My First Time Trying a Menstrual Cup

My First Time Trying a Menstrual Cup

This article is a sponsored collaboration between INTIMINA and PAPER

It's Monday. Another week in quarantine in Brooklyn. But this week I know I'll be getting my period. At least it's something different.

I've been on birth control for years, so I know my period usually arrives sometime on Tuesday. And I've decided to try a menstrual cup for the first time. My best friend, a doula, recently told me what a menstrual cup is and why every person with a period should use one. "Tampons have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them, like bleach and pesticides," she told me. "Why would you want that sitting inside of you for hours at a time and getting absorbed into your bloodstream?! You should switch to a menstrual cup, permanently." She told me that INTIMINA's Lily Cup is made from 100% medical-grade silicone and lasts for a decade, meaning I'd be eliminating a lot of single-use plastic and excess trash from my life by no longer using tampons. "It fits easily inside of me and you don't even feel it," my friend said. "It's like a little, green, affordable secret all up in there."

When I found out that the Lily Cup costs just $30 — which would save me about $700 in paying for tampons over the next 10 years (screw you, pink tax) — I decided to go for it.

After a simple dinner of veggie pasta salad (I live by the rules of Meatless Monday), I sit down on the couch and turn on Selling Sunset. I need a fantastical escape right now. I open up my new Lily Cup by INTIMINA to check it out. I chose Size A (pictured above), meant for those who haven't given birth who have a medium flow. The cup is millennial pink, which I have to admit has been my favorite color for years — basic, but true. It's also meant to be the perfect size for those with a higher cervix.

The first thing I notice is how soft the period cup feels. It reminds me of the buttery silicone on my favorite purple vibrator. It's wider on top (like a cup, duh) with a stem on the bottom so you can easily pull it out. It sits in the palm of my hand, wider than a tampon, but it also bends easily. My best friend told me you just had to pinch it to make a little smaller to insert it into your vagina, then it stays put.

The best part? You can keep it inserted for up to 12 hours before you need to clean and reinsert it. That sounds so heavenly. I can't wait to put the vicious cycle of every-four-hour tampon changes behind me. I'd always forget and ruin my cute underwear. I'm 32 but still somehow always forget to bring an extra tampon with me when I go out, so I have to risk stuffing toilet paper in my underwear and hoping for the best on my long subway ride home. Ugh. Hopefully now I'd only have to switch out the Lily Cup once or twice a day.

I drop the period cup in boiling water for three minutes to sanitize it. The cup floats around in there while I have a second glass of red wine. It's Meatless Monday, not Wineless Monday. Once she's done cooking, I let Lily cool down, dry her off and place her on my bathroom shelf, next to my selenite crystal. I sense good energy.

INTIMINA's Lily Cup (B)

In the morning, I wake up, stumble to the bathroom for that first morning pee and notice some spotting in my underwear. Omg, it's time!

I grab the Lily Cup and a little bit of lube from my bedside drawer, because I read that it helps make Lily easy to insert and a bit more comfortable if your period is lighter. I sit on the toilet, rub a couple drops of lube on the cup, squeeze it so she folds (it's the only cup that be rolled as thin as a tampon) and insert it into my vagina. I run my finger around the top of the cup to make sure it's open. All feels well!

I stand up. I move my hips around. I jump a few times and throw in a karate chop for good measure. It seems like it's in! I can't really feel it at all.

I walk to the kitchen and make some coffee in my French press. I pour myself a cup and add some oat milk, then sip on it slowly as I pet my purring cat in the fresh light. Our morning ritual. Suddenly, I think about how this is the first time I've had something inside of my vagina since the Before Times. I laugh out loud to myself. My cat walks away from me, sensing my desperation.

As the week goes on, Lily and I get to know each other better. The first day of my period was light, so when I went to pull it out, which was easy, there was barely anything in the cup. As my flow got heavier throughout the week, I was worried the contents would spill out as I removed the cup, but the no-spill rim helps keep my hands clean. When I took the cup out, I dumped the contents in the toilet then washed the cup with cold water and she was instantly ready to go again. It was actually interesting to see how much menstrual blood my body produces in a day. (Less than I thought!) Plus, there was no odor, dryness or irritation.

The best part of the experience, for me, was knowing I had made a positive choice for the environment by choosing a zero-waste option to deal with my period from now on. I can't believe I waited this long to make the switch. I compost, for god's sake! Now I feel more in line with my personal values. And I'm recommending the Lily Cup by INTIMINA to all my friends.

I just found out that INTIMINA also has pelvic floor weight trainers and feminine moisturizer. And those products are millennial pink, too. I'm thinking of making a purchase so I'll be totally ready for all the post-pandemic sex I'll have —someday.

Photos courtesy of INTIMINA