Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Lunar Chalice

If you live in the capital, or have had the smoggy joy of visiting in recent months, you may have involuntarily averted your naturally-drawn eyes from something which looked a little like this:



Well, that's how it went down when I first tried to look like I wasn't reading one of these well thought out posters, anyhow. This happened a couple of times on my recently regular commutes to the other side of the country to maintain my bi-coastal love story, and, wince-worthy as it was typing "loveyourvagina.com" into my browser, eventually my curious feminist queer mind got the better of me. I mean, I sure do love vaginas. Greeted by a fancy flash site intro and the kind of decorative borders and fonts typical of female-targeted ads which I find eternally depressing and patronizing, I skipped my way past this mild disappointment to something far more interesting and genuine in its femininity- a really good idea.

The actual main Mooncup website is far more welcoming to women who don't resemble those in Boots advertisements, and made the process of reading up on this relatively alarming prospect...well, less alarming. The image you're faced with on the mooncup.com homepage is undoubtedly even more wince-inducing than having the word vagina now spewed all over one's browser history, but then you start to read. "Safer, Greener, Cheaper", and the incontestable reasoning behind each. Dozens of reviews, all gushing woman-power and life-changing and never-go-backs. And the assurance that these reviews are not selectively posted. This shit sounds good. But...

...a "cup"? Right up there in my "breakfast of champions"? I should establish that before I became a Mooncup evangelist, my compulsive openness of character was not something that extended into my pants; this was one area of my life left for open discussion with only my sister and almost wife. But having read and researched and discussed the matter so extensively over the past few months, I would now probably happily tell a bank clerk how much lighter my flow is than I thought, or how my cramps have eased up with this magical little silicone sculpture. So here we are, my Mooncup experience over the past two cycles, in stunning technicolor (disclaimer: visual thinkers may wish to avert their minds):

Reading up on the Mooncup, anyone can see that it is a fucking brilliant idea, practically Nobel-prize worthy in its stark ingenuity, and it's difficult not to get eco-shame about not having used it for your entire life when you read the statistics on landfills and waste and tampon-choked sealife (overactive imagination=symptom of eco-shame). But no matter how fantastic an idea it may be, the Mooncup still asks something of you. You have to get your head around the idea of plonking a sizeable silicone receptacle into your vagina. Like, your actual vagina. And, especially for someone, like myself, who doesn't even use tampons because they weird me out, this is not a comfortable prospect. So, I struggled with the idea for a few days. I read a lot. I searched suspiciously for negative reviews and found just enough of a proportion of people who couldn't get their heads around it in practice. And in the end, I just bit the bullet and bought one. Two, actually. It might've been a bit of a weird thought, but it came down to the fact that I am unhappy with my periods. They are a regular pain in my ass, sometimes literally. I get cramps so bad that I sometimes find myself gagging. There is also backpain. And general body weakness. And leakage fear, and night leakage fear. And crying at Sally Jessy Raphael. And all of this descends upon me with near enough complete lack of schedule, turning up pretty much whenever it wants, with utter disregard for any regular cycle. I love being a woman. I view it as a great stroke of luck and a privilege that I was born female, and the only time at which I ever feel even slightly otherwise is when I find myself writhing around in agony, reluctantly wearing underwear intended for females, whining like a bitch. I once found myself telling a chemist that "if I didn't want kids so bad, I would want a hysterectomy." and I didn't like feeling like this about my body, at all. So I bought two.

I was immediately reassured by the handwritten address on the package when it arrived, and also weirdly excited and proud of myself, the latter of which is I think a common, chronic symptom of Mooncup-usage. And from then on the process kind of went amusingly similarly to that of when I first bought my MacBook. I know. But that same anxiety at spending money on something so unfamiliar, having to get used to how to use it, and then feeling like you're a member of some exclusive club or family, and eventually developing a remarkable relationship with the inanimate product in question, and naming it. (I haven't actually named my Mooncup yet, but as I sit here typing away on Clodia, I feel it may be inevitable). So, the day I received my new pal, I tried it out even though I wasn't on yet, as kind of a dress rehearsal (one of the benefits of the Mooncup is that, unlike tampons, it's perfectly safe and comfortable to wear even if you're not on at all, because it isn't absorbent, and thus doesn't screw with your "natural balance" or leave you, to quote 'Buck' from Kill Bill Vol. I, "drier 'n a bucket o' sand"), and this was a scary process. I kind of actually wish I had footage of myself trying to talk myself down, positioning myself experimentally about the bathroom, squirming, laughing at myself, getting freaked out, and then finally pep-talking myself into insertion. And, once I'd adopted a determined attitude and reminded myself of all the reasons why I really had to give this a chance and how worthwhile it would be, it was pretty easy. It just took a little resolve. And once it was in place, I could hardly feel it. Seriously cool stuff.

But then there was removal. I immediately wanted to practice removing it, so I flicked to the removal section of the manual and set to attempting. This part, a little trickier, and a little less comfortable. But I managed, and then reinserted (this part quickly becoming totally comfortable and easy to do) and went about my day for a few hours before removing again, which was this time a little easier. So, a couple of weeks later, I came on and was actually kind of excited to try it out properly. I was lucky in that I wasn't doing anything much other than lazing about at my mother's for the first time I used it, and this made the process of getting acquainted with removal and such pretty stress-free, so I'd recommend trying it out under home-type circumstances for the first cycle if possible, but either way, the changing process got easier, more comfortable, and quicker pretty soon, and by then end of the period, I was also getting used to how often changing is necessary, which is one of the best aspects of the Mooncup as an alternative to tampons or pads. The website and literature generally suggests "8 or so hours", and that it is safe for overnight use, and I'd report this to be accurate, even a little conservative in some cases, as I've found that even with these long periods between changing, my Mooncup is rarely even half full.

This month I was genuinely impatient for my period to show up again, and when it did I was even happier than I was last cycle; I'm now completely comfortable with the removal process, and don't even think twice about the insertion. I'm still wearing panty-liners from time to time just in case, but this is mostly I think residual paranoia from the days of pad use, as the teeny leakage that I've occasionally had with the Mooncup wasn't even enough to have to worry about. Around a week ago I decided I'd sneak over to Norfolk a day earlier than planned as a surprise for the gal, which involved the usual exhausting four hours; car ride, four trains, one bus, and in some of the serious heat we've been sent in recent weeks here in England. Pre-cup, this trip while on would have been unbearable and stressful and possibly even teary; think a shaky, sweaty wee ladygay fumbling desperately with foily sheets of ibuprofen and downing reluctantly the stated dose with a bottle of Highland Spring before draining the remainder of the bottle over her head (this scene hasn't actually happened, by the way, theorizing in unnecessary detail is just a habit of mine). But this wasn't so bad. At all. I haven't really cramped any more than a little twinge on my first couple of days for either of the past two cycles, and the changing process has become swift and simple. I was a little unsure about changing on the train, but this actually worked out fine; with the little steel sink and I sharing such cramped quarters, it was really kind of ideal, and far tidier, more pleasant, and more discreet than changing pads would've been. And so, I arrived intact, having had to change only once, and all was well. Miraculous. Certainly worth the awkward first date.

Of course, the Mooncup does not eradicate my period-related lack of rationale and emotional stability altogether. And there's also the trial and error process of getting the stem just the right length, so that it sits in and doesn't bother you, but isn't too short to grip for removal. And the process of getting good at and comfortable with changing and wearing the Mooncup takes a couple of days or weeks (I'm sure it's different to some extent for everyone), and can be nerve-wracking and require some determination. But my conclusion is that your determination and will is easily and rationally motivated by all that makes the switch to silicone so incredibly worthwhile: it is cheaper, it is greener, and it is more comfortable and convenient and clean than disposable products. It has made me, and I believe that I am one of many, feel so much more at home in my body and at peace with my cycle. And finally, one look into the hard-working, innovative, creative, inspiring family of women that created and run this small but healthy company, and you want to be a part of supporting and growing the Mooncup brand, which really feels more like a project because of its ethics and grassroots base. And I think that this is a great part of what makes so many women who discover the Mooncup become so eager to share this holy grail with any friend, colleague, sister, mother, spouse, aunt, or daughter who will listen; women want this company to grow because they believe in it. And women want to zealously share the secret with their sisters because every woman deserves this relief and freedom and command. Plus, of course, the innumerable benefits of your sister or lover or boss being less grouchy and uncomfortable when Aunt Flo's in town.

My advice to anyone considering switching to the lunar chalice is to read up, buck up, and bite the bullet. Because it is so worth every "eek".


Merry menstruating,

jo




(Any specific questions, queries, or queeries that I haven't addressed here are more than welcome in the comments section, at g.i.johazelwoods@hotmail.com, or anywhere else you can find me).

5 comments:

Mrs. G.I.Johazelwoods said...

I've literally only just read this (and to feel an utter sham of a nearly-wife) but I find it to be kind of, I don't know, empowering. I sure do love y' a lot. Y'got some serious blogging talent. Aaaand I'm totally ordering a Mooncup. In your company. So, like, in a few hours. Fuck yeah.

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