I Bought a Menstrual Cup on Instagram

I asked friends about menstrual cups. I read about how magical they were for the environment, how nice it was not to have to carry products with you everywhere, but ultimately it took seeing a single black woman in an Instagram ad for me to actually buy one. The website that sold them was beautiful and interactive, with graphics illustrating technique and a robust FAQ page. I was actually excited to use a period product, which, since the advent of my period at a Water World theme park when I was 9, has never ever been a thing for me.

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Somehow I was still blissfully unaware of how intimate I was about to get with my period experience. There was the seal-checking, which requires you to run the perimeter of your vaginal canal with your finger, the at-first unfamiliar static fullness. Upon removal (earlier than advertised), I was surprised at just how full of blood it was, then i immediately felt affirmed that what doctors had suspected was an overuse of super plus and ultra tampons did in fact correspond to “heavier than average flow”. I had the milliliters to prove it. There was the intense bright red color that stained the bowl and made me instantly happy that I was doing this process at home. God forbid my period betray me in front of company again. Tampons soak up the vaginal secretions (lolz that word sounds just like what it is), but the cup just holds them, leaving a mix of blood and what kind of looks like spit. It’s interesting to me, but I am an ex-scientist so that fascination is likely not universal. At first there was more opportunity for blood on my fingers, on my thighs. My blood didn’t all go away when I flushed.

My period hadn’t changed and yet I was experiencing it anew at 27. I was ALL UP IN IT. But it didn’t make me feel better or worse. I was more viscerally involved with what was happening with my body, and the process of it made me think of what periods must be like for women in our village in Nigeria. Reminded me of how privileged and modern it made my mom and her sisters feel that they had access to pads growing up. The Instagram cup company said they donated a cup to a young woman in need somewhere, so I guess it was nice to imagine that a women somewhere was having the same experience as me. (Then I immediately felt guilty that I was letting a retailer give me a false sense of activism.) @it’s better for the environment” and “I’ll save so much on tampons” were both things I reminded myself as I washed my cup clean and reinserted it. I wasn’t grossed out by my period, I was just having to deal with it, really deal with it. I didn’t feel better or worse because my period hadn’t changed. It was still a bitch. I still had blinding pain, uncomfortable, bloating, difficult shits, which all seem incompatible with period positivity. I don’t plan to have children, so my uterus only does for me what a cocktail of hormone pills could do and does do for lots of people who have had hysterectomies. I’ve long considered getting one, but very few doctors would see the above symptoms as being valid enough to take away the fertility of young women who desperately wants to be rid of it. I hate my period. The novel excitement of the Instagram cup wore off so fast that I even surprised myself. So what I should say is I STILL hate my period, but I do know her a hell of a lot better.

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