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Menstrual Cups in Nigeria How to Use How to Insert How to remove Cleaning your menstrual cup

Long time, no post!

I came out of posting retirement to tell you about a new thing I tried. Guys! I don’t know why I have been sleeping on this.

A bit of history – I have had very very very heavy periods since I gave birth to my daughter, ~13 years ago.  It has gotten progressively heavier over the years, to the extent that I progressed from using just sanitary pads to using them alongside tampons. Then even this combination couldn’t cut it. I moved from normal tampons to super and even then, it was a challenge. I needed something more. I thought I had found it when I went into a Target (in the US) and found ultra. However, I was not happy with the price. Safeway proved to have a better price so I stocked up. I would then ask even male friends to bring back these tampons for me from the States.

Another thing to know about me is that I hate invasive vaginal products. Going for a pap smear takes a lot of psyching because I detest that cold metal (the plastic ones are better). I am convinced that the speculum was invented by a man. I mean, look at it. Looks like an object of torture.

Douching was also never a thing for me. Apart from the fact that it is very unnecessary, I considered this uncomfortable as well. As long as it needs to go into the vagina, my first reaction is NO.

I’ve shared all this so that you would see why I thought I was not a good fit for a menstrual cup. I thought that with my ultra heavy flow, it would be too messy, too uncomfortable and would not hold it all properly.

The first time I heard about a menstrual cup was when I met with the owner of a menstrual cup company (Luv Ur Body) at a Naturals in The City event. This was about 5-6 years ago. Yes, all the way back then, imagine! She took some time to tell me about it but I was not comfortable with the idea of inserting anything much bigger than a tampon so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

However, this year I decided to try the menstrual cup.

  1. I reconnected with that owner again and remembered our conversation.
  2. It had bothered me for years that as a self-professed tree hugging, love the environment individual, I wasn’t doing the best I could do for the environment.

I posted this on Instagram a few days ago and that quick poll showed that most Nigerian women are binners rather than flushers.

That is, they throw out their used sanitary products. It is an environmental nightmare. Especially in a country like Nigeria that lacks infrastructure. The damage to the environment is so much that one must reconsider their menstrual product of choice.

I couldn’t find Nigerian statistics but here are some from countries that collect this kind of information.

~Over 50% of the world’s population menstruates

~Close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. When wrapped in plastic bags, feminine hygiene waste can take centuries to biodegrade. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons over her lifetime, leaving behind residue far beyond her lifespan.*

~Approximately 20 pads/tampons per month, equating to 240 per year which over the average lifespan of a menstruating female (approximately 40 years worth of periods) gives us the grand total of 9,600 feminine hygiene products used during one womans lifetime. Now multiply that by the 3.5 billion women on the planet and we have a considerable amount of potentially avoidable waste!**

As you can see, using pads, tampons e.t.c puts the envirnoment at risk. And to think that 50% of the world menstruates and a great number of them throw away their used pads and tampons. If you are flushing your tampons, it is just as bad, if not worse.

My journey to menstrual cups and freedom!

A few weeks ago, after looking at my, yet again, dwindling supply of o.b ultra tampons, I decided to bite the bullet and buy the menstrual cup. It is a flexible silicone cup that looks like this.

There were several sizes so I read the criteria for the size to see which one would be a good fit. The Large size stated this as criteria

  •  recommended to women over 30 years ☑
  • those who had a vaginal or C-section birth ☑
  • for heavy or very heavy flow ☑

Age-wise, birth wise and flow wise, I was represented so that made me happy to go on.

For those that asked on Instagram, the luvurbody menstrual cup is made of “biocompatible hypoallergenic medical grade silicone“.

Then it was a matter of choosing color. My first choice was not to choose anything colored because while the cup may be medical grade silicon, the color may be toxic. However, I found that what they had done was to fuse two silicon materials together, rather than paint it. That dealt with my concern of toxic colors.

the small cup is made entirely of 2 separate colors of medical grade silicone fused together & not paint or dye. The colors cannot come off even if scrubbed or soaked.

I ordered from the Luv Your body website. They have one for Nigerian buyers and another for international buyers. The purchase was easy and straightforward. At just under N2,000 it is a very affordable product.

I paid online and it was delivered within 2 days.

The cup came in a resealable plastic bag. That bag also held printed instructions (in many many many international languages) and a fabric drawstring bag to hold the menstrual cup in when not in use.

Sterilization and Usage of Menstrual cups

Before I started using the menstrual cup, I sterilized it by boiling it for 10minutes. I then followed their instructions (as well as that of the OrganiCup video – see below) to insert it. I had no problems. At all. When it was in, I felt the stem as I moved around and thought that it was going to be a problem. That was not to be, though, as within, a few minutes I had completely forgotten about it.

For years now, waking up on the very heavy days meant making a dash for the bathroom and sometimes leaving a trail of blood as I made my way (yes, my period is that heavy). With the cup, there was no such thing. When I took it out the next morning (about 8 hours later) , it was about 3/4 full and all I had to do was flush the contents. (please note that this was a low flow day)

UPDATE: On heavy days, I need to set an alarm to empty my menstrual cup every 1-2 hours. If not, it will get full and leak. At night, it is a little slower so 2 – 2.5 hours works. The more you use it, the more you will figure out how it can work for you.

Pros of using a menstrual cup

  • I am a lot more confident now. I went out the other day with just the menstrual cup on. No sanitary pads as back up. And I was just fine. Could NEVER happen before. I was out for about 6 hours (another low flow day).
  • The price. Can we please talk about the price? It is so affordable. The cost of a pack of sanitary pads is N340. I use 1.5 -2 packs on average alongside my imported ultra tampons so that is quite expensive. Nothing less than N1500 per period. And this menstrual cup, which can be used for 3 years, costs N1999. Go figure!
  • Smell. There is no blood making contact with air so no oxidation = no smell.
  • Although I typically do not have cramps, I have noticed that when I use a tampon, my body feels agitated and there is a sense of relief when I take it out. I have no way to explain this in a more eloquent way, sorry. With the menstrual cup, I forget I have it on and that feeling of relief doesn’t come when I do take it out which means that my body is not agitated at all.
  • I feel like I can reclaim my tree-hugging title. In my own way, I am helping the environment. How scary is it to think that what each female disposes of in the way of sanitary products long outlasts her? This way, I am reducing my footprint and ensuring that my descendants have a fighting chance of enjoying their world after I am gone.

Cons of using of menstrual cup

  • I have only used it for one period so this may no longer be a thing after several uses – I don’t like how the rim feels as I take it out. I can feel it. And I don’t like that.
  • My first cup fell in the toilet when I was doing a number 2. I researched it afterwards and found several accounts of this happening with Menstrual cups. In the OrganiCup video you are asked to use your stomach muscles when pulling it out – by bearing down. When you do a number 2, you automatically bear down. I didn’t think of this and plonk! I lost my menstrual cup to the toilet. And no, I didn’t go fishing for it. Eeeewww!
  • If you absolutely do not like seeing blood, this might not be for you as you literally have to pour out the blood in your menstrual cup when you retrieve it from you.
  • I am a bit of a germophobe and it will be interesting to need to change in a Nigerian public toilet. It hasn’t happened yet and I will delay it forever if I can.

How to use a menstrual cup

Luv Ur Body has detailed instructions and pictures on how to insert, remove, sterilize and even store your menstrual cup.

They also have a video with instructions.

Another good video I followed was for another brand, OrganiCup. They have an in-depth instructions video on how to use a menstrual cup.

It contains a lot of information, including:

  • How to Sterilize the menstrual cup
  • How to Clean the menstrual cup
  • Disposing of the contents of your menstrual cup
  • Inserting a menstrual cup
  • How much liquid does a menstrual cup hold?

So, do you think this is something you could use? What misgivings do you have that could stop you?

References:

*https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/the-ecological-impact-of-feminine-hygiene-products/

**https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/powerful-environmental-reasons-switch-menstrual-cup/

Comments

  • September 4, 2018

    Tomi

    Welcome to the club. I’ve used it while traveling before, and in public toilets. I take a bottle of water in with me, remove, empty and rinse it into the toilet, reinsert, rinse my hands and dress up. You might have to flush twice so be prepared to wait a bit. I can then wash my hands properly in the sink.

    I’ve found that using a cup drastically reduced my cramps. There’s also a certain joy that comes with not having to smell stale blood again.

    There was a bit of a learning curve for me because I wasn’t inserting them right at first so I used to leak but I simply wore panty liners as well until I got the hang of them.

    As per feeling the rim, try and fold the edge a bit more so the top is smaller, I don’t know if that explanation makes sense, but if you get it, you won’t feel the rim.

    Haha at it falling in the toilet, TMI but I use my hand to hold it in place while I #2 then when I’m done, I contract and squeeze them back in.

    Sorry for the long epistle 🙈

    reply
    • September 28, 2018

      Andie

      I have always wanted a menstrual cup but tbh the idea is abut daunting as I am not sexually active. How would this work? Would it fit? I have heavy periods too and I have to use about two lady Sept pads because of my flow and my cramps are not made in China lol. Please help!

      reply
      • March 19, 2020

        Preye Seipulou

        They’re are some small ones like the diva cup size 0 and the meluna small

        reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Folashade

    Am also a lover of the environment and nature. I actually hate disposing used sanitaries I feel uncomfortable doing it considering the fact that we lack proper waste management in Nigeria. I will like to know how comfortable it is when you sit or walk and if you can go to bed in it. Thanks.

    reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Mimi

    Welcome to the club! I’ve been using my cup for over a year now. There is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out how to take it out. I personally tug it down a bit with the stem and then once I can reach the cup itself and the rim, I push the rim down carefully (mindful of trying not to spill the cup contents too much) so that it’s smaller, meanwhile with my other hand I’m still tugging on the stem to pull it out. You for sure want 2 hands in the removal, one to break the seal and make the rim of the cup smaller, the other to tug it out.

    I recently had to change my cup in a public toilet in nigeria that had the sinks outside the bathroom stall, I emptied the cup and wiped it with purse tissues (the toilet didn’t have toilet paper) to the best of my ability and put it back in and it was fine. Of course it’s nicer and more comfortable when you’re home in the comfort of your clean toilet you can confidently sit on, but it’s workable even in a sketchy, toilet seatless Lagos public toilet setting.

    reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Sandra

    Wow!!!! To think I was telling my 3 sisters (all girls house) that we need to buy a bag of pad….lol!!! Will definitely give this a try.

    reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Jen

    I’ve always abhorred the idea of menstrual cups! The fact that you have to pull it out and risk spillage plus you have to actually pour the blood away is what bothers me. But honestly, after reading this post and watching the OrganiCup video, I’m now really considering giving it a try

    reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Rach

    Thank you for this article. I started thinking about moving away from pads and tampons even though I always did the organic tiny ones. So gbam I tried the menstral cup, but I think I wasn’t fixing it right cause I had to use panty liners cause of leakage and it just felt uncomfortable. I still have it but use it only when I am traveling or.. I moved from there to reusables made from bamboo. These are great once I moved away from my irritation with blood. Interestingly my cramps have gotten worse recently, still watching but it may just be cause I am still doing one night of pad( the heavy night). I will try this brand😘. Sorry epistle!

    reply
      • September 24, 2018

        Racheal

        NN you cannot believe that on my very first try of the cup again yesterday I had to change in a public toilet! In our Nigerian Airport!!!! My OCD has come a long way I just mentally shut down and went into autopilot. I didn’t think it would get full so fast even though that was my heavy day. I want to thank you for the video, I watched before inserting and I got it right. I thought there was a link for purchasing the brand you used in this article?

        reply
  • September 4, 2018

    Temi

    Maybe I will finally get round to using mine. I bought one from the same brand almost 2 years ago, but I just couldn’t make myself take the final plunge. Thanks for sharing your experience with such depth.

    reply
  • September 5, 2018

    C

    Thank you for this post. I’m definitely switching to this cup.
    My period also became way heavier and maybe more painful after having my first child.
    I’ve had to use a mackintosh over bed spread when on, just because it’s embarrassing and stressful having to stain the sheets, even with ultra pads and using more. So I’m glad you gave the info on how your period could cause trail!

    I’m expecting at the moment but I’ll still buy soon because I’m excited at the prospect! Whew! Common period!
    And yes it’s really cheap considering the cost we spend per period. I hope it’s perfect…no stain and comfortable… And large it is for me too!

    Thank you again Nne. Daalu.

    reply
  • September 5, 2018

    Eyiyemi Olivia

    The organicup video was very enlightening. I may just try it and see. Was worried about the plastic. I’ve had heavy periods since I started at 10. Will buy, try and revert. The ++ is that I can leave it on for 12hrs 🤸🏿‍♀️💃🏿🤸🏿‍♀️💃🏿

    reply
  • September 5, 2018

    Jumai

    My husband told me about this menstrual cups and it was disgusting to me. But after reading this post and watching the video I think I will give it a try, Cause it’s more economical.

    reply
  • September 19, 2018

    Cant wait to try it. Off to get myself one

    reply
  • September 20, 2018

    Geneva

    Seems rather messy and likely to expose one to infections. Wont this also affect the size and tightness of the vagina?? I also suppose one has to get a separate pot for boiling this cos I cannot imagine using a regular cooking pot to boil a menstrual cup.
    I also remember reading something about the dangers of silicone to the body, but that was with respect to breast implants. Don’t know how that will pan out for silicone menstrual cups. I will check.
    I love the environment too, but there has to be something less problematic. NN, we can form a think tank for biodegradable pads and tampons.

    reply
  • September 20, 2018

    Folusho A

    Came back to this post again because I am definitely now convinced on making the switch to using the menstrual cups.

    Got my first period after having a baby 3 months ago and I am traumatized! My period has become heavier. The thing is just flowing like tap. I thought I said goodbye to my heavy period days when I had my first son as my periods became much lighter and painless afterwards. But with this baby, looks like heavy periods are back with a bang and maybe even heavier than before babies! 🙁 With every pad change, I am having to change my underwear. Thank God for disposable pants!

    That part you mentioned waking up and having to rush to the bathroom, otherwise you’ll leave a trail of blood, that is my current situation. Every time I get up from lying or sitting, I have to rush to the bathroom, even then, sometimes still leaving a trail of blood! I am tired of pads. Now ordering the menstrual cups, so thank you for this post!

    reply
      • October 21, 2018

        Folusho Adelekan

        I made the switch!!! Never been happier about my period. For the first time since I got my period at age 13, didn’t have to make a mad dash to the toilet in the morning to avoid the inevitable trail of blood. Had a slight issue on day 1 which was a learning curve. My cup filled up in less than 6 hours and even though I was wearing a pad as back up, has some leakage (pads are absolutely useless to me now). Now I’ve learnt to check every 4 to 6 hours on my heavy flow days. The freedom the cup gives me is amazing. I’m soooo glad I made the switch to being a flushed! Thanks NN for this post and your encouragement!

        reply
  • September 20, 2018

    will try it out

    reply
  • October 17, 2018

    Amy

    I found a Nigerian number on the luvur-body website but it seems permanently switched off. What gives?
    I’ve been wanting to try one of these for like forever

    reply
  • July 17, 2019

    Jibs

    I have since changed to the menstrual cup and I have you to thank for that so, Thank you.

    reply

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