In November of 2013, I had a 1½-year-old and a very clear understanding that one kid was enough for me ... for now. I knew for sure I wanted to explore birth control options, and after a lot of research and honest conversations, I opted for a nonhormonal copper IUD.
The IUD didn't mess with my hormones (hallelujah!) and was a semi-permanent option, offering protection for up to 10 years without affecting fertility if I wanted to try for child number two earlier than expected.
But I was warned on Internet forums and by my doctor of one downside: bleeding. Lots of it. Different from hormonal birth control, which tends to reduce menstrual bleeding over time, a copper IUD is not known to do that, and as soon as it was placed, I bled longer and heavier than I ever had during my pre-birth-control periods.
It still was worth it for the peace of mind I had with a semi-permanent, nonhormonal birth control plan, but my periods were terrible.
I felt them coming a week away and was buying two huge boxes of tampons every cycle, and I was using so many of them that they were wreaking havoc on my body. Finally, during a PMS-induced argument, my boyfriend looked at me and said, "We've got to do something about this. You're in pain. You're acting crazy. Is this even healthy?"
I started thinking and I felt instinctively, somehow, that my God-awful periods weren't the result of my IUD but rather the chemical-laden super-plus tampons I was cycling through dozens of EVERY SINGLE month.
I'd read many articles about the disadvantages of typical feminine hygiene products and how potentially detrimental they were to women's health. Something told me that was what had to change, and I figured that if it didn't work, I'd look into other options for birth control.
I remembered a conversation I'd had with a friend eight years earlier about menstrual cups. But eight years ago, my periods weren't debilitating and I didn't care. Now I was desperate. I ordered a menstrual cup, as well as a package of fleece-lined reusable pads (backup!), and for the first time ever, looked forward to getting my period.
And these, my friends, are the magical, life-changing things that happened when I tossed my tampons and started using a menstrual cup: