This is a love letter to my friend Bridget. By introducing me to menstrual cups and giving me the courage to try one of my own, Bridget changed my periods (and thus my life) forever.
Periods always used to be a bit stressful for me – not that they’re necessarily the highlight of anyone’s month. I’m sure most women can relate to some of my usual experiences; a spot of rage and bad skin followed by a combo of cramps, extreme carb cravings and exhaustion. Plus, I was always low key anxious about the impact of my period waste on the environment too. On top of all that, the stigma and shame around periods, as well as the inconvenience and cost of disposable period products, added up to a monthly stress fest.
It was discovering menstrual cups that changed the game for me and I have Bridget to thank for that.
Bridget is renowned for being an early adopter of environmental and feminist life hacks and those of us lucky enough to be her friend generally end up following her lead. Menstrual cups were no exception.
Bridget wearing a vulva hat.
As with most things filed under ‘a bit scary’, the first step towards breaking the taboo is talking about it. This is where Bridget came in. We were in a pub toilet one night when she whipped her cup out to show it to me and explain how it worked. I was shocked and amazed – I’d never even heard of menstrual cups before. Just a few weeks later, inspired by Bridget’s enthusiastic review and demo, I took the plunge and bought a cup of my own. Five years later, that cup and I are in a loving and long-lasting relationship.
Since then, I have been amazed at the many different ways in which my menstrual cup has had a positive impact on me (and the planet!). There are the obvious ones of course; I’ve saved a lot of money on disposable period products in that time, and the environment has undoubtedly benefited from my lack of period waste. But there are other, more surprising ways in which my menstrual cup has changed my life for the better.
My personal favourite is how using a cup has helped me get to know my body better. The experience has given me a fresh insight into how my vagina and my period actually work. In a world where women getting to know their bodies and feeling positive about them is an everyday struggle, this has felt like a small and beautiful revolution.
Of course, when you first think about the concept of a menstrual cup, it’s not at all clear how:
a) you’re supposed to get a silicone cup inside your vagina that
b) is comfortable and
c) effectively does it’s job with no leaks or stress.
Bridget’s quick toilet tutorial gave me the confidence to just give it a go and the knowledge that, even if I didn’t get it right the first time, practice makes perfect. Luckily, menstrual cups come with very clear and simple instructions, so once I’d trimmed the stem to the right length for me, and practiced the fold a couple of times, I felt confident and the cup went in surprisingly smoothly. After a bit of fiddling around, the cup settled in place and true to all of Bridget’s reassurances – I couldn’t feel it in there!
9 Great Menstrual Cup Fold Techniques video tutorial by Put a Cup In It
Me and Bridget practising our menstrual cup insertion stance whilst waiting for the bus
Another friend of mine Rachael and I were talking recently about how much we love our cups. After a brief jaunt down memory lane, we discovered that it was Bridget who got us both to try a cup all those years ago. If it wasn’t for Bridget, we may never have gotten round to embracing the menstrual cups which have undoubtedly changed both of our lives for the better.
Using a menstrual cup has given me a much more positive perspective on my period (I’m now officially #periodpositive). I want to share my experience with others and empower them to improve their own experiences of their period by trying a cup.
Me, Rachael and Bridget (probably discussing the joys of menstrual cups, judging by our grins)
And so, I’d like to raise a glass (or a cup?) to Bridget, and all the Bridgets out there who have chosen to break through the period stigma and introduce their friends to the wonderful world of menstrual cups. If you are inspired to try your first cup, check out The Cup Effect shop. For every cup you buy through the Cup Effect, two are given to women and girls in need. Why not buy one for yourself and one for a friend to try this summer? I for one pledge to Be More Bridget. I hope you’ll join me.
Lauren is a Northerner living and working in London. She currently works in the tech/travel industry after previously managing campaigns for a political party. Her biggest loves are food, feminism, swimming, politics and reading about all of these things (and crime fiction) whenever humanly possible.