Trials, Tribulations and Love: Memories Made With My Menstrual Cup
It was a Monday night, the water had started boiling and I was feeling proud to be sterilising my mooncup before I actually needed it again. I popped it into the pot, having heard that it's best to let it boil for a bit longer rather than just an in and out plunge, then went about my Monday night duties. I changed my sheets, prepped my clothes for the morning, brushed my teeth, removed some ingrown hairs... It wasn't until I was in bed, and almost asleep that I started, realising I had forgotten something. My mooncup. shit. It was still on the stove top, only now it was no longer bathing but charing: Silicon flavored steam poured out from the red ceramic pot in my grandmother's kitchen. The good news was that I hadn't burnt the family house down, the bad; my monthly best mate was beyond salvageable. When it had cooled down I took a video of myself cracking it to cinders with my finger and sighing with hilarious desperation, then sent it to my mooncup lady gang.
Mooncup lady gang is a loose term for the support group of female best friends who were there for each other as we transitioned from cotton to cup. These were the girls with whom I discussed the best bathrooms with sinks at uni, the best methods of insertion, and whether or not you could laugh your mooncup out (the answer is yes, one friend has done this). They, of course, loved the video, and have probably filed the story away to embarrass me another day.
They caused a stir at my 21st for telling one of the first episodes of my mooncup saga. They were sensitively brief but it provoked a lot of questions: "21 reasons we love Lucy, 1, we love that you burnt your vagina with your mooncup". My mum comes up to me right after their speech and says "Lucy why did you burn your vagina with your moon cup?". I wasn't trying to mum, I was just trying to clean it. I was about to launch into the details of the cold bath I had to sit in for an hour after but her attention was quickly turned away from that by a more outrageous story about my early sexcapades, to which she turns to me and says "Lulu, I thought you were a virgin!".
I'm glad I'd learned the do's and don'ts of sterilisation before I went hiking in France. I'd taken my mooncup hiking before, and my headstrong environmental values made me unquestionably proud of the no-waste at-natureness of my sanitary choices. The sanitary bit becomes difficult when you are dealing with over-used under-cleaned french toilet facilities on exposed mountain ridges. One morning we left to see the sunrise and without enough light or time I put off the emptying until we got there. It was a hard journey, I nearly fainted from vertigo, nearly flew away with the wind and rain, cut my legs on some rock face, and had to get my new older crush who I wanted to impress to pull me over some cliff bits. After arriving, once my lips had returned from blue to pink, I dealt with the mooncup. My hands were still shaking from the cold as I stood in the squat toilet cubicle. I stood far away from the toilet (because danger zone) and when I pulled it out there was so much blood that it spilt everywhere, It then bounced out of my hand and I watched as it bounced across the crimson painted concrete floor... it bounced, and bounced, and bounced, and bounced, into the squat hole. I had no backup, not enough toilet paper or anything else, so in a moment of bravery I stuck my hand straight in, it was disappearing fast down the hole so it required persistence (thank god I left the stalk on)... I grabbed it.
After boiling it 6 times I was still crying with laughter and feeble bleeding hopelessness. I confided in my friend and the laughing started again. My crush, who also happened to be a sanitation engineer for some of the world's most war-torn places, wanted to know what we were on about. Eventually, she got it out of me, but turns to me and says "I've heard worse". It was going to take more than a bit of period drama to impress that one.
My cup catastrophes have opened me up to a lot more conversations about monthly flows. I initially had a few friends who were shocked by the idea of something reusable going up there. One friend recently apologised to me for cup shaming when she eventually converted and saw the light. To be fair I was very rather tipsy when I started my menstrual monologue to her flatmates at 2 am, and she probably shut me down in the interest of my own self-preservation.The awkward conversations in my early twenties were an interesting spotlight on the period taboo that exists even in liberal pockets of a forward-thinking city. Deborah Frances-White hits the nail on the head in the Guilty Feminist when she says that if men had periods we'd be hearing all about them in every comedy show. Periods can be absolutely bloody hilarious.
So if you have a cup, rejoice, do shots from it*, and laugh until it nearly falls out. If no perhaps this can serve as a manual of mistakes not to repeat, or perhaps you will have more to add to my series. Anyway, cup, cotton, absorbent underpants or sponge, there is a lot of bloody jokes out there to be enjoyed.
*(pre-boil and boil after, use a timer so as to not over-boil)
Article by Lucy McLush