I practised. If you are considering trimming the stem, I advise that you practise too. Practise gripping the base of the cup, and not the stem, to pull out the cup. Once I was comfortable with that, I took the plunge… I trimmed it!

I didn’t trim it all the way, yet it was enough for the annoying poking to cease. This might be true for you, too, so you can experiment by only trimming a little bit off initially, especially if you are not quite confident that you will be able to remove it without the stem every time. I assume this depends on the length of your vagina.

I’m glad I trimmed it, but I would recommend gaining some confidence before you do. I like how much control I have nowadays. I can sit right here and push my vaginal muscles down and I will eventually feel the stem. Then I pull them back up and away is the poke… and I can forget about the cup again until tonight.

Removing the cup without using the stem is about equally messy as removing it with the stem, because either way at some point my cup has to be folded slightly to get out and that’s when the blood can spill out if it is quite full. I’ve seen a video of a woman demonstrating how to take out the cup without spilling, using a transparent glass tube as the “vagina”. I have not been able to get that right with my real life vagina! Maybe it’s because I haven’t had sex and my vagina doesn’t sommer stretch widely enough that a fully opened menstrual cup can come back out. I’d love someone who has had sex to comment on whether this will get easier after a woman has had sex?

Relaxing your vaginal muscles

13 Oct

I have now been using my menstrual cup for about 6 months. I am pretty chuffed about this! The best feeling was when I had to go away on a trip for a few weeks. I took my little pull bag containing the cup, swung it around my finger a few times from pure chuffedness, and tossed it into my going-away bag.

I thought with great chuffedness about how, a few months ago, I would have had to cram a box of tampons and a bunch of pads into my bag and then also make sure I keep them sort of discreetly down under the clothes in the bag. Haha! My menstrual cup bag lay there innocently, looking like a posh grey makeup bag, all made of shiny matric-farewell-dress material.

Relaxing your vaginal muscles is something I learned along the way that might come in handy for other cup users.

If your cup is kind of deep in your body and you are struggling to grip it and pull it out, don’t panic. Simply push down as if you were going to do a number 2. Then you will feel the cup come down quite a bit more.

Also, when inserting the cup, push down and it will be easier to push the cup in. Then once you’ve inserted the cup and made sure that it has fully reopened inside your vagina, pull your vaginal muscles in and up again – as if you are trying to hold in a piepie. You will feel the stem pull back up a little bit.

Ah yes, the stem. To trim or not to trim! I will talk about that in the next thrilling episode.

pms

4 May

oh darling, i miss you with every bit of my swollen body.

someday, maybe, we will lie together on nights like these and you will press your warm hands on the skin under my navel and the pain subside, becoming just a wonderful opportunity to feel your touch.

maybe you will like the swollen breasts, the slightly bloated stomach.  maybe you will understand, as i do, that i am all the more woman, all the more human, because i am subject to the rythms of nature.

maybe there will be tea, and a fireplace, and a poem before bedtime. and we will whisper in the dark about children and Christmas.

An anemone!

7 Apr

So one of the things I learned about my body is what my vagina feels like on the inside!

I had it all wrong. I thought the vagina looks like this:

This is right, basically, but it underplays the transition between the vaginal canal (where the penis/tampon/menstrual cup goes) and the uterus. The uterus is something completely seperate. I didn’t know that… until I needed to figure out what my menstrual cup was pushing against. If you look that the above sketch, it is easy to assume that the menstrual cup could enter the vagina and end up in the uterus. I thought the vaginal canal simply ends in the opening that is the uterus. The cervix thing was always a mystery to me.

Turns out, the female body looks more like this…

 

 

This picture does not show all the way to the vulva like the previous one. What is does show, more properly, it that there’s a serious difference between the vagina and the uterus.

I told my brother, who is a medical student, that I am a bit confused because inserting the cup I thought I had come up against the back of the womb. It was soft and squishy, I said, with a little opening in the middle. Like an anemone that you have just poked with your finger, so that it hides all its little tentacles and all that’s left is its round, squishy outside and a little hole in the middle. My brother laughed and told me yes, that’s the cervix.

The menstrual cup needs only fit around the small hole at the bottom of the cervix. That’s where the blood comes out. (The blood is actually a part of the uterus lining). That is why I could actually fit my finger up around the menstrual cup, and find that there is space up around it. Look at the picture – that’s just the end of the vagina.

Here is a picture of how I think the menstrual cup fits in my body.

 

 

My brother thinks I’m very silly for not knowing this, and he keeps using terminology I don’t understand and then I have to tell him to dumb it down! But eventually when I downloaded these pictures I figured it out. I am really lucky to be able to speak so frankly about these things with my brother. But it’s not enough. He doesn’t like dig gyneacology and I kind of have to drag it out of him.

Now you know why I say I have learned a lot about my body. It really does fill me with amazement. I am very grateful to be a healthy woman. I really look forward to getting married and sharing my body with my husband. Until then, at least I have a better inkling of what’s going on “down there” 🙂

My first month with a menstrual cup

7 Apr

My period officially ended two days ago. And I am officially a menstrual cup enthusiast!

Some concerns…

– I think my period pain might have been slightly worse than usual, possibly because of endomitriosis. However, the cup is so convenient in so many ways that I will try it for a couple of months more before I make up my mind.

– The stem still presses against the outer skin from time to time. But I’m learning to “pull in” my muscles every time after I insert it, and then the cup moves slightly higher into the vagina and I can’t feel it anymore.

Some of the things I love about my new menstrual management method 🙂 …

– I had very few stained panties (less than pads; MUCH less than tampons) – and zero leaks will probably be a reality in a month or two, as I get the hang of it!

– I only needed to empty my cup twice a day (leaving it in 10-12 hours with no problems)

– I never ever have to carry anything into the bathroom with me! Even in the bathroom stalls on campus, I don’t need a water bottle. A quick wipe with a piece of toilet paper works fine. And in any case, I can leave the cup in for so long that I hardly need to change it in a public place; I can always wait til I go home.

– I can now call my menstrual management method 100% environmentally friendly! No more of my smelly plastic pads on the rubbish tips!

– No more expenditure! If I spent R25 per period before I bought my Miacup, my investment will start paying off by age 26 and a half. Even if I only then use it for another 4 years (before I have children and/or switch to the type B menstrual cup), I will save R1200 on menstrual product expenditure.

(I think it would be a good idea for 2 or 3 women who are considering a Miacup to buy it together and each try it for one cycle, simply sterilising it in boiling water before use. That way they can make an informed decision, and as long as one of them decides to continue using it and buys the others’ shares out, then they’re sorted.)

– I have learned so much about my body. This might be one of the best bits for this curious young woman!

 

So… if you’re curious about menstrual cups and you want to hear about my experience, comment and ask any questions you got!

Ouch! Perceived intensified period pain…

1 Apr

I’ve always had quite a bit of period pain. The kind that has you pale and breathless and unable to stand for a couple of hours and unable to concentrate for a day or so, if you don’t take painkillers. But with strong over-the-counter painkillers, it’s fine

This month, my first month with my Miacup, has been pretty painful, and especially, painful for longer than I remember from the past. Instead of a day, it has been more like 36 hours. Ow.

Also, upon initial insertion of the Miacup, the pain momentarily intensified. And 36 hours on, the pain is not bad enough to take painkillers, but it remains there. Also, my digestive system seems unhappy to have to move around the larger-than-usual vagina.

The Miacup is working beautifully in terms of efficiency and neatness (still only that one stain!) and it’s great only having to empty it every 10-12 hours. But I’m a bit concerned that my  endomitriosis might be the reason the period pain intensified when I inserted it, and why the pain is lasting longer.

Endomitriosis entails little bits of womb in places outside the womb… maybe these bits, which are always swollen/trying to get out during one’s period, are being squashed into the sides of other organs or something.

So, I’ve chickened out for one night. I’m weairing a pad tonight. We’ll do the Miacup again tomorrow, because it would be awesome to leave it in as I go through my hectic day. By then the pain should really be gone too.

Day 1 with my Miacup

31 Mar

So as you know, I’ve finally started really USING my Miacup!

And what a bloody wonderful thing it is. The first night went by with no leaks, not even a spot on my panties.

It is evening now. I’ve emptied it thrice today and that was far too much, it had only a little bit of blood in. To be honest it was more out of curiosity than anything else.

From time to time the stem of the Miacup pokes from inside into the skin that closes over the vagina. I guess that is why they say you can trim it. I don’t see why I can’t seem to push it deeper into my body! I hope I don’t have an exceptionally short vagina or something. I will try to see if I could easily take the Miacup out without using the stem, and then I will decide if I will trim it.

A life of zero leaks is in sight! When you remove the Miacup and empty the blood, you first need to wipe your body because some blood comes out with the cup and that’s the only blood that is going to stain your panties.

The most important thing is that I can definitely see my Miacup replacing pads and tampons forever! No doubt at all.

Kitchen talk

30 Mar

So two of my black girl friends and I were chilling in the kitchen and eventually I thought I’d just go out and ask. How did they learn about periods?

They were instantly forthcoming! I was surprised, but it actually figures. We all grow up and at some point we learn about these things, yet we never get to share about it.

Both their moms trusted they would learn about sex in school so they were never told about it before then. I on the other hand got told about sex by my mom when I was four and she was pregnant with my little sister. It was cool because sex was always part of life in my mind, and there was no big shock at that age, you just take everything in your stride. Both of my friends said they’d figured a lot of it out by the time it was covered in school, and they would have liked it if their parents had discussed it with them!

And then we moved on to periods. We were laughing and talking so loudly, I was afraid some of the guys would hear us, but then friend N said no! Let them hear! Why should it freak them out? And indeed, why should it. So we continued as loudly as we wanted!

Friend K says her mother recommended that she use pads until she is 21. She tried a tampon once, but couldn’t even figure out how to put it in, not really, and then she agreed with her mother rather to just use pads. She gives a kind of freaked-out shiver. Tampons are weird, she laughs! She opened one once and put water on it and watched it expand and thought, NO. WAY. am I putting it in my body if it’s going to do that!

I find this interesting, because friend K grew up in the city so I expected her to be the more liberal one. She was taught strict hygiene rules (she’s always coming out with a rule I don’t know about, like you can’t wash clothes in the kitchen sink, ever). In her family absolutely everyone washes their own underwear by hand. That’s funny, because in my family we would even toss a slightly bloody pair of panties in the wash if we thought it wasn’t too bad. Then our domestic worker lady does the laundry. She folds everyone’s underwear, including my dad’s. That’s unimaginable to friend K.

Friend N shared with us that she always hated having to go buy it when she was young! She is from a more traditional family, in some senses, but she is wonderfully open and frank about things. The first time she tried a tampon – she and friend K both nickname them “bullets” – she didn’t understand how it works so she just put it in her panties. Of course it leaked all over the place and she got completely upset the first time! She figured it out eventually and now she swears by “bullets”.

N’s brother openly buys his girlfriend tampons. She says once they were in the supermarket together and he kept trying to hide the purchase from his little sister, until in the car she asked him what he had there. He looked embarrassed about it, but she was chilled about it. My boyfriend would never buy me tampons, I would never even consider asking him! We think that’s because my boyfriend and I don’t have sex and her brother and his girlfriend do. So he knows her more intimately, while there are some things that are still very private for me and my boyfriend.

They asked me about me. I knew at what age I could expect my first period, but I didn’t think it would come right when my mom went overseas for a month! So I had to use the bad sanitary pads she and I had bought Just In Case. I couldn’t face my mom’s tampon stash, not at 12. Eventually the pads ran out, or something, and I mustered up the courage to tell my dad about it. I was also concerned because I didn’t realise you have your period for so long!! I guess I thought a day or two. So he confirmed that it’s pretty normal for my mom to have five-day periods or whatever. It was good being able to talk to him about it.

But the BEST story comes, again, from our giggling friend N. She says that when she was a young teen her dad was going to the store and she asked him to buy her some pads. He was awkward about it, but agreed. He must have had no CLUE about periods at all, not even his wife’s periods, because when he returned, he dumped A BIG PACK OF BABY NAPPIES on his daughter’s table and said gruffly, “Well, here you go.”

We laughed so hard at that, if the boys hadn’t heard us before, they certainly did then!!

For real now!

30 Mar

It starts! For real. Pain and all, there’s no mistaking that dull ache in the abdomen :-S

SMiacup inserted, and the first night will now commence! I’m making a big investment too, wearing new pajama pants. I wouldn’t do that with my first night of period if I was wearing a tampon or a pad!

Come on Miacup, I trust you!

False Alarm :-/

27 Mar

There were typical pinkish stains to behold yesterday, but after a night and half a day, not a single drop of blood in the miacup.

I think I may have torn a little piece of skin when I was practising insertion/removal.

It was probably just as well, cause I needed all the energy I could get for this long day.

Still, it was a bit of a disappointment, getting all lyrical and everything.

I will keep you updated.