By Seema Oommen
I stared dejectedly at the big, red drop on my bedroom floor. In my forlorn state, it seemed to be staring right back cheekily, like the annoying brat who makes faces at you, safe in the knowledge that its parents aren’t watching. It was arrogant, aggravating and stubborn, all at once. Any longer of this one-sided staring contest and I would have given that drop of my menstrual blood that had leaked out qualities of mythic proportions. (This Everest that I was not able to climb?)
This is the third cycle and I’m still struggling with my menstrual cup. Dear reader, all I wanted to do was reduce the amount of menstrual waste I was contributing to our beloved planet. I was not even one of those selfish types who wanted to do it for the convenience, the comfort, the possibility of going swimming on Those Days. I just wanted to be a better human being, dammit! But my menstrual cup wasn’t letting me. On my first few attempts, in fact, I had to keep taking out the pale blue cup and reinserting it a dozen times!
It was not supposed to be like this. I had fantasised about shouting out my hallelujah moment on every social media platform, about how I had “discovered” menstrual cups and how there would be no going back. The celebratory tweets and Facebook updates would, of course, be followed by the mandatory long post on Medium about my commitment to reducing my waste, my initial scepticism about the cup and my (decidedly small) struggle with it. My apprehension would swiftly become die-hard evangelism, after which I would judge every woman who did not make the switch to a cup immediately after reading my post.
But. It. Was. Not. To. Be.
There was all the washing, for one. I had to keep taking out the pale blue cup and reinserting it a dozen times which meant furiously washing my hands as if I had OCD each of those dozen times. Before and after. And the discomfort. Initially, I was trying to put it in vertically which did not feel good at all. Watching videos helped with that. But even getting to that stage was a struggle — I tried more positions than the yoga acrobatics demonstrated by our dear leaders but all of them were equally awkward. At one point I was sitting flat on my bathroom floor but that was because it was MY bathroom floor. How the hell would I manage in office or any public restroom?
And then there was the feeling of pressure on my bum. It hurt a little when I sat and I most definitely could not forget that the cup was inside me. This I was not warned about. What on earth was happening?
Finally, a successful convert, who was not a loser like I felt I was, suggested I try doing it sitting on the pot. I cannot tell you the relief that washed over me when I found that this worked. Phew.
But then there were the leaks. I am not one of those immensely fortunate women who breeze through their period with light bleeding and hardly any cramps. I bleed bad. And for long. So though I had happily reinserted the cup some hours before I slept on the third night of my last period, it was to discover stained sheets the next day. My cup had runneth over, dear reader. And not in a good way.
This cycle, after four hours on the second day of my period, I felt the pad I had worn as backup wetter than it should be. A dash to the office loo confirmed my worse fears — my cup had filled up, and spread to the pad. Any later, and I would have had a Code Red Office Situation. I had to empty it and reinsert it in the office loo. Thankfully, it was easier than my struggle at home in the morning, when The Drop had cocked a snook at me.
Watching the Rega Jha video at that point, was like rubbing salt viciously in the imaginary wounds of my vagina and not-so-imaginary wounds to my ego, her best intentions be blessed.
Maybe one day I will still scale this mountain. Maybe one day I will grab people by the collar and force them to listen to my enthusiastic monologue about the benefits of the menstrual cup. Who knows? Maybe one day I will even make a Happy Video about my no longer Unhappy Period. (I am hopeful like that – I’m humming my customised We Shall Overcome ditty as I type this.)
But that day, dear reader, is not today.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to discourage future users of the menstrual cup at all (cue for I’m A Believer), merely that the path to cup redemption may not be as smooth as the Buzzfeed video suggests. But you should keep trying!
Seema Oommen is a journalist and an aspiring eco-feminist.