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Jul 12 2013

TMI Review – Softcups / Complaining about my period

Taken From Naamah_Darling's Livejournal This is a post all about uteruses and the havoc they play.  Really it’s mostly about my uterus.  So, for some people, that may be too much information and, hey, that’s fine, just stop reading.  Because I intend to pull no punches.  Maybe I’ll throw in a picture of a flower or something.  But seriously, don’t read this if you’re going to be all like, “Ew, lady parts” or “Ashley is gross.”

Yesterday I had a long, involved conversation on Facebook about whether it was feminist to complain about your period or if it was buying into patriarchal notions of… something.  The conclusion was basically that hating your period is A-OK.  Which is good because I really hate my period.  It’s also fairly subversive to not be embarrassed of your basic bodily function, so I’m claiming it as feminist.  Look — it happens, it’s pretty gross, but it actually means my body is working, so hurray.  So take that, reviewing Softcups is my feminist FU to people who are bothered by my ladyparts.  SHAZAM.

FeminismVaginaBolt

I take Seasonale continuously, but every 4 months or so, I suffer from breakthrough bleeding that’s pretty heavy and will only stop if I relent and have a full period.  Basically I have to make a choice between continuous bleeding that’s relatively painless but never stops or 5 days of excruciating pain and massive quantities of blood that will ultimately stem the flow.  Hooray my body.

elevator

Supposedly the fact that I’m on birth control makes my periods not as heavy and not as painful.  I don’t remember them ever feeling worse than they do now, though, so I am skeptical of this supposed beneficial side effect.  It does mean that I have them less frequently, though, so that’s a relief.  If you’ve ever had a period then you know that the methods for taking care of them are fairly medieval — plug it up or wear some gauze.  Science has not made major advances in this field.

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Pads are basically like wearing a diaper.  They are messy, especially if you have hair down there, and they are incredibly uncomfortable.  Then there are tampons.  If, like me, you have wildly varying days of super heavy uterine explosion and not too much going on down there, tampons can be difficult.  You have to predict your level of flow and, if you go super heavy in protection when you’re actually producing super light, it creates this crazy uncomfortable dry, scratchy vagina sensation that doesn’t go away for a while.  And I already have ridiculous sensitive, in need of hypoallergenic everything skin.  Not pleasant.  Oh, also they can kill you.

So a few years ago, I longed to branch out from my uncomfortable period solutions and tried Instead, which are now known as Softcup.  I was afraid of Diva Cups because reusing them seemed unsanitary but I was fascinated by the idea of a solution that didn’t involve absorption.  So I tried out Softcup and have never looked back.

softcup

In addition to the plus of no dry vagina and not wearing a diaper, there are other benefits.

When I have my period, I tend to need to use the bathroom a lot.  Cramps just make everything seem to move down there.  When I wear a tampon that usually means I just have to change the tampon every time I pee.  The physics of making that not happen are difficult and unreliable and I’m a little too OCD for that.  Changing your tampon every two hours is expensive and uncomfortable and also you’re not really supposed to flush them apparently, and that’s weird too.

With Softcups I just leave it up in there for 12 hours.  Sometimes there’s some leakage when I pee or poop, but it goes back into place on its own.  The only bad thing is that it does create a little bit of internal pressure which can require a little extra pressure when expelling waste, on either side.

You can wear them when you’re being intimate — though it’s good to warn people.  And also to have a fresh one to avoid leaks.  You can wear them swimming.  They’re also great if, like me, you’ve got the problem of there is no pad or tampon strong enough to get you through a full night on your worst nights.

I also can’t feel it at all when it’s inside, which is miles better than pads or tampons.

The bad: They can leak — it’s a good idea to wear a panty liner with them, especially on heavy days.

They are hard to find.  I went to four stores in DC before finding them.  CVS carries them, but I have been to CVSs that didn’t have any in stock.  It’s terrible to be starting your period without supplies and not know where to get them.  Especially if your period is super unpredictable like mine.  There’s supposedly a reusable one, where it’s one cup per period, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Taking them out can be kind of gross — but then, if you’re following the directions with tampons or using pads, those are pretty gross too.  Your hands will probably get bloody, though you can use gloves if you like.

Here's that promised picture of a flower

Here’s that promised picture of a flower

17 comments

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  1. 1
    SallyStrange

    Yay! I second the softcup recommendation. Though, for me, I haven’t used them in three years because I’ve been skipping the break week on my Nuvaring and just not bleeding at all. It’s pretty damn awesome. I used to have horrible cramps.

  2. 2
    Ashley F. Miller

    I’m so jelly I can’t even

  3. 3
    melody

    I had never heard of Soft Cups until you mentioned them on Facebook. I have always used tampons and they worked fine until the last couple of years. For some reason, in my mid-thirties, they have become uncomfortable. I tried Dive Cups and it felt like I shoved a bucket up my vagina. I gave it a good try thinking I would get used to it, but it was a no go. I still had a case of bucket cunt. I am going to go out and find these Soft Cups and hope that they are the answer to my period woes. Thank you.

  4. 4
    Ashley F. Miller

    These are sort of more like a diaphram in that they go way up around your cervix rather than in your mid-vagina, so I think that makes them a significantly different experience to Diva Cup.

  5. 5
    Sercee

    I discovered these several years ago and have never gone back. Nothing but awesome, for pretty much all the reasons you listed. Also, when I do any sports at all, even though tampons advertise that they “move with your body” etc etc they are always uncomfortable in some way (especially the string rubbing on stuff). Softcups? Absolutely nada. :)

    Also, I have a similar problem with Seasonale. The breakthrough bleeding pisses me off because the POINT of being on that is to not have periods all the time, but if I go back to my old stuff I’ll get them more often again so… blah. This month it meant I got 2 periods in 3 weeks, though. Grr.

  6. 6
    Timid Atheist

    I third this! Before I had to stop using them due to no money or job, I adored my discovery of Softcup. They were amazingly comfortable. And now, just like SallyStrange, I use my Nuvaring to stop my periods. I haven’t had one in six years and I love every damn minute of it.

  7. 7
    Kilian Hekhuis

    One would think that about everything is available online nowadays?

  8. 8
    smhll

    Supposedly the fact that I’m on birth control makes my periods not as heavy and not as painful. I don’t remember them ever feeling worse than they do now, though, so I am skeptical of this supposed beneficial side effect.

    I’m not a doctor, so all I want to say is that these hormonal things seem to vary widely from person to person.

  9. 9
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    I tried Dive Cups and it felt like I shoved a bucket up my vagina.

    Why yes, yes it does.
    I use one occasionally. It’s better than a tampon when swimming, but I never lose the fear that the seal will break and it will look like a scene from Jaws. Also, when you take the slippery bucket of blood out you risk getting splashed with gore. Not to mention the serious lady-cave spelunking it takes to get it in and out again.

    Like everything else about period, it isn’t fun. But, it’s better than being pregnant.

    I like flannel pantie liners. They don’t feel like diapers.
    Maybe I’ll try the Soft Cup.

  10. 10
    Onamission5

    “lady-cave spelunking”

    Oh my word, that is hilariously apt.

    I used to use SoftCup back when they were still Instead, but three VBAC’s and a minorly prolapsed cervix later (hi I can do TMI too) I’m afraid my anatomy has sufficiently rearranged itself so that things which are supposed to fit over the cervix… don’t.

    If I could use something other than tampons I absolutely would, but it’s OB for me ’till menopause.

  11. 11
    Cleopatra139

    Anyone with severe cramps, especially if accompanied by heavy bleeding, should get checked for endometriosis. Regular birth control can help, but many women need more aggressive treatment, like laparoscopic surgery to cauterize problematic tissue. Plus, endometriosis is estrogen-dependent and some forms of hormonal birth control actually increase estrogen levels.

    If you can afford it and can physically get to the office, I highly recommend a reproductive endocrinologist rather than a gynecologist. Even very good GYNs don’t always know the best ways to treat endometriosis. It’s a very common condition, but not well known or understood (for instance, spell check doesn’t recognize it).

    For more info, check out endometriosis.org (Sorry for the public service announcement, but I hate to think that anybody might be suffering and not be aware of possible treatment options.)

  12. 12
    fmcp

    Well, this is an odd reason to delurk: Hello strangers – I would like to tell you about my menstrual experiences!

    I LOVE MY DIVA CUP! I love it. There definitely was a . . . learning curve, and I would strongly recommend making sure that the first time you dump it during a heavy day you do so at home. It’s easier to clean up a crime scene in the privacy of your own bathroom if, like me, there is a day during your cycle that laughs in the face of “average weekly flow”. (Related: you can wash blood out of a snow white bathmat if you’re quick about it.) You definitely need to be comfortable with getting all up in there, but I find pads and tampons a far grosser experience. I would suggest for anyone who’s intrigued that you may want to only use the Diva on weekends or overnight if you’re worried, although it is inserted differently than the soft cup, so don’t go on autopilot.

    As for the hygiene issue, I switched because I was getting yeast infections whenever I had my period. Not sitting on a blood-soaked diaper for hours has gone a long way to solving that problem. You just need to boil it for 20 minutes at the end of your period.

    Oh, and by the way, the idea that it’s unfeminist to hate constant pain, bleeding and mess is stupid. I’d be upset if all that blood was coming out my elbow, so why be happy when it’s my vagina?

  13. 13
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Good advice. I was told for years by my brilliant mother that I was being a big baby and that pain was just part of being a woman. I puked. I was in horrible pain. As in, doubled over as if I was punched hard in the gut, beads of sweat on my forehead, pain. As an adult, I kept “toughing it out”. As my PMS turned to PMDD and the pain kept coming, I went to get help. I went to a doctor on campus, who ordered no tests and told me to get more calcium in my diet. I kept telling him that wasn’t enough. I was given some muscle relaxers. Finally, a few years ago, one of the cysts that had been exploding on my ovaries was big enough and solid enough that I had to go to the hospital. That’s how I learned that I had a medical problem.

    Don’t wait. Don’t let people talk you out of getting help. People are assholes.

  14. 14
    TGAP Dad

    FWIW, the reason you’re not supposed to flush tampons (really, anything besides toilet paper and stool) down the toilet is that it can cause a clog. Toilet paper is designed to break down once it’s wet (although here is some brand variance – look for the Septic Safe logo), so even it gets caught on something inside the drain, it will eventually break down and get flushed away. Most drain and sewer pipes have something inside them – roots, corrosion, grease, etc. – which can snag fibrous debris. If it doesn’t break down, it will enhance the trapping ability and before long, you find yourself calling a plumber on Christmas Eve to clear the now-massive clog.

    On the other hand, if it’s not YOUR drain in question…

  15. 15
    cactuswren

    If you liked “lady-cave spelunking”, I heartily recommend this classic review on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/review/R39TB4HUVK8Z6

    Now, you’re supposed to roll the cup up, smuggle it past the border, let it expand, then turn it clockwise (or counter clockwise, or then one way and another, stopping when you hear the click, or something…) anyway, you’re supposed to be able to turn this thing like a dial in there.”If the cup does not turn easily, you did it wrong” Oh, of course, I’ll just grasp hold of a thing about the size, shape, and slipperyness of the pointy end of a peeled hard-boiled egg, which is now buried in the meaty folds of my innermost femininity, which, I may add, are well-sluiced with the special effects from a Quentin Tarantino film, and spin that sucker like a dredel.

  16. 16
    l. nicolcabe

    I actually use sea sponge tampons these days, and I think they’re amazing. They don’t feel like other tampons (especially because you have to wet them in order to use them properly, so there’s less of a dryness thing), and I clean them obsessively between uses. They’re good for about 6 months, and are way cheaper than most other period-blockers. Then again, you have to be ok with re-usable menstrual products.

    I also have never been terribly bothered by my period, other than the fact that I don’t get to have sex for 4-6 days (and there’s really nothing like restrictions to make me want to do something more). So I have one every month, per my birth control sugar pills. And I will keep doing that because I really never, ever want to get pregnant so every month the Red Wave comes through and cleans everything out of my uterus and everyone celebrates Me Not Being A Mom.

  17. 17
    Margarito Pooley

    Thank you, I am following your method to cure yeast? infection.

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