How Doxycycline Saved My Sex Life

Earlier this year I wrote a post about UTIs and how to avoid them. In it, I repeated much of the standard stuff about wiping front to back and drinking plenty of water. I should have also mentioned wearing cotton underwear and not putting yogurt on your vagina if you’re prone to such infections, but I digress. What I want to talk about in this post is my experience I had with chronic UTIs. And I mean chronic in the sense that almost every time after PiV I would pee straight after intercourse and still get a UTI. Had it not been for my NP, I might’ve just thought I was condemned to a life of filling this or that prescription for different courses of Macrobid or Bactrim. But my NP wanted to get to the bottom of my burning problems, so she had me tested for something I’ve never heard of: ureaplasma.

BEDSIDE BUDDIES 100918
These were my constant bedside buddies. They saw heavy use while I was thrown from UTI to UTI.

What is ureaplasma? According to my doctor, they’re part of a group of organisms called mycoplasmas, which are bacteria without cell walls. The ureaplasma in particular usually inhabit the vagina, cervix, and occasionally the urethra of the penis. This bacteria generally doesn’t cause problems, but on some rare incidences, the presence of ureaplasma in the urethra of a vulva can cause chronic UTIs. But how does this happen? The ureaplasma is not the bacteria of the infection, instead, it makes the colonization of infectious bacteria much easier. Ureaplasma is passed sexually, though it isn’t commonly listed as an STI because of its presence in healthy individuals who don’t experience any symptoms. This means that if one partner has an issue with the bacteria, both partners need to be treated to avoid passing the infection back and forth.

Testing for the ureaplasma was a bit difficult for me. I’m more than used to providing samples for urinalysis, but one of the tests for ureaplasma is the ‘clean catch’ test. This test involves collecting the urine sample mid-stream so that you can get a good look at the sample without any interference from the vaginal flora. To further this aim, the doctor provided me with some antibacterial wipes so that there would be as little interference from my vaginal flora as possible. Well, this kind of test required me to have impeccable timing and sadly I did botch it. Luckily, after I washed my hands, the second test was a vaginal swab and I was able to do that no problem. After I turned in my samples, I was given a stop gap prescription of Macrobid in the event that it wasn’t ureaplasma.

About four days later, the doctor confirmed that I did indeed have ureaplasma and was told to discontinue use of the Macrobid. I was prescribed a two week course of doxycycline, which some people know from using it as an anti-malarial. This medication had to be taken twice a day and I was barred from sexual intercourse, which wasn’t an issue since my partner was away for the summer.The medication was rough on my body, and there was one instance of it making me so ill that I vomited and had to call in sick from work. But I persevered and completed the medication course. But because of the nature of the bacteria, my partner also needed to take a round of medication or else he’d risk re-infecting me when we had sex. I cannot tell you what a blessing my partner is. When I was anxious about asking him to go in for this testing, he reassured me that he was more than happy to do this since he had been worried about hurting me and was glad there was a solution.

After the summer, he was finally able to convince the doctor to give him a swab test and a prescription. The swab test indeed confirmed he had the ureaplasma and he was given the go ahead to start his medication. He took doxycycline twice a day, though the nausea that I had experienced was notably absent. During this time, we refrained from what we termed ‘a touching reunion’ for a full month, waiting for the medication. It felt like an eternity waiting for him to finish the medication. But once we had both completed the medication, the satisfaction of being able to be sexually intimate with my partner again sans the persistent fear of infection was absolutely worth it.

Now that we’re nearly a month out from the medication, I’ve been pain and infection free despite having several PiV encounters with my partner. I’m keeping up with my prevention techniques by making sure I’m adequately hydrated and I’ve ditched all my thongs, but I feel noticeably improved. I’m sharing this story in the hopes that it reaches the people who are in a similar chronic UTI situation. While this may not be the case for everyone who has chronic UTIs, it’s something I’ve not seen talked about very often as a possible cause behind chronic infection. I believe that this lack of conversation around it has people buying every cranberry pill, taking lots of unnecessary medication which is contributing to antibiotic resistance and generally feeling broken because of their constant infection.  If you’re suffering from chronic UTIs, I would urge you to ask your doctor to test you for this. Insist if you have to, because sometimes getting your best healthcare requires self-advocating. Doxycycline quite literally saved my sex life and it might save yours too.

 

Warming Up: Part Two on Foreplay

So now we come to the second part of my Warming Up series. I’ve already discussed what foreplay is, or what my personal definition of it is, this post is meant as sort of a rough guideline of possible foreplay activities. Most of this has been drawn from my own personal experience so  your mileage may vary. This isn’t meant as an instructional guide on foreplay, merely offering my methods to see if you find anything you might want as an addition to your warm up repertoire.

In warming up for vaginal penetration

In warming up for vaginal penetration, there are a couple of things I’ll do differently depending on whether I’m preparing for PiV sex or if I’m planning on penetrating myself with a dildo. With a partner, I enjoy giving and receiving oral to get ourselves physically and mentally ready. Personally speaking, giving my partner a blowjob before sex makes me feel incredibly sensual and sometimes gets me aroused enough for penetration all on its own. Being able to control the experience my partner receives isn’t something I get to feel when I get fucked, so I relish the control I have for the time being.

Because my partner values reciprocity, he’s often not the only one getting oral. In fact, even with the difference in our sizes, we’ve actually pulled off the 69 position to great success. Getting oral is a fantastic act in its own right, and for some people it may be the whole sexual encounter , but I often find it to be an amazing warm up for PiV with my wonderful partner. When receiving oral, I prefer to also be fingered at the same time. The internal stimulation and getting used to being penetrated makes it so I can enjoy feeling stretched by my partner without feeling claustrophobic from his dick. I know it seems strange that my vagina with size queen tendencies can feel claustrophobic from anything, but it remains the case. If I don’t warm up to penetration and I’m not turned on enough, it’ll hurt.

If I’m warming up for a solo session, I’ll often start off with a vibrator. I’ve got a few that have been featured so far, namely the much loved Turbo Glider and Mystic Wand. Warming up my clit turns me on and gets me ready for a dildo. Now, I should use a smaller dildo in preparation for my larger ones, but most times? I just go straight for it and endure a little discomfort as my body gets used to it. In this respect, I would ask my readers to please use smaller dildos to warm up first rather than just plunging in. Your orifices will thank you.

The last crucial piece for warming up is: LUBE. I cannot stress enough how essential a good lube has been for my sex and masturbation life. Good Clean Love’s original formula was my go to until I noticed I started having some irritation, so I discontinued use. Thankfully, Good Clean Love has graciously offered to send me their BioNude formula, which I’m very grateful for. In the meantime, I ordered both the Butters and Sliquid from Peepshow, which preliminary testing is showing some very good results! Of course, I’ll fill you in more on a later post with regards to how these lubes feel.

In warming up for anal play

So a quick disclaimer: I’ve not had penetrative anal sex yet. Well, I’ve had an entire 8 inch dick in my ass, but after insertion (we didn’t use lube) it got pretty uncomfortable so he pulled out and we moved on to something else. So most of my experience with anal has been using toys or getting my ass fingered. Regardless, here’s how I warm up.

Usually I start with lots of lube and gentle digital penetration, because my butt is a delicate flower. The few times I’ve been impatient, I’ve wound up bleeding slightly and had to take a long break from anal play of any kind. So if I’m doing anything with my butt, I make some time to read some erotica, stimulate my clit, and slowly ease into anal. Making sure my clit is involved ensures that I’m turned on enough and still feeling pleasure while I’m easing into anal.

I’ve also done an enema in preparation for anal, though I later wasn’t able to actually follow through on that desire. I’ve done an enema using a bulb, and while I did feel cleaner, I felt oddly dehydrated and headachey afterward. This bad feeling nipped any chance of sex in the bud, so my partner and I ended up just snuggling while I recovered. So if you’re planning on doing an enema, I’d recommend: 1. Doing several rinses. 2. Making sure you’ve got access to a bathroom you can hog for about an hour. 3. Drinking plenty of water in the event you feel like me after. Also, while an enema once in a while is fine, too many too close together can really upset your gut flora! So be mindful and take care of your body.

Last words

You know your body best and know where your limits are. The things I’ve described above may work for you, and they may not. I encourage you to experiment with several activities and to take your time in getting your body ready. In a lot of ways, warming up for sex is like warming up for any other athletic event. Take your time to get your mind and body ready so that you can enjoy whatever encounter you decide to participate in!

Cryptokink: Teratophilia

Welcome to another installment of Cryptokink, wherein I explore some of the more fantastical fetishes that I’ve found online. This time I’m examining teratophilia, something that’s grown quite a bit more popular on the internet!

So what is teratophilia? According to the definition provided by Wikitionary it is: “1. The paraphilia characterized by sexual attraction to deformed or monstrous people. 2. Attraction to monsters.” But what does this mean in practice? For some people, it might mean an attraction to people considered conventionally ugly, leaning towards the first listed definition. But for a growing population on the internet, and for the purposes of this post, it means that they get turned on by things that are…more than human.

In reality, teratophilia, or at least a degree of it, is quite common. Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre that is rapidly gaining popularity within the romance market, featuring broody vampire or werewolf boyfriends which woo the heroines and the readers. Twilight comes to mind as a popular, if somewhat nasty example of the growing trend.  The television series Teen Wolf also comes to mind, as well as the Netflix series Hemlock Grove, which I personally enjoyed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who liked Edward Cullen in middle school is now a card-carrying teratophile. Just that this fetish, despite its seeming niche appearance is actually pretty common.

CTHULU PRODUCT PHOTO
The Cthulhu dildo from Uberrime, looking both otherworldly and alluring.

Of course, teratophilia isn’t just sulky vampires who can’t decide between fucking and eating you. A number of the kinksters who identify as teratophiles actually see vampires and succubi as the ‘vanilla’ version of the kink. A significant amount of teratophilic art features aberrant, eldritch horrors getting it on with their human counterparts, often with these human counterparts enthusiastically receiving their alien lover. What Lovecraft considered horrifying and ghastly, these individuals consider a perfect fuck buddy. Often times, teratophilia will coincide with a number of kinks. Oviposition, which I wrote about earlier, is often in tandem with a monstrous lover. Some inflation porn coincides with having a monster pump you full of its fluids. Macro/microphilia occasionally plays its part in scenarios, with the monster towering above its lover by a significant margin. Put simply, teratophilia enjoys a lot of crossover appeal because of how broad the definition of monster is.

ARGUS PRODUCT PHOTO
The XenoCat Argus in a gorgeous color scheme.

So, if you are a teratophiliac, how is it exactly that you get your fix? While monster roleplay is certainly an option, I most often hear of it indulged through written or visual erotica. Some erotica uses real life actors, with some of the actors posing as the monster, while other pornography uses either drawn or CGI characters to get the desired effect of monster fucking. In addition to this, there are also a number of companies that make fantastically shaped sex toys to really scratch that itch for teratophiles. While many large brands worry about veering too far off the human model, other brands such as Uberrime, XenoCat, Lust Arts, and Exotic Erotics have stepped forward to meet the challenge. Each of these companies produce unique designs that are pleasurable in their own right, as well as potentially scratching that itch of someone wanting to get it on with a creature of the night.

A lot of teratophilia fiction is available on blogging platforms like Tumblr and on fanfiction sites like Ao3 if you’re interested in exploring on your own. On Tumblr, there are both SFW and NSFW teratophile blogs, allowing you to engage with the material at your level of comfort. As with most kinks, teratophilia can be experienced in a variety of ways and moods, so for as many stories featuring a borderline violent encounter with a monster in the dark, there are beautiful stories of tender fucking with your loving orc spouse. And so with that, I leave you to go out and find your own perfect monster significant other!

Cryptokink: Oviposition

Welcome to the start of a new feature on this blog: Cryptokink. This series is going to feature the unusual and fascinating kinks that I’ve learned about in my time browsing the net. I’m not going to claim to be an expert or representative of these kinks, this is more of a fun, entry-level exploration into something a little off the beaten path. With this in mind, this installment of Cryptokink is going to feature Oviposition, a kink which takes natural phenomenon and fantasy trappings and blends them into something new and exciting.

For those unfamiliar, I’ll provide a quick and dirty description of oviposition. Oviposition can roughly be described as: the act of one participant laying eggs in either the anus or vagina of another participant. The laying. The penetrative party uses a phallic organ called an ‘ovipositor’ to lay these eggs into the recipient. Eggs can be of nearly any description or size. Some oviposition scenes feature a host be filled to the brim with chicken sized eggs or with much smaller ones. These eggs can also vary in shape, color, texture along with other features.

A quick science refresher: oviposition does in fact happen in nature! One prominent example is that female seahorses impregnate the male seahorses using their ovipositor. A further example is that some insects are known to parasitically lay eggs in other hosts. So while oviposition doesn’t happen exactly the way it does in the erotica, there is still natural precedent for the phenomenon.

After interviewing a few users on Tumblr, I began to get a sense of why people are attracted to this particular fetish. It has crossover appeal with teratophilia, a kink I’ll be writing about later, along with such things like non-con or dub-con and a stuffing and pregnancy kinks. Apart from the egg pregnancy, oviposition also places great emphasis on the pregnant party ‘laying’ these eggs, often featuring the host in pleasure as they lay their non-human young. This orgasmic ‘laying’ also provided a strong appeal to users, in addition to the pleasure of being stuffed. Oviposition comes in a wide variety tones, ranging from something very tame to something more wet and wild. Having done a little research, I could find erotica with sweet and tender egg-laying, akin to love-making alongside the more aggressive and less considerate versions. This tracks with most kinks, as BDSM and other kinks also range from sweet and tender to something more rough and aggressive.

In researching this unusual kink, I have discovered that there does exist a line of sex toys, for the fetish. However, there was one I wanted to feature specifically within this piece: a dildo named The Splorch. The Splorch is a silicone dildo from Primal Hardwere, which allows the user to squeeze eggs into their orifice of choice. The dildo does not come with the eggs, so eggs must be acquired separately. To facilitate this, Primal Hardwere also supplies gelatin egg molds and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the aforementioned eggs.  Primal Hardwere also makes no claim as to whether or not the toy is anal-safe, but does mention that gelatin eggs should dissolve with body heat. As for the toy itself, the base appears nice and wide and shouldn’t get lost in the anus, so I believe that dildo itself is extremely safe.

Given as I’ve never heard of gelatin being used in an erotic manner and had questions with regards to the safety of the toy both anally and vaginally, I reached out to the owner, Lone Wolf. Happily, the owner responded promptly and explained that while

ovipositorsneak
The Splorch posed with gelatin eggs.

they could not definitively say that the toy was anal-safe, that they had used the toy and gelatin eggs anally for years without issue. Vaginally speaking, LoneWolf was unable to say for certain if anyone would have a reaction to the gelatin in the eggs. However, Lone Wolf was able to say that customers reported they were able to take the eggs with no ill-effects. With this in mind, I would cautiously give my approval to the gelatin eggs, though I might more enthusiastically recommend silicone eggs for vaginal use, as those will be safe for the body without a doubt. (EDIT: LoneWolf does not recommend silicone eggs as they tend squeegee off the lube and may not be compatible with the toys. I would take this into account with your sensitivities and make your choice based on that.)

If you’re still curious about oviposition after this piece, it’s fairly easy to find more media relating to it. The oviposition tag on tumblr will yield a glut of results, which will require you to turn off safe-search, as will a cursory search on Ao3 or other sites where erotica is permitted. And if you decide you’re much a fan and have the dough, the toys of your dreams await you at Primal Hardwere. Just be sure to always play safely!

Thank you to LoneWolf and Tumblr users tsundere-kawaii-shark and catscreatinganarchy for helping make this post possible!

Visions of the Future

AKA here’s what’s in the pipeline for my upcoming pieces:

  • Reviews of the Stockroom products I received! I received a collar, an adjustable eye mask and a paddle to review from Stockroom and I’m very excited. Preliminary testing indicates that I love the mask the most, but we’ll see!
  • A new series of posts exploring different kinks and fetishes I’ve encountered on my career on the internet. It’ll include some really interesting stuff including: Oviposition, Teratophilia, Vore and much more.
  • Reviewing for Lust Arts! Lust Arts was one of the first to contact me when I got extremely excited for their new product The Mermaid. It’s a beautiful, extremely textured silicone dildo and I’m extremely excited to receive it!
  • Possibly launching a podcast about all of this? Who knows.
  • Warming Up Part Two: Some typical acts that can warm you up and what it is I do to get warmed up for penetration!

I’m very excited to write these and more!

The Fire Down Below: UTIs

Do you have a vulva? Are you sexually active? Then you’ve likely had a UTI or a Urinary Tract Infection. I am someone who falls into the category of people that have UTIs chronically. For the better part of my sexually active life, I’ve been dealing with one infection after another. I’d feel that tell-tale burning in my vagina and sigh. I’d schedule a doctor’s appointment for the following day and wait up all night, enduring the burning of my urethra as I waited for it to be time to head out to the doctor. This burning followed a number of sexual encounters, such that it made my partner concerned that sex was hurting me. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and we found out the underlying issue, which I’ll talk about in a later post. For now, I’m going to give you some tricks and tips on dealing with your first or your 101st UTI.

Prevention

The best treatment is prevention and I stand by that. If you can avoid having an infection that’s the most optimal case. I’ve seen a few tips posted all over so I’m going to share a few here for you.

  • Stay hydrated, pee when you need to: If you’re dehydrated and/or not going when you need to, you’re more susceptible to infection. Regularly staying hydrated will make harder for bacteria to hang out inside you!
  • D-Mannose: This is a powder that when taken orally makes it difficult for the bacteria to hang out in you as well. It sort of…coats your insides so that bacteria can’t hold onto the walls of your body.
  • Cranberry: This is what everyone claims works, but I’m honestly a little skeptical. If you do want to try cranberry, it’s unlikely to hurt you, but make sure you get something without sugar. If the juice is too tart for you to stomach (it was for me) then cranberry pills are a viable option.
  • Wipe front to back: This one is to prevent fecal matter from getting into your urethra and causing issue there.
  • Pee after sex, every time: This is to clear out whatever might’ve been pushed into your urethra from just about any form of sex, though it’s most common that people with vulvas get UTIs after penetrative sex.
  • Making sure both you and your partner have showered or freshened up: A) this is nice because they’ll smell nice and fresh and B) it’ll help prevent UTIs if you’re rinsed off before hand.

Following all of these is not a guarantee of preventing a UTI of course. You could be the most hydrated, cranberry-swilling, D-Mannose-swallowing babe out there and still come down with a UTI. However, these are the most common tips to avoid getting one.

Treatment

So what happens when you do get one? I do have some tips for those in the grip of an infection as well. These will make your infection suck less and will help you heal, as well as get a little pain relief.

  • Go to a doctor: The most important thing is that you get medication as quick as you can. While UTIs aren’t terribly dangerous at first, they can get worse, spreading to your bladder and kidneys. I’m not saying you’re immediately going to your kidneys, but this is something you should only ever sit on for a few days at most. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can so you can get better faster.
  • Hydrate: Drink lots of water. Find the biggest water bottle you have. Fill it and drink all of it. Then do it again. This will help flush your system and make getting over your infection easier.
  • AZO is your friend: These are over the counter drugs that are painkillers and will make your life more manageable as you wait to see the doctor. I recommend that every person with a vulva and every person who is dating a person with a vulva have something like this in the house along with Monistat. UTIs can cause some serious pain, and if you absolutely have to do things before going to the doctor, this will make your life much easier while you do it. But absolutely this is no substitute for going to the doctor.
  • Ice: For a little relief, you can fill a Ziploc with ice, wrap a washcloth around it and sit on it. Make sure there’s a barrier between the ice and your vulva, otherwise it could cause more pain!
  • Avoid sugar and caffeine: Sugar will make your body more inviting to bacteria, which you don’t want. Caffeine is a bladder irritant, and may make your pain worse. As sucky as it is, you might have to go decaf for a week so that you can heal.
  • Don’t have sex: Listen, the medication you’re going to take is likely going to make you feel better in 24-36 hours. You are not better yet. Take all of your medication and then wait until seven days have past before going for penetration again. Otherwise, you can make your infection worse or end up having a ‘partially treated’ UTI that necessitates another round of medication. It sucks, don’t do it.

With these tips in mind, you should start feeling better. Take the advice of your doctor and make sure that you’re hydrated and you should be well on your way to getting over a UTI in about a week. Take care y’all!

Warming Up: Part One on Foreplay

Something that’s been on my mind lately has been foreplay. Not just because I’m a particularly libidinous individual, but also because I’ve had someone ask me about it. I wanted to write something like a guide for properly going about foreplay, but I thought it would be important to first define what it is (at least, what I think it is) and why it’s important. So consider this a part one in my writing about foreplay, because while I think having some solid actionable tips are fun, having a better understanding of what it is and why it’s important first will make those tips more useful by putting them in context.

The definition of foreplay that I’ll be using runs something like this: ‘The sexual or sensual acts leading up to/warming up for the primary sexual event.’ This is admittedly a broad definition and I’m sure a lot of people would have fun with pointing out that many things which are not traditionally considered foreplay would fall into that category. Nonetheless, I think it’s worthwhile to have a definition like this, which allows for a wide variety of sexual acts to be considered the main sexual event. This definition also doesn’t put penetration at the center of sexual encounters, making it a more useful term for those people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot or will not have penetrative sex.

Now that I’ve got my definition down, why is foreplay important? There are a few reasons, some of which are mental and some of which are physical. For the physical side, foreplay provides a time and space for people to get ready for the main sexual event. In the same way that athletes stretch and warm up their bodies for their athletic event, the participants in the sexual encounter also need to be warmed up. Physical arousal takes time for any person, and going through gentler preparation can help for a more physically intensive event. For cis women about to have penetrative sex, foreplay might include oral sex or fingering so that they can become aroused enough. For cis men, foreplay might also include oral sex, as well as things like fingering or kissing. By engaging in foreplay, people become physically aroused enough to go on to their main event, whatever it might.

Foreplay also has a mental component in addition to people being physically warmed up enough. During the time people engage in foreplay, they can also ask questions about how they’d like the main encounter to go. The participants involved might have already discussed what it is that they want to do, communication every step of the way is important, especially when approaching the actual act. These warm up acts also allow the parties to get into a good mindset for whatever it is that they plan on doing. It might seem frivolous that someone might need warm up for something such as an evening of missionary sex or oral, but the truth is that it’s important for everyone involved to be ready for how performing these acts will feel physically and emotionally.

Questions about foreplay are everywhere. How much is enough? What counts as foreplay and what counts as sex? The answer is pretty frustrating: It’s up to you and your partner or partners. If you decide that a blowjob is the main event and everything up to it is foreplay, then that’s your decision. Similarly, if you decide that ten minutes is enough foreplay for penetrative sex, that’s also your decision. Some people really don’t need much to get ready while others need a slower, longer session to be able to get into it. It’s frustrating to be told nothing is certain, I understand that. But I’m afraid that’s a part of the human experience. I could say 20 minutes is the minimum amount of foreplay, but it would be arbitrary and not true for a lot of people who need more time or for people who find that they’re more than ready with just under ten minutes. The most important thing here is to communicate with whomever you’re with and asking if they’re ready to move on to whatever you’ve decided to do next. If you’re communicating honestly and openly with your partner, foreplay should be a fun and sexy way to get ready for whatever your main event is.

 

On The Bleeding Edge: Diva Cup Review

Until earlier this year, I’d never heard of menstrual cups, and I’d certainly never thought I’d get one myself. I was content with getting tampons every now and then and keeping a few in my backpack in the event that I got surprised by my period during class or practice. I thought it was necessary, and that the expense and awkwardness of my monthly flow came with my anatomy.

But as you might’ve predicted, this year something changed. As I barreled through the reviews and notes of Epiphora, Girly Juice and Oh Joy SexToy, I learned of a productDiva Cup Photo 1 I found immensely intriguing. It was the menstrual cup, specifically the Diva Cup. Epiphora reviewed the Fun Cups earlier this year as well as the Diva Cup, and Oh Joy Sex Toy reviewed them as well as the Moon Cup. And they loved them! And I loved the idea of a reusable menstrual product that would save me from bleeding all over my cute underwear.

So I decided to test this by doing what everyone does: I walked myself all the way to the Whole Foods close to campus and bought the Diva Cup size A and the DivaWash. I felt guilty walking all the way back with a forty dollar hole in my pocket since it would be weeks until my next period. I spent that time with a sense of worry in the back of my mind that it wouldn’t work for me and that I’d wasted a bunch of money. But really, I shouldn’t have worried.

I will tell you now that the DivaCup is the farthest thing from a waste of money. Yes it costs more than two boxes of tampons, but it’s worth it. Not buying tampons or pads has saved me money and time. I don’t have to run to the store to pick up more disposable pads and tampons and that money that might’ve been spent on menstrual products on more fun things instead.

Menstrual cups are a bell shaped silicone device that catches your menstrual flow. The Diva Cup specifically is a colorless, translucent silicone cup that is made out of a fairly stiff silicone and has markings on the side denoting how many milliliters of blood you’ve filled the cup with, which is helpful for tracking your flow. You insert the cup into your vagina by folding it and pushing it past your pubic bone. If you look online, menstrual cup enthusiasts will have several folds they can explain to you, tips and tricks known to those who’ve mastered the art of effortlessly inserting their cup. I personally use the C fold method, not really patient enough for fancier folds.

Once inserted, your cup should open up against your cervix to catch your flow. When it opens up, it’ll form a seal and this is what prevents leakage. If there isn’t a seal, you’re likely to leak. What I do to ensure a good seal is twist the cup inside myself until I feel it fully open. After its opened up and sealed against my cervix, I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

Removing it is pretty easy for me. I insert my thumb and first finger into my vagina, grasp the stem and bare down with my PC muscles, et voila, the cup appears. Don’t think that this isn’t messy though. If the cup is particularly full or I don’t get a proper seal, I can get blood all over my hands. If you’re squeamish, the menstrual cup really isn’t for you.

During the day, I don’t usually feel the cup, and it’s much in the way a tampon is. The feeling of having something inside you might be a little unusual at first, but you get used to the feeling and go about your day as normal. Pooping with the cup in is not always the most comfortable, as the cup can shift with your bowel movements. Most people don’t report any problem peeing, but it can press against your bladder and cause discomfort. I once experienced sharp, agonizing pain similar to a UTI when I peed with the cup in. However, I only experienced it the once and it’s never been repeated. I personally attribute it to poor placement, but for some people with bladder issues it might be good to look into cups with softer silicone.

In terms of maintenance, keeping your cup clean is pretty easy. Boil it between menstrual cycles for about five minutes and you’re good to go. If it starts developing some staining or smell, leave it overnight in a cup of hydrogen peroxide and it’ll be all good to go. Diva Cup sells their special soap along with their menstrual cup, but you don’t really need it. I bought it out of paranoia since I had little access to boiling things and thought that would be a good way to keep it clean. But after I found out that peroxide does the trick, I really haven’t used it. It’s more of a talisman now, something I have that wards off my anxiety.

Is there anything wrong with the DivaCup? In my eyes, not really. Reviewers have commented the very gendered marketing of the DivaCup is disappointing and it truly is. It’s all very rah-rah girl power from the 00s and tiresome, and frankly, as someone who doesn’t feel very femme, it feels a little alienating. But as for the cup itself? I really can’t find fault with it. It was well worth the 40 dollars and I think a worthy cup for anyone wanting to stop spending so much on menstrual products every month.