By: Denise Ferreira, EIC
The first time I tried a menstrual cup, I thought I lost it in my vagina, and I would be the first woman on the planet to show up in the Emergency Room with a Diva cup lost up there.
I shared my experience on Instagram stories, which I will admit, me explaining what happened and my horrified reaction was pretty funny. One of my amazing followers, sent my story to @putacupinit with the caption “she needs help” and guess what? They reached out! They answered every single question I had, so I tried it again and just finished using it for my second full cycle. I’ll be honest with you; I am still very new to using the cup, I’m still not confident enough to use it during a CrossFit workout, but have used it during a regular training session with zero issues. It takes some getting used to, and honestly, I think it’s because I over think it so much, but now that I have the hang of it I don’t ever see myself using a tampon again. It’s changed how I feel about managing my periods.
I’d like you all to meet Amanda and Kimberly, the masterminds behind Put a Cup in it– the menstrual cup experts who are not only incredibly knowledgeable and smart but funny, down to earth and genuinely want women to understand how to manage their cycles better. They have created an amazing informative platform.
If I had all these questions about using a cup, then I was sure other women did too, so I reached out to Amanda and Kimberly for 2 reasons: 1) they had helped me so much and after looking at all the work they do in educating women I wanted to feature them as one of our ‘Women of Influence” 2) I wanted to open up the opportunity to my audience to ask them questions.
Through my platform @deniseferreira.fit we allowed my followers to ask any questions that had about menstrual cups and we received some pretty amazing questions- a lot of questions actually and they have answered every single one!
So this feature is a little bit different. I wanted to highlight Amanda & Kimberly for the amazing work that they do, the business that they have created, the hows and whys and the ins and outs of Put a Cup in it. It was a pleasure to interview them, and the advice that they share have been some the most amazing we’ve ever received.
This article is broken into two sections.
- Interview with Amanda & Kim
- Q&A on Menstrual Cups where they have answered all your questions!
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE Interview: Kimberly & Amanda- Put a Cup in it
Kim & Amanda, how did you both meet?
We met through a mutual friend while at the blog conference BlogHer several years ago in NYC.
Was there a pivotal moment that made you start “Put a Cup in it”? Tell us the passion behind it all
We had both been using cups for some time and writing about them on our respective blogs. We both felt that there was a need for information and advocacy on the subject and we began working together on cross-blog collaborations. We both had websites with an educational focus, so it was an easy fit that we both felt passionate about.
While on a trip, Kim had the idea to use stickers in public bathrooms to help spread the word. She reached out to Amanda with the idea to design them and that was the spark that sent it all into motion. We started PutACupInIt.com as a landing page to direct people who saw the sticker to more information. Actually, all of the initial content was from our old blogs, but it quickly became something we wanted to spend more time on and so we began creating original work for it.
We absolutely love working in this space and think it shows in the way our audience and community has responded and helped it grow. On one hand, we feel amazed that we created this space, but it’s equally created by the community and the passion they have for sharing their experiences and wanting to help others. It has a life of its own and it’s truly amazing.
Menstrual Cycles has always been a topic that women feel uncomfortable speaking about, has that ever been an obstacle for you both?
Oh yes. Growing up I 1) didn’t want to grow up and 2) didn’t want to discuss anything that involved growing up — especially boobs and periods. Unfortunately for me I have both large breasts and a period, so that caught up with me quickly. I wore tight bras to hide my breasts for years and didn’t buy my own tampons until college. I would sheepishly rush through checkout lanes and kept my tampons discreetly in the bottom of my bathroom vanity, even after having my first child. I never felt shame or had a horribly embarrassing experience, but I was somehow embarrassed that it happened to me at all. No one talked about it and it was just something that didn’t seem discussed.
For me, the start of the change in mentality was when my first daughter was born prematurely. I quickly began researching toxins in baby products, household cleaners, and foods. This led to a lot of changes in our home, one of which was choosing cloth diapers for her. It wasn’t long before I began to hear about menstrual cups from the same places I was hearing and learning about cloth diapers. Initially, I heard how they were life-changing and amazing and, after being worn down a bit, I decided to give it a try. And my life was changed. It was comfortable and saved money and I wanted to tell everyone. I had recently started a blog to share cloth diapering information so I started talking about menstrual cups, too. It was shocking to me how easily I did it, considering my history of pretending periods didn’t exist, but it was important to me to share the benefits and so I quickly got over any of the ridiculous notions that once kept me from discussing periods.
Being a “period warrior” or advocate hasn’t been a lifelong theme; I was never ashamed of periods but it wasn’t a topic I walked around openly discussing. My mom was pretty open about bodies and I saw her change her giant maxipads more than I’d like to say. I also recall my step-father being open about the topic which I now realize is pretty amazing. Starting my period at school was my favorite excuse to call home in order to leave school early. I totally lied about staining my clothes just to cut class early and tied a sweatshirt around my waist to hide the non-evidence, so there’s that. I do remember trying to quietly open my tampon or liner packages in school bathroom stalls and being self-conscious of those noises that signaled to all around I was on my period, which is so dumb, but it’s just a topic that until recently was always kept on the DL. Even when I started my posts and videos about the cup 8 years ago it felt taboo to be doing so, though it was in the air that change was upon us. My openness about discussing periods has been a slow progression but I’m proud that I am raising two boys who have that same openness and they get a bit of a thrill talking about cups and periods like they have been let in on a secret.
What is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to menstrual cups?
That they aren’t hygienic
Cups are made from non-porous materials that will only collect menstrual fluid, rather than absorb it. If we are comparing to tampons, it’s a no-brainer to us. Tampons absorb natural moisture, can leave micro-abrasions, leave behind fibers, and are typically made from rayon (not cotton!) which contains toxins. A cup, on the other hand, won’t absorb vaginal moisture, leaves nothing behind, and it can be completely sterilized.
Cups are too big / vaginas are too small
This one is amusing because vaginas are literally built to accommodate a penis and the head of a baby. They are elastic! Of course, there are medical conditions that could make either, or both, painful, but that’s nowhere near the average. And we have heard from many people with those conditions who have been able to successfully use a cup. As for size, cups are folded before inserting — with some cups and folds making them about the same size as a tampon. They open once inside to create a seal with the vaginal wall. Of course, the right size is important which is why we always refer people to our quiz to get started- TAKE THE QUIZ
They can’t be used by virgins
There are multiple topics here but in general, the first one surrounding the idea of virginity (that a cup will make someone, not a virgin) and that because a person hasn’t had sex that they can’t use an internal device for physical limitations.
Neither of these things is true, though there may be cultural situations that need consideration, that’s not what we’re tackling here. Internal menstrual protection options are not sexual devices and using them doesn’t alter the virgin status of an individual. Hymens can be vastly different and some people are even born without one. Hymens are simply not a good indicator of virginity.
The second idea is that it’s not possible to use internal protection if you’re a virgin. I’m not sure where this idea comes from. I myself (Amanda) used tampons from my very first period. I found them more comfortable and discrete, which were both things I wanted. I happened to have a septated hymen which made removal interesting at times, but it was perfectly possible. The caveat here would be for people who have a hymen that covers the opening of the vagina (an imperforate or microperforate hymen). This is not common (about 2% of teens) but it is possible.
Again the right size is important, so we always recommend that people try our quiz to get an idea of the direction for their first cup (putacupinit.com/quiz)
When starting Put a Cup in It, what is one thing you know that you wish you knew when you first started?
If anything I think perhaps we would have wanted to be a little more aware of the spectrum of gender identity. When we started the website we only spoke or wrote of women having periods. It’s what we knew and that’s how periods were, and still often are, talked about. “Feminine hygiene”, which has a whole lot of cringe for several reasons, but we digress. During this whole journey, we have learned so much about the fluidity of gender and now we always do our best to be inclusive with our pronouns. It has really become an important part of our content and community. Fostering a safe and open space for people to share personal experiences and information is so important to us, and we think that the tone of the comments largely shows that. In our Facebook community, we ask everyone to be mindful of all members and to use inclusive pronouns — and we don’t shy away from sharing why if it comes up. Just as periods are now becoming less taboo, gender inclusivity is recognized more widely and our community is mostly on board, though we do get the rare comment or message accusing us of erasing women and letting us know ONLY WOMEN GET PERIODS, which is simply not true. A safe space isn’t a safe space if it only caters to a portion of the community it serves.
One piece of advice you would give to an aspiring content creator/influencer/blogger
Brand consistency is key — having already both started websites in the past, it was wonderful to start a new one with the lessons we had learned the hard way. We were able to claim our username without additional underscores or letters (Put_A_Cup_In_It_15$ would have been annoying) on all platforms. We are a brand in many ways and we treat ourselves as such in our online spaces.
We love the education that you have been providing, what’s next for Put a Cup in it? Any big projects we can look forward to?
We actually have a huge secret we are holding onto that will be made public by the end of May. It’s a project we have been working on since September of last year. It will be a whole new adventure for us.
Another long term project we’ve been working on is the first real overhaul of our popular menstrual cup quiz! We’ll have a whole new, fresh look as well as some updates to the results featuring some of the newer brands and cup models that have come to the market. We get so much great feedback from the community and we can’t wait to unveil the updates.
These are just the bigger highlights, so you can definitely say it’s been very busy at PACII HQ this year.
Favorite quote or life motto?
Don’t be a dick.
This used to be the golden rule in our group, but after some members complained that “dick” was gendered we changed it to asshole — though, to us, “dick” feels like “guys” in that it’s is grammatically masculine, but in practice has come to be generally understood as applying to all genders.
Either way, just don’t be shitty to people. Life is hard enough and we all have better, more important things to do.
Q & A with Kimberly & Amanda– all your questions answered right here!
What cup brand is good for a tilted uterus?
There’s no particular brand as a tilted uterus doesn’t usually help or hinder any cup. It’s more important to make sure that your cup fits comfortably inside the vagina and sits below the cervical opening. So long as it’s below the cervix, it should work.
How do you take it out?
Pinch the base the break the seal, and while keeping the cup pinched, remove while keeping upright then dump into the toilet and wash.
How messy is it when you take it out?
Surprisingly, not very messy at all, though when you’re new it may be more so than after you’ve practiced. In all our years neither of us have found our fingers to be bloody or have made a mess on our floors or rugs.
Can you feel it while you walk?
A proper fitting cup that is inserted correctly should be undetectable. That said, if you feel your cup inside it can either mean it’s too long and the stem or base is touching the entrance of the vagina which has more nerve endings, or the cup is too firm which is applying pressure from inside that is noticeable and you need a softer cup.
Can it get stuck?
Definitely not! If you pinch the base to break that “suction” the cup can sometimes create it should move down without resistance or issue. If you can’t find the cup it can’t be lost, it has nowhere to go, but you may have a high cervix. In this case, just use your vaginal muscles and bear down to move it lower, or try squatting to find it. In either case, our biggest advice is just to not panic, if you do your muscles tighten and this makes removal more difficult. The cup cannot be stuck or lost. Period.
Scared to try it, I feel like it would be extremely uncomfortable
It’s actually more comfortable than tampons are for most people who make the switch. It looks a bit intimidating but it’s a very comfortable product if it weren’t you wouldn’t be hearing about it everywhere and seeing the cup’s meteoric popularity in the last few years.
I tried it once, but felt like it was pushing on my bladder, is that normal?
No, cups shouldn’t be felt in any way. Either try wearing the same cup at a lower station or switch to a cup that is softer in firmness.
One tip for a beginner?
If the cup opens too early, which is often does for those trying for the first time to insert folded, instead of taking it out and trying again first attempt to push the cup high from the base. Removing and re-inserting over and over can lead to soreness and frustration.
Tips for wearing a cup while exercising and avoiding leaks
For people who exercise regularly beyond just taking walks, a cup that is on the firmer side is usually a better match. During medium to heavy exercise, the cup can be pushed lower from the movement and muscle contractions, a firmer cup stays in place against those movements better.
My cup is leaking, do I need a different cup?
Not always, trying various folds and insertion angles can sometimes help. We say it takes 1-3 cycles to get the hang of your cup. If you’ve tried all the tricks and it still leaks then you may need a different size or style.
How does it stay in position without collapsing?
Most cups have enough firmness (resistance) that they stay open while moving with your body. Some of those “free for shipping” cups seen through social media adverts are often flimsier than brand name cups and we do hear people leak with those. That’s why we only list reputable brands in our resources.
How do you clean it in a public bathroom?
Just empty the cup and reinsert, then wash when you’re home. The cup needs to be washed every 10-12 hours so it’s likely you can wait until you’re home to give it a good wash.
How do you find the right cup?
Not that it’s a requirement, but taking our quiz can really cut down the chances of picking a random cup that ends up not being a good fit. We’ve polled our quiz takers and 88% of takers get a result that works for them. To increase your odds, knowing more about your body, your cervix height, and menstrual cycle are helpful. From there after you try your first cup you will know even more about what attributes in a cup you need. We say that it’s likely you will find your perfect cup on the second try if you don’t end up with one of the first.
How do you know if you inserted it correctly?
If it doesn’t leak and is comfortable, that’s it! It’s quite hard to know without just trying it and seeing results. We always suggest wearing a backup liner or period underwear until you feel comfortable and confident that you’ve got it.
I find the Diva cup too thick — are there other brands?
There are dozens of wonderful menstrual cup brands. The good thing is that with so many options there is a cup that should work for almost everyone. Short, long, firm, soft, bulbous, tapered, etc.
Have more questions?
Take the quiz PUT A CUP IN IT
Follow Amanda & Kim at @putacupinit