Tuesday, December 07, 2004


(Warning: graphic, bloody post ahead. Just for you. Enjoy!)

There's something I would like to know, and it is this: Who would say, I know!, instead of the currently available feminine hygiene technology, I'm going to take a balloon, attach it to a fist-width wire hoop to form a little cup, then shove that up my hoo-ha to catch the drippings!

A hundred years ago, I can see how some poor, frustrated woman, hands chafed from scrubbing rusty stains from her monthly rag pile, might have been desperate enough to give it a shot. Once. But now? In the age of minipads, maxipads, pantiliners and those liberating tampons--with or without applicators!--of gymnasts and swimmers and office workers? None of which require rag-scrubbing? Technology that has revitalized the white skirt and pant market?

Is it the handsome little box with its modern-woman design? The assumption that newer is better? Why INSTEAD?

Perhaps, instead of being so INSTEAD negative, I should look deeper inside the problem and consider whether it might, in fact, lie--at least in part--in me, instead of, well, INSTEAD.

I am a fairly small person. Not very tall--my license says 5'5" but that's a sixteen-year-old's exaggeration that I could not correct without shaming myself to some clerk at the DMV--not very broad, not very big anywhere (except my abundantly round posterior, the bane of my jeans-buying life). Apparently, I am rather small on the inside, too, though I can't say it's ever been an issue before. More importantly, I also have one absolutely fatal flaw when using INSTEAD: short fingers.

You see, to insert the Instead Softcup, one must fold the sides of the "cup" together using thumb and forefinger, and insert it all the way back till it completely covers the cervix. For me, the problems started immediately--and not just because I was attempting to insert the cup pre-filled with precious man-juice, but because the thing is just...just...huge. Not as big as a baby's head, sure, but I can tell you that I would never willingly have put anything else of that circumference up there. Plus, how could I possibly get two of my child-sized fingers in all the way to my cervix? Not. Likely.

But we were desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures and a certain amount of foolishness, so I soldiered on, poking and prodding and spilling some. And, miraculously, by dint of extreme effort and a variation on the Dead Bug yoga position, I was able to get the thing in place. Whew!

Though feeling a little bruised and battered, I was pleased to notice that I couldn't really feel the cup any longer, much like a properly inserted tampon. Ahh, I thought, now I don't have to worry about it for twelve full hours! Bliss!

For a moment. The next moment, I was struck with the sudden horror of realization: How will I ever get it out?

Let me be clear. At this point, I could no longer touch it, even just the tiniest bit, with my longest finger. Nothing. So I scrambled for the instructions on the stylish-looking little box, sure that they would have some simple answer for me.

Instead? "To remove INSTEAD, simply hook your finger under the rim and slowly pull." They're joking. Surely I'm missing something--that can't be the whole of the instructions. Can't. Be.

Visions of having to explain myself to some twenty-something E.R. resident--"You see, my brother-in-law was there so we couldn't have sex, and we're trying to have a baby, so I figured..."--who then spreads the story around the world till I'm up there with Richard Gere and the gerbil. No. I just couldn't face that. Must pull myself together. Let's see what else the box says. Hmmm. "Pour retirer INSTEAD, il suffit de glisser votre doigt sous le contour et de tirer delicatement." I don't think that would help, even if I did speak French.

So, I decide to go to sleep and face the problem when those twelve hours are up. No sense worrying about it now. After a glass of wine and a good book, I manage to nod off, and the night passes peacefully.

Next morning, however, I'm awakened by tiny cramping sensations in my pelvic walls. Oh, joy. Had almost forgotten. I head for the bathroom, fervently hoping that the device has dislodged itself somehow and I will be able to retrieve it without further ado.

Ha. Hahahaha. Still can't reach it, even with a fingertip.

Suddenly, I am struck with the grim reality of what I must do: Yes. Surely this will work. It must.


Yes, tweezers.

I take my favorite pair--for eyebrows--and soak them in boiling water for thirty seconds. Then I wash them with antibacterial dish soap and rinse in the boiling water.

The problem with the tweezers, however, is probably not sterility. It is that they are surprisingly sharp. And, when you can't see what it is that you're plucking, it's hard to tell whether you're grasping cup or vaginal wall. Perhaps if I'd had an adjustable light source and a mirror, I might have made a better job of it. As it was, suffice it to say that I didn't. Had to rely on "feel".

When I eventually, through blind luck, tweezered the rim of the cup and pulled--slowly, delicatement!--it felt like the cup was a cheese grater and my coochie a part-skim mozzarella. I shrieked. Clearly desperate and utterly unwilling to let go and try again, however, I just kept pulling, millimeter by millimeter, till it was out.

When all was over, I found myself, a) extremely relieved, and b) trickling a little stream of blood into my underpants.

And then I giggled, thinking, someone out there would be catching this flow in an INSTEAD cup.

For me, just pass the Lightdays, please.


Blogger TofuSal said...

oh. my. god. The lengths we poor infertiles will go to in our attempts to get knocked up! I'm currently suffereing from an achy back & extreme tiredness after I fell asleep well inside the 20 minutes I'd planned & spent the entire night with my backside hoisted up on a pillow... It was so romantic - hubby hoisting me on to it with my knees crossed urging: "Don't laugh! don't sneeze!" Poor thing. (Mind you, it was a fabulous shag, which is a rather nice bonus during the days of OPK madated sex.)

Those Instead things look awful! I'd never heard of them before as they're not on sale here in the UK - you could make a terrible mess of the bathmats if it was full & you didn't pull it out perefctly steadily. yuk!

I have my fingers crossed for you (& me & everyone else) to get some good news for Christmas - by whatever means!

2:10 AM  
Blogger Miss W said...

I'm not laughing AT you -- but I am laughing rather hard. Of course, you should know that as a not-quite-5'1" woman of small proportions, I would have the EXACT SAME PROBLEM! I mean, if that thing has to cover your cervix, and I know things my husband puts in there are longer than my fingers and yet don't necessarily slam into my cervix every time (he's nice that way), I imagine I'd quite likely be in there with the tweezers (or more likely crying and begging my husband to just go in there and get it out)

4:53 AM  
Blogger Queenie said...

Forget sperm, have you ever tried to use one of those monstrosities for it's intended purpose, that is, in place of a tampon? OH MY GOD. They gave them away as free samples when I was in college, so me and my roommates all decided to try them. We each had the exact same experience--removing the thing causes it to fold in half as you pull it out, just as you fold it in half to insert it. However, when you are removing it, it's full, thereby causing a huge, disgusting mess all over you, your feet, the toilet, the floor, etc. Never, never again with the Instead cups.

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. Ouch. I was covering my eyes by the time I got to the part about the tweezers. You brave, brave girl.

Good luck!


6:55 AM  
Blogger Sheri said...


I will NEVER use an instead cup!

1:11 PM  
Blogger Orodemniades said...

Holy. Crap.

I want you to know that I didn't actually start giggling until the tweezers part, but only because that is so totally something I would do.

And I've got a Kegel thingie, this crystal egg, which while it has a string attached to one end, it is actually best to push it out, rather than pull. Funnily enough, ha ha, doing this is also an excellent way of finding out the best pushing muscles for childbirth. Oh the irony.

At least you don't have swollen flippyflaps!

1:52 PM  
Blogger JJ said...

I don't know what else to say. I hate them too.

We had such hopes!

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ice Hockey has the Stanley Cup
Golf has the Ryder Cup...
and you my dear Bug, you deserve the INSTEAD CUP Cup!!!!

What a harrowing experience, that!


5:46 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Oh dear! What a horrible experience! I guess you got one long cervix there huh? My biggest problem with the damn things, is that sometimes it would come "unlocked" and pop out from behind my public bone.

I gotta say, after reading the instructions, they give you a toll free number to call and ask for help. I often wondered what that conversation would be like. And in your case, that would have been a very interesting conversation. What kind of training do you think those customer service reps have?

Anyhoo, at least you were able to insert it, and you got quite a bit of quality time with it in place. I hope it does the trick!

Fingers and bits crossed!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

You have me in tears of laughter over here. And I must applaud you of the ingenious use of my friend the Instead cup. I never would have thought of it having another such useful purpose!

I think I must be the only lady out there who sings the praises of the Instead cup! Well, except for my friend who was visiting her new man out of town this weekend during an inopportune time and I talked her through getting acquainted with Instead so she could get her proper nookie.


p.s. Pushing like your trying to pee helps push the cup down so you can reach it. Just in case you need to try it again, I thought you should know.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me speak up in defense of menstrual cups. :-) Pads always give me a lovely diaper rash, even if I change them every two hours, and tampons and I have never gotten along.

The cups are a lot easier to get out if you bear down (as if you're trying to go to the bathroom), then catch the rim with your index finger and pull. With practice, they don't spill, but if you're worried, you can remove them over the toilet.

I don't take them out during the day, because of the filthy public restrooms at work. Bearing down empties it, as gross as that sounds, so there isn't much of an overflow problem.

- Sarah

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well... That definately sucks. ANYWAY... there are other products that are much more effective in the sense of controlling your period. They have came out with these things that are called DivaCups and there's another version that is pretty much a rip off of that one. ANYWAY... they are supposed to hold 1oz. and your period is usually somewhere between 2 and 5oz. so you would only have to change it once a day at most.
I think the purpose of these things is mostly to be environmentally friendly because the DivaCup and it's rip off friend can be used for YEARS. It IS recommended however that you change them every year or two just because most people feel more comfortable with that. REGAURDLESS the DivaCup is a little more pricy but it isn't NEARLY as messy as that stupid ass INSTEAD product. I am not quite sure what they were even thinking with that one. It should read "can only be used by women reaching the height of 5'10" on the lable. Ridiculous.
They aren't even really environmentally friendly because you have to throw the things away after you use them. Only thing with the diva cup is that you can't have intercourse with them in so I am not really sure what to tell you about that one. Good thing is that they are made very durable and can even be BOILED for ocassional sanitizing. Goood stuff

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the hell does being short or tall have to dovwith being able to use the cups? Im using them for TTC and just dont see what you mean by having to be at least 5'10 to use? Im nowhere near there and havent had any trouble, nor have I 'lost' it. Rofl!

10:16 PM  

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