Naoko Kensaku

Geminian Rat. Carried by an Aries Bear.

Menstrual Cups 101 for 2021: From a long time user

Banner for Menstrual Cup 101, 2021 Edition

Over the New Year’s, I asked friends on FB and Discord to give me their menstrual cup questions, and it was an eye-opening experience. So here’s a handy FAQ:

Basics

What is a menstrual cup?

It is a bell-shaped cup made of either medical grade silicone, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) or latex, used during periods.

Menstrual cups come in a variety of capacity, length, firmness, and stem types. Fun fact: you cannot put a menstrual cup in your anus for post anal sex. I feel like I need to mention this (mainly because years before I saw a troll asking this).

How much does it cost?

Depending on the brand, it can cost anywhere from RM50 > RM200. This is before considering the 1168313148 versions on Shopee and Lazada. I hesitate to use these super el cheapo brands because this is something that goes into your body, so I prefer to stick with familiar brand names.

Side note: Several years ago, a brand called RebelKate gave out free menstrual cups. I was one of those who managed to snag a pair. In my opinion, the cups are usable, but also way too firm for my tastes. I think a lot of people who normally wouldn’t have tried menstrual cups decided to take the plunge thanks to this brand. In case you’re wondering, they went out of business several years ago.

Surprise find: While researching prices, I discovered local zero-waste brand The Hive actually came out with their own menstrual cup. It looks mighty interesting and the price is alright, but don’t take this as an endorsement, it’s just a surprise find.

What brands are you familiar with?

Prior to my fibroid removal surgery, I was using the Ladycup, which I consider my "holy grail cup." Unfortunately due to personal hijinks I needed to replace the Ladycup after surgery. As there were no more local sellers I ended up first trying the RebelKate free cup. After two cycles I bit the bullet and got myself a Meluna from Lazada instead as I found the RebelKate cups too hard.

The Meluna feels significantly stiffer than my Ladycup, but it’s quite comfortable for me otherwise.

Does a menstrual cup interfere with daily activities?

Not in my experience. In fact I find it much more preferable than pads and tampons, especially when I was an avid gym-goer. I didn’t have to worry about changing pads or tampons while exercising, and yes this includes swimming and yoga as well.

Usage questions

How do you put it in?

The method that works well for me is to sit on a toilet bowl, fold one side of the cup and then insert into my vagina. Usually I will feel it "pop" open inside of me when it’s fully inserted. If not, I will grab the base and try to rotate it so the cup can open.

Note, this is what works for me. I’ve heard some people have greater success with the "one leg on a raised platform/chair in the shower" method. This is something you’ll need to experiment with.

Pro-tip: Yes, you do want the cup to "pop" open. When the cup pops open, it creates a watertight seal that should catch all menstrual fluids and lining.

If you want to Google the fold I’m using, it’s called the punch down fold. Period Powerful Hub has a pretty good write up and illustrations of the most popular folds to use.

Note: It’s very common to NOT get it right the first time you try a menstrual cup. I think my first attempt years ago took me about half an hour or more, and I tried quite a few different positions then too. If you find yourself getting frustrated, relax, wash your hands, put the cup away and try again later. Periods last several days, so it’s completely ok to take a break and come back later.

Pro-tip: I don’t really recommend dry runs unless it’s close to your period as your vagina does change throughout your cycle. For me, I cannot insert the cup if my period hasn’t begun. Even at the smallest point, the cup simply won’t go in.

How do you remove and clean it?

I sit on the toilet, bear down, press on the base of the cup, and then slowly pull it out of me. This is mainly to ensure that when the cup is out, I can tip its contents into the toilet bowl. If I misjudge my timing and my cup is overfull, breaking the seal will usually result in some blood over my hand.

Then I use the bidet to clean the cup with one hand (yes all this is one-handed) before folding and putting it back. At the end of my cycle, I will usually wash the cup in hot water. It air dries pretty quickly and then I’ll store it in the little bag that came with my cup. :p

Does wearing a menstrual cup hurt?

Generally no. However, some users (including myself) do experience irritation with the menstrual cup stem poking (dependent on brand).

Filing the edges with a nail file can soften the edge and reduce irritation. I generally don’t do this because the irritation reminds me I’m wearing a menstrual cup (this is also how I use contact lenses – I would rather have the irritation to remind me that it’s there than to risk completely forgetting and having it in longer than I should).

That said, if you are a virgin (aka never had sexual intercourse before), inserting a menstrual cup for the first time can hurt. This is due to the muscles around the opening, which can be significantly tense that first time.

In this case, I highly recommend you explore your own body first before attempting to use a menstrual cup. Relax and take your time understanding how your vagina works, where your cervix is, and what insertion feels like. First time insertions generally hurt due to a person being tense. If needed, use lube to aid insertion.

Lunette has a good guide for first timers.

Note: If you can use tampons, you should be able to use menstrual cups. However, some cannot use menstrual cups due to the shape of their vagina/other medical conditions.

How do you know when it’s full?

As a general rule I usually take my cup out when I need to pee/poop. This is mainly because the uterus contracts to expel the lining (hence why period cramps exist). The same hormones that cause the uterus cramps are also the same one that makes a person want to pee/poop more often, so I treat it as a signal to go and empty the cup.

Yes, this means I have had pee over my hand when removing my cup, so that’s something to be aware of.

Can you lose the menstrual cup in your vagina?

Yes… and no. I’ve not had this happen to me, but I have had experience of my menstrual cup riding high into my vagina that makes it difficult to remove. In those cases, I usually take a deep breath, bear down like I wanna pee, and then attempt to at least grab hold of the stem. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just walk away and come back later – my cup generally tends to travel lower when it’s full anyway.

From what I’ve heard, if you have a long canal, short cup and short fingers, removal can become a challenge. And this brings me to something new I discovered while researching.

Surprising find: There are new menstrual cups on the market with alternative stems that purportedly help you break the seal when you pull on the stem. In theory it sounds good, but looking at the actual design doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Who should use it?

If I’m a virgin can I use a menstrual cup?

My general rule of thumb is that if you can wear a tampon you can wear a menstrual cup. However this is also highly dependent on how comfortable you are messing around down there. However, before you go out and buy one, do the research. Lunette‘s earlier’ guide is a pretty good starting place.

I have an allergy to latex/silicone/TPE, can I still use a cup?

If you intend to use a menstrual cup please ensure it’s not the material you are allergic to. I… can’t believe I still need to write that.

Can I use a menstrual cup if I have an IUD?

I would… not recommend it.

An IUD is also known as an intrauterine device, which is a device put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is usually attached with some strings. While the menstrual cup itself does not have enough suction to pull out your IUD, it may entangle your strings instead, which can cause the entire IUD to dislodge or come out of your cervix and vagina when removing your cup.

So no, I personally would not recommend it, but again, don’t take my word for it. Do your research.

What if I have a tilted uterus?

As a general rule, you should have no issues wearing a cup, but broad advice seems to indicate it’s best to insert your cup way lower and use a smaller size. Pixie (linked above) has a great piece on what users with tilted uterus need to know about positioning.

I heard that menstrual cups can cause prolapses!

A BBC article last year, reported some women believed their prolapse could be attributed to their new menstrual cup use. However, note that in the article, there’s been no studies made of menstrual cups causing prolapses, and I am personally a little wary of these claims, simply because we’d have seen more of these incidents considering how many women have been using menstrual cups since the mid 1970s.

That said though, there is good advice about how to remove your menstrual cup to minimise risk (I’m using that phrase very loosely). Saalt has a good article on how to "bear down" if you need to to remove a cup (TL;DR you should be bearing down like you’d be moving your bowels for a light movement. Anything more is cause for worry).

Can I use it if I have fibroids/PCOS/endometriosis?

Yup, you should not have problems, I had fibroids and had no issues wearing a cup, but again, do your own research. When in doubt, speak to a trusted gynae. I CANNOT STRESS THE LATTER ENOUGH. If you’re not comfy with your current gynae, consider finding another.

Sadly in Malaysia gynaes are not covered under med insurance unless it’s an emergency. All I can say is get recommendations from friends and always double check against Google Maps reviews (if the doc is truly problematic there’s a good chance people will complain about it on GMaps) and always research their names.

Hope that was useful! As always, you can leave a comment if you have a question.

Insomnia after light exercises: A story

A few days ago, the hubs and I committed ourselves to a 30 minute walk daily, just before dinner. Since it was going to be a light walk, we didn’t really need to do anything more than wear our walking shoes and leave the house.

The first day we started, the weather was nice and cooling, perfect weather for a walk (thanks monsoon season). We had an easy pace and ended up walking for about 45 minutes according to our trackers.

It was also the day before I went back to work, so after an early dinner and decompressing, I went to bed.

And then proceeded to toss and turn for several hours before falling asleep due to sheer exhaustion.

I’m no stranger to insomnia, but this one in particular was very unexpected. My body was exhausted, my eyes kept closing, but my mind wouldn’t shut up. This was very different from my usual bouts of insomnia.

At first I chalked it up to nervousness going back to work after the holiday period, and so I snatched naps during both my lunch hour and after work.

Then it happened again that second night, though this time wasn’t too bad – I got at least 4 hours of sleep. At this point I knew it wasn’t hormones (which was my first thought) and suspected it was the daily walks instead.

So I decided to Google and see if light exercise could cause insomnia, which in my mind was a weird thing, as exercise is supposed to help you sleep better. Turns out yes, you can get insomnia after light exercise. According to the Daily Burn exercise increases your core body temperature, which can lead to sleepless nights. I had another link which I can’t find now which also pointed out that dehydration could also interfere with the body’s ability to cool down.

So putting the two together, I realised that my insomnia was due to not getting enough fluids to counter dehydration, and I had been lazy when it came to drinking enough water in the first place. The reason why I slept better on the second night was most likely due to generous helpings of bah kut teh, aka super soupy dinner.

Thus after I found out I made it a point to keep my water tumbler filled and avoid diuretic drinks like tea after 3pm. Result? By the third day I was falling asleep quickly like I had just a week prior. And I didn’t need to change my habits much either.

So this is just a long blogpost to say hi, I’m still alive, yes, I’m still writing and Happy New Year. Also if this is the trial period before the new year properly starts can I get a refund and a new package?

The delight of a new computer

Bai 1
Meet BaiQ!

LOOK AT MY NEW CHILD! ISN’T SHE GORGEOUS?

So several months ago, the hubs built his new PC. I had PC envy, and started talking with him about getting me a new gaming desktop. Now the desktop he was previously using was actually mine (I had switched over to a laptop a few years ago for both Nano and on-the-go writing/freelancing) but it was really showing its age. It was about 8 years old by the time it returned to me this year, and I got it in 2014 (I actually bought it second-hand from another friend who’d been using it for a few years). 

My darling Envy the laptop, did a pretty good job of letting me surf and game a bit but was really struggling with some of the games I played. If I played games released before 2010 it was fine (think Zeus, Age of Empires, etc) but anything released in the last five years had pretty bad pixellation and stuttering, of course not including pixel-art and similar games. 

The reason? Envy didn’t have a dedicated GPU so that contributed to a lot of PC bottlenecking. This eventually lead to both me getting a Switch and dropping playing any new releases from the last decade or so, since Envy was my primary machine and I’d given the desktop over to the hubs. 

The requirements

Since it had been close to a decade since the current desktop was built, hubs and I spoke quite a bit about building a new machine for me. We ended up with a config that was very close to his, with a few changes: it needed to be very quiet because I was planning to do recordings with it sometimes, and it needed to have more RGB because if I was going to get a computer with a tempered glass side panel YOU CAN BET I WANTED IT TO LIGHT UP.

And that, my dear reader, is how I ended up with this spec: 

Case: be quiet! PURE BASE 500DX

Motherboard: GIGABYTE X570 AORUS PRO WIFI

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Graphics: GTX 750Ti

RAM: 16GB Corsair VENGEANCE PRO RGB (White) 3600MHz

Drive: Adata XPG Spectrix S40G – 1TB

Cooler: be quiet! Pure Rock 2

Building weekend

Despite it being Merdeka weekend, the items were delivered pretty quickly… except the be quiet! case. The original store I bought from kept delaying delivery, until I called them up on Friday (note: I ordered the previous Saturday).

First the salesperson promised they’d send it out for delivery by Friday itself but by Saturday morning there was no update and so I cancelled the order. When I cancelled the order they called me immediately so I gave the phone to the hubs who had no qualms tearing the caller a new one about the delay and broken promises.

In any case, that Saturday the hubs and me rushed over to Dotatech IT after WhatsApping them – they confirmed and reserved the case for me. The rush was mainly due to the Shopee guarantee for the received parts – we needed to build the PC to ensure all parts were in working condition in case of any *touch wood* warranty issues.

Bai 5
Building in progress!

Hubs then spent most of the afternoon building BaiQ – and it didn’t help the day was SUPER HOT and we were having that stupid water cut. In the process he let me put in the CPU (AAAAAAAAAA PINS) and the SSD (OMG tiny!) but I needed him to put in the RAM because HOLY HELL stifffffffffff! 

Once everything was assembled and all the cables were sorted out (one of my HDMI cables was damaged in the process – don’t ask), the hubs immediately put in the BIOS update thumb drive and switched it on. 

Bai 4
Ignore the wiring at the back, what is cable management…

AND SHE POSTED! (meaning we could see the BIOS screen). Was so cool to see her spinning and all the pretty pretty pretty colours come to life. I’m going to just leave the RGB on without changing anything because I am loving this effect – it reminds me a lot of looking at an aquarium. 

How fast can you go?

In terms of performance, BaiQ is fast. Very fast. But even I didn’t anticipate the speed – my fastest Windows 10 installation was 30 minutes before this. BQ took 10. 

TEN. MINUTES. To install Windows. 

It was literally blink and already done, and yes this includes the time needed to connect to the Internet and linking my MSFT account. 

This is mainly because with such fast components, even the act of decompressing downloaded files becomes super quick. And it’s not just for installing Windows – a bunch of programs I downloaded and install took mere seconds or even minutes to complete (even a 70GB patch for Path of Exile) thanks to this upgrade. 

Bai 2
Spinning spinning spinning!

Some of you may have noticed I am using a pretty old graphics card, and that’s where the current bottleneck is. You are correct. This card is actually from the hub’s own former desktop, and it is enough while I save up cash to get: 

  • A possible RTX 3060 or 3070 (siao ah get 3090???)
  • New power supply to support said graphics card (current one is definitely underpowered if I want a 30 series)
  • A new monitor that’s at least 27″ or (the dream) a 32″ ultra wide
  • Optional: Decent set of speakers or possibly one that’s integrated with the monitor because I be lazy like that

This second upgrade will most likely be only in the second half of 2021 simply because a life upgrade I was planning for has finally kicked in (NO I AM NOT PREGNANT). Plus I am not in a real rush anyway. BaiQ is more than enough for my needs… for now.

[Geekiness] Fighting with Logitech G Hub

GHub Home (1)

Had a super long angery-kind of rant about the Logitech G Hub software, but ultimately, all I wanted to do was share what I learnt, which is how I got my Logitech gaming mouse to work on a laptop that doesn’t have Logitech G Hub:

The key thing is to activate your device’s onboard memory with the program you want to use over on the other laptop, but this process is not as intuitive as you might think.

Issue 1: Onboard memory doesn’t work

So, a few scenarios here: 

  • Cannot find the “switch to onboard memory” option at all
    • Click on chosen device. 
    • Click on the GEAR/SETTING icon in the upper right. 
    • Settings will be on the right side of the screen, indicating available slots.
      Note: If you press the Gear Icon from the main page before the device there’s another step of selecting My Gear > Your Device again > Onboard memory. 
  • Onboard Memory activated but the mouse becomes heavy and reverts to default behaviour
    The dumb solution? 

    Change the slot.

    Seriously. I had so much trouble with this, and all I needed to do was change the freaking slot, from Slot 3 to Slot 2 and it worked. MCB. 

Issue 2: Missing LG Hub.exe

In the midst of all this, the Logitech G Hub file went missing. Learnt that this was because G Hub has a damn weird way of installing updates instead of just bundling everything into the MSI installer like the first time it was installed, so any interruptions, like shutting down PC without realising the updater is running (and there’s no indication even IF it’s updating in the background!) can cause the EXE file to not be registered. 

And this can lead to not being able to uninstall or reinstall G Hub. Before you muck around in your registry, Reddit has the answer.

All you need to do is navigate to your C:/Program Files folder and nuke the LOGITECH folder ONLY. Don’t delete anything else, just that folder in that location. 

If you do a general search on your PC’s drive to find this folder, you may also find the Logitech G Hub folder in a location that looks like APPDATA etc, LEAVE THIS ALONE. This is where your settings live, if you nuke this as well, you will need to recreate* your shortcut keys, macros, etc all over again. 

After deleting, try to install G Hub again. It should work. If not, uninstall, restart comp, reinstall, and wait about 15-30 minutes depending on your Internet connection. 

* Up to you whether you want to install, I’d just move it to a different location if you want to do a completely fresh install but don’t want to lose your settings.

Issue 3: Missing settings

So after following the steps in Missing LG Hub, the software could detect my G502 (not the Hero, but the model before), but now I could only change the Lighting effects. I couldn’t get into Assignments (aka macros) or DPI, which left me with a super heavy and slow mouse. 

I uninstalled the software again, then restarted my PC. As it did, I took the mouse OUT from the USB hub I was using and plugged it in directly to the PC. When my comp had restarted, I reinstalled, and now it was showing. 

With missing Chrome shortcut keys but I remembered what I used so it wasn’t too hard. 

End result

Once that was done, and I followed the steps to switch to onboard memory, I took my G502 out from the laptop and plugged it back into the hub. Then I switched from my home PC to my work PC. 

My G502 finally works on my office laptop and now I have all my lovely shortcut buttons on the mouse so I don’t have to rely on my keyboard shortcuts anymore.