It’s no secret that Latin America has a high rate of poverty, both physical and intellectual. Menstrual health education is something I haven’t heard much if at all after 6th grade. It was thanks to a friend in India that I learned about menstrual cups, faced menstruation and all the stigma I had, unaware it was related to my gender identity. Facing that blemish in my month also made me realize the harm the menstrual products I was using have done to my body and nature which could have been evaded with proper education.
Put A Cup In It, a group of women that seek to educate people about reusable menstrual products define a menstrual cup as, “a healthy, waste-free tampon alternative.” Until I learned about OVA, an Ecuadorian company that partnered with the German menstrual cup company, MeLuna, I assumed menstrual health was only possible in the first world. After a lot of careful research of OVA and menstrual cups, measuring my cervix and all the intellectual cravings satisfied, I purchased their product. I needed a first cup, an average, to learn the specifics of my body. There was only so much I could learn before going through the motions.
As expected, their test they had pointed me to their smallest size. It merely took a day for it to arrive. I was so excited. Naturally, my mother wasn’t. Even the drift between mother and “daughter” has affected the education about my menstrual health.
Not gonna lie, as adorable as the cup was, the pain when I first put it on made me shy away from it until my period. Put A Cup In It did emphasized there was a learning curve. Until the sluggish, bloody days, primal fear took the best of me.
After spending an stupid amount of time getting the cup in, I had to check if the cup was comfortable.
The first reg flag was obvious. The whole cup must be inside, including the ending. For starters, I tried pushing it as far up as I could. The pain I felt when the cup rubbed against the back was a strong sign it had to go lower. But how lower for it to be comfortable? If I could answer this, I could get closer to the size of my ideal cup.
In the most comfortable position, the cup’s rim sat on the border of the canal. I believe I grasped how a shorter cup would be able to hang onto the surroundings if it came to that. But because this cup hung outside my body, sitting like usual was mind-numbingly painful. If I were to leave it higher up, the back would hurt. Painful either way, it was abundantly clear I needed a shorter cup.
After observations and calculations, I deduced the cup had to be about 10mm shorter than its actual height. The lines at the base of the cup and the visual references from Put A Cup In It’s visual comparison chart were a helpful indicator. MeLuna also had a similar tool — and a cup with the same measurements as the one I was currently wearing — against their other cups.
In the meantime, I checked the cup’s fit by the pain it caused. I tried bending my back like a was going to tie my shoelaces and walking. While I don’t know what these pains mean, I trust it will help me with the next cup. For other physical symptoms, it’s worth noting I felt dizzy and my mind was foggy. I did spend more than an hour trying to insert the cup.
Another red flag that told me the cup was too big was — after making sure it was somewhat comfortable — the cup could easily be removed if I squatted down. Using the punch-down fold to insert the cup, it was hardly open inside. I’m thinking of getting a softer cup as well.
Nevertheless, I wore the product for the rest of the day. Waking up with it was also an important point because the cup apparently moves higher during sleep. The confirmation was painstaking obvious when I rose; the cup was just as high as I tried the previous day.
I followed to remove it, witnessing a leaked of period blood because it hadn’t opened properly. The silver lining is, despite the light leakage, I finally witnessed the cup do what it was meant for: collect the blood. It was an awesome sight. That same blood could be diluted to feed my plants! The sight was cooler compared to a pad’s, and gave me a better estimate over how much I bled overnight.
I contacted OVA about purchasing a MeLuna cup and they kindly offered to help me find a cup that fit my findings. In the meantime, I’m eyeing reusable pads until I can buy a MeLuna Shorty S. About the OVA cup, I’m considering selling it online after a thorough cleanup (properly reading all the precautions of said process beforehand).
To summarize, I used an average sized cup to find the specifics of my ideal menstrual cup, learned the basics of inserting, removing, emptying and washing a cup, and concluded the kind of cup I need to follow up with. Going back to disposable pads isn’t an option anymore.
Learning about menstrual health is something everyone can benefit of. It can reduce stigmas and start conversations that can lead to a better life. Thank you very much for reading. See you next time!
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