What Is My Life Like Without a Uterus?

It’s pretty boss, if me lying on this vintage badass couch at an antique store is any evidence.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I have had really, really bad periods almost every month for the last 20 years (yeah you read that right, 20 freaking years).

These periods, which included heavy bleeding and immense pain, impacted my quality of life significantly. I essentially planned my life around my period. Nothing could be done on the first day of my period, and sometimes even the second day.

There were many occasions where I got trapped out somewhere—on the side of the road, behind a toilet at college, at work, you name it—where someone had to come rescue me, or I had to wait until the pain lessened enough that I could hobble to my car and drive myself home, throwing up and shaking the whole way.

Yeah. It was terrible. And I don’t even have endometriosis or fibroids.

I have wanted a hysterectomy since I found out they existed, but it wasn’t until I was 31 that I finally got one. I was looking forward to the procedure for a very long time, and now that I’m almost six months post-op, this is what life is like without a uterus.

Driving my dad’s nice new truck for the first time this summer

No More Planning and Rescheduling

Like I said, I had to plan my life around my period. There were many occasions when I had to cancel on someone because I had my period. Whether it was friends, work, or a tattoo appointment, nothing could happen when I was in such pain.

It got to the point where I had to anticipate my period and just not plan anything for the whole week when I expected it to show up. That was very frustrating and annoying—it was like my life couldn’t happen because of this goddamned thing that had plagued me for two decades.

Now, I don’t have to plan tattoo appointments, vet appointments, trips, work, or dates with friends around my period. And let me tell you, it has been NICE. I went to New York City and Virginia Beach this year without worrying about my period, and it was bliss.

The view from my hotel in NYC after getting inked by the amazing anka.tattoo this summer
At a Greek restaurant in Norfolk, VA with my friends

No More Worrying About Getting Preggers

My husband and I have done the fertility awareness method (FAM) for the last five years to prevent conception since we both don’t want children. I love the FAM and think it’s an excellent way to prevent pregnancy (or even get pregnant, if that’s what you want). But it was work.

I had to take my temperature every morning to see when I ovulated and stick my finger up my vag every day to check my cervical fluid and write everything down on a chart. Based on this information, I could tell when I ovulated and therefore know when it was safe to have sex and when it should be avoided at all costs.

It’s been really nice not having to take my temperature, check my fluid, or keep a chart on my nightstand for the last six months after five full years of doing that. There’s also no panicking after sex and thinking, shit, was that really safe?

Now, it’s impossible for me to get pregnant and I don’t need a chart, thermometer, or intimate knowledge of my cervical fluid to ensure I don’t have a baby.

At a cool river in Stafford, VA (don’t worry, I didn’t stack those rocks, I know that’s bad)

No More Pain

God, the pain.

The doctors could not figure out why I was in so much pain with my period. It typically only lasted for a few hours on the first day of my period, but they were an intense few hours, sometimes so bad that we had to call an ambulance.

I did not have endometriosis. I did not have fibroids. My uterus was unusually small. It appeared perfectly healthy when the surgeons cut me open and took it out.

After two decades of being in pain and trying many different remedies and working with different professionals, it appears that the cause of my intense period pain was Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). People with EDS tend to have bad periods, including severe pain and heavy bleeding, for reasons modern science cannot figure out.

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying not being in pain.

I have no pain. ZERO. I do not have cramps. I do not have bloating or bleeding (except for very occasional cyclic bleeding, which has been a complete joke). I am completely pain-free. It feels incredible and I wish I had gotten my uterus out a decade ago because I have spent way too much time being in pain.

Without pain, I am free to enjoy life.

No More Anxiety and Dysphoria

As you can probably imagine, I developed a lot of anxiety and dread around my period as a result of the intense pain, which caused me trauma I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully unpack.

On top of this, I discovered during the process of trying to get my hysterectomy that I do have gender dysphoria, so for the last year and a half with my period, I became increasingly aware of my dysphoria and my feelings around my period.

I don’t have anxiety around my period because there is no period. There is a part of me that thinks it may come back one day, but this is physically impossible. I’m just shocked that I get to live my life without a period and without pain, and that truth is still settling in.

My dysphoria has also improved dramatically now that I no longer have breasts or a uterus. I feel more at home in my body than I have ever felt, and this comfort and happiness have bled out into every area of my life, from my sex life to my daily existence (excuse the pun).

At Kickshaws Gluten-Free Bakery in Fredericksburg, VA with my husband

No More Bad Sex

I also don’t resent or hate my body anymore after my hysterectomy, as I did for basically my entire life. The freedom that comes with not hating my body and feeling that my body didn’t align with who I was has allowed me to experience things without so much mental and emotional baggage, including sex, which has been incredible.

Although I do miss period sex from time to time (any other blood lovers out there?), I absolutely do not miss skipping sex because of terrible cramps, depression, and anxiety about getting pregnant.

I also used sex to help manage my period pain, which was also traumatic in its own way, but it was one of the only things that helped at the end. So enjoying sex because I want to have it and not because I’m in pain has been nice too.

So overall, my life has been insanely better since I got my uterus removed. I wish I had done it sooner, although it was hard enough as it was to get my uterus removed in my 30s, so I’m imagining I would have had an even harder time in my 20s.

Have you had your uterus removed? How is your life now compared to before? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Why Leave the Cervix? Why I Left My Cervix in During My Hysterectomy

Disclaimer: This article discusses surgery, sex, and controversial personal opinions. Please use your discretion when reading. I am not a medical professional and I am not giving medical advice. I am merely explaining why I chose to leave my cervix during my hysterectomy.

Four months ago, I got a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy after spending 15 months convincing medical professionals that I needed this procedure (and hell yeah I threw myself a party after all that work, as evidenced by the picture above).

In case you don’t know, a laparoscopic hysterectomy is when they use robotic instruments to remove the uterus through tiny cuts in your abdomen and belly button instead of doing a longer incision down your middle. It’s less recovery time, results in significantly smaller scars, and is generally less painful for the patient.

A supracervical hysterectomy is when the cervix is left intact while the uterus is taken out. This is not commonly done in a hysterectomy, although it was a more popular procedure in the 90s when it was first being performed.

Many women and people with vaginas aren’t super familiar with their cervix. I became intimately familiar with mine after doing the fertility awareness method (FAM) for five years before my procedure.

The cervix is technically connected to the uterus—it’s all one organ—and it connects the uterus to the vagina. You can usually feel your cervix by sticking your finger up your vag and feeling for something that feels firm and squishy, like the tip of your nose.

Removing the cervix is generally done because of fear of cervical cancer. The majority of medical professionals will argue that there is no good reason to leave the cervix in during a hysterectomy. I spoke with three surgeons during my 15-month process and two of them tried to talk me out of leaving my cervix in.

So why would I choose to leave the cervix in during my hysterectomy?

Research shows that leaving the cervix in is less traumatic (it cut my recovery time in half): you recover faster, can return to sex sooner, and have minimal blood loss during the surgery. But all of this is not why I chose to keep my cervix.

Here’s why I left my cervix in during my hysterectomy.

The Cervix Impacts Sexual Pleasure

So this is a controversial statement, but I believe the cervix does impact sexual pleasure.

Doctors will tell you it doesn’t.

Other people will tell you it doesn’t.

Research will tell you it doesn’t.

The thing is, you have to decide for yourself if it does.

For me, and we’re just gonna be really blunt here, it feels good when my cervix is stimulated by my partner’s penis. I can’t imagine what it would feel like if my cervix wasn’t there, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be great. The cervix doesn’t have a ton of nerve endings in it, but it does feel like more of a pressure when stimulated, which can be pleasurable for some people.

The cervix is essentially the “end” of your vagina. When the cervix is removed during surgery, the surgeon has to reconstruct the top of your vagina. There won’t be anything there but scar tissue—and nothing for a penis (or sex toy) to bump up against.

For lack of a better way to describe it, the cervix drops down into your vagina, so removing the cervix essentially “lengthens” your vagina. And, depending on the size of your partner, it may or may not feel the same when you have sex. (The cervix can also be stimulated during masturbation too!)

Not to mention there is such a thing as cervical orgasms.

Two Words: Cervical Mucus

So this goes along with the sex thing, and it’s really important to discuss.

The cervix is responsible for producing cervical mucus. If you are familiar with your cycle, you may notice that you are much more wet during ovulation (which can happen between days 12-22 of your cycle) than you are right before or right after you get your period. This wetness is your body preparing to receive sperm for pregnancy. Your body is making it as easy as possible for sperm to get where they need to go.

In other words, this is a really bad time to have intercourse if you don’t want to have a baby.

If the cervix isn’t there, guess what? There’s no cervical mucus.

Yes, the vagina has natural moisture in it. But it’s nowhere near the wetness produced throughout the fertility cycle.

My thought process was this: what was the point of not being able to get pregnant if I couldn’t have sex with my body producing that amazing fluid? Why would I want to get rid of that?

For the past five years, my husband and I have been meticulously avoiding intercourse when I am fertile, as we’ve chosen not to have children. So I was about ready to start enjoying my natural fluid during intercourse again.

Secretion of cervical mucus, in my opinion, can enhance sex.

Research shows that the cervix is also responsible for the secretion of mucus during arousal, not just during ovulation, and at various points throughout intercourse, including when the penis (or toy) bumps against the cervix. However, despite our knowledge of this, researchers still can’t definitively conclude that the cervix plays a role in sexual satisfaction.

But I made that decision for myself, and it was the main reason I chose to leave my cervix in during my hysterectomy.

It’s Less Trauma Internally

We’ve already touched on this briefly, but leaving the cervix in during hysterectomy results in a much faster recovery time. And you can return to sex sooner, so, bonus.

Leaving my cervix in cut my hysterectomy recovery time by half, from eight weeks to four weeks. I was able to resume intercourse at six weeks (my primary surgeon suggested we wait an additional two weeks just to be safe, although my other surgeon said four weeks).

The surgery time is also shorter when leaving the cervix in during hysterectomy, and it generally lowers your risk of complications.

Your cervix also has a bunch of connective tissue attached to it, which keeps it anchored at the top of your vagina. When the cervix is removed, this tissue has to come with it. It’s not proven, but suggested that leaving the cervix—and, as a result, the attached ligaments—may result in better pelvic organ function and patient sexuality post-surgery.

However, again, contemporary research says there is no evidence to support leaving the cervix during hysterectomy over taking it out.

Eliminates Risk for Vaginal Cuff Dehiscence

Have you heard about vaginal cuff dehiscence?

Don’t worry, I hadn’t either—until the third surgeon I spoke to mentioned it.

(In case anyone is wondering why I spoke to different surgeons, there are a couple reasons. First, I didn’t trust the first surgeon I spoke to. She told me that she would not consider leaving my cervix in during my hysterectomy. Second, the next surgeon I spoke to—the one I ultimately chose to do my procedure—wanted an additional surgeon there to assist with severing my uterus from my cervix to ensure the procedure went well, so I had to meet with this person too.)

This last surgeon was the only one who told me that if I wanted to leave my cervix in, it was fine. Even my primary surgeon suggested removing the cervix, but I was adamant about keeping it. This third surgeon mentioned that leaving my cervix in during the hysterectomy would eliminate the risk of vaginal cuff dehiscence.

Huh?

I looked it up. Vaginal cuff dehiscence is similar to vaginal prolapse, but worse. Instead of all your female organs sagging or falling out of your vagina, in vaginal cuff dehiscence, all of the organs in your abdomen are at risk of falling out. Vaginal cuff dehiscence is life-threatening.

It’s true. It’s a thing. And if you have your cervix removed, you are at risk for this, even though the risk is low.

So, yeah.

Also, I talked to my primary surgeon about having a higher risk of prolapse after my hysterectomy. He said I’m not at higher risk and, turns out, research shows he’s right—there’s not a much higher risk of prolapse between getting a supracervical hysterectomy and a total hysterectomy (where the cervix is removed).

If you don’t know what prolapse is, please Google it and learn how you can prevent it, because I personally know three women who have had this happen to them and your risk increases if you’ve had kids.

A Word on the Dreaded “Cyclic Bleeding”

One of the reasons my surgeon wanted me to get my cervix removed was because of what medical professionals call cyclic bleeding.

Cyclic bleeding is bleeding that still occurs during your period even when you don’t have a uterus but still have your ovaries (your ovaries control your fertility cycle via hormone production, so if you keep your ovaries during a hysterectomy, you will still ovulate and go through the cycle, even though you won’t have a period).

So how on earth can you still bleed if you don’t have a uterus?

When you have the cervix removed during hysterectomy (also called a total hysterectomy), the surgeon will essentially detach your uterus and cervix from your body and pull them out through your vagina. With a total hysterectomy, there is no risk for cyclic bleeding.

However, when you leave your cervix in during hysterectomy, things get a bit more complicated.

Since your cervix is attached to your uterus, your surgeon has to find a point to separate the two to leave the cervix intact. Although they do their best to separate the two, some endometrial cells (the cells that line your uterus and are responsible for monthly bleeding) can be left over after the surgery. This is what can cause cyclic bleeding after hysterectomy.

This didn’t sound good to me. After all, I wanted to stop my bleeding, not have it continue.

But then I looked at the research.

The risk for cyclic bleeding after a supracervical hysterectomy is pretty low. My surgeon told me the risk was about 15%, but some others I have talked to said 10% or less. And, cyclic bleeding only occurs for up to two years after the procedure.

In addition to the risk being low, the third surgeon I spoke to told me what cyclic bleeding actually was—it’s not a period or even close. It’s when you go to pee, wipe yourself, and see a teeny bit of blood on the toilet paper. That’s cyclic bleeding.

So has it happened to me?

Yes. And it was exactly what the surgeon said—just a tiny bit of blood, so small and so light that I wouldn’t see it if I wasn’t looking for it. It’s not even enough to get on my undies, so it’s not even really “spotting”, as people who mensurate know the term.

I have had cyclic bleeding twice out of my four cycles since my surgery, not counting the on-off spotting I had immediately after the surgery for about three weeks (which is expected and very normal).

I have not had ANY cramps at all since my hysterectomy, even with the cyclic bleeding. In my personal experience, this teeny bit of blood is a very small price to pay for being able to keep my cervix and have no change to my sex life.

Why I Got My Fallopian Tubes Removed

So while I left my cervix during my hysterectomy, I got my fallopian tubes removed. I originally didn’t plan on this, but my primary surgeon suggested it.

He said there is research that suggests that uterine cancer can start in the fallopian tubes, so by removing them, I could potentially help lower my risk of uterine cancer (even though I would no longer have a uterus).

This sounded good to me. Plus, I didn’t need my fallopian tubes. I researched it and got a little worried that severing the fallopian tubes from my ovaries would result in reduced blood flow to the ovaries, which I thought could impact hormone production. However, my surgeon said there was no evidence of this and I haven’t found research to suggest this either.

I also learned, after my hysterectomy, that getting the fallopian tubes removed eliminates the risk of ectopic pregnancy (where the fetus begins to develop in the fallopian tube—ectopic pregnancies are not viable and are life-threatening).

Although ectopic pregnancy after a hysterectomy is rare, it can and does happen. People who have their uterus removed but keep their fallopian tubes still have a small risk for ectopic pregnancy.

There’s really no reason to keep your fallopian tubes if you are having a hysterectomy. If you are pursuing a hysterectomy for any reason, I would highly recommend talking to your surgeon about removing your fallopian tubes to potentially reduce your risk of uterine cancer and eliminate risk of a future ectopic pregnancy.

When Leaving the Cervix Is Not an Option

Unfortunately, leaving the cervix during hysterectomy will not be an option for everyone.

There are two main reasons why someone would need to get their cervix removed:

  • You’ve had a recent abnormal Pap smear or are at high risk for cervical cancer
  • You have endometriosis on your cervix

Your surgeon will require your most recent Pap results before even considering leaving your cervix during a hysterectomy. If you have endometrial implants on your cervix or are at high risk for cervical cancer, it’s unlikely you will find a surgeon who will consider leaving the cervix during a hysterectomy.

And, in these cases, it will likely be much more beneficial for you to have it removed anyway (because you don’t still want cramping and bleeding after a hysterectomy, and you definitely don’t want to have a second surgery to remove your cervix if you have cervical cancer).

Are There Cons to Leaving the Cervix During Hysterectomy?

Yes, of course! Just like there are pros and cons to everything.

The first is that you will still need to have regular Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. If you have your cervix removed, you will not need to have Pap smears.

The second is that there is a risk that you will develop cervical cancer and need to have your cervix removed during a second surgery. This is not ideal and surgeons like to avoid this, which is part of the reason why they want to get rid of your cervix in the first place.

The third con is one we’ve already discussed—the cyclic bleeding.

That’s All, Folks

I will be posting articles soon about my healing process for my supracervical hysterectomy and about what my life is like without a uterus. So far, it’s been totally blissful and I am loving life. If you have any questions about my procedure or more questions about cervix stuff, please feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP!

I Got a Hysterectomy: Saying Goodbye to an Organ I’ve Always Hated (Also Maybe I Have Gender Dysphoria???)

I originally imagined this post as being a kind of open letter to my uterus where I go “Dear Uterus” and talk to my uterus like it was a former lover or something.

The more I thought about it, the more wrong it seemed. I hate my uterus with the kind of passion I usually reserve for people who hurt animals. It has never felt right in my body. And, although I do love drinking tasty warm blood every month, I really, really, REALLY hate having a period and I fucking hate my uterus.

I have had intensely painful periods for most months of the last 20 years I have been having a period. I was resolved to spend the rest of my life with my uterus until November 2020. I felt depressed about it, but hey, I didn’t want to get surgery. Then I got my double mastectomy and didn’t feel so scared about surgery.

I had one of the most painful periods I have ever had in November 2020, just before my double mastectomy. It was so bad that my husband had to call 911 (that’s not the first time that’s happened). And that’s when I said: I’m DONE. I’m SO fucking done.

I’m done with being in pain.

I’m done with having an organ I hate.

I’m done with being a woman, whatever the fuck that means.

I’m done with living a life that doesn’t feel like mine.

And so, after having never been to an OB/GYN at the age of 30, I started making some phone calls the next month. Everyone was booked out because of COVID, so I couldn’t get an appointment until March of 2021.

That First OB/GYN Appointment

My plan was that the doctor would find something horribly wrong with my uterus and I would be able to get surgery to remove it.

But when my appointment came, the doctor only pushed for birth control and other pharmaceuticals to stop my pain and even prevent me from having a period. I’m very against pharmaceuticals, including birth control, for a variety of reasons, so this wasn’t an option for me.

I pushed her to give me a referral for an ultrasound to help determine if I had fibroids, which could be causing my intense period pain. Although she begrudgingly wrote me the referral, she said, “I don’t think you have fibroids.”

OK WELL LET’S CHECK SHALL WE DOC?

To my dismay, I did not have fibroids. The doctor said she didn’t know if I had endometriosis, and that even if I did, I wouldn’t just magically get my uterus removed. I would have to try birth control, then try an IUD, and then get the lining of my uterus burned before surgery would be considered.

Even then, the doctor said that if they opened me up during surgery and didn’t find endometriosis, they would have to leave my uterus in, otherwise it would be considered “doing harm”. To which I wanted to say, “Your job and this appointment are literally doing harm”. But I didn’t. I just left.

I spoke with another doctor who basically said the same thing. So I was done with this route of “treatment”. It felt like I went to them begging for help and they refused to help me unless I consented to drugs and hormones.

And that’s when I realized: I’ve already had top surgery. I can try to pursue this surgery by saying that my uterus removal is about my gender.

Calling All the Therapists

I felt like I was finding my way in a dark room throughout this process and turning on lights one by one. I didn’t know where to turn, but what I did know was that I would need letters to support the medical “need” for my surgery from therapists who knew something about gender.

I reached out to probably a dozen therapists. I was candid with the ones I did talk to: I was in pain and wasn’t willing to accept the treatment the doctors were offering me. I technically qualified as non-binary—would they be willing to assess me for gender dysphoria so I could get a hysterectomy?

A few of the therapists didn’t get back to me. A couple people I spoke with said they would help me. I eventually started seeing one of them, but didn’t feel that we were a good fit. But they did refer me to Chase Brexton, an agency known for working with transgender and non-binary individuals.

Getting the Two Letters

So I became a patient at Chase Brexton and began the process of getting my letters there. It took about six months for me to talk to four different people there and to get my letters. It was a whole process, and at the end of it, I learned something about myself.

Although I do consider myself to be more agender than anything—and I didn’t (and still don’t) feel that my breast surgery was about my gender, nor would my uterus surgery be—I did have gender dysphoria.

I didn’t lie to the therapists I spoke to. Everything I told them was the truth. It just also happened that I wanted my uterus removed because I couldn’t stop my intense period pain.

For those who are wondering why I’m in so much pain every month, just know that your girl has spent the last 20 years trying to figure out exactly that, trying many different remedies and lifestyle changes, all to figure out that I probably have terrible periods because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). People with EDS tend to experience terrible periods with heavy bleeding for no reason that modern medicine can figure out.

Although working with my herbalist has helped improved my pain immensely, it was not enough to make me feel like I could live another 25 years with a period, not to mention the depression I would get every month as a result of dysphoria. If I’m honest with myself, just HAVING a uterus makes me dysphoric and unhappy.

Anyway! While I was getting my letters from Chase Brexton, I interviewed another OB/GYN doctor for my surgery and felt confident pursuing the procedure with him. I submitted my letters to his office and he confirmed that he received them and would be in touch once he had more information from the insurance company.

Getting ANOTHER Letter

I waited six weeks and didn’t hear anything. When I followed up with him, I got a call from his office from two providers (one a nurse and one a social worker). They said they got preliminary approval for the surgery from the insurance company, which meant I could schedule the surgery. However, they were concerned with getting the final approval, which would happen 30 days before the surgery.

The reason for their concern was that my insurance company requires 12 months of hormone therapy in the form of testosterone prior to getting this particular gender-affirming surgery. Since I am not a male and don’t want to transition to being a male, this therapy does not make sense for me and is medically unnecessary.

The providers from my surgeon’s office shared that having another letter—in addition to the two I’d already gotten—might help the insurance company agree to cover the procedure for the final approval. This letter would be from a medical doctor instead of a therapist stating that I did not need testosterone and it would even be harmful for me to have to do this prior to my procedure. So I contacted my primary care doctor with Chase Brexton.

She immediately agreed to help me and I got the letter from her within a week after our appointment. I submitted the letter to my surgeon’s office and waited to hear back regarding scheduling.

So now I had three letters from three different professionals stating that I had gender dysphoria. At this point, it was nearing the end of December 2021, over a year after I started this process.

Seeing ANOTHER Surgeon

After my surgeon had THREE letters certifying my gender dysphoria and the unnecessariness of testosterone, he asked me if I was still planning on leaving my cervix in.

Um, yes?

He said that since I was leaving my cervix in, which is not commonly done during a laparoscopic hysterectomy, he wanted me to meet with another surgeon who was a minimally invasive specialist, as he wanted her there during the procedure.

I called to book an appointment with this additional surgeon and she was booked out for almost two months. So I had to wait another two months to talk to this person in mid-February 2022.

At this point, I was beyond frustrated with this entire process. My surgeon knew in August 2021 that I intended to leave my cervix in. Why did he wait until December to ask me to meet with another surgeon about my cervix?

So while I thought I would be waiting to hear about scheduling, now I was just waiting to talk to this minimally invasive specialist surgeon for weeks on end, which was incredibly frustrating. Meanwhile, I was becoming increasingly aware of my dysphoria every time I had my period, and I would be massively depressed even if I wasn’t in much pain.

I finally did talk to her and I really liked her. The appointment also put me at ease because, unlike the other two surgeons I had spoken to, she told me that if I wanted to leave my cervix in, it was completely fine. I was at low risk for cervical cancer, and as long as they didn’t find endometriosis all over my cervix when they opened me up, I could leave it in without problems.

I was very aware of the risks and benefits of leaving my cervix in, and we reviewed them during my appointment. I did learn, however, that keeping my cervix in would be less trauma to my body than taking it out. It also would cut my recovery time in half and it even eliminated the risk for vaginal cuff dehiscence, (if you don’t know what this is, have fun looking it up).

At the end of the appointment, she shared she would get back in touch with my original surgeon, as they would be doing the procedure together. I told her I would follow up with him too about the next steps.

FINALLY, A SURGERY DATE!

Another two weeks went by before I got a call from the hospital to schedule my surgery—the surgery date was April 7, 2022. I was beyond excited and spent the next few days skipping around and talking to anyone who would listen about my surgery (it was just my husband, haha).

It took 15 months from the time I booked that first OB/GYN appointment to get an official surgery date. I’m not sure how much of this was related to doctors being booked out because of COVID, but I do know that I worked my hardest to make this surgery happen as soon as possible.

This article can’t possibly capture the pain, depression, and dread I have experienced throughout 20 years of having a period and then going through a process to try and get help and having to wait almost a year and a half before I could get the problem taken care of. But I’m sharing my experience for others who might be on this journey.

As I’m posting this article I no longer have a uterus and am recovering from my supracervical laparoscopic hysterectomy, which was finally approved by the insurance company and I successfully had my procedure.

The doctors did not find any endometrosis and my uterus was unusually small: 40 grams compared to the normal 60. So at this point I’m assuming my intense pain and heavy bleeding were all EDS-related.

I will be posting an article about my decision to leave my cervix in as well as my healing protocol for this procedure. Kisses!

Special thanks to Lin Amendt for helping me along this journey and for helping me make the pivotal decision to leave my cervix in. And of course to my amazing husband Ian for his unconditional love and support throughout this process and always (and for taking these badass pics).

5 Things I Learned After Using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for a Year

When I was first looking for an herbal method of birth control, I found several different herbs that were reputed to work. It was in looking for this information that I stumbled across an herbalist who taught the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

We quickly connected and there began my journey to learn the method. It seemed safer and more reliable than using the herbs I’d found, and its benefits were numerous—tracking my cycle would give me more insight into my health and empower me to consciously not conceive instead of relying on an outside power.

After using the FAM for over a year, here are five different things I’ve learned.

1. every cycle is different

Before I began tracking my cycle for real, I’d estimate on what day my period would come based on what day it came last month. Turns out, predicting one cycle based on another is not how the FAM works.

Every cycle is different. On some months, I ovulate 12 days into my cycle, while other months, it’s not until 19 days in. I’ve learned that just because I ovulated late last month does not mean that I’ll ovulate late this month, so it’s not ok to rely on that information.

I’ve learned to honor the subtle differences that each cycle brings. Some months, it was obvious what day I had ovulated, while other months, I needed help from my herbalist to determine the exact day. Through honoring the differences, I’ve learned to listen to my cycle rather than trying to tell it what to do or predict its mysteries (which, of course, never works).

2. squatting helps

So yes, the FAM does require daily cervix checking. The method has received some negative attention for this, with some healthcare professionals saying that it’s not sanitary to touch your cervix that often.

I’m here to say that as long as you wash your hands before checking your fluid or your cervix, you’ll be just fine.

When I first began using the FAM, I couldn’t even find my cervix half the time. I’d locate it during my period for my menstrual cup, but now, I was having problems. My herbalist suggested I squat in order for my cervix to appear. As someone who’s cervix tends to be high (yes, it moves!), this was hugely helpful.

Checking the texture and opening of your cervix can be an indicator of ovulation, but the primary indicator is the texture of your fluid. If it’s stretchy, ovulation is not far away!

3. it brings peace of mind

At first, my partner and I were hesitant about the method. To be safe, I had the herb wild carrot as a backup plan for contraception.

Then, after having a pregnancy scare because we had intercourse on a day that I did not check my fluid, we decided to commit to the FAM one hundred percent. Since we’ve made that commitment (never having intercourse on fertile days—typically from day 10 to 20 of my cycle—and only having intercourse on days we know are safe), we feel much more secure using the method.

Practice has helped a lot too, as has working with a professional. My herbalist has answered all my questions, gently guided me, and also been firm and clear when my assumptions were wrong (it’s not ok to assume intercourse is safe if you have not checked your fluid just because you are only a few days into your new cycle).

4. it’s not that hard

The FAM seemed extremely complicated and daunting at first. There were charts. There was a thermometer. There was the finding of my cervix. How the heck was I supposed to keep up with all this?

I initially thought that taking my temperature and checking my fluid every single day would feel overwhelming; now, they’re just part of my routine. Of course, it was an adjustment at first, like anything else. However, my partner and I feel grateful to have found a method that we feel works for us with no side effects.

5. my body’s rhythm

This is perhaps the best thing I’ve learned from the FAM—my body’s natural rhythm.

After over a year of using the method, I know what’s normal and what’s not. I’m more familiar with my menstrual cycles, what my fluid looks like before ovulation, and how long my cycles typically last.

Being familiar with my body and all the amazing little things it does has afforded me insight and clarity into my health and femininity. My partner and I feel more enlightened using this method and we have concrete knowledge on when we can have intercourse and when my vagina is on lockdown due to ovulation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Absolutely, although the FAM isn’t for everyone. I’m grateful that it works for me and that I’m able to engage in a form of birth control that I feel is not harmful to my body. Yes, I’m still learning, just as we all are. The FAM has taught me many things, just like life, and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to be its student!

Why We Need to Say No to Pharmaceutical Birth Control

I’m going to be honest here—I do not, nor have I ever, taken birth control pills.

I just haven’t had a need for them. I chose to abstain from sex during my teenage years. As I got older and realized the impact that pharmaceutical medications have on our bodies, I couldn’t help but wonder—why would people take these pills?

I guess having to take a pill every day isn’t nearly as bad as carrying an unwanted child for nine months. When you put it that way, it seems blissfully simple.

Let’s not forget the fact that many women go on birth control not to avoid pregnancy, but rather to control difficult or heavy periods. Some women even get prescribed birth control simply because they have premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which consists of symptoms women commonly experience before their menstrual cycle starts.

Regardless of why women choose to go on birth control—some at terribly young ages—a need has arisen to question why.

There are safer, more natural methods to birth control. I’m not against birth control. What I am against is the pharmaceutical companies profiting from the harm we women are doing to our bodies by taking these pills every day.

So let’s talk about why we need to say no to pharmaceutical birth control.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or nutritionist. The content contained in this blog post is for educational purposes only. 

A Brief History of Birth Control Pills

The need for birth control goes back centuries. Pulling out (also called the withdrawal method) is one of the oldest methods of birth control.

Pharmaceutical birth control can trace its roots back to Mexico. A chemist by the name of Carl Djerassi in Mexico created birth control by synthesizing compounds from Mexican Wild Yam (which is one of the herbal methods for natural birth control that we’ll discuss later).

The year was 1951 and chemists at pharmaceutical companies were looking for a way to provide birth control to women—but in a synthetic version that they could patent and profit off of. Since people cannot patent nature, no profit was to be made on the natural, Mexican Wild Yam version of birth control. Djerassi could have been credited with the invention of the birth control pill if he’d had the means to test and distribute this product.

In 1952, a pharmaceutical company with the means Djerassi lacked created synthetic progesterone, which hits the market as the pill Enovid in 1960. Despite the fact that women experienced side effects of depression, stroke, cancer, and blood clots, the pill was still deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By 1970, several more pharmaceutical companies had FDA-approved birth control drugs on the market to get their share of the profit.

It seemed like a miracle—but for whom? The pharmaceutical companies that profited from what’s now a $2.8 billion dollar industry, or the women who no longer had to worry about getting pregnant?

The Risks of Pharmaceutical Birth Control

The side effects of birth control continued to reveal themselves over the years.

Pharmaceutical birth control has been shown to increase the risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer (it’s been shown to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, so hey—increase your risk for three or more cancers while decreasing your risk for one, woo hoo!) It has also been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, which is the leading cause of death among women in America.

Hormonal oral contraception has also been linked to:

  • Migraines
  • Infertility
  • Decreased bone density
  • Yeast infections (candida overgrowth, which has a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms)
  • Blood clotting
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Mood disorders
  • And more!

In addition to this, birth control pills produce waste that affects the environment. What this means is that hormones are ending up in our ecosystems, therefore altering life as we know it.

Covering Up Symptoms Rather Than Addressing the Problem

Women’s bodies change when they’re on the pill. We no longer ovulate because our body is tricked into thinking that we’re already pregnant. When we stop taking the pills, we’re supposed to get our period and menstruate as normal.

Birth control pills often cover up symptoms that women commonly experience before and during their period—for instance, acne, mood swings, and painful menstrual cramps. These medicines do not address the root cause of these problems. Our bodies are trying to tell us something when we experience symptoms such as this. For instance, consider:

  • Acne is usually a result of a food intolerance or a lack of fresh foods and omega-3s in the diet. A poor diet can also lead to bad menstrual cramps!
  • Muscle cramping can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. Simply by getting more magnesium along with calcium and vitamin D in your diet can help prevent painful periods.
  • Poor pelvic circulation was found to be the cause of my painful cramping, and some intensive periods of ginger tea and the right dose and type of magnesium cleared that right up.

What Can We Do?

Say no to pharmaceutical birth control. Say no to a billion-dollar industry that’s increasing our risk for certain types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and hormonal problems. Say no to animal testing. Say yes to alternative methods!

If we’re taking the pill as a contraceptive

We have so many other choices! From the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) to Neem oil, Mexican Wild Yam, Queen Anne’s Lace, Slippery Elm Bark, and more, the herbal methods we can choose from are numerous.

My partner and I use the Fertility Awareness Method, which took some time and training from a professional herbalist to learn. It’s important to learn what method works best for you. Like any method of birth control, nothing is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy, so it’s important to be informed and diligent about what you choose.

If you choose to go with a natural method, working with an experienced herbalist can help ensure the best chances of pregnancy prevention success. I would absolutely not recommend Googling these things and trying them on your own, especially if you are not ready for a child.

If we’re taking the pill to reduce period symptoms

Diet can alleviate many of these symptoms, as can proper nutrient intake. Everyone should have the right to eat healthily and know their body. We have the ability to get tested and know if we’re deficient in any nutrients and take the proper steps to correct it. We have the right to a healthy body and healthy choices.

Regardless of what symptoms you’re experiencing surrounding your menstrual cycle, work with a professional to discover and address the root cause of the problem. Attempting to find a solution on your own can work, but it typically takes a lot more time, effort, and money. Working with an herbalist or other natural doctors can help you stop your period pain, reduce your symptoms, and help you feel better during your cycles!

Do we need another reason to say no to harmful contraceptive pills that are man-made? Why not just use the natural substances and eliminate the harmful side effects? With a little more knowledge about our bodies as well as the plants that can help us, we can better understand our choices for pregnancy prevention. Let’s say no to pharmaceutical birth control and save our bodies and our environment!

10 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea (And What Finally Worked for Me)

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Ok seriously, how many of you suffer from dysmenorrhea?

I’m going to warn you that before you read further, things are gonna get a little personal in this post. So if you don’t like reading about periods or women’s bodies make you uncomfortable, you can leave.

All good? Good.

Dysmenorrhea is the condition of experiencing insanely painful menstrual cramps. My periods have always been relatively bad, but lately, they’ve been really awful. Two periods ago I had the worst period of my life and honestly would have rather died than dealt with that. It was that bad.

Here’s a list of ridiculous things that have happened during my dysmenorrhea-infused periods:

  1. Age 13: Walking down the hall in middle school to the nurse’s office, nearly passing out from the pain.
  2. Age 15: Got picked up from high school by one of my aunts. Walked inside and made four parallel cuts on my left arm with a knife. It didn’t hurt as bad as the cramps.
  3. Age 21: In the bathtub throwing up oatmeal. My brother had to come over to give me some medication. I couldn’t move.
  4. Age 22: On the floor of the women’s bathroom at Penn State with my face pressed into that small space behind the toilet, moaning. Girl asks, “Are you ok?”
  5.  Age 25: In the bathroom throwing up chili, ended up in the bathtub with a knife.
  6. Age 26: Throwing up in the car while my fiance drives us home, scratching myself with a big knife, almost passing out from the pain. Screaming.

These are just the bad ones I remember. There have been countless other times over the last 14 years since I’ve had my period. My dysmenorrhea usually involves a bathtub, a knife, and vomit.

Sounds fun, right? God, I love being a woman. I really do.

With that in mind, I was inspired to create this list of things I’ve tried when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea. So here’s what works and here’s what doesn’t.

A side note: I am not an herbalist or a nutritionist. The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. 

 

10 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea

 

1. Cramp Bark

You can find cramp bark in capsules or just buy a big bag of it from Mountain Rose Herbs. It tastes disgusting, but you drink it as a tea (or can take the capsules or use a tincture) to help with painful cramping.

Cramp bark can be taken in the days leading up to your period and can be taken the day of. I have also taken the capsules but have not tried the tincture.

The tea is extremely bitter. Whatever you do, don’t make it too strong!

2. White Willow Bark and Boswellia

This combination actually works pretty well. These are two herbs that are taken together to produce a “Motrin-like effect” on the body. The problem is, you need to take them the morning you get your period. By the time your period starts, it’s too late. At least this has been my experience.

I drink white willow bark tea and take boswellia capsules. I used to take white willow capsules, but then I couldn’t find any that didn’t contain gelatin. So I switched to the tea. Just like cramp bark, this tea is bitter, but it’s not as bad as cramp bark in my opinion.

Get the capsules or the tea and take a few hours before you get your period. This combination can work for other forms of pain as well—I’ve used for headaches and migraines with excellent results!

3. Hot Things: Bath and Heating Pad

In order to stimulate circulation, some people suggest applying a hot compress and then a cold one to your stomach area during your period. I have had mixed results with this method.

What I have had success with is taking a hot bath and then crawling into bed with a heating pad. The heat seems to help the cramps and just helps me to feel better.

Problem is, I don’t always have direct access to a bathtub. Which is why I now work from home and can take as many bloody baths as I want (pun intended). Told you this was going to get graphic. Or wait, I said personal. Same difference.

4. Coconut Oil and Lavender Massage

This one is interesting: research shows that this actually can help and is one of the best cures for dysmenorrhea!

Just get some lavender essential oil and coconut oil (or your carrier oil of choice) and massage your lower stomach. After 20 minutes, it’s supposed to help you feel better.

You can also just straight up huff lavender essential oil while experiencing painful cramping and it’ll help you feel better! Smelling lavender seems to help me more than the massage, actually.

5. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)

My doc suggested I take this stuff throughout the month to lessen the severity of my periods. I don’t feel that it has helped all that much and I eventually stopped taking it. You should take it pretty regularly to experience results.

The dose is between 500-1,500 milligrams a daily. I take 1,000 milligrams. Easy with capsules. They provide essential fatty acids that are also great for skin and hormone regulation. Find some organic vegan ones like Deva Vegan Evening Primrose Oil.

6. Magnesium and Calcium

You’re probably deficient in magnesium and calcium.

Taking these supplements a few days before your period (some people may need to take them throughout the month to see results) and the day of your period can help reduce cramping greatly.

Everyone is different and everyone’s body will tolerate these supplements differently. Talk to your doc!

(Below: see an update to this post because the right dose and form of magnesium has really helped me out!)

7. Masturbation and Sex

Oh dear, this is the part where I said it would get personal, right?

Masturbation works, but I’ve had short-term results with this method. Not enough to actually stop the cramping for good. Sex can work.  The problem with this method is that you don’t really feel that turned on when you’re in extreme pain. But if you’re desperate…

It works!

8. Deep Breathing

Tried this during my last one too with positive results. I’ve been really into Eckhart Tolle and presence lately. Staying present has helped my dysmenorrhea greatly. Practice deep breathing, stay present in the moment, and understand that you are not your mind or body. It helps!

9. Exercising

This is a big one and regular exercise is definitely one of the best cures for dysmenorrhea. I promise. Get out there and do some cardio: this is what has worked the best for me, specifically running. You don’t need to overdo it, just go for a run a couple times a week.

10. The Menstrual Cup

If you’re still using tampons, you need to stop now. Those death sticks contain a known carcinogen called dioxin. And you’re sticking it up your vag! Seriously???

I used tampons for years (it still makes me cringe to think about that) before finally switching to the menstrual cup and cloth cotton reusable pads. I will never go back.

The menstrual cup can help alleviate your period cramps and relax your vagina a little. Don’t believe me? Give it a try, punk.

On the other hand, some herbalists think that blocking the flow of the blood with a tampon or menstrual cup can actually cause severe cramping. I’ve found that this is not the case with me, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with to see if this makes a difference for you.

If you’re already using the menstrual cup and it leaks, check out my guide to stop that thing from leaking!

 

5 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea I Have Tried Without Success

 

1. Licorice Root

Licorice is supposedly great for many things, especially helping to regulate hormones and helping during your period. I did not have success with this herb (I love licorice root tea though!)

2. White Peony Root

Tried white peony root (which is anti-spasmodic) without success. I have heard that using licorice root in combination with white peony root can help greatly with painful uterine spasms that sufferers of dysmenorrhea commonly experience. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I’ll likely give it another try though.

3. Cayenne Pepper Tea

Straight up. Didn’t work. I’ve heard hot peppers are great for pain. Didn’t work for me. Plus it was disgusting!

4. Yoga

I love yoga, but unfortunately, it hasn’t so far helped me when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea.

5. Eating Warm Foods and Spices

I had an herbalist suggest to me that I stop eating raw foods and drinking raw smoothies to help with my dysmenorrhea. She suggested eating cooked foods the majority of the time with an emphasis on warming spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon, especially on the days leading up to your period. I’ve tried this without success, unfortunately.

 

4 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea I Have Not Yet Tried

 

These are things I haven’t tried, some of them I don’t plan on trying but others I do!

1. Birth Control

I have never been on birth control or tried birth control. Nor do I want to be. That stuff is unnatural and messes your body up. I’d rather suffer from painful cramping than use this shit when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea.

2. Calendula Flowers

These are anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory. I use calendula flowers regularly but have not yet applied them to cures for dysmenorrhea. Have you tried them? I should try them next time to see if they work. The tea is much milder than cramp bark or white willow bark!

3. Valerian

I haven’t tried valerian, but I’ve heard it works. Unfortunately, valerian is also known for making you very sleepy. It’s an excellent anti-anxiety remedy as well as excellent for insomnia. Problem is, some people (ahem, me) get super sleepy on this herb and can’t really function during the day. Not that I can function on the day I get my period anyway.

Valerian tea also smells like stinky feet. It’s rather awful. But it could work as a cure for your dysmenorrhea!

4. Healthy Diet

My diet is already healthy, thank you very much. Before I get my period I love potato chips and sugar. Really hard to not indulge. Maybe one of these days I’ll make veggie smoothies for a week before I get my period and see if that helps as a natural cure for dysmenorrhea.

 

Update: What Finally Worked for Me

 

After years of suffering from dysmenorrhea, I finally began working with an herbalist who really helped me out.

Together, we discovered a pattern: on the first day of menstruation for a few hours, I would be getting these insane cramps, but not bleeding. She suggested perhaps my pelvic circulation was poor and my body was trying really hard to expel the uterine blood and tissue, but couldn’t.

So this is what helped:

  • Ginger. Boil 1 tbsp. of dried organic ginger root in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger out and drink the tea throughout the day. This really helps pelvic circulation! If you get tired of the ginger tea (I got really tired of it after a while), you can take Gaia Herbs Ginger Supreme 2 capsules a day.
  • Magnesium. Turns out, your body can’t really absorb magnesium citrate, which is why many people experience diarrhea at high levels of magnesium citrate. My herbalist suggested I take magnesium glycinate, 400mg in the morning and 400mg in the evening, for a total of 800mg every day. I do this throughout the month, and it really seems to have helped.
  • Breathing. The right kind of breathing actually saved me from one intense episode of menstrual cramps. Breathe in through your nose, then out through your mouth. Remember to keep doing it. I was amazed at how much it helped!

Update to this post (2023): While these things have helped a lot, I was never able to completely resolve my period cramps to the point that they were bearable. Some months they were, but I would have a month where they were really bad for seemingly no reason. I eventually ended up getting a hysterectomy, and my doctors believe I have EDS, which may have been causing my intense period pain. I have not been in pain since my surgery!

 

A Note on Omega-3s

 

I have also been taking lots more omega-3s (EPA and DHA from fish) in the form of fermented cod liver oil and omega-3 supplements.

I did a lot of research and discovered that these types of essential fatty acids are different from the kind you get from vegan sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, etc. Your body can convert these vegan sources into EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate has been shown to be poor. Your best bet is to get them from fish if you’re not vegan.

Also, omega-3 supplements have been shown to be as effective as Ibuprofen in research about painful menstrual cramps.

 

I really hope this post helps some of you looking for cures for dysmenorrhea. It’s an awful condition that makes life particularly difficult. Getting your period is bad enough as it is, suffering from dysmenorrhea certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

I would also really recommend working with a natural health professional, such as an herbalist who specializes in women’s health. I’ve found out all the above tips from 14 years of getting my period, but you could save yourself a lot of pain and trouble simply by working with someone who can help you discover what’s causing your pain and how to make it stop.

What do you think of these natural cures for dysmenorrhea? Have you tried any? Are there some I didn’t list that work for you? I wanna know!

 

HELP! My Menstrual Cup Is Leaking! Your Total Guide to Stop It

Your menstrual cup is leaking?! I know these things are adorable, but they can be frustrating too! Here’s my guide to getting that thing to stop leaking once and for all.

MC Green

It seems that many of you liked my post about the menstrual cup which is great because menstrual cups are amazing.

They can feel intimidating at first—but they’re totally worth it for three badass reasons:

Honestly, it took quite a while for me to get the hang of mine (I’m talking years). For a while, I thought I just wasn’t ever going to get it.

During this time I compiled a list that I keep in my bathroom with the cup for when I have trouble with it (which isn’t often at all now).

I’d like to share this list of twelve items with my fellow females in case some of you are having trouble like I was. Here’s what to do if your menstrual cup is leaking!

1. Check the Seal

When your menstrual cup is leaking, that means the seal has not been created properly.

There needs to be a seal created between the lip of the cup and your vaginal wall. When this seal is created, your menstrual cup should not move easily (you can usually test the seal by grabbing the stem and giving it a good tug to see if it readily moves) and it should not leak. No matter what.

The only way the seal can get messed up once created is by pooing (sorry, people who poo with their menstrual cup in) and pinching the base of the cup. The latter is the action you will do when you are ready to remove the menstrual cup/empty it to break the seal.

But how do we create the seal?

2. Find the Right Fold

There are SO many different folds out there! The “C” fold is supposed to be the most popular, but I’ve found that many women don’t like this fold. I myself don’t like it anymore. I use the “7” fold and the “punch-down” fold. I like the 7 fold better. It’s easy to find out how to do these folds; Google them!

Fold preference really just depends on what works for you. Some women prefer different folds based on their size, or comfort, or what creates the seal best. For me, it’s all about creating the seal. What’s the point of using the bleeding thing if your menstrual cup is leaking?!

Other folds include the origami fold, squiggle fold, diamond fold, and the labia fold. Experiment and find which one is for you!

3. WHERE’S MY CERVIX?!

I promise it’s not that hard, but you really do need to find your cervix if your menstrual cup is leaking.

Supposedly it feels firm and squishy, like the tip of your nose (and yeah, it actually does feel like that). Some women have higher cervixes, some have lower. The cervix is the entrance to your womb, so it’s in your vagina. Stick your finger up there and find it.

It took me a little while to realize that my cervix was actually angled a little to the left, and this has made a huge difference in helping my menstrual cup not to leak. Some women need longer stems on their cups and some need shorter, just depending on where your cervix is. Some women cut off the stem of their menstrual cup because they don’t need it. It’s all about your body and what works for you. But you do need to know where it is.

The menstrual cup should sit just below your cervix. If it’s in too high, this messes up the flow and your menstrual cup won’t work like it’s supposed to. If it’s too low, the seal won’t work.

And, here’s the killer—your cervix can actually move during menstruation. So you won’t just have to find it once but several times during your period. Get to know its position during your cycle!

4. Rotate the Cup

After you do your cute little fold and your menstrual cup pops open inside you, some women suggest giving the cup one full rotation to create the seal (and then pull down slightly) if your menstrual cup is leaking.

5. Pull the Cup Down

Some people suggest pulling the cup down (especially after rotating) to allow it to settle into its best position after it pops open inside you. I’ve found this to be very helpful when creating my seal!

Just pull it down maybe an inch or so, don’t pull the thing out. The pull is more like a gentle but firm tug to make sure the cup is in place.

6. Consider the Material of the Cup

Most cups are made out of silicone. Mine is made out of silicone as well.

So the deal with silicone is that it can be rather soft. This is cool because it makes the cup moldable to your unique vaginal wall in order to create the seal. It’s not cool because its softness can prevent your menstrual cup from properly popping open when it’s inside of you due to its softness.

So what to do? If your menstrual cup is leaking, take it out. Then, before insertion, run the menstrual cup under cold water to help firm up the silicone molecules. It’s actually not too bad inserting a cold cup, and you do need to insert it right after you run it under cold water.

This is a good thing to try if you have tight muscles down there and are having problems with getting your cup to open all the way.

How do you know if your menstrual cup is open all the way?

7. Feel That It’s Open

Running your finger along the edge of the menstrual cup can help you know if your cup is properly open. If your menstrual cup is leaking, chances are it didn’t pop open right. If you feel that it’s not properly open, this is a good time to do the rotation. Or…

8. Do Kegels

You smart ladies all know what these are right? If you don’t, I suggest you get your butt over to Google right now and find out. You need to be doing these, especially if you like to run and/or have children so that your vagina doesn’t fall out (this can happen!).

Kegels are basically just exercises that you do to strengthen your muscles down there. They are very simple. All you do is act like you are holding your pee. So for example, when you pee, just stop peeing. In the middle of it. Do this two times or so and you’re good to go. Eventually, you can learn to do them without peeing.

How can they help you when your menstrual cup is leaking?

They can help you by creating the seal (and, as we’ve discussed, the seal is critical). If you fold your cup and insert it and it doesn’t pop open all the way, or even if it does, you can do kegels to help create the seal. It does feel a little weird doing these exercises while the cup is inside of you (it basically feels like you are trying to push the menstrual cup out of you), but I’ve found that they really help when creating the seal or if you’re having problems with your cup opening all the way.

Kegels also help when you are trying to get the menstrual cup out. If you have it in there good, it might be hard to get out depending on its position. This is where the “pushing it out” feeling comes in handy.

9. Open Your Mouth

This is a weird one, but it works—keeping your mouth open while inserting/getting your cup in properly can help relax your muscles down there, therefore allowing the cup to open naturally and situate itself in the proper position. This one has helped me a lot!

10. Squat

Just as the size and fold of your cup matters as well as the position of your cervix, so does the position YOU are in when inserting your menstrual cup.

I’ve found that different cups come with different instructions for insertion. Some women insert the cup while sitting on the toilet, others while standing, some while squatting.

I’m here to tell you that if your menstrual cup is leaking, you might want to consider changing your position when you insert the cup. In my personal experience, squatting works the best. I never insert my cup any other way.

I started squatting to check my cervix when I started using the fertility awareness method, and I’ve found that this is just a way better position to find my cervix and insert the cup.

Every woman is different so find what works for you, but definitely give squatting a try if your menstrual cup is leaking!

11. Get the Right Size

There are different sizes and shapes of the cups. You need to pick the one that is best for you.

The guidelines that the menstrual cup websites have for sizes seem to be accurate. Mostly I feel that it is personal preference about which cup works best for you, and unfortunately, sometimes this just has to happen with trial and error. Reading reviews is helpful also! If you’re not sure about the size, contact the company and talk to them about it.

12. Contact the Company

If you’ve literally tried everything and your cup is still leaking—don’t give up! Contact the company that made your cup. Tell them what’s going on. They will help you!

I finally had to do this when I was on my fourth menstrual cup, the Lunette, and broke down and contacted the company. I should have done this sooner, because four menstrual cups later… seriously?!

The customer care people at Lunette were incredibly nice, understanding, and kept working with me and asking questions until we had the problem figured out (it was a combination of my cervix being to the left and the cup being too small… those sizes aren’t for everyone! Just because you’re 25 and haven’t given birth vaginally doesn’t mean you need the bigger size and vice versa. These are just guidelines. You’ll only know by trial and error which cup works for you!)

So What Works for Me?

After trying The Keeper and The Lady Cup (both sizes), I use the larger size of the Lunette and have been very successful with this cup.

Here’s my routine for inserting my cup without leaking:

  1. Wash my hands and my cup with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, rinsing thoroughly
  2. Squat
  3. Check where my cervix is
  4. Fold the cup (I use the “7” fold)
  5. Open my mouth
  6. Insert the cup angled back towards my rectum but also towards my cervix (my cervix is angled to the left)
  7. Let the cup go (I can usually hear it “pop” open; this sound can help you know if the seal is there)
  8. Rotate the cup
  9. Pull the cup down
  10. Do 2-3 kegels
  11. Give it another tug to make sure it’s good

All done!

I know it sounds confusing and complicated… trust me, one day, you’ll find what works for you!

Other Resources

Bottom line: if your menstrual cup is leaking, it’s not working. I hope this list helps. If you’re still confused, there’s this great video by this British girl (woman? She looks so young!) that will give you some more visual help. She is really awesome!

Good luck! 🙂

Your Introduction to the Menstrual Cup

Welcome to your introduction to the menstrual cup. It’s about to get real.

Did you know that feminine care product brands such as Playtex, Kotex, and Tampax test on animals?

I know what you’re thinking—how the hell do they test tampons on animals???

Actually, they test the amount of bleach on animals. What, you didn’t think those white tampons and pads were actually natural, did you? That they came from trees all nice and white? No, sorry. Those mothers were bleached. And you are shoving them up your vag.

I know, right?

Tampons also contain a known carcinogen byproduct, increase your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and your risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a serious illness which a model recently lost a leg to.

Get rid of those chemicals! There are natural brands of tampons and pads that you can buy if you really want to, including organic cotton ones.

But I don’t use tampons and pads anymore, not since I found out about the menstrual cup.

What Exactly Is the Menstrual Cup?

Some of you may already know what a menstrual cup is. I had no idea what it was until I started looking up alternatives to conventional pads and tampons.

The deal is, it’s a small cup that you insert into your vagina that catches your flow rather than absorbing it. Some say this helps to ease cramps. The cup, when inserted properly, should not leak at all.

Fascinating, right? My first menstrual cup was The Keeper, which is made of natural rubber latex.

It Fits Better Than Tampons

Menstrual cups come in different sizes. You may think this looks large, but it’s actually quite small and not difficult to insert after a couple tries (you fold before insertion).

Sizes vary by age, whether or not you have given birth, and personal preference. This menstrual cup is the smaller size for women who have not given birth vaginally. Unfortunately, this cup didn’t work for me. I could not get it to stop leaking and the stem was really long. Some women trim the stems depending on how long they need them to be.

The position of the menstrual cup will be slightly different in every woman’s body. When I was first looking at menstrual cups, I thought, “I’m going to be the most natural hippie ever and not shove silicone into my body, so I’m getting the natural rubber.”

I used this menstrual cup for almost six months and just never got the hang of it. They say that it takes women an average of three periods to master the menstrual cup. For some women, it only takes one. For some, it could take longer (ahem, me).

The menstrual cup requires you to become familiar with your female anatomy. This was great for me because I had no clue what was really up down there. It’s great to be knowledgeable about your body so that you can better care for it.

You Can Pick the Material You Want

After finding out that the natural rubber latex just wasn’t working, I got my second menstrual cup, which was the LadyCup.

The LadyCup is made of medical grade silicone. These cups are much more comfortable to insert and get in and out of your body in my experience. They come in cute colors and the stems are shorter and have grips on the stem, which helps a lot when removing.

As you can see, they have air holes to create the seal. There needs to be a seal created in order for the menstrual cup to work.

For the LadyCup, I got the bigger size because it’s based on age. The menstrual cup needs to be inserted in a specific way and there are a ton of tips and folds that you can do to get it to work properly.

Whether you choose to go totally natural or get a silicone cup, it’s for sure healthier than tampons. I actually went through two more menstrual cups (a smaller LadyCup and finally the Lunette) before finding my perfect fit.

It Takes Time to Get Used To

I’ve been on my adventure with the menstrual cup for several months now and it’s been a fascinating, albeit frustrating, one.

It takes time to get the hang of this but when it works, it’s like magic. Here are just a few benefits of using the menstrual cup:

  • You insert it and you’re good to go for 12 hours
  • You can run, swim, pee, poo, do whatever you need to do with it in
  • When it’s in properly, you don’t feel a thing.
  • It’s more eco-friendly
  • No more trips to the store for tampons!

Didn’t tampons and pads take time to get used to? The menstrual cup will too. You will love it once it works and you’ll definitely love not exposing your vagina to carcinogenic substances.

How to Clean Your Cup

When your cup is full or if it’s leaking, it’s time to take it out and reinsert it.

But let me stop you before you do this.

First, you need to wash your hands. I like using a castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s. If you don’t wash your hands, you’re putting yourself at risk for a UTI (yes, I got a UTI from not washing my menstrual cup my first summer using it).

After emptying the cup, you need to wash the cup. I don’t care if you just put that thing in, wash it again. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off any soap residue. Then, just reinsert. It’s that easy.

It’s really important that your hands are clean before you have any contact with your menstrual cup, so don’t neglect this step!

Not Liking the Cup?

Ok, I get it. Putting a tiny cup in your vagina is just not for everyone. Here are some alternatives to the menstrual cup:

Get reusable cloth pads. You can wash and reuse these. I ordered cloth pads as a backup on days when I don’t feel like messing with the cup or when my flow is lighter. Flannel is actually a great material to use as it’s absorbent or you can go for organic cotton or bamboo.

Try natural tampons and pads. These would include unbleached fibers. They’re easier to deal with if you’re not invested in the menstrual cup, but wasteful for long-term use, as the average woman has her period for something like 40 years and will use nearly 12,000 tampons.

Check out sea sponge tampons. These are pretty cool. I myself haven’t tried them, but Bree (this really cool girl on YouTube who is something like a menstrual cup guru) has and did a video on them, click on the link to check it out.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon!

If you’re having problems getting your cup not to leak, I would encourage you to check out my guide for getting your menstrual cup to stop leaking. Bree also did a video on that which is super neat and helpful if you want the short (or a more visual) version.

Don’t give up on your menstrual cup! You can do this. Contact the company that made your cup—after going through four menstrual cups, Lunette finally helped me find my perfect fit. You might have to do some experimenting to find what works for you.

Trust me, all this effort will totally be worth it in the end!

The Verdict

I really love menstrual cups even though they can be frustrating when getting used to them. They give me a way to avoid animal testing, be more in touch with my body, and be friendly to the earth.

So ladies… happy menstrual cup shopping. There are so many different brands to consider! I do hope you’ll give this a try, as it’s safer for your body, there is no known risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and it’s so much more convenient for you and the planet.

Cost wise, the cups run anywhere from $20-$40 and last for 10 years. Can you buy boxes and boxes of tampons and pads for $40 in ten years? DOUBT IT.

Embrace your womanhood and check out the menstrual cup; you can pick your favorite color, have it shipped to your door, and get familiar with your body all in the privacy of your own home. What have you got to lose?