GENDER | menstrual cups – a blessing or a curse?

(this is an unpublished article written for a sex-positive, educational platform)

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GENDER | menstrual cups – a blessing or a curse?

sure, cups are an awesome invention helping the planet, your wallet and your own vaginal health all at once, but perhaps they’re not for everyone.

based on the media coverage, it seems like all menstruating folks gotta love menstrual cups. but do they really? is really everyone so happy about this so-called wonder of menstrual hygiene? does no one else spend a lifetime trying to get that stupid thing in? is it just me who’s slightly terrified of the size of the cup (even though i have possibly the smallest one available on the market)? or… am i the only one who’s got problems with that silly silicone cup? suffering from vaginismus, i’ve struggled with using any form of menstrual hygiene you’re supposed to insert into your vag ever since i started menstruating. even putting the smallest tampon in my first year of menstruating was an incredibly difficult challenge, which i—thank god, because i am not really a fan of pads to be honest—eventually managed, so it took me ages before i felt brave enough to try the cup for the first time. i knew it’d be hard, but as so many people around me kept praising their menstrual cups so much, i still wanted to try it; especially as i am an eco-conscious gal who cares about the environment. long story short, i bought my first one from a tiny, local brand, and when it arrived, i almost burst into tears. i tried, tried, and tried some more, but no matter what i did, i just couldn’t get it in. i felt awful. i felt failed by my own vagina, once again. i happily resorted back to the normal-sized tampons which, by then, fit just fine and caused me no pain or anxiety.

i kind of wanted to forget about this whole menstrual cup mishap, but i couldn’t. being very interested in feminist topics, the discussion about cups seemed to be thrown right at me almost every day. even my Facebook ads were, for some reason, all about cups. my friend, a happy cup user, kept on giving me advice on how to insert and take it out and encouraged me to keep on trying (thanks hun), even though each attempt just resulted in more and more tears. years passed by, during which the pro-menstrual-cups movement has only been growing steadier. cups were now popping out of mainstream media, words of praise and fascination flying everywhere.
The menstrual cup is the best sustainable solution for everyone!
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cups, cups, cups. while i cannot deny that the eco part of my soul was very happy about media picking up on this alternative, eco-friendly solution for menstruating people, the i-suffer-from-vaginismus-and-i-hate-my-vagina-for-it me wasn’t that excited. in fact, i felt horrible. if everyone can use them just fine, why the hell am i not able to do it too? even though these articles and ads were meant to do good, they only perpetuated the “i’m broken” feeling of not being enough, of having a vagina that’s somehow faulty goods.

soon after I got more involved with feminist and queer groups that were—let’s put it this way—considerably more inclusive and progressive, i realized that it was not me that was wrong or faulty here – it was the very normative, almost ableist discussion surrounding the cups instead. the thing is, most often, cups are talked about in relation to “normal” bodies. any sort of disability, personal beliefs, or simply experience is disregarded as not so relevant, which, unfortunately, can cause of a lot of harm. once we include all these factors in the debate, the conclusion is clear – cups sure are awesome, but they’re simply not for everyone. and that’s fine too. let’s only hope that soon we’ll have other sustainable menstrual hygiene options so that literally any menstruating person can find whatever fits them, without destroying the beautiful planet we live on.

oh, and before i finish this off, here’s a little tip from me – don’t be like me and a) don’t order your cup online when you cannot see the size irl, b) don’t give up so easily. after almost three years, i decided to give the cup another chance after i saw a different brand on display at a local pharmacy, and, hallelujah, it worked out! when i later compared the two cups i had (see yourself on the pic above), the new one was almost twice as small and from a suppler, nicer material – so maybe it wasn’t all fault of my clenched up vag, but just a wrong cup from the very beginning?