It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Let's kick things off by announcing that I'm a periodsman. I'm pro-menses. I was brought up to accept that periods are bloody normal (HAHA PUN) to the extent that my dad would often have to stop off at Tesco to pick up tampons for me or my sister and he didn't mind.
We would often discuss our flows around the house and when I first got my period, my mum made me a special celebratory breakfast and my dad congratulated me on becoming a woman.
Turns out, though, that I possess quite the crimson wave. As well as PMS that can only be described as transforming me into a Needy, Crying Medusa With A Wombsplosion* we're talking a monthly geyser.
It's stemmed only by the utilization of every period product I can possibly fit around the area in question - on top of an urge to be held tenderly for 3-7 days. If I was allowed to use four tampons, I would.
Super plus doesn't quite dam up the river, so I sometimes need to use the old sanitary pads which, as everyone knows, are designed to remind you every time you move your legs that you're bleeding.
"The old sanitary pads" is a needless yet charming idiom I'm partial to, and doesn't refer to the literal use of old sanitary pads. Which would be frankly disgusting.
SO. MOONCUPS. It's always been in the back of my mind, lingering there like a goblet you're supposed to put up your vagina. Questions floated around my pre-menstrual head in between attempts to cover up my spots: how does it stay up? Can you feel it? Where do you get them from? What if it all tips out?
For the uninitiated, Mooncups are menstrual cups that go inside the vagina and collect your painters and/or decorators. Once full, you have to tip them out, clean the cup and reinsert which saves all those tampons being thrown into landfill sites and all those sanitary pads floating around the Atlantic Ocean pissing off the barnacles.
[Oh. Oooooh, I thought they just sat in your pants, rather than in you. Which did, to be honest, strike me as both unlikely and unsanitary. --Rebecca]
But seriously, they are a lot more eco-friendly which is, obviously, a huge plus considering how great barnacles are. And, y'know, land. So I bought my very own Mooncup online, named it Luna (Luna. Lunar. Moon. Genuinely sometimes I wish I wasn't me so I could hang out with myself) and got to work.
You have to choose between two sizes, A (46 mm diameter, suitable for those over 30 who have given birth) and B (43 diameter, suitable for those under 30 who haven't given birth), so look at this helpful chart and get selecting that cup to match your pelvic floor, gals.
I was B which I take to mean I've got the best vagina (I'm very competitive).
Now, the first hurdle is where many will fall. Getting it in is sort of tricky and, if you don't do it right off the bat you may feel discouraged and start reaching for the tampons. Keep going. From experience, and using as tasteful a description as possible, here's how I jimmied a cup up my faff:
1. You need to fold the Mooncup by pressing the sides together and then folding it over. It's like posting your uterus a note in class except it's plastic, there's no writing on it, and it's a Mooncup.
2. Be really relaxed. You're cool with tampons because you know what to expect, but remember the first time you inserted one? OK, perhaps you were fine but I fainted. Anyway, just because this looks and feels a bit odd, it's exactly the same as a tampon except it sits a little lower - you still should feel nothing when it's in the right place.
3. Insert towards your tailbone and let go to allow the cup to unfold which feels a bit hilarious. Make sure the stem is outside of your foof (is that an acceptable synonym for vagina? Do people use that in common parlance?) so you'll be able to yank the bastard out again.
This took three non-consecutive goes; I had to have breaks because everyone knows that if you're desperately trying to shove something up something, your body freaks out and tenses all the muscles. Between each go I had a glass of red wine and the fact that it was before midday has nothing to do with any of you.
Once successfully inserted, you can't feel anything, although I did find myself walking around in a strange floaty way as though afraid that if I sat down everything would tip out. It didn't.
When it came to removal, I'd read it holds around an ounce of blood, and that the average woman bleeds about 2-4 ounces per period, so figured I'd do it three times for the first day and see how I fared.
To be honest, looking at how much you emit per day was the weirdest, and best, part of this experiment; as previously mentioned, I'm essentially the Niagara Falls of Periodland, but others may only need to change it twice a day. Or once. And, of course, it depends on the day.
Removing it was surprisingly unmessy- you grab the stem and squeeze the bottom of the cup very slightly to remove suction, and bring it out in a gently supporting manner so as not to spill yourself all over yourself. They say on the website to use your other hand but you may be using your other hand to, erm, hold yourself or you may be flapping it in excitement. Or making paper airplanes, I'm not here to judge.
Either way, you can do it one-handed but however you decide to get it out, ensure there's some sort of towel on the floor in case you fuck up.
So then it's the queasy section of the Mooncup Experience, purely due to my slight aversion to chilling out with my own menses. You have to tip it out (DO THIS QUICKLY SO IT DOESN'T GO ON YOU), wipe it, and put it right back in.
Yeah, yeah Germaine Greer once said you can never be a true woman unless you eat your own menstruation in a baguette or whatever, but it's just a thing I have. You might be really cool with it, and if you are, I'm glad for you.
Also, it wasn't that bad. If you don't need to reinsert it because your period has magically stopped flowing, then carry it around in the fabric bag it comes in- or in a little bag you've bought specially. Embroidered with pictures of the moon. Bleeding.
At the end of your whole period, rinse it in soapy or vinegary water then store it in a box covered in pictures of smiling vaginas with googly eyes.
Oh and, hey girls, you know when, like, you're coming to the end of your period and you have to start arsing about with different tampon absorbancies to prevent having what suddenly feels like a massive column of cotton wool drying all up in your womb? Mooncups are fine to use until the very last, erm, drop.
I am suddenly very aware that this paragraph could be the "I'm the only one" section of the article but I've gone too far to turn back. Soz.
Anyway, Mooncups. They're actually pretty great (and non-latex) so I think I'm going to use mine until the end of time.
DO TRY THIS AT HOME. FINALLY.
*cue "stop propagating the theory that women are hysterical, Stevie" comments. Well, apologies, but not admitting women can become hormonal around their period is like glossing over the fact we're liable to giving birth. It's not hysterics, it's the body preparing to expel parts of itself. If you're immune to PMS/mood swings then I'm happy for you. And jealous.