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I didn’t know how to put in a menstrual cup – so I turned to porn

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Whenever I attempted to insert my menstrual cup, I was left wincing in pain (Picture: Getty Images)

As I stared intently at my laptop screen in front of me, I concentrated on the woman with pixie cut hair, standing in front of a table. 

Only half of her face was visible, and she was wearing just a pale blue shirt and black ankle boots.

In one swift motion, she raised her left leg and rested it on the table. Then, she brought out a pink menstrual cup, used both hands to fold it and then, spreading her legs apart, used her right hand to put it inside her. 

The video lasted a mere 32-seconds, but in less than a minute, it had informed me what two months of watching hundreds of YouTube videos, guides and tutorials couldn’t: how to actually insert a menstrual cup.  

Yet, this video wasn’t on NHS social media channels, or a sex education blog. It wasn’t even found on the website of big brands that produce menstrual cups. 

Instead, I’d finally come across it on one of the most jarring – and controversial – of places: a porn site.

If your first reaction is that of incredulity, then your second should be to question where else would I actually find such a clip? 

Because of how heavily censored and critiqued conversations around a woman’s anatomy is, an actual video like the one I watched would, anywhere else, be labelled indecent or promoting vulgarity.

Yet, it was the only way I’d found the information I needed and actually learnt about my body. 

For some time, I’d struggled with period products. Being irregular, and with long cycles, they’d often leave me irritated and sore.

The internet has long been raving about menstrual cups. So finally in 2020, aged 23, I decided to give one a go.

I tried looking online for help, but all the content I could find was confusing (Picture: Getty Images)

It’d be better for the environment and better, hopefully, for my body, I thought.

But whenever I attempted to insert it inside my vagina, I was left wincing in pain. I started to dread my time of the month even more and even when I did manage to get it in, it was more by fluke than by design. 

I tried looking online for help, but all of the content that I could find was incredibly confusing. Some inserted it into a champagne glass to demonstrate, others used bottles, and I was even occasionally confronted with weird anatomy dolls that freaked me out. 

I’d grown up with hardly any sex education, and I was a virgin, so I was completely unfamiliar with my anatomy. 

Even when I plucked up the courage to ask other women how to insert my cup, they shared information in a way that felt like it should be obvious where it should go in. 

Frustrated, I felt like screaming, ‘Someone, please, just show me what to do!’ 

That was when I realised I needed to do exactly that – find someone. And the only place I could think of that would show me something like this, in the detail I needed, would be a porn website. 

I’ll be honest, I’ve always stayed away from porn, because as an informed feminist, I’ve always believed that a huge percentage of porn industry exploits the sexual labour of women and young girls.

Plus, the sex is often violent, catering to male gaze, and this can bleed into interactions women in real life experience in sexual encounters.  

I felt like screaming, ‘Someone, please, just show me what to do!’

I was daunted, therefore, by what I might come across. Yet, it needed to be done. 

So I went to one well-known porn website and typed in ‘how to insert a menstrual cup’

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, and I definitely saw some fairly explicit images that couldn’t be classed as educational. But I persevered and eventually had success. 

Along with the lady with the pixie cut, with her no-nonsense approach, there was also a, more giggly, fetish performer who, around her dirty talk, gave another informative demonstration. 

After watching their videos, I realised my mistake. I’d been constantly pushing the cup up, and then sitting on it, which was, as you can imagine, extremely painful. What I should have been doing was inserting the cup a little, then tilting it slightly backwards. 

After a few goes, I was a pro. 

But once my relief at being able to use the product properly had faded, I found myself angry at the fact that there is still a complete absence of useful and practical guidance for basic feminine hygiene online. 

No wonder, therefore, that there were numerous comments under the video from other grateful people. 

‘Never in a million years did I think I would learn so much from a porn site video, one comment read. ‘This is the best demonstration and visualisation of wearing a reusable menstrual cup ever. I have been curious about them for the longest.’

Another remarked: ‘You are so sweet and sexy for demonstrating your feminine care stuff.’

In turn, she replied to them all with such friendliness, even giving more advice and information on request. I was awestruck at the tiny feminist movement I was witnessing in that comment section.

The world is ever changing, with many new products coming up to support feminine hygiene – but it will only be useful if we know how to use it correctly. 

Young girls need better sex education to understand their own bodies and make informed decisions. As much as I appreciate the porn site for helping me, I don’t want a young person to have to use that space, amidst much mature content, just so she’s able to manage her periods better. 

Our information and guidance should come from the NHS and other healthcare organisations – and accepting a woman’s anatomy needs to be one of the first steps to create better content. 

We have to ask ourselves, why do we have such a problem showcasing a woman’s body? 

Information around our vaginas shouldn’t be kept hidden away. 

And we certainly shouldn’t be forced to resort to porn to learn about it.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments below.


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