Trying a menstrual cup for the first time when I had just gotten over the stomach flu may have not been the best idea I’ve ever had but that is indeed how this series of events got its start. And so the story goes…
There I was rummaging through my drawers to find the adorable satin pouch that holds the two prize menstrual cups that I have been waiting to put to use. Auntie Flo has finally arrived and the time is now. As instructed by the information packet, I folded it in half at the mouth of the cup and inserted it into my vagina *Voila*. It sat comfortably and within minutes I barely even remembered it was there.
To this point, I was looking forward to this for months. I had been skipping my period using birth control for the past two months but finally I was going to give this new lady-bits gadget a try. There were many conversations over cocktails with my lady friends about the taboo (or really not so taboo) menstrual cup and what it could be like. Would it hurt? Does it smell? How do you take it out? Is it the best thing ever? Will it change our lives? As the only one in my lady-crew to be an employee at a women’s health startup, HelloFlo I volunteered my vagina to give this cup business a try. I assured my confidants that I would fill them in on the process once I came out of it on the other side. Little did I know…I would not have such a promising first encounter.
After about 2 hours of binge watching Friends on Netflix, I remembered that I was wearing the cup and should probably have a look-see down there to check on everything. I headed to the bathroom to extract my new silicon friend. Upon getting into a comfortable position, I realized that I couldn’t actually reach the cup. Somehow the little bugger had weaseled it’s way pretty far up there. After only about 2-3 minutes of “searching” I was in a panic and a cold sweat. I could feel the little nub at the end of the cup that I knew I was supposed to pull on like a tampon string but I couldn’t get a good grip on it at all. It also felt like it was ten thousand miles away and my fingers were suddenly short, stubby and good for nothing.
I had given up on the removal for the time being and needed some tips from my expert friend, Mr. Google. I frantically type “menstrual cup stuck inside” and the first post I read was a reddit thread that totally freaked me out. In my frantic speed-reading I gathered it might be a good idea to sit in a hot bath for a few minutes.
After not immediately seeing results of a hot 3 minute express bath I return to the computer to find other solutions. I read a livejournal article on menstrual cups getting stuck and a contributor mentions something about a “spoon trick” – this completely grossed me out and I started to feel quite defeated about the whole situation. Then I found a hysterical BuzzFeed article with a happy ending that gave me back a glimmer of hope.
Back in the bathroom this time with a pair of tweezers, a spoon (in case of emergencies) and a new attitude. I am ready to drag this sucker out and live to tell the tale.
No such luck. I end up back at the computer, this time after throwing in the towel and realizing that my cup is actually suctioned to my cervix…I need to call in a professional. Recently, it did come to my attention that my OB/GYN had moved out of network so sadly, I am left with few options. After some internet wizardry I find my best possible solution to a worst case problem…Planned Parenthood.
I wake up optimistic. I am going to magically be able remove this pesky cup and never think of it again. Sadly, after spending a few minutes struggling to even locate the cup which I then decided my vagina may have eaten…I put on my big-girl pants and take the train to the lady doctor.
Waiting room nonsense.
I enter the exam room and am greeted by a lovely middle-aged nurse practitioner named Anne who shakes my hand firmly and says the only thing written on my file is URGENT. Now, with a sigh of relief and being in the capable hands of a medical expert I tell Anne about my menstrual cup and how very, very, very stuck it is (as if I hadn’t spent all morning texting anyone who would answer about my circumstance).
Anne assures me that these kinds of things happen more often than I may have thought and instructed me to hop up on the table and try to relax. With the snap of a latex glove, she takes a look and after some investigation is able to locate the cup which is quite lodged in my vaginal canal. I shut my eyes tight and about 15 seconds later I hear a pop that sounds kind of like a knuckle crack and the cup is out. I am free! The cup was immediately tossed in the trash and I was a little sad I didn’t get to give it the finger on it’s way down but it’s in it’s rightful place now and that is what matters most.
I spent about 10 minutes after “the extraction” talking to the very knowledgeable Anne about why this happens. She takes me over to a medical drawing of a vagina and shows me what happened. The cup that I was wearing was too small for my cervix…what can I say? I am #blessed with a large cervix but didn’t know it until a tiny cup suctioned it’s way up there.
Menstrual cups come in two sizes usually notated by Size A and Size B – the difference being for pre-childbirth and post-childbirth. The post-childbirth cup is a little bit wider at the mouth of the cup, that’s the only difference. Unfortunately, women are not usually one of two sizes, nor do women usually know the size of their cervix unless they’ve had a baby or a silicon cup attached to it. In any case, it’s not something you can measure or have any guesses about. Anne also tells me that letting your cup sit lower in the vaginal canal can help to avoid this problem altogether. With the visual aid and my new superhero friend, Anne guiding me through this whole thing I feel knowledgeable and like I can take this to bat again.
So here’s what I’ve got to say to my confidants and all of the other lovely people that just need to know…I am going to be trying a menstrual cup again. I am not afraid. I think they are really a great product and a solution to waste in landfills that I can personally take action in. It’s just finding the product that’s right for me.
In my next cup test, I am going to look for a larger size cup and one with a longer nub to yank it out when the day is done. Nothing truly awful happened in my experience, there were women online sharing their experiences and stories about how to go about trying to remove a stuck cup and as a first-timer I was glad to have their tips and tricks…even when they weren’t right for me. I have a big ol’ cervix that’s going to make some things down the road a little easier…but for right now it’s just going to make finding the perfect menstrual cup a little bit tricker.
Also, just a word to the wise, read the directions CAREFULLY. I made the mistake of just casually glancing at the instructions months ago when I opened the package and the tossed them right out. If it’s your first time take the 5-10 minutes to read that tiny-print fold out sheet and get to know your product. You’ll be glad you did and might not end up with a stuck-on-cervix cup your first time at the rodeo.
Stay tuned for an update on my next menstrual cup adventure.