Menstrual Cup

Ladies!!! Let’s talk PERIODS. When that time of the month comes, do you instantly feel like there’s a cloud over your head? The first thought that pops to my head is UGH again???? It is such a hassle when you constantly run to the bathroom to change your pad and tampon, worry if there’s leaks and generally feel uncomfortable down there! Periods are EXHAUSTING. 

I heard so much about menstrual cups, but never had an interest in it for years. The more I read up on it, the more it kinda repulsed me…  But something changed and I was in an experimental mood to give menstrual cups a try! So today I’ll be sharing my unfiltered opinion and experience using it.

STORYTIME 

Taiwan Feminine Care Section

I’m a huge fan of buying pads in Taiwan. They feel more comfortable and super affordable. About 2 years ago, I stocked up and filled an entire checked luggage with pads to bring back to the states. Well, that stash has lasted me 2.5 years (& the pandemic has prevented me from restocking) so I finally ran out… I was forced to head to my local target to pick some pads and tampons up. I was SO shocked by how expensive feminine sanitary products have gotten. Let’s say you use 3-5 pads a day over a 5 day period, you’re likely to spend $4752 on pads ALONE in a lifetime… and that’s not even the organic prices. Insane! 

Did you know our vaginal walls are permeable so pretty much anything we put inside can be absorbed through the mucus membrane, then directly into the bloodstream. The cotton used in tampons/ pads? Guess what? They’re sprayed with pesticides, exposed to glypohsate, an herbicide used to kill weeds that contains carcinogens. Other chemicals included are dioxin and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), which also links to cancer, disruption in the endocrine system and reproductive toxicity. There’s Toxic Shock Syndrome which is caused by an overgrowth of staph bacteria from using super absorbent tampons for long periods of time. Chronic exposure to these chemicals can increase our risk and disrupt our system contributing to more health issues in the future. So WHY in the world are we buying these products? After doing further research and gaining more knowledge on the reality of this industry, it has deterred me from ever wanting to use cotton products ever again! 

Another concern I had was the amount of waste produced every month. Every year, the US alone discards 12 billion pads / 7 billion tampons- this adds up. Tampon applicators are made out of plastic  that do not easily degrade and are often found in shorelines. Most women menstruate for 40 years in total= 2,400 days in the course of a lifetime= 6.5 years TOTAL! Imagine how much plastic accumulates over the years and can be found floating out in the ocean harming sea creatures.

Introducing, Organicup! It is an award winning menstrual cup that replaces pads and tampons! FDA registered, medical grade silicon, vegan & allergy certified! No more period undies. No more worrying about the string during summer season in a bikini. No more diapers. One small action can lead to big changes: 1 menstrual cup alone replaces 2 years of period products (528 pads/tampons) SO much better for the planet & yourself! 

Some thoughts prior to trying this because I had my doubts & fears. Is it going to hurt? What if it gets stuck? How does it fit inside without moving around? Will I get an allergic reaction? How do I pick one that fits my cervix? After doing my research, I went with Organicup. There are sooo many different kinds of menstrual cups out there and it seemed like the Organicup is less stiff and smaller, which I think fits my body type more and it felt a bit less intimidating to use. 

Because the menstrual cup is a vacuum seal and does not come into contact with air there is zero odor, ultra hygienic and antibacterial! Organicup only collects the blood so it eliminates dryness, irritation & keeps the natural pH intact . It can hold 3-5 times the amount of blood as a regular tampon and allows for 12 hour wear. This way you will not have period interruptions at work/school/ travel!

PURCHASE HERE!

Have I convinced you to give this a try? Hip hip hooray! I’ve linked it for you on my Amazon page- under Wellness Section. Click HERE to purchase!!! Plus, Amazon has a very simple return process if it doesn’t end up working out for you.

DIRECTIONS

Watch THIS video to visually understand how Organicup works! I promise it will help!

First step is to disinfect it by boiling it in hot water for 4-5 minutes. Make sure there is enough water in the pot to prevent the cup from burning. Always have clean hands before inserting and after every use, rinse it under hot water. Once your period cycle has ended, boil it again for 4-5 minutes and store it away for the month! 

TIPS

In the beginning, it can be difficult to put in, adjust or check to see if it’s sitting correctly. I’ve listed some tips to know before you give this a try! It may take a few period cycles to get the hang of it so I recommend using panty liners in case there’s leaks. When it is inserted correctly, the vacuum seal prevents ANY leaks, but it takes some time to get use to it! Personally, the benefits are out of this world. I don’t see myself going back to pads or tampons ever again! 

RELAX: when you are relaxed, the muscles are relaxed and that allows for easier insertion, placement, adjustments.

FOLDING TECHNIQUES: There are many ways to fold the cup that fits your body the best- Punch Down Fold, C fold, 7 fold . Watch this informative video on all the options- she demonstrate each technique with clear & helpful directions!

POSITION: Find a comfortable position for you to insert. I find bending my knees in a slight squat is the most comfortable way.

CHECK PLACEMENT: After it is inserted, use a finger to swoop around the base to ensure it is in place around the cervix and the cup has popped open inside with proper suction.

REMOVAL: Gently squeeze the base to release the suction BEFORE you pull out the cup. A great tip from a friend was to hop in the shower at the end of the day to empty it out- that way it prevents messes and you can easily rinse it!

AIR HOLES: Organicup has tiny little air holes at the top. Make sure those air holes are rinsed clean. If blood is caught in it you can gently blow it out. (a little TMI..)

CERVIX CHANGE: Your cervix changes throughout the cycle so every insertion may be slightly different. When it is inserted correctly, you should NOT feel it whatsoever.

CONS

  • Your fingers get bloody… It is messier than a tampon/pad. Not the easiest thing to use in a public restroom since I prefer to have a sink on standby. There are wipes you can buy to use when you’re on the go.
  • Slight pinching of the skin while I adjust the cup inside. It might just be because I’m a beginner though!
  • After many uses, your cup may look have discoloration and that is normal. To get rid of the stain, in a bowl, mix 1/2 water and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide, submerge the cup and leave it overnight in the mixture and clean it with boiling water afterwards.

My Techniques for Anxiety Relief

Going from one pandemic to another, it feels like the world is collapsing down on us. My anxiety has most definitely heightened and I’ve noticed my mental and physical health taking a toll. Nerve wrecking events lead to chemical imbalances and can have long term negative effects on your health. When the body is under stress, you’ll notice it starts breaking down. We are in fight or flight mode, which makes your internal body work in overdrive. Be aware of that, acknowledge that we all experience those feelings and know that it will pass. The key is to admit your anxiety, express those feelings, and make the changes in your daily life to maintain your physical and mental health.

Health has always been my number one priority. I’ve tested and tried out so many products for the past 3+ years to see what will keep my body functioning well. Here are some natural supplements and products I’ve incorporated in my daily routine to keep my temple balanced and protected. Remember, our bodies are all built differently, so what works for me might not work for you. Long term consistency with ALL of these habits/supplements/products below has made a difference in my life. This does not happen overnight- developing a routine and incorporating all of these elements habitually will help in times like this. 

AFFIRMATIONS

I’m constantly scrolling on Pinterest. There’s an abundance of information on there that is so useful and whenever I’m feeling down or anxious, it’s been an extremely helpful site for me. I search up positive, strengthening quotes that help keep me level headed. Visually reading motivational quotes shifts my mindset and when you consistently repeat positive affirmations, you are actively rewiring your anxious thoughts.

CBD CREAM

Have you noticed the facial expressions you make whenever you’re under stress/ anxiety? Your face has so many muscles and sometimes we furrow our brows or clench your jaws without realizing it. These unconscious facial expressions deepen your wrinkles overtime, but worse, it leads to tension headaches. I constantly suffer from headaches and CBD cream has helped relieve some of the inflammation. I buy the ShiKai brand from Co-Op and apply the lotion on my temples, neck, shoulders, wherever the tension is. 

EPSOM SALT

Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a mineral that we do not get enough of in our diet and when you dissolve this chemical compound in a warm bath, you soak in all the benefits through your skin. Taking a hot bath also has calming effects. Whenever I feel an anxiety attack coming along, taking a hot bath reverses those feelings. I like to add Dr. Teal’s foaming epsom salts in my baths. If i’m taking a bubble bath to relax and unwind, I use the lavender scent. If I’m having any sort of tension, aches or stress, I use the Eucalyptus Spearmint scent. 

EXERCISE

I’m not the best with this one… but staying active is key! Even if you do not enjoy exercising, it’s important to get your body moving. Go on a simple walk around the block, a 5 minute yoga video on Youtube, or stretch out your body! It will provide mental clarity, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. 

MAGNESIUM POWDER

Magnesium helps your brain produce neurotransmitters that reduce stress. I like to scoop some Natural Vitality CALM powder into some sparkling water and drink it right before bed. I’ve noticed it helps me sleep through the night better and relaxes my body. They sell this at Whole Foods and it comes in different fruity flavors for you to choose from- my favorite is raspberry lemon!

MAGNESIUM OIL 

During traumatic, stressful times, our body tenses up, our shoulders and necks form knots, our jaws clench down so tightly, and we might not even notice the subtle changes in our body. The minerals in magnesium help relieve sore muscles. Your body absorbs it very quickly and in a short 10-15 minutes you will feel a difference in where you apply this oil. Make sure to buy a highly concentrated good quality one for the full effect. Sometimes for me, as a hypochondriac, the moment there is a slight discomfort that is all my mind can focus on. So when I’m able to temporarily make the tension fade, it distracts my mind from it and I’m able to relax more. This is the specific magnesium oil I recommend and use.

MASSAGER

This massager was recommended by Chrislle Lim, an influencer I’ve been following and I rarely fall for promotion/ad products, but this was something she purchased on her own and was highly recommended. When I first got it, I wasn’t too big of a fan… It didn’t seem to make my muscle tension feel any better. I realized wearing it properly on my shoulders didn’t fix the deep knots, but I played around with it and made it work. Now I’m constantly using it to ease my shoulder tensions. I don’t recommend just wearing it normally on your neck, but instead place it diagonally on your back, starting from the shoulder. Adjust the massager depending on where the tension is. It is pretty powerful and you will be sore the next day if you pull on this massager too tightly. 

MEDITATION// DEEP BREATHING

This is probably one of the hardest tasks, especially when there are so many thoughts running inside our brain. It’s something you’ll have to practice, and if meditation is too difficult, try 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises instead. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and that promotes a state of calmness. It takes the focus off of the anxiety and helps you feel more connected to your body. There’s many resources out there for guided meditation such as HeadSpace, but there’s one deep sleep meditation soundtrack on YouTube that always does the trick for me! Give it a try and see if the music helps find your inner peace.

PEPPERMINT/ MENTHOL STICK

Menthol is known as a muscle relaxant. It does not cure you, but will help the symptoms subside. I swear by this product!!! It has gotten me through anxiety, nausea, headaches, motion sickness. You can pretty much find one of these sticks in every single room in the house. This is the one I stock up on whenever I’m home in Taiwan. I’ve seen other products out there, however I know this is 100% menthol and I’m all for supporting Taiwanese businesses.

PRAY

Sometimes anxiety can make you feel like your mind is spinning in circles, so actively setting aside a moment to pray can train your mind to snap out of it. For some, praying can help with calming anxious thoughts. Reciting a prayer, repeating a mantra will help you control your thoughts a bit better and slow down the pace. 

PROBIOTIC

When your body is under stress, your tummy gets into all these knots. It can lead to nausea, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Calming an anxious gut with probiotic has been a MAJOR life changing supplement for me. Even if I feel fine, I’ve incorporated probiotics into my diet every single day. If you don’t want to take probiotic supplements, try drinking Kombucha or yogurt, which both contain natural antioxidants and probiotics! I use the brand Antibiophilus for probiotics, which is not sold in the US (my parents send them over from Taiwan), however David uses this one which is widely available online and at Whole Foods. Important: focus on the amount of STRAINS in the bottle (the more the merrier)

SUNSHINE

We’ve been in lockdown for 3+ months now, and with current events, Santa Monica’s even had curfew starting as early as 1:30pm… We all feel so trapped inside. It’s necessary to keep your body moving and soak in some vitamin D! Vitamin D will boost your energy level and nervous system. Go for a walk, read in your backyard, plant some vegetables. Never take a breath of fresh air for granted.

TEA

Staying hydrated is key in everyday life. If you’re like me, drinking water consistently can be a bit tricky. I love a good cup of coffee, but too much caffeine can have adverse effects (heart palpitation which then increases my anxiety) The warmth of a nice hot cup of tea will have a soothing effect. Every night I drink a combination of chamomile and peppermint tea to wind down and relax before bedtime. 

VITAMIN B COMPLEX

This vitamin is so crucial for women. Whenever I am consistent with taking this supplement, I notice a huge difference in my energy level. I’m less fatigued and more alert. Research shows Vitamin B2 helps prevent migraines and vitamin B12 reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.  The one I currently take is only sold in Taiwan and I have not been able to find it here in the U.S, however there are a ton of options!

I’d love to learn more about the tools that you use and incorporate in your life to help manage your anxiety. 

Xoxo,

Soph