I used a period cup for the first time and it was… interesting
Written by Natalie Bronfine
***Disclaimer: The period products discussed in this story are NOT the Sunny Cup + Applicator. This is someone’s personal story and every individual’s experience will be different based on their own anatomy. Sunny recommends following all instructions and safety labels on every period product for the user’s health and safety.
A fun fact about me, I’ve been a tampon user ever since about 6 months into my period. In 7th grade, my Ukrainian, former-Soviet Union raised immigrant mother told me she was going to stop buying me pads because it was time for me to start using tampons. She gave me a little demo in our laundry room, and told me to just “feel for it in the shower” (“it” being my vagina). I was horrified. But, tampons were always presented to me as the natural next step to pads (which, in hindsight, is a little messed up, since period products are so personal), so I sucked it up, facetimed my friend for support (shoutout Natalie Monk, you’re a real one), and put a tampon in. I’ve used tampons since then. Honestly, before working for Sunny, my only memory of hearing about period cups was from my highschool dance teacher, Babs, who once told me that “you become a real woman once you start using a period cup” (Side note: you don’t have to be a woman to have a period and you should use whatever period products are most comfortable for you).
Other than that one interaction, I’ve used tampons for the past 9 years. Then, I started working for Sunny. Honestly, going into this, I still wasn’t convinced I’d ever make the switch (sorry Drew and Cindy). Of course I cared about the environment, but why fix what’s isn’t broken? It wasn’t until I had a couple awful moments with tampons that I decided to make the switch. Backstory here, I had a very irregular, light period until I went on birth control in college. I blame being so terrible about changing my tampons on that experience, but really, I think I’m just disorganized and a little too optimistic when it comes to my period. I’ve bled onto my sheets more times than I can count and forgotten to bring tampons to an 11 hour shift at work. I’ve put in two light tampons on purpose because I didn’t have a Super or Regular and I was about to go on a long bus ride, and I’ve gotten pulled over for speeding because of a long story that resulted in me free-bleeding on the way to CVS (please remember that using tampons/other period products in an unsafe way is really dangerous and not recommended!).
I think my final straw though, was visiting a friend in NYC in mid-March. I had just started working for Sunny, and I forgot to take my birth control for a few days, thus making me bleed while I was out with my friend and her cool NYC crowd. I asked her for a tampon, and she told me that she’s been using a cup for the past 2 years. What?? Aside from the people I knew from Sunny, and my dance teacher Babs, I didn’t know anyone from my small New England town who used a cup, so I was shook. Then, she told me she hadn’t bought tampons in 2 years. Well, that was appealing. I was always forgetting to buy tampons. A few weeks later on my next period, I promptly went to Target in the mall, picked the first period cup I saw off the shelf, and went to the bathroom at Blaze Pizza to try and put it in. I wasn’t able to get my hands on the Sunny Cup + Applicator because it is still in production, but we are still accepting preorders so don;t forget to grab yours here!
My first advice? Don’t put in a period cup for the first time at Blaze Pizza. Regardless, here is my full-unedited review of switching to a period cup.
Putting it in
I think people assume (or at least I assumed) that the Sunny Cup + Applicator is great because it gets the period cup up inside you where it should be. For me, I think it would be great because keeping a silicon cup folded up is SO hard. It doesn’t want to stay folded, so when you’re putting it in, you have to pinch so hard, sometimes with both hands, in order for it to stay folded the whole time you’re putting it in. And if your finger slips and the cup unfolds too early? Game over, you gotta try again from the top. Sometimes, it’ll take me FOREVER to get it in. I also still don’t really understand the seal. They say to run your finger around the bottom to make sure the seal is fully formed, but what exactly are you feeling for? I still don’t really know, but if the cup feels weird inside me, I’ll do that. Sunny usually says to just pinch the base of the cup, which sounds easier to me. Usually though, if you get the cup in there, it stays.
During the Day
This is my favorite part! As someone who used to frequently keep a tampon in for way too long, this is the seller for me. You literally don’t have to change it for 12 hours. My friend Maria that I mentioned earlier says that in 2 years, she’s never had to change it in a public bathroom, so you can go about your day worry free. It’s beautiful. I will say that one time, my cup did leak (once again, this wasn’t the Sunny Cup! So every cup is different in terms of its exact size). TMI, but it kinda felt like a fart coming out my vagina. It was a weird feeling, but I immediately knew I had to go to the bathroom. And thus came the nightmare I’m sure a lot of you guys are thinking about when you’re thinking about making the switch…
Changing Your Period Cup in a Public Bathroom
Not gonna lie guys, it was a little rough. I am a beginner so maybe that was why, but I did feel like I was gonna die. Taking it out is fine, but it’s the cleaning. This to me was the part I struggled with the most, and I still don’t know the best solution for it. At the end of the day, I’m lucky to where I don’t think I will have to change it in a public restroom too often in the future, but if anyone has some tips or hacks for this issue, please let me know! Also! I was always worried I would feel the cup throughout the day, but you only really feel it when you poop. It feels really weird when you poop, but it doesn’t fall out or anything, and otherwise I never feel it throughout the day.
At the end of the day: The Dump.
Now, the first time I changed my period cup, I was standing up in my sorority house’s guest bathroom. For me, the cup will promptly be dumped onto my pants. Even though standing may work for some people, I’ve learned to sit on the toilet, so it’ll dump into the toilet. I’ve developed a pretty good system for this part, so here it is. When you first get into the bathroom, turn the sink on hot and let the water heat up as you’re taking the cup out. Take it out, and promptly get it into the hot water of the sink ASAP. I literally might as well be throwing it across the room. As it’s sitting there, rinsing, I pee and do my business, then it’s usually mostly clean by the time I’m done so I put it back in. Taking it out is a little hard, but once you pinch to break the seal, it comes out pretty easily. I was also really worried that a period cup would be absolutely disgusting to dump out, but honestly sometimes it’s cool, in a messed up way, to dump the blood out. I will not elaborate. I usually dump it morning and night, and I only boil the period cup in between cycles. I would put it in the dishwasher, but my mom would kill me. But I’ll convert her soon enough guys, don’t worry.
Overall, if you’re a chaotic, type B, delusionally optimistic menstruator like me, do yourself a favor and switch to the cup (the Sunny Cup + Applicator is super beginner friendly!). You may have a messy few weeks, but it's worth it to never have to experience the panic of waking up on your period and discovering you’re out of tampons again. The learning curve is a small price to pay to never have to think about making sure you have one in your purse, and never having to ask random women around you for a tampon (I’ve asked a ski-lift worker before). Make life easier and learn to use a period cup!! Listen to my dance teacher Babs, she’s always right.