Periods. Gross. I know, who really wants to talk about it? Its like that awkward moment when you approach a complete stranger or that classmate you sort of know in the bathroom, and have to find a delicate way to articulate that you need a product of the feminine hygiene variety. All women menstruate (at a certain age) and yet there is still a need for delicacy when we discuss the biological fact we bleed for a few days once a month. I know I’m not the only one who slightly cringes when the television plays commercials of cute girls bouncing around, laughing, playing tennis, and talking about how their tampons are SO awesome. Sweet Jesus, my dad is sitting next to me, show some propriety, TV set!

However, I’ve recently jumped on the bandwagon with a newish product of the lady-kind, and I’ve felt my need to share why you should think about converting too. So bear with me as I proverbially prance down the feminine hygiene aisle to discuss the menstrual cup.

I’m sure you’ve learned of the cup from a magazine ad, a TV program, or a girlfriend (like I did). Cups are inserted in the vagina (with your fingers) and rest beneath the cervix. A seal is created, preventing any leakage as it collects the menstrual blood. There are over 21 reusable silicone brands available worldwide, like Diva Cup and Moon Cup, and there are disposable brands like Soft Cup that you switch out every 12 hours. It does sound a little bit gross considering you have to do your own custodial work when you switch them out, but it’s really nothing you haven’t done before when you use other products.

Personally, I’ve never really liked pads and I am not a fan of tampons. Unlike the chastity belt/jockstrap hybrids of decades past, pads have gotten thinner, more absorbent, and much more flexible. But the fact of the matter is it’s still a bit like a diaper. Pads have tons of downsides. Ifyou’re not careful with clothing decisions people can see it outlined, leakage can always occur, and sometimes you can actually smell yourself (yes, I went there). I never use tampons UNLESS I HAVE TO. Not out of fear of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but they’ve never been comfortable for me. My body is weird when it knows something foreign is in it. I’m the one case my gynecologist saw whose vagina actually rejected the Nuva Ring birth control device. Literally pushed it out. No thank you. For a somewhat similar reason, my body never liked tampons and I would cramp like a mother when I would use them.

So I began to do my research after a girlfriend casually mentioned she’s been using a silicone cup for months, and actually prefers it to other methods. I had yet to acquire the $30 to spend on one, and before I committed I wanted to know what using one would be like. I chose to wander over to Rite Aid and pick up a box of Soft Cups, deciding I would go through a box of them (would take about 2 cycles) and then upgrade to a reusable one if they were to my liking.

The Soft Cup is comprised of a flexible silicone ring with a small plastic cup attached to it (think plastic wrap consistency). Surprisingly, they are not hard to insert, you get the hang of it after the 2nd or 3rd time. You squeeze the ring, slide it in horizontally, and then strategically check with your finger to see if it’s settled into position, you’ll feel it if it’s not. That’s the other nice thing — you don’t actually feel it! You’ll be completely comfortable whether you are running, jumping, or climbing trees. I’ve freed myself from cotton vaginal plugs and strip diapers forever! There are also no sudden death risks like with tampons and TSS; the Soft Cup is completely hygienic and safe for you to use.

And the best part? You can have sex wearing one.

Tee hee, I know! Your cuddle buddy doesn’t even really have to know it’s that time of the month. The evidence of your condition will not show on any insertable object, whether battery-operated or attached to a friend. Thanks to that seal created by the silicone ring, your secret is safe.

Here are the downsides of the Soft Cup: you have to use your fingers for insertion and removal, so your hands must always be clean. This is fine if you have sink access in your private loo at home, but it’s a bit tricky to go rinse your hands in a public restroom. My suggestion is to always carry hygienic wipes in your bag and use them in the toilet cubicle between removing an old Soft Cup and putting in the new one. The second downside is that is can be a little gross removing it once the suction seal is gone. Details omitted. Thirdly, if you don’t insert it properly it will leak – but not terribly. I half-assed it when inserting it once and did experience slight leakage, but that’s it! No cramping, smelliness, or bodily rejection.

Hooray, lady friends. I have found a product that works for me, and I may progress to the eco-friendly reusable ones in the not-too-distant future. I highly recommend this project, and I hope you’ll ditch the diaper and grab a cuppa. That’s all!

Would you ever consider switching to a menstrual cup?