Friday 8 January 2021

5 Reasons You May Not Be Able to Use a Menstrual Cup (and Why That's Okay) | #ACupaDay

Trigger warning: sexual assault, FGM 


Menstrual cups are brilliant, but they’re not for everyone. Mine suits me really well, but different bodies, different life experiences, and different preferences, means that menstrual cups don’t suit everyone. 


1. Vaginismus


Vaginismus is a condition which causes the vaginal walls to close and prevent foreign objects from entering. This can often occur with people who are survivors of sexual assault, but can also have no specific cause. Most often it is caused by something mentally.  Whatever the cause, it does mean that penetration of the vagina (by tampons, menstrual cups, fingers, sex toys, penises, etc.) can become impossible in some cases (although levels vary between each person).


From what I’ve seen (based on others’ experiences), the series Sex Education seems to do quite a good job of representing it. Even seeing representation on TV and film is incredibly rare – I think the only other place I’d heard it mentioned was YouTube (big up Rowan Ellis and Hannah Witton for that). It’s something that affects a lot more people than you’d necessarily think based on how much it’s talked about. 


2. It may be triggering


For anyone with sexual trauma in their past (whatever that may be), anything around the vulva, particularly involving inserting something into the vagina, has the potential to be triggering. Similarly, FGM survivors may also feel very uncomfortable using products like menstrual cups and may also be physically unable to use them as they would cause significant pain and discomfort. 


Whatever someone’s history, we all need to do what is best for our own wellbeing, and both our physical and mental health.

3. A disability may prevent you from being able to insert and remove it properly


Let’s be real, even if you’re fully able-bodied they can be tricky to insert if you’re just starting out. Occasionally, I have times when I need to readjust mine several times, and that’s as someone who has used menstrual cups for over 3 years. For many people with mobility issues, issues with their hands, backs, etc. (I’m sure there’s many ways this could be affected) menstrual cups will just be impossible to use. There are other sustainable alternatives, such as period pants, but as I mention in my review of my first pair, they are currently still quite expensive so levels of accessibility intersect and become complicate depending on both your physical body and your financial circumstances. 

4. You may really like the type of period product


In this case, I would still encourage you to look at the ways you can make that product less wasteful (if you’re in the position to do so). If tampons are your thing, perhaps consider a reusable applicator (if you like using applicators at all) and organic tampons such as the one sold by OHNE and TOTM. As from being better for the environment, these are also much better for your vagina as it significantly reduces the number of chemicals present. The same goes for pads – see if there’s something organic or reusable you like!

5. You just may not like them!


For whatever reason, you may not get on with menstrual cups. They may just not suit our body, you may not like the idea of them. That’s okay. Our bodies prefer different things, and hey! It’s your vagina, you get to decide what goes in it. If you’ve tried menstrual cups before but didn’t get on with them, I presume you want to have a less wasteful and plastic-filled period, and if you do that’s great. There are lots of alternatives to menstrual cups if you want to have a sustainable period, which I discuss in a previous blog post, and hopefully one of those can be useful to you.

Whatever menstrual product someone chooses to use, they should not be shamed or be pressured into using a particular type. As I mentioned, we are all different and different things suit our bodies. 

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Things to Know If You're a Menstrual Cup Newbie

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