It’s something that no one mentioned when I was pregnant or even after I’d given birth but once you’ve had a baby, Tampons are literally the worst thing in the world; or at least I think so. I don’t know whether it was the fact that my body had gotten used to not having a wad of cotton shoved up my vag for extended periods once a month or whether my body really had drastically changed up there since pushing out a 7.8lb human, but something just wasn’t right. I started my period again around 7/8 weeks after giving birth and didn’t have a proper one until around 4 months postpartum so when I finally bit the bullet and popped a tampon back in one day, my body was (understandably) all kinds of angry at me. It just felt horrible. It was awkward and painful and felt like it wasn’t sitting right inside me and I genuinely felt like crying because the one (and only) beauty of tampons is that they’re easy and have always enabled me to still do the things I loved, like taking Madison swimming and exercising without a horrible sweaty pad needing to be between my legs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never enjoyed the idea of tampons because of all of the issues and health risks known to be associated with them, but when a pad is your only alternative (menstrual cup aside), what’s a girl to do?
I first heard about menstrual cups probably around a year ago and the idea of using one myself never even crossed my mind; I guess in my naive little brain no matter how bad or horrible I thought tampons were, they were the only ‘non gross’ alternative to a sanitary towel for me. After giving birth though and having the unpleasant feels of a using a tampon when I was approached to try a menstrual cup for review, I really had nothing to lose. The anticipation of my period next starting was a weird mix of excitement and anxiety after that, but I was definitely intrigued to finally see what all of the fuss was about.
The Lily Cup Compact was the first menstrual cup I ever tried; a collapsible hot pink menstrual cup that came with a handy (yet discreet) storage case and was designed for women who had given birth vaginally or had a slightly wider vagina than the norm (whatever that means – surely there is no normal vagina size?). Since I had a natural birth with Madison I opted for the Lily Cup Compact over the ‘beginner’ menstrual cup (the Lily Cup One – more on that one in a second) and waited for my period. When I got my period later that month I was literally a bag of nerves – I remembered the first time I’d ever tried a tampon (unsuccessfully may I add) when I was around 13 and I suddenly became so anxious about using something new again.
I boiled the kettle and sterilised the Lily Cup Compact as instructed before first use and popped back into the toilet to give it a go. Bearing in mind I gave myself all of a five minute slot as Steve was impatiently waiting for us to go out… rookie mistake. I folded the opening of the cup up as instructed by the manual that came with it and tried my best to get it in. With the rush of trying to get it done quickly and all of the anxiety that had built up inside me for the two weeks previous to that day, let’s just say it didn’t go all that well. I mean, I got it in, but it was far from comfortable like everyone had said and I was a stressy little mess – far from the sophisticated adult with her menstrual cup that I’d imagined being. I gave up, took it out in a huff and aimed to try again the next day. Which I did and again worked myself up, struggled to get it in and eventually gave up in exchange for a tampon ready for my fitness class later that day.
Disappointed with my sh*tty attempt at being a fully fledged adult and remembering yet again that very first tampon encounter in Barbados (what a place to try one and explore my body down there for the first time), I gave up entirely and emailed the PR company to ask for the smaller size. Yes I’d given birth vaginally, but clearly things just weren’t working out for me.
40 long days later (and a pregnancy scare that was completely made up with my own fears) I tried again, boiling my Lily Cup One as I came on my period just before bed on a Friday night… far more relaxing. I was optimistic about it this time, the nerves were barely there and the menstrual cup in my hands looked far smaller and easier to get in than the last one had. I folded it up, got into a comfortable squat position and popped it in within a couple of seconds. I’m not kidding you, I genuinely gave myself a little ‘whoop’ for joy as I stood up and couldn’t even feel it. I paraded around the house, lunging and squatting to see if I could feel anything and honestly – nothing. I’d say it was comfortable but honestly there was nothing to feel! I left it in for a couple of hours before I went to bed and then being the chicken that I am, put a pad on whilst I slept.
I got up the next morning, boiled it again and popped it back in for the day. With the Lily Cup, you can leave it in for a maximum of 12 hours in one go and it’s recommended that you change it 3 times within a 24 hour period. I left it in for 8 hours that day before chickening out again and using a pad at night. As far as taking it out was concerned I found it really easy; I squeezed at the base and pulled it out slowly, angling it so that it didn’t spill everywhere until I was ready to empty it. It was so much cleaner than I imagined the whole process to be and after I’d emptied it, I simply washed it out with water and popped it back in when necessary. I haven’t yet had to change it in public, but they suggest to carry a small bottle of water with you to rinse or wipe it with some tissue or a baby wipe (which luckily I now always have on me) and pop it back in.
Apart from the fact that I haven’t tried it at night yet (I will, I was just a huge chicken) I absolutely loved the first time trying a menstrual cup. I’d been telling Steve all weekend how much of an absolute game changer it was for me and how I can’t wait to use it again next time around. My periods are all over the place (always have been even before I had Madison) so I think I’ll always be the girl to have an ’emergency’ pad just in case I come on when I can’t quickly sterilise the Lily Cup, but I think I can definitely say I’ll never be using tampons again. Not only for the health implacations that tampons can bring on, but for the savings as well.
The Lily Cup One is is £20 and can last up to 10 years – compared to the £3 odd a pack that 20 tampons can cost you, I’d definitely say that saving is gold alone. I can’t believe just how amazing using a menstrual cup is and how glad I am that I stuck with it even after my rubbish first attempt; if you’ve been thinking about switching to one, like the Lily Cup One, you can find out more information here.
The Lily Cup One has a loop for easier removal and just like the Lily Cup Compact, folds down into a tiny case for easy storage and discreetness. I am so happy with my Lily Cup and will honestly be recommending them to all of my friends. It’s a no-brainer to me now!! I can’t believe it took me this long to actually understand what everyone has been saying about them.
Have you tried one? Let me know if you have any questions – I’d love to do another post answering any questions you have on using a Menstrual cup , in the mean time you could read Alice’s post here for all of the question’s she had on the subject!
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