Friday, December 14, 2007

Adventures in Feminine Hygiene

As I’ve gotten older, my periods have gotten lighter and lighter. I even have an IUD (the copper kind, not the progesterone kind), which is infamous for resulting in very heavy periods. Not for me. My periods are light enough now that my faithful friend the OB tampon just doesn’t work well for me any more, and as a result, I’ve started using ultrathin maxi pads. Ick. I’ve never used pads; from the very start of my menses, some 30 years ago now, I’ve used tampons. But now there just isn’t enough flow to warrant their use; they’re uncomfortable and leave me all dried out and…well, it’s just not working. And the pad thing? Not loving it.

So. What else? I’ve known about and been sort of interested in the idea of the menstrual cup for several years, but I had never tried one. I bought a box of Instead, the disposable ones once, and they just don’t work for me, though I know people who use and like them. Besides, part of what I’ve liked is the idea that I could use something repeatedly rather than discarding one or more of them daily. There are cups made of silicone or rubber that you insert, remove, wash and reinsert. It seemed like it might be time to try one, so I ordered one from this website and received it last week.

It’s a MoonCup, and it looks like a cute little silicone bell, or a little hat (a friend of mine, who disapproves of all the Goddessy names given by the manufacturers, dubbed mine the CooterCap. Fine with me.). I have read about how it takes some time to get used to using them, so I wasn’t expecting my CooterCap to become my BFF the moment I unwrapped it. But still. My first couple of interactions with it have been less friendly than I expected. Granted, I don’t have my period now, and many people have said that it’s hard to practice when you’re not menstruating, so I assume that’s part of my problem. The first time, I was able to insert the Cap OK, but then I couldn’t get it out. I’m not a person who has any problem interacting with her anatomy on a fairly intimate basis…so I wasn’t afraid to stick my fingers in there and get to tugging. But it had formed a fairly strong bond with the wall of my vagina, which I think is the point—that’s how you prevent leaks. It took a few tense minutes to figure out how to break the seal and extract the CooterCap, and then it kind of boinged out of my hand and across the bathroom.

Hm. Trial two, which was a couple of days ago, didn’t go that well either. Insertion went smoothly—you’re supposed to fold the Cap up in a particular way, slide it in and then let it open once it’s inside you. I folded and slid, and then felt it open up, as promised. And, OW. It felt like someone was poking me from the inside with their knuckles. Damn. Fortunately, removal was easier this time.

So, despite these difficulties, I’m looking forward to trying to use the CooterCap during an actual period. I’ve read repeatedly that it takes 2 or 3 cycles before you really get the hang of it, so I’m remaining optimistic. I really do like the idea of less waste, a one-time expenditure (though at this point, near the tail-end of my menstruating career, how much am I really saving, for either the environment or my wallet?) and the potential for a method without the drawbacks of either pads or tampons.

I’ll report back…And in the meantime, if you're interested in learning more, there's a nice little tutorial here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man, I wish I were getting near the end of my period. My estrogen is very high - still flushing from the fat, I suspect - resulting in regular periods for the first time in about 40 years.

OBs have always been my friends too - they were the first tampon I ever used, way back in 1976. I have tried using an old diaphragm for a catcher but with mixed success. I'm pretty small on the inside and have a hard time getting the thing out. Hard to imagine that given my outer size - but there you are.

Boy, do I hate this monthly thing. It's a real pain in the ass and expensive to boot. The only good thing about it is that I lose weight most rapidly the week after my period. Aside from that, it's more bother than it's worth.