Yesterday I had a long, involved conversation on Facebook about whether it was feminist to complain about your period or if it was buying into patriarchal notions of… something. The conclusion was basically that hating your period is A-OK. Which is good because I really hate my period. It’s also fairly subversive to not be embarrassed of your basic bodily function, so I’m claiming it as feminist. Look — it happens, it’s pretty gross, but it actually means my body is working, so hurray. So take that, reviewing Softcups is my feminist FU to people who are bothered by my ladyparts. SHAZAM.
I take Seasonale continuously, but every 4 months or so, I suffer from breakthrough bleeding that’s pretty heavy and will only stop if I relent and have a full period. Basically I have to make a choice between continuous bleeding that’s relatively painless but never stops or 5 days of excruciating pain and massive quantities of blood that will ultimately stem the flow. Hooray my body.
Supposedly the fact that I’m on birth control makes my periods not as heavy and not as painful. I don’t remember them ever feeling worse than they do now, though, so I am skeptical of this supposed beneficial side effect. It does mean that I have them less frequently, though, so that’s a relief. If you’ve ever had a period then you know that the methods for taking care of them are fairly medieval — plug it up or wear some gauze. Science has not made major advances in this field.
Pads are basically like wearing a diaper. They are messy, especially if you have hair down there, and they are incredibly uncomfortable. Then there are tampons. If, like me, you have wildly varying days of super heavy uterine explosion and not too much going on down there, tampons can be difficult. You have to predict your level of flow and, if you go super heavy in protection when you’re actually producing super light, it creates this crazy uncomfortable dry, scratchy vagina sensation that doesn’t go away for a while. And I already have ridiculous sensitive, in need of hypoallergenic everything skin. Not pleasant. Oh, also they can kill you.
So a few years ago, I longed to branch out from my uncomfortable period solutions and tried Instead, which are now known as Softcup. I was afraid of Diva Cups because reusing them seemed unsanitary but I was fascinated by the idea of a solution that didn’t involve absorption. So I tried out Softcup and have never looked back.
In addition to the plus of no dry vagina and not wearing a diaper, there are other benefits.
When I have my period, I tend to need to use the bathroom a lot. Cramps just make everything seem to move down there. When I wear a tampon that usually means I just have to change the tampon every time I pee. The physics of making that not happen are difficult and unreliable and I’m a little too OCD for that. Changing your tampon every two hours is expensive and uncomfortable and also you’re not really supposed to flush them apparently, and that’s weird too.
With Softcups I just leave it up in there for 12 hours. Sometimes there’s some leakage when I pee or poop, but it goes back into place on its own. The only bad thing is that it does create a little bit of internal pressure which can require a little extra pressure when expelling waste, on either side.
You can wear them when you’re being intimate — though it’s good to warn people. And also to have a fresh one to avoid leaks. You can wear them swimming. They’re also great if, like me, you’ve got the problem of there is no pad or tampon strong enough to get you through a full night on your worst nights.
I also can’t feel it at all when it’s inside, which is miles better than pads or tampons.
The bad: They can leak — it’s a good idea to wear a panty liner with them, especially on heavy days.
They are hard to find. I went to four stores in DC before finding them. CVS carries them, but I have been to CVSs that didn’t have any in stock. It’s terrible to be starting your period without supplies and not know where to get them. Especially if your period is super unpredictable like mine. There’s supposedly a reusable one, where it’s one cup per period, but I can’t find it anywhere.
Taking them out can be kind of gross — but then, if you’re following the directions with tampons or using pads, those are pretty gross too. Your hands will probably get bloody, though you can use gloves if you like.