When I got my first period at 12-years-old, common sense wasn’t my strong point. It still isn’t really, but when I first started using pads as a young teenage girl, I didn’t realise you were meant to rip the bits of paper off to make them stick. From 12 till about 16-years-old this was something I didn’t realise, and thank goodness there were no incidents because of it.
One day, one of the bits of paper just came off, exposing the sticky surface, and I went to ask mum what that was about. She looked at me with both horror, confusion and hilarity, asking what I had been doing for all these years.
However, the reason I was still wearing pads was that I found tampons uncomfortable.
As I got older, I transitioned to tampons, but started to feel worse about the environmental impact of all of these products. When period cups came out I was intrigued, but slightly afraid.
Firstly, after the pad saga, how was I going to know I was using them right?
Also, with how uncomfortable I found tampons, I didn’t see how they could be any better, and I was perplexed about how I would even get one in.
I was also terrified I would put it in and lose it, ending up at the hospital for a retrieval mission.
But when I got asked to give it a go and report back, I figured it was time for me to take one for the team scared of period cups to see how hard it actually was, and if it was worth it.
When Aunt Flo came to say hello, I knew I couldn’t overthink it and went and grabbed my first cup. I’d had some spare time the week before my period so I had got my cups sorted for use. For the two Hello Cups I had, all this required was for me to boil them in water for three minutes and then they were ready.
The week prior I had also practiced my shallow punch and fold technique, which is the way they recommend inserting their cups.
When my period arrived, I decided to start day one by using the extra-small cup from their Hello Cup Double Box, which I had in the new limited-edition peach cup. I had taken their online quiz and it said I would be an extra-small or small, so the double box was perfect as it gave both options.
I got the double box with the Hello Peach cups, which is an initiative they are doing with Talk Peach, a Kiwi organisation making big moves to educate about gynaecological cancers. Ten percent of every sale went to Talk Peach, which I thought was pretty cool.
Before inserting the cup I read all the material that came with the cups, and felt confident it wasn’t going to get sucked up inside me. It literally said there was nowhere for it to go, so don’t panic if you can’t feel it instantly when you try to remove it.
For some reason this calmed me, so I felt more relaxed when inserting my cup. It took about four attempts to finally get it in, as I found it hard to hold the shallow punch fold in place while trying to insert it and it kept unfurling. But once I had it in, I instantly couldn’t feel it.
Normally at the start or the end of my cycle, I find tampons really uncomfortable and can’t use them, but this instantly felt fine.
The cups can be worn for up to 12 hours without having to change them, but the first time I went to the toilet I wanted to see if the cup had moved up.
It had, but once I pushed down like the booklet said, the cup instantly started to move back down, so I felt okay.
I was staying at a friend's house that night and after dinner I went into the bathroom to take my cup out and clean and swap it. However, I couldn’t feel the stem at the bottom when I first tried. I panicked slightly, and started pushing down as hard as I could.
But I just couldn’t get enough of a grip on the stem to then reach the base of the cup to squeeze and release the bottom, which is how they recommend removing it.
After about five minutes of trying, I was worried everyone at the house thought I was doing a poo, so I abandoned ship and took a break.
After consulting some friends, they said to abandon that technique and if I got enough of a grip on the stem, to just pull. This took about two attempts, but I finally managed to get it out, which required some force when not using the proper technique.
I took the cup out, tipped the blood into the toilet and washed the cup out in the sink, then put a tampon in for the night.
I decided the next day I would insert the larger cup to see if that made a difference with removing it.
I sized up and tried the small sized cup today, to see if that made it easier to get it out.
Now that I had the shallow punch and fold technique down, it was just as easy to get this size in as the extra-small cup. It only took two attempts to get it in this time, and again as soon as it was in I literally could not feel a thing.
During this day I was at an event, and considering you can’t even feel the cup at all, I almost forgot I even had it in.
Later that night I realised it was time to change it, so I headed to the bathroom. This time I felt a bit more confident about getting it out, and kept reminding myself not to panic.
After knowing I could get it out like I had yesterday, it actually only took me a few attempts to get it out. I still had to push down with my pelvic floor muscles, and it was still hard to get a grip on the stem, but once I had a grip on the stem I just pulled and it made its way down.
I was really surprised by how much blood the cup holds, but also how much blood you lose on your period. I guess after spending a lifetime using things that absorb it up, I’ve never actually seen clearly before how much blood is lost through a monthly cycle.
After cleaning it out I managed to insert it on the first attempt this time around, and it was as easy as that.
Only two days in and I could feel it was easier to change the cup, and I definitely felt less stress when trying to get it out.
I had no leaking during these two days and I cannot overstate how comfortable these two cups were. I could almost forget about them even being in, which would never happen with a tampon.
Today I swapped to a Lunette Cup. I decided to stick with the punch and fold technique, as I felt pretty confident using it now.
I had also got this cup prepared earlier, which required me to boil it in water for 20 minutes to sterilize it.
The Lunette Cup is made from soft silicon, making the cups softer than the Hello Cup. I did find this made it a little harder to insert, as it kind of buckled a bit more when trying to get it in. But after two attempts I got that under control and it was in.
The Lunette Cup was just as comfortable as the Hello Cup and once I had it in, I couldn’t feel a thing.
The benefit to this cup though was it had a longer stem on the bottom, so when I went to try and remove the cup, I didn’t have to push down with my pelvic floor quite as much to be able to grab it.
I again could not get to the bottom of the cup to do the proper release, so I just grabbed and pulled on the stem, and it came out perfectly.
A quick wash in the sink and the second time around I tried the C-Fold technique to get it in, which I found to be much easier with this cup.
By now, I’m feeling like a pro. The Lunette Cup came out with ease once I pushed down to get hold of the stem, and I didn’t feel stressed about getting hold of the bottom to get it out.
The C-Fold technique seems to be the way to go with this cup, at least for me, so I inserted it again with that method and had no problems.
By this day my period was quite light, so normally with tampons I would encounter some discomfort and have to swap to liners, but with the cup I could not feel anything. I also thought by four days of removing and inserting there would be some discomfort with one or the other, but nothing. It’s comfortable and easy to get your head around once you’re doing it.
At the end of day four my period was basically non-existent so I decided to get my cups sorted for next time by boiling them in water and placing them back into the little bags they came in.
Pros for period cups
• Environmentally more friendly
• Less admin than tampons or pads
• Become more familiar with your body
• Only need one or two so cheaper in the long run
• Having to get your head around inserting and removing them
Hello Cup at a glance
The Hello Cups I used were both super, super comfortable. Having the option to buy the duo box at the beginning is great for beginners or people who don’t know what size they are going to be, so you can play around with it. The Talk Peach campaign is amazing, and the brand has a real sense of “cool” about it. I cannot overstate how comfortable these cups were, and easy to get in once you got the hang of it.
Lunette Cup at a glance
This one might be a good place to start if you’re really, really anxious about getting it out, as the stem is longer. Their cup is also really comfortable and they have a variety of colours to pick from to make it fun. They also size their cups by flow and have only two sizes, which can make it less overwhelming when you’re starting out.