So mid year, I got off hormonal birth control, which I had been on for close to thirteen years! I was told time and time again, that it would be the “solve all” to my ocular migraines caused by my time of the month, plus it was supposed to make my skin clear and healthy looking! I have endometriosis in my family, so that was something to consider, and my deciding factor on starting the pill at around 14 years old. I had switched to just about everything on the market, different hormone leveled pills, nuvaring, every birth control besides the implantation device (both arm and uterine) and hormonal shots because my medical history didn’t allow for either of those. The last pill I was on caused the worst side effects for me, and ultimately pushed me in the direction to stop it altogether. I was on a brand that allowed you to have three periods a year, which sounds fantastic, but holy side effects was I suffering. My migraines came back with a vengeance, my cramps made it so I couldn’t function in daily activities, I couldn’t keep any food down, and my mood swings were at the point to where I was thinking of going on yet more medication to keep those in control.
I was missing more work than ever, which is embarrassing because people who have no cycles, or normal ones just can’t understand that you’re truly not being a drama queen. Trust me, I wanted to go to work, I didn’t want to stay in bed in the dark with a heating pad on me keeling over in pain. While in conversation with my boyfriend, he asked “So, do they test your hormone levels to see what works best?” and I realized, no, they never did any extensive hormone testing for any of my birth controls, before or after new brands, or anything like that. You’d think playing with something so essential to our bodies would be more carefully regulated, but hey, it is woman’s health care and all.
Once stopping HBC, I noticed a huge difference by my second cycle. Keep in mind, I’m one of the lucky few to have a regulated cycle after stopping this medication. Many women wind up with not getting their period at all and suffering major hormone consequences that they weren’t warned about. Around the same time, I decided to get off the pill, I also concluded that I wanted to use a menstrual cup too, just to avoid any other unwanted chemicals lingering around in my body. The more research I did, the more that I found it was the right choice for me as compared to a natural brand of tampon. As if skipping out on bleach, chemicals, and who knows what else is in commercial tampons (because companies don’t have to disclose exactly what chemicals are in them, suspicious much?) If that doesn’t weird you out, it should, seriously. I don’t want to add to any conspiracies, but from what I’ve read, it’s quite alarming, and from the difference I’ve felt, I know a lot of the pain/heavy bleeding I was feeling was influenced by whatever was in commercial tampons.
Since making the switch, on a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) I’ve been hanging out at a strong 6 on my very worst days, most of the time the pain doesn’t interfere with daily life, except when I have ruptured cysts, which is a whole other topic on its own! While on HBC, my heaviest days I’d hang out at a 9 or 10 in pain, all day. ALL DAY. Imagine not being able to even get out of bed, let alone work to make a living, or even have a social life during your time of the month. It was absolutely unbearable, and my only regret was waiting this long to get off it, it did its job though, so honestly, I can’t complain about that factor.
The cost difference just makes sense for me as well, plus they’re eco-friendly! Figure you spend about $10/month on your paper product of choice, factoring in at $120/year (and that’s assuming you don’t have to buy an extra box here or there.) Most menstrual cup products come in from 30-60 dollars, which I believe to be quite fair. I bought a Lunette cup which after doing some research seemed to be the best since; I have no kids and I have a pretty small lady area.
I’ve found them ranging in price a lot, their website sells them for $39.99, but I got mine for $29.99 on Thrive Market (which I love, love, love using this site! Click here for 25% off your first order). I’m about to order a Ruby Cup (2 for $49.78) to keep as a back-up as well, because from the research I’ve done, seems to suit my body’s’ needs. If you’re not keen about shipping one to your house, or would rather an in-store purchase, I’ve seen cups even at Target & Walmart! I’ve noticed I’ve saved a substantial amount of money using this, and I feel great about not adding to all the waste that’s already being contributed on this planet. You can even donate on Ruby Cups website to help a girl in need of menstrual products, which I plan on doing for my next purchase.
To be clear, there is a huge learning curve! This isn’t something that you’re just going to get the hang of right away, and if you do, I hate you. I gave myself a time frame of 6 months (6 cycles) to really give it a go. I remember not freaking out anymore around month 4 or 5, so have hope, and lots of patience! Keep in mind that keeping calm will help you in more ways than one, I had a panic attack after not being able to get it out during my first cycle of using, which is embarrassing to admit, but after I calmed down I laughed at myself for getting so anxious in the first place (it’s not like it’s going anywhere, having a mom in law enforcement, I’ve heard stories of ladies fitting a whole lot more than a soft silicone cup in there!) I also cut a few centimeters off the “tail” off the cup on my Lunette, be careful though when you adjust it and don’t get overzealous with the cutting, as it might make it super frustrating to retrieve if you cut before knowing how much actually needs to come off! Just make sure that your cup has the ability to be cut and altered, I know the Ruby Cup tail isn’t able to be modified. I’ve seen people even turn them inside out to eliminate any irritation from the tail.
So, make sure to stay comfortable, and if one brand isn’t working for you, know that you can always switch, there’s so many to choose from! This is your body, and you need to honor and listen to its needs! I know making a switch like this can seem scary, or even gross (which it isn’t, and is far healthier for you!!) Reach out to some girlfriends! That’s what I did, and I got some well-taken advice from them, for some reason most women don’t talk about these sorts of things, so many of my friends already made the switch.