Menstrual Cup Enthusiasm

In 2017 I wrote some articles about the menstrual cup, but as it’s becoming more popular, the market is expanding and a lot more people have heard of the menstrual cup by now, I decided to write a new post. I think it’s much handier to have everything in one post instead of in separate posts. So here we go, more period talk! 

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Photo by: Organicup

Question! Are you using a menstrual cup yet or do you have no idea what I am talking about? In both cases, I think this article will help you. I will explain what a menstrual cup is, what the benefits are, I’ll answer some faq and I’ve reviewed some brands for you (Lunette, Organicup and Nixit). Hopefully, this information will give you the confidence to give it a try or if you are already using one, then you might want to learn about the different brands that I’ve tested. Either way, I hope you will enjoy this article and you will share it with anyone who might benefit from it. Let’s make a difference when it comes to periods.
I’m using menstrual cups for over 2 years already and I love them. I do have to say that I never had any anxieties around them and I found it quite easy from the start. This is why I recommend you to get comfortable with your body and in this case, especially with your vagina. Know what is what and know what it feels like. Get to know your body! Menstrual cups make my period much more bearable. During the day I often forget that I’m on my period, as I don’t have to think about changing tampons or pads. Let’s say that I’m a real menstrual cup enthusiast!

WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP EXACTLY?
Simple and short: A menstrual cup is a little cup, usually made out of silicone, that you bring into your vagina when menstruating. It doesn’t absorb any fluids, but rather holds it.

IMG_2985_polarrTHE BENEFITS OF A MENSTRUAL CUP:
– A cup doesn’t absorb all the fluids, like tampons and pads, but the cup holds all the fluids in your vagina. This way you stay naturally lubricated and healthy from the inside.
– One of the main reasons I like menstrual cups so much, is that it’s so much better for the environment than tampons or pads. How many tampons do you use per cycle? It’s probably in between 15-20. That is a lot of unnecessary waste. This is apart from all the packaging (so much plastic!). All together it’s just a lot if you compare it with the fact that you only need 1 menstrual cup in your life (about 3-4 in a lifetime).
-Reading that, you will understand that this is also why it’s a lot more cost-effective. A menstrual cup costs, on average, £20-£30. If you look after your cup well, then the cup can last you for about 20 years. A quick calculation tells us that this is super cheap in comparison of £2000-£2500 you will spend on tampons/pads in those 20 years.
-There are 0 chemicals involved. A very different story from tampons and pads, as there are pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform found in tampons and pads.
-Now this is debatable, but there are people who experiencing less cramps or no cramps at all anymore after switching to the cup.
-You can wear the cup to prevent surprises. It doesn’t mean you have to wear it all the time, but if there is a day/night where you can’t afford a bloody surprise, just insert it, just in case.
-No nasty smells. As the cup is inside your vagina, there is 0 smell.
-You can use a menstrual cup in all ages.

HOW TO USE A MENSTRUAL CUP:
-When using a cup for the first time, make sure you sterilise it first, by putting the cup into boiling water for 5 minutes. Do this every time your period is finished as well, so it’s ready for the next use.
-Wash your hands.
-Sit on the toilet or squat.
-Fold the cup (either in a C shape or when using a disc type, *by squeezing it with your thumb and forefinger).
-Insert it and let it unfold into your vagina (you can make sure it has properly unfolded by gently moving your finger around the cup). *When using a disc, make sure that you tuck it up behind your pubic bone and that you can feel our cervix underneath the cup.
-Empty the cup 2-4 times a day (depending on how heavy your period is that day).
-Take it out by gently pulling the stem. When it’s almost out, make sure you also hold the bottom of the cup (wriggle it a little if necessary). *When using a disc, untuck the rim from your pubic bone and gently pull it out, keeping it level (to avoid spillage).
-After using it, rinse the cup with cold water first and then with warm water. After this you can also use a cup cleanser or a natural soap.

TIP: when you’re new to menstrual cups, try practicing in the shower, it makes things easier.

FAQ:
-Can everyone use a menstrual cup? Yes! It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are male or female, if you are a virgin or have given birth.. if you have a vagina and you menstruate, the menstrual cup is for you. 
-Can a menstrual cup get lost in your vagina?
 No! This can never ever happen. The only way out is the same way it went in. Your uterus can not swallow a cup as the opening on your cervix is way too small.
-Can I wear it at night? Definitely. Simply empty it before you go to sleep and when you wake up the next morning. On heavier days, you might want to use a pad for extra protection.
-Can I use the toilet without taking the cup out? Yes. Your vagina has nothing to do with where your urine comes from.
-How many times do I have to empty the cup? Depending on how heavy your period is, you have to empty it, on average, 2-4 times a day. When emptying it, simply rinse it and insert it again.

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Photo by: Lunette

-How do I empty the cup on public toilets? When the public toilet lacks a sink, but you really need to empty your cup, just empty it and use a bit of toilet paper to take off most fluid and insert again. As soon as you get home, make sure you rinse it well, before inserting it again. You can also use specially designed menstrual cup wipes. Emptying your cup in a sink-less public toilet might be a bit messier, but it’s totally doable.
-Does it ever leak? It shouldn’t, but on heavier days I find that they sometimes leak a little bit when not emptying it in time. You can just use some extra protection on these days or empty the cup a bit more often. When it leaks a lot, there is something not quite right. Maybe you didn’t insert it properly or you have to try another brand, shape or size.
-Does one cup fit all? Are all vaginas the same? Nope. So, it can happen that not all menstrual cups are for you. This is why it’s nice that there are different brands, sizes and shapes. If you tried one brand and it didn’t work for you, you might have to try another brand, shape or size.
-In what sizes do menstrual cups come? The sizes really depend on the brand. Most brands offer 2 sizes though. One for people who have not given birth vaginally and one for people who did give birth vaginally. Some brands also offer a mini size, especially for teens. Sometimes you have to experiment a little bit with what size is best for you.
-Can I feel the cup inside me? You are not meant to feel the cup at all. If you do, you maybe have to (insert it again and) push it up a bit higher. What can also help is to cut off (a part of) the stem.
-Can I wear a menstrual cup with an IUD? Yes. It’s safe to use a cup in combination with an IUD.
-Can I have sex with a menstrual cup? Yes and no, depending on what cup you are using. With the traditional shape you need to remove the cup before penetration. When using a disc type (like Nixit), penetration is possible. You might want to use a bit of extra lube though.
-Does a menstrual cup protect me from getting pregnant? No! A menstrual cup should never be used as a contraceptive.

THE DIFFERENT BRANDS (review):
Since I started using menstrual cups, I’ve tried 3 brands. All 3 cups are very different from each other, which gives me good knowledge about some of the differences. The cups were all given to me by the companies themselves, for me to review.

Lunette Cup
This is the first cup I’ve ever tried. The cup feels firm, but with a soft touch. Their cups come in different colours (pick your favourite!) and they offer 2 sizes. I think it’s the perfect size for me (I have size/model 1) and it hardly ever leaks. I also think that this is becuase of it being quite firm. It’s flexible enough to move with your body, but firm enough to push against the walls of your vagina. This is the cup I’m using on most of my periods. Spoiler alert: the Lunette is my favourite cup!

 

OrganiCup
I find the Organicup is quite a small/lean cup in comparison to other cups, even though it comes in 3 sizes (I have size A). The material is very flexible too. This makes them very easy to insert and they are also super easy to take out again. This is nice, especially when you just started using a cup for the first time. I think for this reason the OrganiCup is great for teens. They even have a special cup for teens (size mini). Something else I like about Organicup is that their packaging is simple and it’s 100% recyclable.

IMG_3226_polarrNixit
When I saw this cup I had to try it. The Nixit is very different from the more common cups as it’s more like a disc shape. It also works a little bit different as you need to tuck the rim behind your pubic bone after inserting it. I’ve tried it on 3 periods now and it’s ok, but I’m not blown away by it. On my heavier days it leaked a bit quicker and removing it can be quite messy. I find it a little harder to insert, as you have to slide it in and push it quite far to the back, making sure your cervix is underneath. But as it’s quite flexible, this is a little tricky. I will keep using it, but I rather use it on my lighter days. It did go better every time I used it though. So, even when you’re maybe an experienced menstrual cup user like me, I guess you have to get used to this one a bit.
With a disc shape cup you can have mess free period sex. I haven’t tried this myself (yet), but it is something which maybe makes you choose the Nixit over a more classic shaped cup. Or maybe it’s the gorgeous colour that makes you choose Nixit!

GIVE IT A TRY!
Please give menstrual cups a try. Don’t be scared, just practice. Don’t give up after 1 or even after a few tries. Maybe you need to practice a few cycles, maybe you need to try a different brand, size or shape.. but it will all be worth it.

Are you using a menstrual cup yet? How are they working for you? Or would you like to try it? Then go and get yourself one. I’d love to hear how you’re getting along! Or if you have any questions, please let me know down below (or you can send me a DM) or you can also contact me via Instagram (@freedomevermore). Thank you! X

STOP taking the birth control pill

In this article I want to talk about the birth control pill and why you shouldn’t take it. I will tell you about my own experiences and I hope this will make you think about your choice of contraceptives. At first I will tell you about my journey taking the pill and in the second half of this article I will tell you about my journey without taking the pill. You can read everything or just the part you’re most interested in.

TAKING THE PILL
When I was 17 I started to take the birth control pill. I did this for 2 reasons. My main reason was to not get pregnant. I was in a serious relationship and not the biggest                      condom fan. Buying condoms cost money too and the birth control pill I could get for free. So it seemed to be a good choice. My mum was on it, from since I can remember and many other people I knew were too. I didn’t see any harm in it, but almost saw it as a next step in life. My hope was to also have better skin. I struggle with my skin since the start of my puberty and don’t we all want smooth skin? So that was my second reason and the main reason I went for the Diane-35. I heard good things about it, in terms of skin clearing up. I think I took the Diane-35 for about 1-2 years, but my breasts were so sensitive and painful 1-2 weeks every time before I’d get my period and that wasn’t ideal. Also my skin didn’t clear up. It maybe got a little better, but I could hardly tell the difference. So I went to the doctors to discuss a different brand. I then swapped the Diane-35 for the Yasmin. The Yasmin is a lighter pill, but apparently would still be beneficial for my skin. After a few months my breast were less painful, but my skin still looked the same. I did feel better being on this pill though and so I sticked with it. For many years..

But then more and more articles popped up, saying how bad it is. Of course in the back of my head I knew this, but I also loved the pill as it gave me security and I liked the fact that I knew exactly what day my period would start and that I could control it in that way. But when I was 27 I stopped taking it, what means I took it for 10 years straight. That is fairly long and this, together with being curious of what would happen, is why I thought it was time to stop. I wasn’t in a relationship at that time and didn’t have any interest being in one ant time soon, so perfect timing. Only you can’t plan love and half a year later I met a guy I really liked and so I started thinking about taking it again. It actually was just in the end of all the side effect symptoms going away, but being in love and really seeing a future with this guy, I thought I could just take it temporarily. I still had some pill strips left and so I started taking it again. This time I really had a proper love-hate relationship with the pill though. I loved the security, but every time I put it in my mouth I actually didn’t want to swallow it. It didn’t feel right to take hormones that will change something in my body. I like being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Taking the birth control pill felt like doing the opposite from where I stand for. Also, the birth control pill isn’t vegan and that really bothered me too.

It was 7 months later when my mum send me some articles about how dangerous the birth control pill can be. My mum stopped taking them a few years ago as she had horrible migraines and it turned out it was because of the pill. I actually tried to avoid the articles she send me and I consciously closed my eyes for it, but the articles my mum was talking about were about people dying from it. I know the people who died didn’t only die because of taking the pill, but it did play a big part in their death. This woke me up. Back to condoms it was, but I also started to do some research about natural birth control. About keeping track of what your body is telling you. This way you can find out on what days you’re fertile and on what days you’re not. I mostly learned this from the book: ‘Taking Charge of you Fertility’, written by Toni Weschler, MPH. I love this book, because even tough I knew quite a lot about my cycles, it really helped understanding my body even more. I recommend every woman to read it, even if you’re not interested in birth control, it still teaches you a lot about how it all works. This book is not only for preventing pregnancy btw, it is also helpful for couples who are trying to get pregnant instead. A must read for woman!

Researching natural birth control, obviously led me to the Lady Comp too. This little machine really intrigues me. In the book ‘Taking Charge of your Fertility’ you learn how to chart manually, but the Lady Comp does this for you, digitally. The only thing you need to do is put the thermometer in your mouth, every single morning at the same time. This Lady Comp does the rest and will tell you exactly what days you’re good to go and what days you need to use a condom. I would love to try this, because it seems like a great solution for all woman who do not want to put hormones in their bodies any longer. I never got really into charting my cycles properly, because unfortunately my relationship ended and not getting pregnant wasn’t a priority any more. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested anymore, because even not being intimate with somebody, I love the fact that you can learn about your cycles, learn why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling and how your body works. I think this is basic knowledge every woman should know.


STOPPING THE PILL
The last day I took the birth control pill was the 9th of July 2017. The day I decided I was not going to take them any longer, I was on my period (that started the 13th of July), so I simply didn’t start a new strip (but in case you want to stop, you can stop at any time you want). I knew from the last time that there will be side effects. I just hoped that they wouldn’t be as obvious this time. I only took them for about half a year this time. I decided to keep a little journal until I get my first pill-free period, so I can keep track of the side effects I noticed. I did this for myself, but I thought it might help you to get an idea of what can happen if you’d stop too. Just remember that everybody is different and that your body might react in a different way.

26-07
Today I experienced some heatwaves. It happens in the days before and around my ovulation and I  clearly remember this from the last time I stopped taking the pill. It used to be quite bad at times, even up to the point I felt dizzy.

31-07
I did not experience any side effects so far anymore. I did have some heatwaves, but as I’m in Mallorca this week and it’s 35 degrees every day, it’s trickier to notice. I will have my ovulation around now, so the next time I might experience something different, will probably be just before or whilst I’m on my period. I’m planning my detox now, because this will help to get rid of those nasty hormones in my body. I’m super excited for this.

08-08
In a few days or maybe the end of this week I will probably have my period. This is the first period after I stopped taking the pill. I can notice I’m near, because I was very tired yesterday and today (I always have this a few days before my period). I’m also getting lots of spots, more than I had being on the pill. When being on the pill, the week before my period my skin was actually always at its best. So this must be a reaction too. I’m confident that it will be better later on.

13-08
I still didn’t get my period, what is odd as I did experience the symptoms I normally have before my period starts. My body might just be a little confused. The last time I stopped I got my period on the exact day I’d normally het my period. This time it’s later and here are some possible reasons why: because around my ovulation I was traveling + I was more stressed because of ending my relationship and because it’s the first period without taking pills.

14-08
Today I’m super tired. I feel like staying in my bed and sleeping all day long. Also a few times I had some very painful stitches in my tummy. I have a lot of water retention, my ankles are swollen and my tummy feels tensed. A lot more than on my pill-periods. Hopefully this will all go as soon as my period is here.

15-08
Today, in the late evening, I got my first period. This means my first pill-free cycle was 36 days.

18-08
My period was quite normal the first few days. I did have a slight tummy ache on the first day, but I was almost happy to feel this. I know for some girls it can be hell, but it’s also natural. Today I can already notice it’s a little less, what is normal for a 3rd day. I can’t notice that my periods are heavier, but then this is only the first one.

So that was my first period. I didn’t want to keep a journal longer than that, because it would just be repeating myself. I can tell you that the heatwaves were a lot less around my second ovulation and gone by the 3rd. I remember from the fist time I stopped the pill that I had heatwaves really badly for a few months, in the first month I couldn’t even go to work one day. So that is interesting, because it looks like it’s a little easier this time, I can’t say for sure why that is. Logically it could be that it’s because there are less hormones now, because I stopped before, but it could also be because my body knows what to do this time or maybe it’s the things I ate that had an effect too. I can’t tell, because I’m not a doctor. I’m just happy that it’s effecting me less this time.

The following months..

Skin
Something that did get worse, is my skin. I have more outbreaks and a lot of redness. I can now slowly start to see it’s getting a bit better again though. This is also because I’m trying new things, trying to make it better. I might do a separate article about skin if you like (let me know).

Fatigue & Cravings
When I was taking the pill I was always struggling with horrible fatigue for 1 day, exactly 2 days before my period (as this was mostly a Tuesday, I named it Tired-Tuesday). Even though it was awful, as I couldn’t put my foot in front of the other one and I just wanted to lay down all day long, it was such a good indicator. I still get tired, but it lasts a few days now instead of just one day, with some ups and downs. I know I can manage it a little bit if I watch my food intake (more raw and lighter meals), but we woman all know that watching your food intake before and during your period is as hard as running a marathon on your hands! I can’t say my cravings are better or worse now. I think it’s quite the same still.

Cramps
I never had really bad cramps before starting the pill, I basically didn’t have any during and I have a little bit of cramps only the first day of my period now I stopped taking the pil. I never take any medicine, but I just take it easy that day and sometimes use a hot water bottle (this really helps). The funny thing is that I’m almost happy to feel it, because it means that my body is going back to its natural state again. I’m sure every girl gets period cramps or at least knows how they feels. Some girls have it really badly and it’s complete hell. Many doctors actually recommend the pill, because the pill can definitely make it better. But before you do this, please try different methods first though. I  know it can get really bad in it can really effect your every day life, but cramps are natural. Try to make it better (don’t focus on it going away completely, because in many cases it won’t) with natural remedies.

Water Retention 
This is really bothering me and being on the pill definitely made it worse. The week before my period my ankles were always more swollen (they’re always a little swollen since I started the pill) and my tummy was so tensed because of it, that it was hurting and I was having trouble bending over. I can now see that my ankles are less swollen in general, but just before my period the water retention is actually worse than being on the pill. Luckily it goes away as soon as I’m on my period.

Cycles
Being on the pill makes your cycles very precise. I loved this about the pill. Now my cycles are always a little different, but because I know my  body a little better and I’m learning more every time, I can now recognise some symptoms and still kind of know when my period will be. It’s very normal to have longer and shorter cycles. The length of your cycle depends on when you ovulate. Your ovulation is a ‘funny thing’, because it will never be on the same day. It’s very sensitive. Whenever you’re stressed or when you’re traveling around the time you would normally ovulate, it will wait until you’re less stressed or when you finished traveling. So it can happen that your ovulation will be a whole week later. This means your cycle is longer, because the days between your ovulation and your period are alway the same. My cycles since I stopped taking the pill: 36 days, 28 days, 39 days (I was traveling before my ovulation), 36 days, 33 days, 36 days. As you can see my cycles are mostly over 30 days. This is totally normal. Many woman think they’re overtime after 28 days, but every woman has a different cycle and it’s completely normal. Normal natural cycles can be up to 40 days.

I never want to go back taking the pill. In fact I’m so done with it, that I threw away the 4 strips that were left. I want to focus on new methods that are not harmful for your body, like the Lady Comp. Putting hormones in your body isn’t something you should consider if you’re looking for a contraceptive.

Are you taking birth control pills? Or any other form of hormone contraceptive? What is your experience? Are you thinking about stopping too? Share your experience, so we can help each other and create awareness! You can do this by leaving a comment below or via IG (tag me and I will tag your story). Thank you! X