Trials and Tribulations of Cupping

A truthful account of the first time I used a cup.

‚ÄúDon‚Äôt panic,‚ÄĚ I said to myself. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs nothing to panic about.‚ÄĚ It was just a 6 cm silicone cup trapped all up in my lady parts. I was lucky this had been a trial run.

I had decided to try a menstrual cup after ranting (once again) about Tampon tax. The cup was appealing for many reasons; cheap, reusable, environmentally friendly and easily transported. It was perfect for me. I spent about 10 minutes on Amazon, found an economic generic model named after a Greek goddess and decided to give it a whirl.

What could go wrong?

Mistake #1 Lazy research

I thought any brand would do. I thought they were all the same and after a few hours practice I would be a pro. What I wasn’t counting on was my over zealous high positioning and short fingers leaving me with a foreign object trapped inside me.

I think it’s important to mention to any women reading this: you can’t lose a menstrual cup inside yourself. Your cervix isn’t a vacuum that hoovers up foreign objects. A fact I soothingly repeated to myself during my panic.

Mistake #2 Over-confidence

The easy to use instructions you receive with your cups seem a little nonchalant in retrospect. I got my fold right and whacked it up there without considering how I was going to get it out. What ensued was the gynaecological equivalent of trying to find the end of a roll of sellotape.

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a one finger job. There was a level of intimacy that left me feeling like I owed myself a steak dinner and two bottles of red. I may actually be a qualified gynaecologist now.

Mistake #3 Thinking I was in charge

The vagina is in charge. People who use pussy as a put down clearly haven’t tried to wrestle a cup away from its vice like grip. It had claimed the cup for it’s own and was not going to give it up without a fight.

Happy Endings

Rather than run crying to my nearest Family Planning clinic, I made a cup of tea, watched some Youtube videos, did some Kegel exercises and tried again. The cup had shifted, I was able to get a better grip on it and I sit here typing, cup free and knowing a lot more about my cervix.

The experience has not put me off in the least. I think it’s great women are getting to know their bodies better. And I stand by my choice to use the cup.

I’ve done my research properly this time and found a cup that’s right for me. I’m sure with some practice I’ll be a pro in no time.

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What’s the deal with the cup?

Curious about cupping? Let this idiot be your guide.

I‚Äėve long been outspoken on periods and how they are viewed and treated within society. I’m baffled by the fact we have to pay for sanitary products when it’s part of our biology. To add insult to injury these products are then taxed as a luxury. If this was happening to men, there’d be a riot. To top it off, sanitary products contribute to the burgeoning quantity of waste loading the world’s landfills.¬†This is why I chose to go the way of the cup.

Here’s a bit of information you might find helpful if you’re planning on giving it a go.

All shapes and colours

Surprisingly, there are many different kinds of cup, in different colours and different shapes. The most well known brands are the Diva Cup¬†or if you’re UK based, like I am, Mooncup. I use a Lunette because it was an affordable price, suited my flow and has a long stem which makes it easier for me to position and remove. It’s worth doing some investigating before you make a purchase. I speak from experience. Most companies will offer you a 60 day money back guarantee. So if the cup you choose is not for you, try again with another.

Find your fold

To insert your ¬†in order to do this you need to fold your cup. I recommend watching a few Youtube videos before going in there. The U fold pictured below is the most common. I prefer to use a narrower fold. Pick the fold that’s comfortable and suits your shape. You may also want to wet the rim or use some lube to make insertion easier. I’m going to be honest. You’re about to get real up close and personal with your vagina. The kind of intimacy you may have only known after a bottle of wine and a fancy meal. It’s an educational experience.

Positioning

This is the tricky bit that makes you feel a bit like an amateur gynaecologist. Don’t give up! It can be frustrating, but if you’ve endured someone else fumbling down there, you owe it to yourself to persevere.

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Courtesy of LENAcup

The cup should be fully open and positioned beneath the cervix. If it doesn’t open it can move and will leak. The advice is to rotate it, but this is easier said than done. What I found was easier was to run my finger around the outside of the cup a few times, do a few squats and check again. Give the stem a pull when you think it’s opened. If it’s offering some resistance it means it’s open and the suction is working. If it doesn’t, try again.

Comfort

A good way of checking that it’s correctly positioned is comfort: like a tampon, you shouldn’t feel it. So if the stem is digging into you or you feel uncomfortable, remove it and try again. I found practicing when I wasn’t on helped me feel more confident.

Cleaning

Wash your hands before inserting. Pour the contents down the toilet. If you’re at home rinse your cup out in the sink with warm soapy water. You can buy special wipes if you plan to remove it when you’re on the go. Once it’s clean you can reinsert it. At the end of your cycle, sterilise the cup with boiling water. I don’t bother with all the wipes and washes, but they’re available if you prefer them. I like to use my little Meeno pot rather than crossing boundaries and sterilising my cup in the communal saucepan. But that’s just me.

I’m still getting used to mine and researching. If you’ve got questions or advice feel free to comment!

It’s Everyone’s Problem

 

I’m a people person. Everyone knows this. There’s nothing that warms my heart more than meeting a kindred spirit. ¬†There’s something reassuring about finding another person whom you have something in common with. All it takes are two little words of solidarity to¬†make a large and anonymous world less lonely: Me too.

But when that common ground is a collective experience of harassment and abuse we all need to pay attention. Men and women. This isn’t a random phenomenon like the sky turning yellow. This is an indicator of the extent of harassment, aggression and assault within our society. And it needs to change.

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We’re no longer living in an age where a man can drag his chosen woman back to the cave. But it’s an age where a guy can¬†show you his dick, make you feel unsafe on your journey home and violate your personal space with little or no fear of retribution.

Harvey Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator has reignited a polemical outpouring in the media on an age old issue. But whether this will lead to any real change in male attitudes and society’s treatment of women is yet to be seen. Let’s not forget that only a year ago the pussy grabbing President of the USA ¬†was caught on camera bragging about his ‘conquests’. That bombshell didn’t stop him getting elected. What was also troubling was it didn’t stop women from voting for him.

Who’s responsible?

It angers me that a discussion on harassment and assault is inevitably dragged back to the role the victims have to play in the situation. Let’s be clear, there’s one problem here and that’s the predatory males victimising and manipulating women. However, every time something like this comes out women are asked to reassess what it is we’re doing that’s driving the boys crazy.

Donna Karan’s mindless rhetoric¬†in the wake of the Weinstein allegations raised more than an eyebrow. Was a woman whose fortune had been made selling sexy clothes and perfume to women really implying that women were asking for it? Ok, she took it back. She was jet lagged. Some of her best friends are women. We get it. But why does this argument always come back to how women act?

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Mayim Bialik’s op-ed¬†in The New York Times is also problematic. A well educated actress and feminist, familiar with Hollywood, Bialik’s editorial reads like the cautionary tale of how awkward looks and demure dress sense steered her safe of sexual predators. Though she takes care not to do a Donna, and tell women they’re dressing too sexually, I wonder why she feels the need to highlight her opinion (after all it’s only an opinion) that her own looks had spared her the horrors of harassment. I always thought she was pretty.

Bialik’s insinuation that the pretty ones are the one’s getting harassed and assaulted is reductive. It’s why the Me Too status started. To show this a problem that happens to women. Period. Bialik’s focus on women building their esteem away from their appearance overlooks the way girls are sexualised by strange men every day. Whether they want to be or not. And in doing so it implies it’s the job of women to control men’s behaviour.

I won’t disagree that there is more to a woman than her looks. Indeed, a woman’s worth doesn’t lie in her push up bra and contour kit. But I don’t understand how a sexual predator’s actions have brought us to an after school special on female self esteem and worth. There is something patronising about the idea that a plainer gal, who models herself on Eleanor Roosevelt, would never be subjected to such misfortunes. It’s simply untrue.

People need to stop thinking this is the curse of the beautiful or provocative. This is a problem endemic to our society. ¬†This doesn’t just happen to certain women. And it’s not a woman’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem and staying silent on the matter, ignoring it or trying to cover it up won’t get rid of it. The onus to change things isn’t only on¬†women, it’s on men too.

#MeToo #HimThough #HowIWillChange

Let me be Brief

The battle for most practical panties seems to be on. Gone are the days of pants simply hiding your shame and offering a paltry barrier to the cold. Now they actually DO stuff.

In the Red Corner…

For those of you who haven’t been exposed to the viral advertising campaign infecting Facebook feeds, THINX¬†are a brand of underwear intended for use during your period. Think luxury period pants meets feminine hygiene products.

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Here comes the science

No more panicking when you think you’ve come on, or having to make sure every purse you own has an emergency tampon in it.¬†THINX has you covered from flow and hygiene, to style.

Now, I’m no Mila Kunis, so maybe the awesomeness of my undergarments being more ‘period friendly’ is lost on me. Like most women, I learnt to be careful and always prepared. Unlike Kunis, I also¬†don’t have $100 to spend on a cycle set that saves me from having to pay that annoying tampon tax. It’s a shame.

Miki Agrawal, She-EO, seems to have good intentions; she’s setting up an education foundation, giving back to women who need it and trying to bust¬†the menstruation myth. The sale of each pair of undies contributes to¬†Afripad, a Ugandan project that makes reusable sanitary pads for women at an affordable price.

So wearing underwear finally pays off.

In the Blue Corner…

The good intentions behind AR Wear’s anti-rape underwear will lead us all directly to hell. In an attempt to take action against the rising number of sexual assaults in Germany, an inventor has created a fashionable looking…well, chastity belt. Clearly a future where men were taught to respect women’s bodies, control their urges and were¬†adequately punished when they didn’t, was¬†looking unlikely.

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Drinking in these bad boys is gonna be rough

The underwear is cut proof and locked into place, thus thwarting any would be sexual assailants. Because we all know¬†someone with a knife, aggressive enough to try and cut off your underwear during an assault will just shrug and toddle off when they realise there’s no getting in…

 

I’d much rather put¬†¬£87 toward¬†a taser.

There is always the hope the government will invest. Then they could issue women with a few pairs. That way if attacked we could  neutralise the threat with a taser and then put his genitals in prison until the authorities arrived.

The message is bleak and antiquated: Lock up your daughters.

And the winner is…

If I thought the right underwear was the answer to anything, I’d be wearing as many problem solving pairs as I could. However, between these two ideas THINX seems to have a more feminist and life affirming message. It also manages to flip off that¬†stupid tampon tax that I loathe.

 

Numbers game

Women who sleep with my boyfriend, then have the cheek to comment on my sexual history will be verbally decimated.

There is nothing that will get a woman more angry than finding out she’s being cheated on.

Oh wait, how about his side chick calling her promiscuous.

“He thought¬†that because you’ve slept with so many more people than him that¬†you wouldn’t be happy with him. He was always worried.”

Yeah, that happened.

A married ‘Christian’ woman who had been looking for Jesus in my ex’s boxers, was using my sexual history to justify ¬†her¬†arseholery.

I should have pointed out the irony, but why confuse her further with fancy words?

I’d love to say it was the first time my sexual activity has been commented on. But, as an asian woman I am used to people commenting on my dating life. Jokes have been made about my revolving door dating system. My parents stopped bothering asking if I will settle down. And I have learned to shrug off the questions fishing for confirmation of how many people I have slept with.

Not enough I say.

I am used to friends taking the piss about my dating life. It’s part and parcel of sharing it so openly on social media. It’s funny. I have no problems with it. So why should anyone else?

But, oh they do. And rather than accept that it’s their issue, their insecurity and their choices, they want to make it my issue, my insecurity and about my choices. All of a sudden it’s all about numbers.

The more open minded people I meet seem to have no problem with how many people I have slept with. They also tend to have slept with significantly more people than I have. So why would they care?

As long as you’re the lower number you’re fine.

Funnily enough, I have seen the same nonchalance disappear when it’s turned out I’ve slept with more people than they have. Then they spit out their Starbucks, awkwardly¬†mumble something about doing what you want with your body, before quickly leaving.

Probably to call a group of women together for an orgy to get their numbers up.

It’s a strange phenomena. It doesn’t make me regret a thing. Just taught me to never share numbers, or waste too much time on people who seem obsessed with mine. The issue is clearly their own.

Nothing good comes from sharing numbers.

Unless they’re phone numbers for hot guys you’re going to unashamedly bang.

Signs of Singledom

Being single comes with unique characteristics

“Are you single?”

In the right context, it’s a promising question. It was half term Friday. I was¬†mid-ludicrous story and being loud and drunk, when a relative stranger inquired into my relationship status. All it took were these¬†four words to turn that¬†my smile into my¬†‘I wish I could stab you with my eyes’ look:

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What the hell does ‘single’ look like? Say it!

“I can see why.”

You’ve seen it in movies when someone¬†says the wrong thing; the scratch of vinyl as a¬†record comes to an abrupt halt.¬†That pin drop silence.

What the fuck did he mean by that?

Am I single because of my behaviour? Was he implying I had no choice in being single?

No, he meant it in the good way. There’s a good way. The “No man could handle you!”¬†way.

It was fast becoming clear to me that this guy a) had archaic notions about the liveliness of a woman being directly proportional to how likely she is to be available and b) wanted to be kicked in the crotch.

I didn’t get it. He was recently divorced. (You can see why. I mean that in the good way.) He didn’t fall into his own labelling system. Perhaps marriage had made him docile and lacking in personality, thus more likely to take a bride.

Maybe he was onto something though. What if I do have distinguishing features that set me apart from women more likely to take a groom/partner?

I used to think I was a fun loving, alcohol abusing, wiseass. Little did I know I was manifesting the symptoms of being single and incapable of being domesticated.

Perhaps single people everywhere are subtly evolving. Currently we have the ability to be shown¬†a genital shot at any time without flinching. Eventually, I’ll have¬†evolved physically to¬†have extra long arms, so I¬†can zip up my¬†own dresses.

Lord knows I can already eat a meal for two by myself.

One day in the future, we’ll all develop a Tinder shaped¬†birthmark about our person that will fade along with our personalities when we meet our match. You know, the one who is out there, somewhere, waiting (knowing my luck, in the bushes).

Maybe then people won’t ask me stupid questions and waste my hard earned drinking time.

Photography credit: http://www.gratisphotography.com

A Suitable Boy

I give up. Let someone else pick the next dysfunctional man I date. ¬†Just don’t let that someone be my parents.

After a conversation on the dire state of my love life, my friend Jess suggested letting my friends introduce me to nice single men they knew.

Now, coming from an Indian family I am no stranger to the idea of relationship introductions. My Dad showed me a picture of my future husband when I was 11.

The image of a¬†fat boy ramming an ice-cream into his mouth, as if¬†it was¬†the cure for ugly, made me burst into tears. As it turned out,¬†he¬†wasn’t my betrothed, but some random child¬†who had wandered into the shot.

The¬†arranged marriage ‘gag’¬†had been born. It would plague me all the way to adulthood.

Initially, there were some golden opportunities for a laugh. Like when my Dad signed me up to Shaadibride.com, an Indian dating website. We would sift through the applicants, who neither cared that I was an agnostic, nor that I drank and smoked.

“They’re desperate!” My dad would¬†cry, laughing.¬†Cheers,¬†Dad.

But the fun would always be short lived. My dad’s¬†thinly veiled desire to see me married to a nice, Indian boy always came out when an eligible candidate appeared. In this case it was¬†a doctor, offering to fly me out to Frankfurt for a date. Then all I’d hear was:

“Why do you hate your people? Give him a chance!”

The doctors always made him crack.

3ffd8bae2635f73c80d91544aab0782d9fab3aefc2d45f71e9c239955e73d98dThings haven’t changed. Only last month my Dad was waxing lyrical about the neighbourhood watch officer who had come to give him property stickers. Before him, it was the Olympian flautist he’d met at a wedding back home (playing fast and loose with the word Olympian there, Dad).

Occasionally, my mum will take over and dish out dating advice straight from the 30s.

No, I can’t keep quiet until the wedding day, mum.¬†I don’t want to be a secretary and try to marry my boss.¬†I will not learn to ‘talk nicely’ with ‘boys’. Thanks anyway.

They’re more bothered by me being single than I am.

I can only imagine that the sound of my biological clock ticking away like The Tell-tale Heart, is driving them to madness.

This is probably why I avoid any kind of¬†spinstervention. Historically, they¬†have¬†ended in disappointment. My dad remains optimistic though. ¬†He still¬†insists I don’t stand directly in front of the microwave in case I¬†fry¬†my eggs.

Hope never dies.