“I feel like I need two of everything,” you lament to a friend as your kids argue in the living room. “It wouldn’t matter. Even if I had two of everything, they would still find something to fight over,” your friend replies. Sighing, you sip your coffee, close your eyes, and try to ignore the…
By Gayle Peterson. Enjoy my most recent review of this wonderful book on the Reading List!
Having solely used tampons since I started my period, I wanted to explore other options, in hopes that they would be more convenient, safe and better for the environment. So, I decided to try the next best thing: a menstrual cup. There are many different options for these cups, including different shapes, sizes, materials, and reusable or disposable brands. I was originally going to try the Diva Cup first, but didn’t want to shell out $30+ dollars at the time. I remembered seeing a different brand, the Instead Softcup, which was only about $6-7 for a box of 12, so I grabbed some during my next grocery trip and patiently awaited my flow.
(DISCLAIMER: I AM VERY COMFORTABLE WITH THE HUMAN BODY AND IT’S FUNCTIONS. THE DETAILS BELOW DESCRIBE NORMAL BODILY EXPERIENCES AND PHYSIOLOGY ALONG WITH HOW THIS PRODUCT WORKED. IF YOU ARE EASILY “GROSSED OUT” BY PERIOD BLOOD, POOP, SEX OR OTHER NORMAL BODILY FUNCTIONS AND EXPERIENCES, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ ON. THANK YOU.)
I gave myself two cycles of using this cup before reviewing, to ensure that I had the hang of it and a good idea of how well (or not) I felt it worked. Personally, I found the Softcup to be quite HARD to use (AT FIRST), here’s why:
- Getting the placement just right can be pretty difficult. The Softcup box offers very vague directions, so I looked up some video tutorials online, and thought I had a pretty good idea of how it is placed and how it works. You squeeze the rim together to make it long and thin with the plastic “cup” hanging down, then you slide it into your vagina and just past your pelvic bone to keep it in place. Seems pretty easy right? Well, I suppose it depends on your physiology. I had the idea that you really had to get the thing up in there in order for it to stay in place, and that it HAD to be behind the pelvic bone. Because of this, I really shoved it in. HAHA, BAD IDEA, and I’ll tell you why with the next reason.
- It can be REALLY HARD TO REMOVE. For me at least, but again, I’m sure this varies depending on your personal physiology. The first cycle I tried this product I panicked every time I had to reach up and dig it out. The directions make it seem very easy to just “insert a finger under the rim and slide it out”, however, that is not what I experienced. I thought that I was going to have to live with a Softcup inside of me forever! Three days in a row, I had to really dig up inside of myself, and use both a finger and thumb to finally get the sucker out– after several minutes each time. The key that helped me, was my knowledge of the vagina and human body as it pertains to birth– one must be very relaxed and calm in order for the pelvic floor to be relaxed, and you must bear down and push when you really need to get something out. I used a combination of these techniques each time, and was never able to “simply slide the Softcup out with one finger under the rim”. I had to gently try to wedge my thumb and my index finger up into myself, far enough to reach past my pelvic bone (which is very far, unless you have pretty long fingers) and find the perfect placement to STRONGLY GRIP the edge and pull it out. Okay, so once I got it out, what happened?
- It can be A MESS. This product is not something you can plan to change publicly, or anywhere where there is not a sink right next to you. When I finally got a hold of the cup to pull it out, the blood came right along with it (of course). My entire hand was covered in period blood every time. (I personally don’t think my own period is gross in any way, however it is very messy.) The first couple of times I did this on the toilet, and realized the best place would probably be in the shower– in order to avoid transferring the bloody cup into a tissue and then into the trash (with a blood filled hand) and trying to avoid leaving the bathroom looking like a murder scene (because let’s face it, there’s no possible way to avoid getting blood on SOMETHING while you are dripping with it.) The shower option is more feasible and convenient because you can just take it out and rinse it off (to reuse, or throw away– the package says not to reuse it, but after researching I personally decided that I would use one cup per cycle, if possible– but this is totally up to you.)
- When you are learning how to use this thing, it can cause some discomfort/pain. Because I had to dig up into my vagina quite a few times to get the cup out, and because of the thick rim, my vagina did get a bit sore and raw the first cycle I used this. I also tend to wear my fingernails long, so I had to be extra cautious not to scratch or pinch myself along the way.
- It can leak a little bit. Although not much, there is definitely a possibility for some leaking with this product– particularly while you are learning the perfect placement for your body. I found that when I pooped (bearing down) with this product in me, the toilet filled with blood as well, which I can assume is because the muscles in my pelvis squeezed out some of the blood in the cup. I also found that if I was moving a lot, or squatting (during yoga or gardening) there was some leaking (however, once I got the hang of inserting the cup, there was virtually no leaking, no matter what activity or moving I was doing). You will probably want to wear a thin liner while using this product until you know how well it holds up for your flow.
- If you are disposing of these every time you use one, it MIGHT NOT BE much more environmentally or wallet friendly. The directions of this product state that it should be disposed of after removal. Like I said, I have chosen to use one cup per cycle instead. This is a risk I am willing to take, after doing some research and learning more. I personally feel that so long as I rinse and clean each the cup each time I take it out and it doesn’t obtain any rips or holes, there is no reason to throw it away after each use– I simply wash and reinsert. However, if you use it as directed, you would be using one-two (or more) a day (depending on how often you need to change it), which to me is not much different than a tampon.
I was determined to try different ways of wearing, inserting and removing the Softcup in order to decide whether it really was a pain in the vagina. So, I made some adjustments as I continued to use it. Here is what I found helpful in making the usage of this product an easier, better experience:
- Don’t shove the cup past your pubic bone “as far as it can go” (like the directions state), and far up into yourself if doing so makes it hard to remove. Maybe I was not familiar with what this direction meant, or what my body physiology is, but sure have learned! I found that by placing the cup MAYBE one inch into my vagina, just high enough to ensure I didn’t feel it protruding out of me, I was able to experience pretty flawless coverage and leak protection, and I was able to more easily reach the cup for removal. This was a wonderful discovery because it alleviated the stress of having to dig up really high to try and grasp an edge, and therefor, I didn’t dread or have to plan an occasion for the removal.
- Get familiar with your physiology and comfort levels. Using this product was a great lesson for me! I hadn’t previously really explored where my pelvic bone rested, or what the inside of my vagina was like (in accordance to having a menstrual product placed in it). I highly suggest taking some time to “explore yourself” with a finger before using this product. Learn where your cervix lies (the donut shaped opening at the end of your vagina– you will know when you’ve reached your cervix, when your finger cannot go any farther. The cervix may be soft, like pursed lips, or hard like the tip of your nose, depending on the time of your cycle.) Learn where your pelvic bone is. Learn how long your fingers are in comparison to all of these things, etc. Enjoy LEARNING your own body, instead of being clueless about what any of this means, ESPECIALLY before using a product like this. It will be much easier to learn how to best use this product if you are familiar with the physiology of your vagina. And by learning about yourself and exploring, you will feel much more comfortable inserting a foreign object inside of yourself– what it will feel like, how you react to yourself, etc.
- When possible remove this product in the shower, but definitely always in a place where you have DIRECT access to a sink. As I previously stated, removal can get messy. The instructions suggest that you gently pull the cup out keeping it in an upright position, but I have yet to be able to pull this off completely– especially because I have to use two fingers to grab it. Maybe with a lot of practice this will get easier and cleaner, but for now, I know that it is messy to remove, so I prepare myself for that. When I remove this cup, I always do it at home, ideally in the shower. In the shower, you can take the cup out and rinse off quickly– I wash it and then reinsert– EASY.
- IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING SO, you can reuse the cup. I personally like to use one cup per cycle (so far). The cups are very sturdy and easy to clean. I researched reusing the cup and used my intuition to make this choice, and suggest you do the same! Some women reuse the cup for even more than one cycle, while others follow the box’s directions and change it often. All of this is up to you, but I have found no issue with reusing the cup :).
OKAY, OKAY, IT’S STARTING TO SOUND A LITTLE BETTER, RIGHT? HERE ARE A FEW MORE BENEFITS OF USING THE SOFTCUP, INSTEAD OF A TAMPON OR PAD:
- You can have safe, mess-free sex while using this product. This is the ONLY menstrual product that offers this benefit. I, personally, have not tried this. However, many women rave about the ease of sexual intimacy while using a Softcup. Don’t worry about lubrication being blocked– sexual lubrication secretes out of the vaginal walls and the entire vagina, so your Softcup should not cause any dryness or discomfort.
- You can keep it in for 12 hours at a time, and there are virtually no risks to using it. The Softcup carries no risk of TSS or any other issues, aside from possibly being difficult to remove. The material of the Softcup is safe and can be left in for 12 hours (as long as your flow agrees with that). This was a major reason why I wanted to try the product. I was never good with changing my tampons within the allotted timeframes, and often practiced leaving them in longer than suggested– which is not a good idea, considering that doing so can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. I wanted to ensure that I was being cautious and not putting myself at risk, so the Softcup was a great option for that.
- NO ODOR. Using the Softcup provides a barrier that catches the blood of your menstrual flow. There is no absorbing, and therefor no smell at all (aside from the natural smell of your blood). Tampons and pads absorb the blood and can begin to smell funky after a while, but with the Softcup, there is not risk of this at all. If you do notice a strange scent while using the Softcup, you may want to keep an eye on it and talk to your healthcare provider, as this could be a sign of an imbalance. Period blood has it’s own distinct smell, which can vary depending on how “fresh” or old the shedding blood is, so be mindful to your own scent and if you notice something “off”, fishy or yucky, use your intuition and consult a professional.
- Good Price. As I stated above, a box of 12 Softcups is about $6-7 in Denver, Co. where I live. I am sure this varies, but can assume that is about the price it would be elsewhere. Depending on how often you end up changing your Softcup, this can be a huge break compared to how much you spend on tampons and pads, or other period products.
- More Environmentally Friendly. Again, depending on how often you end up changing/disposing of this product, and whether or not you need a back up panty liner (not often for me), it can reduce the waste you have during your menstrual cycle DRASTICALLY. I am going to use one per cycle, so long as it continues to work out, and that means a box of 12 will last me about a year– a total WIN.
- One Size Fits All. With the Softcup, there is only one size. While other menstrual cups have different sizes, the Softcup offers one, which is said to work for all shapes and sizes and cervixes. I realize that everyone’s anatomy is different which is why I suggest learning yours before using this, but I do think that this product is likely a good fit for anyone– whether you’ve had babies or are just getting your period– I think the Softcup is worth a try. Another piece of this is that the cup works during throughout your entire period, from spotting to a very heavy flow, you use the same product. Softcup offers coverage no matter what your flow is.
- Sufficient protection and leak coverage. Although there is a leak every so often when I move a lot, have a very heavy flow (after a few hours of protection) or squat/bear down, overall I rarely have any leaking. I feel confident wearing whatever I would normal wear and doing activities I would normally do, with out fear of leaking, and don’t need a panty liner either (with the exception of when I was learning how it best fits). My flow varies, but is pretty regular– being heavier on the first couple of days and then tapering into a pretty light flow, and the Softcup provides protection throughout the entirety.
- The Softcup is COMFORTABLE. I’ve saved the best for last. The Softcup, once you have found it’s ideal placement and become comfortable with inserting and removing it, is absolutely 100 percent comfortable. I don’t notice when I am wearing it, and barely remember I am on my period unless I have a leak or some cramps. Unlike a tampon that can get dry and uncomfortable, and has a string, and unlike a pad where the blood collects externally, the Softcup rests inside you comfortably catching your flow. Although it may take you a few tries to get the cup in the right place to find great comfort and protection, once you find the perfect placement, the comfort is flawless.
Okay, so what is my overall consensus of the Instead Softcup, will I continue to use it? Do I recommend trying it?
YES. I personally have found that I like this product, even though I think there may be quite a bit of a learning curve that comes along with using it. I want to continue to see how well it works, and I am going to do my best to at least finish the box that I purchased. As I get more comfortable and familiar with the Softcup and my own body, I can see this product being super convenient, enjoyable, affordable and EASY. Every time I use it, it gets easier, so I have hope!
(Here is a video on how to insert/remove the Softcup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ8ySsP-F90)
What do you think of the Instead Softcup? Have you found any tips or tricks yourself with using this product? What are your thoughts and personal reviews? Do you have any questions about my experience? Please share in the comments below!
(This is a personal review. I was not compensated or asked to review this product, I simply want to share my experience with it to help other women to decide whether or not they want to try this product.)
Thank you for reading. If you or someone you know is looking for more guidance on how to successfully and joyfully navigate the parenthood journey (pre-conception through parenthood), womanhood and healing the womb, please visit http://www.birthpurpose.com to learn more and get in touch with me for coaching sessions and full-service doula care in Denver, Co and BEYOND! And don’t forget to subscribe here https://birthpurpose.wordpress.com/contact/ to get updates and fun tips, tricks, meditations and more!
Sometimes life flows effortlessly and easily and we feel content with everything working out exactly as we’d like it to, and other times things don’t go as planned– they sometimes even seem to go OPPOSITE from what we’d desire. Some of us are more adept to going with the flow, but others of us really enjoy “cruise directing”– trying to control the outcomes of all experiences. No matter where we fall, we ALL experience events in our lives going differently than we had hoped, planned or thought. So how exactly do we find the space to let go, allow and EMBRACE things as they are, even when it isn’t what we have “planned”? Better yet, how do we learn to ENJOY and maintain PEACE within ourselves during these moments just the way we do when things are going “our way”?
Here are 4 ways to Let Go and Enjoy Life even when things don’t go as planned:
- Breathe. You are alive. Your breath is moving through you with out you making plans about it. We have a lot to learn from our breath. If you stopped breathing, I assure you nothing else would matter. So when you find yourself frustrated because things are not going as you’d like them to, bring yourself back to your breath. Take a breath in through your nose for a count of 4 and then release out of your mouth slowly for a count of 8. (As you blow out, feel free to utilize a shhhh sound as if you are a balloon releasing it’s air, vocalize a deep, low opening tone. Make sure that you fully release all air, so much so that your breath in is buoyant and easy.) Use this practice to “reset” your natural breath flow. As you breathe out, see your frustration leaving your body– whatever that may look like to you. (I see all of my heavy, negative energies leaving the body as a dark cloud that dissipates as it enters the atmosphere, feel free to create your own visualization that feels good.) When you breathe in, breathe in the feelings of love, life, and blessings– whatever that looks like to you. (Oftentimes I visualize gold, or pink light entering into my being– right into my heart space– filled with love.) Continue to focus on your breath to bring yourself back to center. Don’t strain or put pressure on yourself to breathe a certain way, that is not the purpose of this exercise. Instead, use the counting method to slow, “reset” and let it go once you feel a natural, easy flow of breath through your body. Enjoy being alive. Enjoy the way your body breathes itself, whether or not you think about, plan or control it.
- Don’t Resist. Resisting the “negative” feelings only exasperates them. Instead, allow them to be there. Allow yourself to feel them. It is natural. It is human. It is normal to experience frustration, disappointment, discouragement. Allow these things to FLOW through. Don’t dwell in these spaces, but allow them to run their course. If we allow them to run through, they simply run out. If we avoid or try to change or suppress them, they get “bottled up” only to bubble up during the next opportunity– but this time, stronger. So allow whatever you are feeling to flow through. Give it time to run it’s course, and focus on your breathing instead of the sensations it may be causing in your body.
- Practice Gratitude. This step falls perfectly behind the last, because as we allow the feelings we have to flow through, we can then begin to shift them through gratitude. One of the absolute quickest and easiest ways to shift your energy, is to be grateful. Even when things go differently than we’d hoped, there is always something to be grateful for, always. You can start simple; being grateful for your breath, your body, your loved ones, your eyes, ears, nose, all of your sensations. Then, your clothing, shoes, living circumstances– being alive, the whole world available to you to wander if you please… As you begin to look for things to be grateful for, more will show up. I find when I do this, it is hard to stop finding MORE to be grateful for. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I begin to see how absolutely blessed I am simply to exist. Talk about an easy and immediate paradigm shift. I have even learned to be grateful for whatever is happening– even when my ego-self (the judgmental, personalized self) perceives it as “bad”. For I have learned that the things I thought were “bad” always ended up supporting my absolute highest good! (Refer to my previous post “The Negatives ARE Positive” for more.) Shift your attitude to gratitude and watch things shift right before your eyes.
- Surrender and Accept. The last step is to surrender your preference to have things be any different than they are, and then to accept them AS THEY ARE. Once you have shifted into gratitude, this step becomes a lot easier. You can always choose this step at any time, but often I find that it can be difficult to let go and to accept things when I still believe they are “bad”. This step works through realizing that whatever the experience is, you can CHOOSE to be just fine with it. That is where we find peace: in TRUSTING the process of life. The Universe gives us exactly what we need to learn, grow, and evolve into peaceful, loving beings– and sometimes that means having troublesome events take place in order for us to practice trust, gratitude, opening our minds and hearts and letting go of our own beliefs and preferences. The only time things seem “bad” is when we have chosen to perceive them as such. If we can surrender that perception, and accept what life is offering us, instead, we shift ourselves into peace. Peace is the ability to be completely content, no matter what is going on in the “outside” world. We CAN be happy no matter what if we simply choose to surrender our resistance to ALLOWING ourselves to be happy because our perception sees something as “bad” or “wrong”. Surrender your perceptual judgment, and accept what IS, and you will find yourself back in the space of peace and enjoyment– ready for the next adventure life is taking you on.
- BONUS– Don’t Take Life So Seriously. Humor and light heartedness are such incredible tools for enjoying life– no matter what happens. When you are able to laugh at life and take everything with a light heart, things become lighter. Although we must honor all of our emotional experiences, when we are able to laugh we open up a brand new perspective, just like we do with gratitude. Finding space to laugh and see your ego drama for what it is will transform your experiences from “bad” to fun. For example– I needed to make extra income FAST and found myself with a job helping with some landscaping. For a while I was so upset and “hated” doing the work– it seemed gruesome and awful from the lens I was seeing it through. One day I was talking to my brother about it and immense laughter and joy overcame me, “I’ve been throwing a fit about making the extra income that I need. That is so funny! I have been so upset about making more money and being able to help this person when they needed it!!!” I found the humor in my egos drama– realizing that even though it wasn’t the work I “wanted” it was the income I needed and it came at the exact perfect time! I was able to shift from frustration to gratitude for being able to help this family friend AND make the income I needed. Doing the work became enjoyable as I played in the mud and dug up weeds– my inner child LOVED it. The moral of the story is: Find the space to find the fun in life, whatever it may bring your way. 😀
Life is really an adventure. The “ups and downs” can be seen as fun twists and turns instead of grueling, painful changes to our original plan. Trust Your Highest Journey. Trust that all things in life are created for your highest evolution, joy and peace, and then allow yourself to experience them that way. Next time you find yourself feeling down due to a shift in your plans, practice these four steps and I assure you that you will begin to see the changes in your life as gifts, not disappointments!
Do you have any tips or tricks on how you like to cope with things changing or going differently than you’d hoped? Leave comments below and join in! This process is super helpful during pregnancy, labor/birth and parenting experiences. If you or someone you know is looking for more guidance on how to successfully and joyfully navigate the parenthood journey (pre-conception through parenthood), please visit http://www.birthpurpose.com to learn more and get in touch with me for coaching sessions and full-service doula care in Denver, Co and BEYOND! And don’t forget to subscribe here https://birthpurpose.wordpress.com/contact/ to get updates and fun tips, tricks, meditations and more!
I recommend The Beginning of Life docuseries on Netflix to all of those interested in learning about healthy beginnings for children.
Enjoy my description of this absolutely life-changing book! Don’t wait to go pick a copy up for yourself so that you can experience a wonderful, growth-filled life. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Please enjoy the following podcasts which are interviews with Bruce Lipton, a pioneer in Epigenetics. Learn how our beliefs shape our lives more than our genetic blueprint!