When I sat down at the Ram in the Rye with my friends and we started discussing menstrual cups, I had no idea that two of my closest friends were already using them.
To me, menstrual cups — which are small silicon cups that you insert into your vagina and can reuse for up to a year — seemed to be a terrifying fad in menstrual care that no one would really buy into. But as I pressed my friends with questions about how they worked and if there truly was anything to fear, they revealed that they absolutely loved them.
How could so many women in my personal circle be so impressed by a product they referred to as “life-changing,” yet not feel compelled to talk about it?
The answer is simple. Women aren’t talking about menstrual cups because it’s still uncomfortable to talk about your period.
Whether it’s whispering to a friend to ask for a pad or trying to sneak a tampon up your sleeve, menstruation is still often regarded as something people should keep secret.
I recently met Natalie Norman, a comedian and host of The Crimson Wave, a podcast dedicated to discussion of all things menstruation. She said she uses the podcast and her comedy to try to break away from the idea that menstruation is embarrassing and remind women that it’s actually an experience we all share.
“I think the important thing for younger women is to talk to your friends and ideally they’re open and you can discuss stories with them and learn from each other,” said Norman.
She couldn’t have been more right. The more questions I asked women about menstruation, the more they wanted to open up and talk about it. I even had insightful conversations with men about menstrual cups, who came equipped with just as many genuine questions as I originally had.
Inspired by these conversations, I decided to try a cup — and they were right, it was fantastic.
The most liberating part of this experience was the candid and honest discussions I had about my period in the process of that discovery.
We need to check our menstrual anxieties at the door and start talking about it. Period.