This article is a sponsored collaboration between INTIMINA and PAPER
As a semi-competent adult woman who got her first period more than a decade ago, you'd best believe that I have used a menstrual cup before. With no insignificant amount of smugness, I mostly ditched tampons when the first ecofeminism craze hit a few years back. And I have no regrets.
To be honest, all the environmental and toxic shock syndrome concerns aside, it was a money thing. Handing over $12 every month, nearly always when the bleeding had already started (never did remember to download one of those period tracker apps) and usually to the bodega guy who already made fun of me for throwing a coat over my pajamas to buy peanut butter cups at 11:45 PM on a weeknight, sucked. Conservatively, that's $228 bux going to Big Tampon every year — and given I didn't ever remember to carry them with me and was therefore forced to make emergency middle-of-the-day trips to CVS from work, probably way more.
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So I'm a reusable menstrual product convert, and when I was presented with INTIMINA's Ziggy Cup to try, my vagina and I were already world-weary. This wasn't our first rodeo. All kinds of stuff had traveled up there and survived to tell the tale, but admittedly it had looked a little different to this. In terms of design, Ziggy diverged dramatically from the old faithful cup I'd been relying upon previously. Soft and flexible, constructed from a delicate layer of hot pink silicone, it resembled a cute little walnut shell — as opposed to the more imposing lightbulb-like shape I was familiar with.
This piqued my interest. As anyone who has dabbled in the reusable menstrual cup arts will know, there's a certain learning curve when it comes to inserting and removing these things. They're, um, a much wider and more solid object than you might otherwise be used to shoving up there. They protect your white jeans by creating a fairly intense suction seal that takes a little getting used to. It's not painful, per se, but the removal process in particular does vaguely recall that of plunging a sink. As with most period-related experiences, I don't love it.
The INTIMINA Ziggy Cup
In contrast, the Ziggy actually resembled my old foe: the tampon. It scrunched up small, and inserting it took a matter of seconds, as opposed to several frustrating and often humiliating minutes grimacing at the toilet seat. Unlike a tampon, obviously, it's made of body-safe silicone and is free of terrifying ingredients like pesticides, fragrances, rayon, bleached cotton and dioxin. It also involves zero awkward cross-counter conversations at the bodega.
Once inside, the cup sits flat over your cervix like a diaphragm would, and collects menstrual flow for up to 12 hours. It was so light and flexible that I didn't feel a thing. And yeah, on the topic of diaphragms… you can have sex with the Ziggy still inserted and dutifully collecting up blood, should you feel like it. This is definitely not the case with other menstrual cups. We're talking truly revolutionary technology here. (Just don't use it as birth control. We're not quite there yet.)
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The rest of the process is just as simple. Removing the cup is just as easy as putting it in. You can wash in boiling water then re-use, or otherwise store Ziggy in a matching silicone carry case that's way less obtrusive than a pad or tampon would be in your purse. I'm almost excited for next month, when I can really put this thing through its paces. I might even... leave bed and do a sport? Don't hold me to it, though.
You know how your mom or grandma sometimes talk about Ye Olden Days when they'd have to strap on some humiliating nappy-like contraption every time Aunt Flo Came to Town? I now think of the first generation of menstrual cups as being like that. Befitting of the coming-of-age scene in a period (oop) piece about teenage girls in the 2010s, but not the futuristic year 2020.
Take it from a veteran: this is as convenient, cheap and easy as a period gets. No last-minute run to the corner store, no tortuous bathroom wrestling match with you versus your cervix.
Photos courtesy of INTIMINA