Podcast Episode: Interview WIth Mary Bond From Menstrual Cup brand "Hello Cup"

What Using A Menstrual Cup Can Teach Us About Our Body

Podcast Episode: Interview WIth Mary Bond From Menstrual Cup brand "Hello Cup"

What Using A Menstrual Cup Can Teach Us About Our Body

 
 

In this interview from our podcast Clitastic Chronicles, we talk with Mary Bond, Hello Cup's co-founder. Hello Cup is a menstrual cup brand from New-Zealand that develops super comfortable cups for people with periods. In this interview, we discuss the anatomy of the vagina, period health and period self-care and we learn some surprising facts about our anatomy.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:10
Hi everyone, and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with clitorises. In this episode, we’re chatting with Mary Bond from Hello Cup, a menstrual cup company from New Zealand. HelloCup is providing quality cups for humans who menstruate. They also do an amazing work to end period poverty so make sure to check them out! Today, we’re talking about how her company came into fruition, and then we get down to more details about the vagina, periods and period sex. If you’ve ever wondered about why a vagina has different sizes, this episode is for you, and the answer is not strictly to do with childbirth. Let's dive in.

Mary Bond , 01:01
So Hi there, my name is Mary Bond. And I am one of the founders of the Hello Cup. We're in New Zealand, the cups are and made needs for cup woners. And we launched in December of 2017. So we're following you, I started the business with my best friend Robin McLean. And we've been best friends since we were 11 years old, we were school buddy. And when I left school, I went into nursing and Robin went into journalism. So we both had very different career paths. But we always sort of had a vision that we would like start a business together, I still work as a palliative care nurse and a hospice here in Wellington, New Zealand. But Hello Cup keeps me pretty busy. So I just do this one day a week. And the time I focus on the Hello Cup

Smile Makers , 01:56
Amazing. And what kind of nursing did you say sorry?

Mary Bond , 02:00
So I work as a palliative care nurse. So this is a nurse who works either in a hospital or a hospice setting, caring for people and their families with terminal or life limiting illness. So really caring for people when they're dying. And I really love and I've done for a long time. And even though it's quite busy managing a growing company and my new thing work, it's really important in something that I prioritize. So just minutes just fit a little bit in there alongside the work that I do with Hello Cup.

Smile Makers , 02:35
Brilliant. And is there a link between your nursing and creating Hello Cups? Was there like a moment in your career or is it something outside of that?

Mary Bond , 02:47
So really what happened was both Robin and I have both had real problems with our period, since we were quite young. And I had gynae issues, which means ultimately I needed a hysterectomy. And back before I did, I had blighting periods which would just catch me unaware. And really there was just they were almost impossible to manage. And Robin has also had problems with endometriosis, and really heavy periods and all the joy that goes along with that horrible issues. And we've both grown up with tampons and pads being the only option for periods. And a few years ago, Robin and ? went into a local drugstore, or pharmacy we call it here and said look at you know, I've got these terrible periods and I you know, there must be something better. And the pharmacist there was a long time menstrual cup user and suggested that Robin try a menstrual cup. And Robin had heard of them but they really were a product that wasn't really was widely available. So anyway, so Robin tried the menstrual cup and couldn't believe how amazing it was and how easy it was to use. There were some issues about it that she didn't like, but generally felt like it was a much better solution for to manage your period than using pads or tampons. So probably very soon after the hit, she called me and said I've got an idea for a business and I was thinking Gosh, I wonder I wonder what she said menstrual cups. It's a it's a bit different than maybe the business concept that I thought you might come up with but I actually went away and did a lot of reading and you know we worked out that firstly, nobody was making them in New Zealand and we both from New Zealand and also that the products on the market were one, they weren't really widely available. And secondly, they tended to be quite visually unappealing and a little bit kind of clinical. And we so we felt like there was a real demand for a sustainable, comfortable, menstrual cup, that not only was really easy to use, but also that it looked really appealing. And it didn't turn people off. And the packaging was really beautiful. So that people who may have initially thought, Oh, no menstrual cups, not for me, it's just kind of the hippies or whatever, you could actually start a dialogue and say, Hey, this just doesn't turn me off. This is pretty cute. And it doesn't look really daunting. And hey, let's talk about it. And it's been really amazing for us. So yeah, so we basically came up with the idea, and we bought every single menstrual cup that we could get our hands on, and inserted them into our vaginas, and worked out what we found comfortable. What made the difference for us what what sort of firmness was easier to open, we talked to a lot of people that we knew that did use menstrual cups. And then we designed a menstrual cup based on all those things that we had, that we had found out from our own research. And then we tried them, so bring them out to friends and family. And we tweaked the design based on their feedback. And then we launched in December of 2017, thinking that maybe it would be a little business and it would just take out, you know, it would be a part time thing. But actually, our timing was really perfect. Our product was very different than anything else that was on the market. And we really grew really quickly.

Smile Makers , 07:00
Amazing. And it's so deserved as well, like, I'm such a fan of the Hello cup. I so annoying. I left mine at my friend's house last week. Um, and she lives quite a bit of a drive for me. So this week, I came over a period. So I was like, it's okay, I have like, a spare one. But it's a different brand. And the experience is so different. And it's so so different. Like it's, I used to love this other brand, because it was the first one I ever tried. So it was it was good enough, you know, and like, seeing the difference now of like, how easy is to get the Hello cup out, how reliable it is going to yoga this week, I'm like, really nervous that there's gonna be like a leak. So it's, it's really interesting to hear how much you kind of tried and tested things because it really shows in the end product.

Mary Bond , 07:54
I'm so pleased to hear that. Yeah, we and we know that that the design is quite different from other other cups on the market. But we've really, really had a focus on comfort. That's why the outside is very smooth, and there's nothing that can dig into the walls of the vagina, you know that they're firm enough to be comfortable that will open up because we know that, if people with periods are using tampons or pads, and they're working well for them, but actually, they want a more sustainable option. If they start using a menstrual cup and it doesn't work well straight away. chances are they're going to go back unless they're really committed. And my goodness, you know, Hello Cup customers are really committed. But sometimes it means that they can go back to the products are easier. So we we want to we want people to nail the Hello Cup quickly and love it. And just to make the experience as easy a transition as possible.

Smile Makers , 08:56
And it shows for sure. A theme of this podcast is about kind of getting to know your body for more pleasure and also better health. And the question that we always get with Smile Makers is about like, appearance of the vulva and what's normal and is this normal? I noticed that the cups come in different sizes, and I was wondering if we could discuss like, why that is when it comes to like vaginas? Like, is there a normal and yeah,

Mary Bond , 09:27
So first of all, there is a normal and it's everyone's vagina. But in saying that, of course, everybody is very different. You know, it's, it's like anything, you know, that the shape, the size, and you know, everybody is unique. There are certainly some things that can affect, you know, our vagina. We The main issue that we had when we started was that customers were saying, I've had, I've had a baby, so I'm definitely allowed. And what we worked out that actually, whether or not you've had babies doesn't actually dictate your vagina size. So, what we did instead, as we had some really broad guidelines around choosing your size, and but we also back it up with a really kind of really robust customer service, because sometimes there needs to be a conversation to help people decide on the, on the size, and the beauty of the vagina is that, I mean, it's kind of like a rubber band, you know, like, it will stretch to accommodate, you know, like a tampon and menstrual cat, a sex toy, a penis, but actually, it just shrinks back to its regular size. So you know, rather than it being a tube, it's that kind of like, a muscle that has nooks and crannies and, and, you know, will stretch out and then stretch back. And it's got an amazing memory like that. And the one thing that obviously can stretch your vagina is, is childbirth. But I'm saying that there are a lot of women that actually bounce back fairly quickly. And especially for people who are really active or are really good about doing their Kegel exercises, you actually don't necessarily have a large vagina after you've had a baby, it's essentially what I'm saying. So the way that our sizes work, and more based around physical fitness. So we have three sizes, we have an extra small, which is really a static app for teens, or often, if people are really petite or incredibly fit, usually, the vaginal walls are also really strong. And, and then we have a small medium size, and it's kind of a one size fits most. And so it kind of uh, it, you know, it's a really good size for most people, the time that we say that a large cup is good, is if you've used a menstrual cup before, and you know that you're large, or perhaps you're a bit older, and not very physically fit, which essentially means that your vagina walls are not as strong, so therefore can accommodate a larger cup. So the other thing that we do to kind of give people the best chance of success is we sell double boxes. So there will be two sizes in one box. And the second cap is basically half price. And what that means is that each one of those sizes is going to work for you. And what we also find is that sometimes people can use a medium cup on the lighter days, and then they can use a larger cup, you know, on the heavier days or overnight. So it it some we've always been quite, just given as much information as we can on our website, or if people want to email us to really support them to get the right size. But we think that people overestimate the size of the vagina quite a lot?

Smile Makers , 13:08
Wow, that is incredible. It I didn't know any of that. I'm so pleased that we've had this discussion, because I feel like it's a great product, but it's also giving people the opportunity to have conversations they wouldn't have had otherwise, and you know, ridiculous kind of stigma that exists. And this misogyny that exists around women's bodies. So we avoid having conversations because we think there's something wrong with us or that it's not supposed to be this way X, Y and Z. And so many people you just think about have missed this opportunity to know something really fundamental and experienced their period in a way more comfortable way.

Mary Bond , 13:48
Yeah, and I think that's really interesting, bringing up that point about sort of gender equality because, you know, and I think, um, you know, sometimes when it comes to, you know, male anatomy, I mean, I think there's sometimes you know, like, I don't know, like maybe we just see it more often or maybe there's just more acceptance of the differences but with with women, it's not like we see vulvas or we feel vulvas all the time. So, like, it's very understandable that people think, Oh, I think you know, mine is too big or it's not right or, you know, and and it just it's just another reason for people to be hard on themselves. And yeah, women give themselves a hard time or not think that be good enough for you know, not just Yeah, yeah, no, no.

Smile Makers , 14:36
Yeah. And I think um, something that you know, if you're not very in touch with your body, and this is quite new to using a cup or, or touching your vulva for example. They might be quite squeamish about being in contact with the menstrual blood. Um, so I was wondering if you have tips for not only insertion, but get gets to know your vulva and your vagina better.

Mary Bond , 15:02
Yeah, so it's really interesting because I'm in New Zealand, and we predominantly use non applicator tampons. So we're used to, I don't know, whether you call them bullet tampons, you know, tampons that you really you just push up with your finger? Yeah. And it is actually the majority of people use. And I thought that that was a global thing. And actually then when I found that is that in the US, the majority of tampon users use applicators and that is, that is just a massive cultural difference for us. Because we would think why why would you not get your finger and get out there and you know, see what direction you're putting the tampon in, and you know, have a peek around and see what's going on there. So I think that, people are just not used to their body, you know, lead they don't really know what shape the vagina is and what what direction it goes then and that doesn't go straight up. And it's not a tube that kind of got all sorts of nods and crannies and and so I think the beauty of a menstrual cup is your have to get out there. And what I always say to people who are a bit squeamish about them, I'm like, actually, it's your vulva, it's your vagina, it's your body. So nothing gross about it like this is this is your body, you're not having to, you know, look at anyone else's that you don't want to this is just you. And I think using a menstrual cup simply means that you learn a lot about where your cervix sits. And does it sit at the top of your vagina does it sit on the side, and you actually have to get to know those things. Because where the cup sits is very dependent on where your cervix is. And yet you definitely get down to the nitty gritty about your anatomy, which I think is it's amazing. Like, it's so amazing. I was listening to my daughter's I had three daughters of various ages. But my two older daughters had their periods and I was listening in and they were having conversation about this service type. And I was thinking, wow, holy crap, you know, like one is 18, one fourteen. And they're having a conversation about using cups, I don't think you can talk to anybody. Like, Robin and I, we've been buddies, since we're leaving, we had never talked about periods when we were teenagers. So I actually think things are changing. And they're changing really rapidly. And it is so awesome. And it just empowers woman furthermore. This is my body. I own it. Everything's on my terms. Like it just that's the total one.

Smile Makers , 17:40
Well, your daughters are very lucky to have you as a moment while I'm sure they learn so much.

Mary Bond , 17:46
Well, probably Yeah, they have heard about periods and needs to look at pretty much everything since they were very young.

Smile Makers , 17:56
Absolutely. And it's so true as well, because you see anatomy diagrams, and they make out if they do bother to kind of go into the description of the vagina, that it's kind of just this tube, and there's the cervix right at the end very far in the distance. And unless you're having a really good luck, or like you say, having to get your hands in there to use a cup with something, you're gonna have no idea that your cervix could be very, very, like close to the entrance actually. And, like so many women have like tilted uteruses. So that makes a big difference.

Mary Bond , 18:28
Absolutely. And also people that have had babies, it's really common for there to be prolapse. And obviously, there are all sorts of different types of prolapse, and they can come from the uterus, or they can you know, be a bulge that comes down or about from the side. And so that can make choosing a cap. That's another challenge in terms of size, because you could have been on paper look like you're a large cup, but because of a prolapse, sort of taking over part of your vagina, the can be a space issue there. So for those people, they might actually need an extra small even though they may be in their, you know, 30s or 40s. And they might have had babies but actually a really pushing down on on this person's particular vagina. So, yeah,

Smile Makers , 19:18
And what kind of struck me when you're speaking as issues like this, or like, you know, like having a some people call the moon cups of menstrual cups, how much it's kind of trivialized and almost kind of like laughed at is something a bit woowoo but it's your health. At the end of the day, it's actually very important.

Mary Bond , 19:40
And I think this is such a huge range of kind of normal. I don't like using that word but volumes of blood loss. And I think sometimes with tampons or pads, it's really hard to know, you know, if you do have endo or you have, you know, issues with your period and you're going to go and see your gynecologist When you use a menstrual cup, it's actually really helpful to know the volume of blood that you're using in terms of, you know, anemia, or, you know, just in terms of your health. It's a really, I think people often quite surprised sometimes it's surprised by, by actually how little their flow is when they thought it was gallon, but um, you know, it's a really good way if people are losing a large amount of blood to sort of keep a track of that.

Smile Makers , 20:24
Yeah, that's a very, that's a really good point is that I'm in like, milliliters an ideal amount, but somehow, I

Mary Bond , 20:31
I don't know. Honestly, it's so it's so different for so many people. Yeah, some people lose a few mills and some people, hundreds of mills and in for them, that's normal. It's just really depends.

Smile Makers , 20:44
Yeah, that's such a relief, because I've read very specific amounts in the past. So it's good to hear that it can vary.

Mary Bond , 20:55
Oh, yeah. No, everybody, everybody's different. And it really depends how you feel. And if you're completely wiped out, then you know, your, your blood loss may actually mean that you potentially are, you know, are in the mix so differently with keeping it keeping an eye on it.

Smile Makers , 21:12
Yeah, and what is periods blood actually made up of

Mary Bond , 21:15
So essentially, what period blood is, so obviously, during your period, then the lining of your uterus that sheds so so obviously, um, who mainly like a sort of a comfy little bit for a fertilized egg is laid down on the lining of your uterus, and if a fertilised egg is not embedded in that uterus lining, then there's a hormone drop, that lining shed and comes away,, it's your period. So essentially, uterine lining it's blood. And along with that, so for some people, they can get clots, and essentially, is just that, that lining sometimes if blood has, you know, overnight, sometimes if the blood has pulled a bit before it come out, it started to clot. And so people can find that they can get more cloth in the morning. And then there's kind of some sort of normal Flora from the vagina, normal bacteria that comes away with it. But yeah, basically, it's it's blood and lining from from the uterus.

Smile Makers , 22:23
Okay,and is there, so we mentioned clots, is there, like, a color that period blood should ideally be in? Is there a color that we should maybe investigate with our gynos?

Mary Bond , 22:36
So in the beginning of a period, it tends to be red or bright red, that's the color it should be sometimes, if it's a bit of spotting, it can sort of be pink, as opposed to bright red should be bright red at the end, at the end of a period, it generally turns a brownish color, that's just because the blood starting to get a bit older. And sometimes the period is quite long, it might be sort of more than five days might be you know, a lot closer to 10 days, towards the end of that period, it's normal for that blood to be a darker color or a brown color, simply because it's taken a while for that and uterine lining to shed and blood You know, when it gets older, it just kind of turns out it's absolutely normal. Sometimes if the if the main blood during a period is quite light in colour, that can be a sign of anemia, that if you feel really healthy and well and energetic, then possibly just your normal lining, anything, there's a big range of normal, the things that you probably need to worry about is if they if your your blood or discharge is kind of has a gray or an orange tinge, smells bearish, that's really a sign of potential infection and definitely need to get kicked out and especially if there are other things that go alongside that smell and color prep. If you have fevers or you you know feel unwell then you definitely need to get some some medical advice at that point.

Smile Makers , 24:10
Okay, and staying on kind of like bacteria and everything. Is there any risk with like UTI or thrush or bV from using a menstrual cup and avoid having good menstrual kind of hygiene?

Mary Bond , 24:29
So thrush is Candida which is a type of fungus, which is lovely. But actually, it's a bact that just kind of hangs out in your vagina anyway quite happily. And with rash causes problem is that your vagina flora, the pH in your vagina really are in balance and everything is good in the world. But if something set off that balance the candida bacts can multiply, and when they multiply, then you can get a thrush and infection. So mythril caps themselves. They they don't cause thrush, but what can cause thrash is anything that irritates the vaginas. So, press something like douching, or wipe that had anything that potentially irritate your vulva and vagina. Like perfumes, sprays or vaginal deodorant, you know, because there's a big market for these things now. And anything like that can really and quite quickly upsets that balance of healthy bacteria. So what we say was because sometimes people will say, Oh, can menstrual cup cause thrush. No, it can't be that. What we do suggest, if you're susceptible to thrush is not to use any soaps, or oils on your menstrual cup, just to use water to clean it. And then just to boil it for three minutes. And then just use the cup like that. And like everything, just make sure that you always wash your hands before you remove your cup. And before you insert your cup, so that there's no way that any of those emotions can be introduced with humans through cup. Yeah, absolutely fine. UTI, same deal. So really, it just comes down to good hand hygiene. So obviously, UTI urinary tract infections, so so because when you're inserting a menstrual cup, your fingers are actually quite close to your to the opening of your urethra where you urinate from. So it's just really important that your hands are always clean, there have been some instances of people giving UTI from template strings, you know, like, because sometimes that actual template strings can, you know, get a bit of blood on them. And then they can carry bacteria in and that bacteria or even they can get ecola bacteria from from the anus. So you know, so that can then move to the urethra. And there's not a lot of space. But with menstrual cups, because if they go and clean and they sit upright, there isn't an easy passage for bacteria to move around to the front of the urethra. So yes, no, it really comes down to really good hand hygiene, and making sure your cup is clean

Smile Makers , 27:33
It's so funny how like, well not funny, it's just like ironic how it all kind of hangs in such a delicate balance. But the key to kind of avoiding all these nasty things is just really good basic hygiene. Yeah, and layering. You know, those creams and oils that we're kind of always being told that we need

Mary Bond , 27:53
Even hand moisturizer, you know, if you've got moisturizer on your hand, and you put your cap on for some people that's going to irritate the vagina.

Smile Makers , 28:01
So yeah, some people it's just, they're just more delicate, like their pH level like,

Mary Bond , 28:07
of course, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Smile Makers , 28:11
I know this only well, as far as I know, I should say that there's only ever been one report of toxic shock syndrome with a menstrual cup. Um, could you talk us through, like, what that is for anyone that doesn't know and how we can all continue to avoid that.

Mary Bond , 28:29
Absolutely, absolutely. So, um, so TCS toxic shock syndrome, and is really a, a potentially severe and sometimes life threatening bacterial infection of the bloodstream. So essentially what happens, I mean, it's been linked to tampon use, and I'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. But really what it is, it's mostly caused by a bacteria called deca caucus orius, which is a bacteria that hangs out on skin. And it usually causes very little problems until there is a catch or a wound or an abrasion which gives a pathway for the deca caucus to enter the bloodstream. And once it's in the bloodstream, it can produce toxins which can then cause havoc and overwhelming sepsis, which for some people can result in infection, severe illness and death. So it's not necessarily from menstrual product, but how it became really now and that is because it was linked to tampon use when tampon were actually left in too long and that's why and tampon companies give really sort of strict criteria. carrying around how long a tampon should be done for. So there's one issue at tampons, you know, the warm wit, they absorb less. Also tampons, when they're inserted specially into a dry or to non lubricated, vagina can cause abrasion, small, small, tiny little micro tears in the vagina wall. And so if you have a tampon, which is full of blood, and that blood is been sitting there for quite a while because the tampons been in, you know, for more than sort of six to eight hours. So now that blood on the tampon is there'll be some staphylococcus on there because you inserted the tampon from that from the outside of your body with its skin onto the inside is undoubtedly going to be a little bit staph, they're usually harmless. But now you've got an environment with the bacteria multiply quickly. And then you've got some little abrasions on the vagina wall. So there's a pathway for that bacteria to into the bloodstream. So essentially, that how toxic shock syndrome happens with tampon use. With a menstrual cup, for one, you it's smooth when they're unsuited, so you don't get those abrasions on the vagina. So there isn't a pathway for that blood for the for the bacteria to pass through. Also, it doesn't, menstrual cups don't absorb blood, they collect it, the bacteria doesn't increase the same at the same rate. And also there isn't there blood not sitting against their vagina wall like this with a tampon. So we still say that you need to one of the one of the beauties of a menstrual cup is all can also be occurred because menstrual perhaps are so comfortable, you can actually forget that they're in, so it's easy sometimes. And I know because I've read the studies on that one case of toxic shock with a menstrual cup is that it had been and for several days, and it wasn't abrasion on the vagina wall, so everything that that needed to happen happened in that situation. So So we say that you can leave your menstrual cup and for up to 12 hours, if you've managed to sleep for 12, overnight at 12 hours overnight, then you can keep your cup. Lucky you. Um, but during the day really, you know, empty at least every eight hours. And in Australia, the guidelines are strictly that it needs to be removed and cleaned after 8 hours.

Smile Makers , 32:31
All right, thank you, that was really helpful. You mentioned before, how creating Hello Cup was kind of a result of your experiences like having quite miserable periods, which I think a lot of us can relate to. Do you have any tips now for a happier period? Beyond using a menstrual cup?

Mary Bond , 32:54
Of course, um, I think that I mean, I know for some people periods are manageable. And they find and I know for other people, they're absolutely horrifying. And it can mean days off work every month. And so it's really hard to offer any more advice than to say, you know, have great self care. And, you know, look after yourself, sleep as much as you can. And I was having a discussion around this with one of my work colleagues, and we were talking about and this obviously fits in very well with you guys is that orgasms are really good menstrual cramps. Maybe headlock though. And, you know, I think that just eating really well can have a profound effect on your hormones, you know, limiting things like alcohol and smoking and things that really put pressure on your body when it's already under a lot of stress. I mean, I think all these things can help a lot get exercise. I mean, it's so easy to say these things and really hard to do sometimes, but they really do make a profound difference.

Smile Makers , 34:09
Yeah, absolutely. Especially I think you mentioned like nutrition, the effects on your hormones. When if you're having like, quite a miserable period, it's so easy to maybe reach for junk food and comfort food. But with a little bit of investigating I've seen I've learned for myself, like where cravings come from and why you might be craving sugar and what you can replace, instead of necessarily having a huge, like bar, ofchocolate. The effect is it's huge. It's such a big shift. And um, I totally agree with that. And mostly, I think it's an easy thing to do for some of us, especially if we don't have kids. So, yeah, we but we try we try to kind of ignore the effect by trying to do more, which is a bit counterproductive. And obviously, Smile Makers, we definitely agree with more orgasms. And more pleasure in general and more.

Mary Bond , 35:12
Yeah. And looking after yourself and feeling good. And yeah, absolutely.

Smile Makers , 35:18
Can you use a menstrual cup during sex?

Mary Bond , 35:21
Okay, so the short answer is no. We know that some people do. And again, it really depends on anatomy. So a menstrual cup actually takes up quite a lot of the vagina. So it, it can make in terms of penetration, it that can make it a lot more difficult, simply because it's a space issue. Some people do catch the toggle off the cap, which means that it then takes up less space but at the Hello Cup, we don't recommend cutting the toggle off. And the reason is, because it's not a clean cut. And you recreate a rough surface that can attract bacteria. So we say no to this, and saying this. And some people just don't want to have ? when they have like the period, which is fine. And there are options, which we are working on, watch the space at the Hello Cup. But you can get menstrual disc just what just easily just sit over the cervix and will stem the flow of blood so that you can actually have, you know, fits without having blood flowing out of your vagina, if it's not something that that you like. And so there are options. But if you had a really high cervix, and like cup isreally far up and practice, you probably could but what's probably going to happen is it's going to get pushed further up, and then you have issues with getting it out. Right. So my kind of line on that is it's just not practical and possibly a bit uncomfortable. Yep, we're working on it.

Smile Makers , 37:11
More options. It's it's just gonna empower more people to have those options.

Mary Bond , 37:16
Hardly. Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Smile Makers , 37:18
You mentioned earlier that the your two older daughter is very open with talking about periods and their bodies. And this is definitely a trend that we're seeing as well. What do you think it is that it's attracting this younger generation to? Yeah, menstrual cups and, and being more in tune with their bodies and really taking charge?

Mary Bond , 37:43
And I think I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of reasons. But I think the primary reason why young people are really open to menstrual cups is zero waste, its base, I mean, our world is dying, and the amount of consumerism and the amount of waste that human beings recreate and sanitary waste is absolutely massive, massive, massive when you think that, at some stage, you know, almost 50% of the world's population are going to have their period. And if they're using single use products, what that looks like, and you know, it's just billions and billions of single use items a year and I think young people, they just want better, they want to leave at least to their you know, the least in terms of the waste that they leave behind. And so you know, menstrual cup has a profound effect on that one, one menstrual cup. So a Hello Cup lasts at least five years. So during that five years, it'll save 12 150 single use menstrual cups just for that one person using that one cup. So if you multiply that by their whole period of life, and then all the people in the world that have their periods, like it's just, it's just completely mind blowing. So I think that's the number one thing and the other thing is the cost I you know that we're under so much pressure financially these days and buying menstrual products every month is is very, very expensive. And you know, you buy a menstrual cup and you don't need to buy anything else for at least five years and the cost, the cost saving of that is is absolutely massive. And I think young people also really concerned about putting chemicals into their bodies. You know, a lot of the cotton is bleached. You know, so many pairs actually have microplastics in them. And people just don't want that and or near the bodies. You know, we don't know what they're what the handful of bits of those bleaches and plastics are made alone the fact that some of those tampons and pads take up to 500 years to break down and lend. So you know, even even organic tampons take at least five years to break down. So they're still a major waste component. So I think it's just a no brainer. I think it's a no brainer. And also, young people haven't got established behaviors around sanitary products. So they haven't used something else like pads or tampons for 10 or 20 or 30 years. So you're actually it's just a no brainer. Bring it on.

Smile Makers , 40:37
Amazing. Um, okay, sorry, last set of questions. I was wondering if we could do like a quick fire kind of thing. One thing you wish people knew about, and then menstrual cups, periods, and the vulva or vagina

Mary Bond , 40:56
Okay, one thing?

Smile Makers , 40:57
Yep, menstrual cups first.

Mary Bond , 40:59
One thing that I wish people knew about menstrual cups is that they are so much better for your body. There's so much better for the environment, and there's so much better for your pocket.

Smile Makers , 41:10
Brilliant. What about what about period?

Mary Bond , 41:15
Ah,periods can be a real pain in the bum. But honestly, by using a menstrual cup, you can really make them so much more manageable. So give it a shot. .

Smile Makers , 41:24
Perfect. And what about the vulva and vagina

Mary Bond , 41:28
Vulva and vagina? So what ever they look like? They're amazing. they're yours. Be proud of them. They're capable of amazing thing.

Smile Makers , 41:41
Brilliant. Thank you so much, Mary. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health issue like this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a five star review on Apple podcasts or wherever you're getting your podcast from. This will help us make it easier to find. For more sex positivity. head to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com See you there.

In this interview from our podcast Clitastic Chronicles, we talk with Mary Bond, Hello Cup's co-founder. Hello Cup is a menstrual cup brand from New-Zealand that develops super comfortable cups for people with periods. In this interview, we discuss the anatomy of the vagina, period health and period self-care and we learn some surprising facts about our anatomy.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:10
Hi everyone, and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with clitorises. In this episode, we’re chatting with Mary Bond from Hello Cup, a menstrual cup company from New Zealand. HelloCup is providing quality cups for humans who menstruate. They also do an amazing work to end period poverty so make sure to check them out! Today, we’re talking about how her company came into fruition, and then we get down to more details about the vagina, periods and period sex. If you’ve ever wondered about why a vagina has different sizes, this episode is for you, and the answer is not strictly to do with childbirth. Let's dive in.

Mary Bond , 01:01
So Hi there, my name is Mary Bond. And I am one of the founders of the Hello Cup. We're in New Zealand, the cups are and made needs for cup woners. And we launched in December of 2017. So we're following you, I started the business with my best friend Robin McLean. And we've been best friends since we were 11 years old, we were school buddy. And when I left school, I went into nursing and Robin went into journalism. So we both had very different career paths. But we always sort of had a vision that we would like start a business together, I still work as a palliative care nurse and a hospice here in Wellington, New Zealand. But Hello Cup keeps me pretty busy. So I just do this one day a week. And the time I focus on the Hello Cup

Smile Makers , 01:56
Amazing. And what kind of nursing did you say sorry?

Mary Bond , 02:00
So I work as a palliative care nurse. So this is a nurse who works either in a hospital or a hospice setting, caring for people and their families with terminal or life limiting illness. So really caring for people when they're dying. And I really love and I've done for a long time. And even though it's quite busy managing a growing company and my new thing work, it's really important in something that I prioritize. So just minutes just fit a little bit in there alongside the work that I do with Hello Cup.

Smile Makers , 02:35
Brilliant. And is there a link between your nursing and creating Hello Cups? Was there like a moment in your career or is it something outside of that?

Mary Bond , 02:47
So really what happened was both Robin and I have both had real problems with our period, since we were quite young. And I had gynae issues, which means ultimately I needed a hysterectomy. And back before I did, I had blighting periods which would just catch me unaware. And really there was just they were almost impossible to manage. And Robin has also had problems with endometriosis, and really heavy periods and all the joy that goes along with that horrible issues. And we've both grown up with tampons and pads being the only option for periods. And a few years ago, Robin and ? went into a local drugstore, or pharmacy we call it here and said look at you know, I've got these terrible periods and I you know, there must be something better. And the pharmacist there was a long time menstrual cup user and suggested that Robin try a menstrual cup. And Robin had heard of them but they really were a product that wasn't really was widely available. So anyway, so Robin tried the menstrual cup and couldn't believe how amazing it was and how easy it was to use. There were some issues about it that she didn't like, but generally felt like it was a much better solution for to manage your period than using pads or tampons. So probably very soon after the hit, she called me and said I've got an idea for a business and I was thinking Gosh, I wonder I wonder what she said menstrual cups. It's a it's a bit different than maybe the business concept that I thought you might come up with but I actually went away and did a lot of reading and you know we worked out that firstly, nobody was making them in New Zealand and we both from New Zealand and also that the products on the market were one, they weren't really widely available. And secondly, they tended to be quite visually unappealing and a little bit kind of clinical. And we so we felt like there was a real demand for a sustainable, comfortable, menstrual cup, that not only was really easy to use, but also that it looked really appealing. And it didn't turn people off. And the packaging was really beautiful. So that people who may have initially thought, Oh, no menstrual cups, not for me, it's just kind of the hippies or whatever, you could actually start a dialogue and say, Hey, this just doesn't turn me off. This is pretty cute. And it doesn't look really daunting. And hey, let's talk about it. And it's been really amazing for us. So yeah, so we basically came up with the idea, and we bought every single menstrual cup that we could get our hands on, and inserted them into our vaginas, and worked out what we found comfortable. What made the difference for us what what sort of firmness was easier to open, we talked to a lot of people that we knew that did use menstrual cups. And then we designed a menstrual cup based on all those things that we had, that we had found out from our own research. And then we tried them, so bring them out to friends and family. And we tweaked the design based on their feedback. And then we launched in December of 2017, thinking that maybe it would be a little business and it would just take out, you know, it would be a part time thing. But actually, our timing was really perfect. Our product was very different than anything else that was on the market. And we really grew really quickly.

Smile Makers , 07:00
Amazing. And it's so deserved as well, like, I'm such a fan of the Hello cup. I so annoying. I left mine at my friend's house last week. Um, and she lives quite a bit of a drive for me. So this week, I came over a period. So I was like, it's okay, I have like, a spare one. But it's a different brand. And the experience is so different. And it's so so different. Like it's, I used to love this other brand, because it was the first one I ever tried. So it was it was good enough, you know, and like, seeing the difference now of like, how easy is to get the Hello cup out, how reliable it is going to yoga this week, I'm like, really nervous that there's gonna be like a leak. So it's, it's really interesting to hear how much you kind of tried and tested things because it really shows in the end product.

Mary Bond , 07:54
I'm so pleased to hear that. Yeah, we and we know that that the design is quite different from other other cups on the market. But we've really, really had a focus on comfort. That's why the outside is very smooth, and there's nothing that can dig into the walls of the vagina, you know that they're firm enough to be comfortable that will open up because we know that, if people with periods are using tampons or pads, and they're working well for them, but actually, they want a more sustainable option. If they start using a menstrual cup and it doesn't work well straight away. chances are they're going to go back unless they're really committed. And my goodness, you know, Hello Cup customers are really committed. But sometimes it means that they can go back to the products are easier. So we we want to we want people to nail the Hello Cup quickly and love it. And just to make the experience as easy a transition as possible.

Smile Makers , 08:56
And it shows for sure. A theme of this podcast is about kind of getting to know your body for more pleasure and also better health. And the question that we always get with Smile Makers is about like, appearance of the vulva and what's normal and is this normal? I noticed that the cups come in different sizes, and I was wondering if we could discuss like, why that is when it comes to like vaginas? Like, is there a normal and yeah,

Mary Bond , 09:27
So first of all, there is a normal and it's everyone's vagina. But in saying that, of course, everybody is very different. You know, it's, it's like anything, you know, that the shape, the size, and you know, everybody is unique. There are certainly some things that can affect, you know, our vagina. We The main issue that we had when we started was that customers were saying, I've had, I've had a baby, so I'm definitely allowed. And what we worked out that actually, whether or not you've had babies doesn't actually dictate your vagina size. So, what we did instead, as we had some really broad guidelines around choosing your size, and but we also back it up with a really kind of really robust customer service, because sometimes there needs to be a conversation to help people decide on the, on the size, and the beauty of the vagina is that, I mean, it's kind of like a rubber band, you know, like, it will stretch to accommodate, you know, like a tampon and menstrual cat, a sex toy, a penis, but actually, it just shrinks back to its regular size. So you know, rather than it being a tube, it's that kind of like, a muscle that has nooks and crannies and, and, you know, will stretch out and then stretch back. And it's got an amazing memory like that. And the one thing that obviously can stretch your vagina is, is childbirth. But I'm saying that there are a lot of women that actually bounce back fairly quickly. And especially for people who are really active or are really good about doing their Kegel exercises, you actually don't necessarily have a large vagina after you've had a baby, it's essentially what I'm saying. So the way that our sizes work, and more based around physical fitness. So we have three sizes, we have an extra small, which is really a static app for teens, or often, if people are really petite or incredibly fit, usually, the vaginal walls are also really strong. And, and then we have a small medium size, and it's kind of a one size fits most. And so it kind of uh, it, you know, it's a really good size for most people, the time that we say that a large cup is good, is if you've used a menstrual cup before, and you know that you're large, or perhaps you're a bit older, and not very physically fit, which essentially means that your vagina walls are not as strong, so therefore can accommodate a larger cup. So the other thing that we do to kind of give people the best chance of success is we sell double boxes. So there will be two sizes in one box. And the second cap is basically half price. And what that means is that each one of those sizes is going to work for you. And what we also find is that sometimes people can use a medium cup on the lighter days, and then they can use a larger cup, you know, on the heavier days or overnight. So it it some we've always been quite, just given as much information as we can on our website, or if people want to email us to really support them to get the right size. But we think that people overestimate the size of the vagina quite a lot?

Smile Makers , 13:08
Wow, that is incredible. It I didn't know any of that. I'm so pleased that we've had this discussion, because I feel like it's a great product, but it's also giving people the opportunity to have conversations they wouldn't have had otherwise, and you know, ridiculous kind of stigma that exists. And this misogyny that exists around women's bodies. So we avoid having conversations because we think there's something wrong with us or that it's not supposed to be this way X, Y and Z. And so many people you just think about have missed this opportunity to know something really fundamental and experienced their period in a way more comfortable way.

Mary Bond , 13:48
Yeah, and I think that's really interesting, bringing up that point about sort of gender equality because, you know, and I think, um, you know, sometimes when it comes to, you know, male anatomy, I mean, I think there's sometimes you know, like, I don't know, like maybe we just see it more often or maybe there's just more acceptance of the differences but with with women, it's not like we see vulvas or we feel vulvas all the time. So, like, it's very understandable that people think, Oh, I think you know, mine is too big or it's not right or, you know, and and it just it's just another reason for people to be hard on themselves. And yeah, women give themselves a hard time or not think that be good enough for you know, not just Yeah, yeah, no, no.

Smile Makers , 14:36
Yeah. And I think um, something that you know, if you're not very in touch with your body, and this is quite new to using a cup or, or touching your vulva for example. They might be quite squeamish about being in contact with the menstrual blood. Um, so I was wondering if you have tips for not only insertion, but get gets to know your vulva and your vagina better.

Mary Bond , 15:02
Yeah, so it's really interesting because I'm in New Zealand, and we predominantly use non applicator tampons. So we're used to, I don't know, whether you call them bullet tampons, you know, tampons that you really you just push up with your finger? Yeah. And it is actually the majority of people use. And I thought that that was a global thing. And actually then when I found that is that in the US, the majority of tampon users use applicators and that is, that is just a massive cultural difference for us. Because we would think why why would you not get your finger and get out there and you know, see what direction you're putting the tampon in, and you know, have a peek around and see what's going on there. So I think that, people are just not used to their body, you know, lead they don't really know what shape the vagina is and what what direction it goes then and that doesn't go straight up. And it's not a tube that kind of got all sorts of nods and crannies and and so I think the beauty of a menstrual cup is your have to get out there. And what I always say to people who are a bit squeamish about them, I'm like, actually, it's your vulva, it's your vagina, it's your body. So nothing gross about it like this is this is your body, you're not having to, you know, look at anyone else's that you don't want to this is just you. And I think using a menstrual cup simply means that you learn a lot about where your cervix sits. And does it sit at the top of your vagina does it sit on the side, and you actually have to get to know those things. Because where the cup sits is very dependent on where your cervix is. And yet you definitely get down to the nitty gritty about your anatomy, which I think is it's amazing. Like, it's so amazing. I was listening to my daughter's I had three daughters of various ages. But my two older daughters had their periods and I was listening in and they were having conversation about this service type. And I was thinking, wow, holy crap, you know, like one is 18, one fourteen. And they're having a conversation about using cups, I don't think you can talk to anybody. Like, Robin and I, we've been buddies, since we're leaving, we had never talked about periods when we were teenagers. So I actually think things are changing. And they're changing really rapidly. And it is so awesome. And it just empowers woman furthermore. This is my body. I own it. Everything's on my terms. Like it just that's the total one.

Smile Makers , 17:40
Well, your daughters are very lucky to have you as a moment while I'm sure they learn so much.

Mary Bond , 17:46
Well, probably Yeah, they have heard about periods and needs to look at pretty much everything since they were very young.

Smile Makers , 17:56
Absolutely. And it's so true as well, because you see anatomy diagrams, and they make out if they do bother to kind of go into the description of the vagina, that it's kind of just this tube, and there's the cervix right at the end very far in the distance. And unless you're having a really good luck, or like you say, having to get your hands in there to use a cup with something, you're gonna have no idea that your cervix could be very, very, like close to the entrance actually. And, like so many women have like tilted uteruses. So that makes a big difference.

Mary Bond , 18:28
Absolutely. And also people that have had babies, it's really common for there to be prolapse. And obviously, there are all sorts of different types of prolapse, and they can come from the uterus, or they can you know, be a bulge that comes down or about from the side. And so that can make choosing a cap. That's another challenge in terms of size, because you could have been on paper look like you're a large cup, but because of a prolapse, sort of taking over part of your vagina, the can be a space issue there. So for those people, they might actually need an extra small even though they may be in their, you know, 30s or 40s. And they might have had babies but actually a really pushing down on on this person's particular vagina. So, yeah,

Smile Makers , 19:18
And what kind of struck me when you're speaking as issues like this, or like, you know, like having a some people call the moon cups of menstrual cups, how much it's kind of trivialized and almost kind of like laughed at is something a bit woowoo but it's your health. At the end of the day, it's actually very important.

Mary Bond , 19:40
And I think this is such a huge range of kind of normal. I don't like using that word but volumes of blood loss. And I think sometimes with tampons or pads, it's really hard to know, you know, if you do have endo or you have, you know, issues with your period and you're going to go and see your gynecologist When you use a menstrual cup, it's actually really helpful to know the volume of blood that you're using in terms of, you know, anemia, or, you know, just in terms of your health. It's a really, I think people often quite surprised sometimes it's surprised by, by actually how little their flow is when they thought it was gallon, but um, you know, it's a really good way if people are losing a large amount of blood to sort of keep a track of that.

Smile Makers , 20:24
Yeah, that's a very, that's a really good point is that I'm in like, milliliters an ideal amount, but somehow, I

Mary Bond , 20:31
I don't know. Honestly, it's so it's so different for so many people. Yeah, some people lose a few mills and some people, hundreds of mills and in for them, that's normal. It's just really depends.

Smile Makers , 20:44
Yeah, that's such a relief, because I've read very specific amounts in the past. So it's good to hear that it can vary.

Mary Bond , 20:55
Oh, yeah. No, everybody, everybody's different. And it really depends how you feel. And if you're completely wiped out, then you know, your, your blood loss may actually mean that you potentially are, you know, are in the mix so differently with keeping it keeping an eye on it.

Smile Makers , 21:12
Yeah, and what is periods blood actually made up of

Mary Bond , 21:15
So essentially, what period blood is, so obviously, during your period, then the lining of your uterus that sheds so so obviously, um, who mainly like a sort of a comfy little bit for a fertilized egg is laid down on the lining of your uterus, and if a fertilised egg is not embedded in that uterus lining, then there's a hormone drop, that lining shed and comes away,, it's your period. So essentially, uterine lining it's blood. And along with that, so for some people, they can get clots, and essentially, is just that, that lining sometimes if blood has, you know, overnight, sometimes if the blood has pulled a bit before it come out, it started to clot. And so people can find that they can get more cloth in the morning. And then there's kind of some sort of normal Flora from the vagina, normal bacteria that comes away with it. But yeah, basically, it's it's blood and lining from from the uterus.

Smile Makers , 22:23
Okay,and is there, so we mentioned clots, is there, like, a color that period blood should ideally be in? Is there a color that we should maybe investigate with our gynos?

Mary Bond , 22:36
So in the beginning of a period, it tends to be red or bright red, that's the color it should be sometimes, if it's a bit of spotting, it can sort of be pink, as opposed to bright red should be bright red at the end, at the end of a period, it generally turns a brownish color, that's just because the blood starting to get a bit older. And sometimes the period is quite long, it might be sort of more than five days might be you know, a lot closer to 10 days, towards the end of that period, it's normal for that blood to be a darker color or a brown color, simply because it's taken a while for that and uterine lining to shed and blood You know, when it gets older, it just kind of turns out it's absolutely normal. Sometimes if the if the main blood during a period is quite light in colour, that can be a sign of anemia, that if you feel really healthy and well and energetic, then possibly just your normal lining, anything, there's a big range of normal, the things that you probably need to worry about is if they if your your blood or discharge is kind of has a gray or an orange tinge, smells bearish, that's really a sign of potential infection and definitely need to get kicked out and especially if there are other things that go alongside that smell and color prep. If you have fevers or you you know feel unwell then you definitely need to get some some medical advice at that point.

Smile Makers , 24:10
Okay, and staying on kind of like bacteria and everything. Is there any risk with like UTI or thrush or bV from using a menstrual cup and avoid having good menstrual kind of hygiene?

Mary Bond , 24:29
So thrush is Candida which is a type of fungus, which is lovely. But actually, it's a bact that just kind of hangs out in your vagina anyway quite happily. And with rash causes problem is that your vagina flora, the pH in your vagina really are in balance and everything is good in the world. But if something set off that balance the candida bacts can multiply, and when they multiply, then you can get a thrush and infection. So mythril caps themselves. They they don't cause thrush, but what can cause thrash is anything that irritates the vaginas. So, press something like douching, or wipe that had anything that potentially irritate your vulva and vagina. Like perfumes, sprays or vaginal deodorant, you know, because there's a big market for these things now. And anything like that can really and quite quickly upsets that balance of healthy bacteria. So what we say was because sometimes people will say, Oh, can menstrual cup cause thrush. No, it can't be that. What we do suggest, if you're susceptible to thrush is not to use any soaps, or oils on your menstrual cup, just to use water to clean it. And then just to boil it for three minutes. And then just use the cup like that. And like everything, just make sure that you always wash your hands before you remove your cup. And before you insert your cup, so that there's no way that any of those emotions can be introduced with humans through cup. Yeah, absolutely fine. UTI, same deal. So really, it just comes down to good hand hygiene. So obviously, UTI urinary tract infections, so so because when you're inserting a menstrual cup, your fingers are actually quite close to your to the opening of your urethra where you urinate from. So it's just really important that your hands are always clean, there have been some instances of people giving UTI from template strings, you know, like, because sometimes that actual template strings can, you know, get a bit of blood on them. And then they can carry bacteria in and that bacteria or even they can get ecola bacteria from from the anus. So you know, so that can then move to the urethra. And there's not a lot of space. But with menstrual cups, because if they go and clean and they sit upright, there isn't an easy passage for bacteria to move around to the front of the urethra. So yes, no, it really comes down to really good hand hygiene, and making sure your cup is clean

Smile Makers , 27:33
It's so funny how like, well not funny, it's just like ironic how it all kind of hangs in such a delicate balance. But the key to kind of avoiding all these nasty things is just really good basic hygiene. Yeah, and layering. You know, those creams and oils that we're kind of always being told that we need

Mary Bond , 27:53
Even hand moisturizer, you know, if you've got moisturizer on your hand, and you put your cap on for some people that's going to irritate the vagina.

Smile Makers , 28:01
So yeah, some people it's just, they're just more delicate, like their pH level like,

Mary Bond , 28:07
of course, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Smile Makers , 28:11
I know this only well, as far as I know, I should say that there's only ever been one report of toxic shock syndrome with a menstrual cup. Um, could you talk us through, like, what that is for anyone that doesn't know and how we can all continue to avoid that.

Mary Bond , 28:29
Absolutely, absolutely. So, um, so TCS toxic shock syndrome, and is really a, a potentially severe and sometimes life threatening bacterial infection of the bloodstream. So essentially what happens, I mean, it's been linked to tampon use, and I'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. But really what it is, it's mostly caused by a bacteria called deca caucus orius, which is a bacteria that hangs out on skin. And it usually causes very little problems until there is a catch or a wound or an abrasion which gives a pathway for the deca caucus to enter the bloodstream. And once it's in the bloodstream, it can produce toxins which can then cause havoc and overwhelming sepsis, which for some people can result in infection, severe illness and death. So it's not necessarily from menstrual product, but how it became really now and that is because it was linked to tampon use when tampon were actually left in too long and that's why and tampon companies give really sort of strict criteria. carrying around how long a tampon should be done for. So there's one issue at tampons, you know, the warm wit, they absorb less. Also tampons, when they're inserted specially into a dry or to non lubricated, vagina can cause abrasion, small, small, tiny little micro tears in the vagina wall. And so if you have a tampon, which is full of blood, and that blood is been sitting there for quite a while because the tampons been in, you know, for more than sort of six to eight hours. So now that blood on the tampon is there'll be some staphylococcus on there because you inserted the tampon from that from the outside of your body with its skin onto the inside is undoubtedly going to be a little bit staph, they're usually harmless. But now you've got an environment with the bacteria multiply quickly. And then you've got some little abrasions on the vagina wall. So there's a pathway for that bacteria to into the bloodstream. So essentially, that how toxic shock syndrome happens with tampon use. With a menstrual cup, for one, you it's smooth when they're unsuited, so you don't get those abrasions on the vagina. So there isn't a pathway for that blood for the for the bacteria to pass through. Also, it doesn't, menstrual cups don't absorb blood, they collect it, the bacteria doesn't increase the same at the same rate. And also there isn't there blood not sitting against their vagina wall like this with a tampon. So we still say that you need to one of the one of the beauties of a menstrual cup is all can also be occurred because menstrual perhaps are so comfortable, you can actually forget that they're in, so it's easy sometimes. And I know because I've read the studies on that one case of toxic shock with a menstrual cup is that it had been and for several days, and it wasn't abrasion on the vagina wall, so everything that that needed to happen happened in that situation. So So we say that you can leave your menstrual cup and for up to 12 hours, if you've managed to sleep for 12, overnight at 12 hours overnight, then you can keep your cup. Lucky you. Um, but during the day really, you know, empty at least every eight hours. And in Australia, the guidelines are strictly that it needs to be removed and cleaned after 8 hours.

Smile Makers , 32:31
All right, thank you, that was really helpful. You mentioned before, how creating Hello Cup was kind of a result of your experiences like having quite miserable periods, which I think a lot of us can relate to. Do you have any tips now for a happier period? Beyond using a menstrual cup?

Mary Bond , 32:54
Of course, um, I think that I mean, I know for some people periods are manageable. And they find and I know for other people, they're absolutely horrifying. And it can mean days off work every month. And so it's really hard to offer any more advice than to say, you know, have great self care. And, you know, look after yourself, sleep as much as you can. And I was having a discussion around this with one of my work colleagues, and we were talking about and this obviously fits in very well with you guys is that orgasms are really good menstrual cramps. Maybe headlock though. And, you know, I think that just eating really well can have a profound effect on your hormones, you know, limiting things like alcohol and smoking and things that really put pressure on your body when it's already under a lot of stress. I mean, I think all these things can help a lot get exercise. I mean, it's so easy to say these things and really hard to do sometimes, but they really do make a profound difference.

Smile Makers , 34:09
Yeah, absolutely. Especially I think you mentioned like nutrition, the effects on your hormones. When if you're having like, quite a miserable period, it's so easy to maybe reach for junk food and comfort food. But with a little bit of investigating I've seen I've learned for myself, like where cravings come from and why you might be craving sugar and what you can replace, instead of necessarily having a huge, like bar, ofchocolate. The effect is it's huge. It's such a big shift. And um, I totally agree with that. And mostly, I think it's an easy thing to do for some of us, especially if we don't have kids. So, yeah, we but we try we try to kind of ignore the effect by trying to do more, which is a bit counterproductive. And obviously, Smile Makers, we definitely agree with more orgasms. And more pleasure in general and more.

Mary Bond , 35:12
Yeah. And looking after yourself and feeling good. And yeah, absolutely.

Smile Makers , 35:18
Can you use a menstrual cup during sex?

Mary Bond , 35:21
Okay, so the short answer is no. We know that some people do. And again, it really depends on anatomy. So a menstrual cup actually takes up quite a lot of the vagina. So it, it can make in terms of penetration, it that can make it a lot more difficult, simply because it's a space issue. Some people do catch the toggle off the cap, which means that it then takes up less space but at the Hello Cup, we don't recommend cutting the toggle off. And the reason is, because it's not a clean cut. And you recreate a rough surface that can attract bacteria. So we say no to this, and saying this. And some people just don't want to have ? when they have like the period, which is fine. And there are options, which we are working on, watch the space at the Hello Cup. But you can get menstrual disc just what just easily just sit over the cervix and will stem the flow of blood so that you can actually have, you know, fits without having blood flowing out of your vagina, if it's not something that that you like. And so there are options. But if you had a really high cervix, and like cup isreally far up and practice, you probably could but what's probably going to happen is it's going to get pushed further up, and then you have issues with getting it out. Right. So my kind of line on that is it's just not practical and possibly a bit uncomfortable. Yep, we're working on it.

Smile Makers , 37:11
More options. It's it's just gonna empower more people to have those options.

Mary Bond , 37:16
Hardly. Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Smile Makers , 37:18
You mentioned earlier that the your two older daughter is very open with talking about periods and their bodies. And this is definitely a trend that we're seeing as well. What do you think it is that it's attracting this younger generation to? Yeah, menstrual cups and, and being more in tune with their bodies and really taking charge?

Mary Bond , 37:43
And I think I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of reasons. But I think the primary reason why young people are really open to menstrual cups is zero waste, its base, I mean, our world is dying, and the amount of consumerism and the amount of waste that human beings recreate and sanitary waste is absolutely massive, massive, massive when you think that, at some stage, you know, almost 50% of the world's population are going to have their period. And if they're using single use products, what that looks like, and you know, it's just billions and billions of single use items a year and I think young people, they just want better, they want to leave at least to their you know, the least in terms of the waste that they leave behind. And so you know, menstrual cup has a profound effect on that one, one menstrual cup. So a Hello Cup lasts at least five years. So during that five years, it'll save 12 150 single use menstrual cups just for that one person using that one cup. So if you multiply that by their whole period of life, and then all the people in the world that have their periods, like it's just, it's just completely mind blowing. So I think that's the number one thing and the other thing is the cost I you know that we're under so much pressure financially these days and buying menstrual products every month is is very, very expensive. And you know, you buy a menstrual cup and you don't need to buy anything else for at least five years and the cost, the cost saving of that is is absolutely massive. And I think young people also really concerned about putting chemicals into their bodies. You know, a lot of the cotton is bleached. You know, so many pairs actually have microplastics in them. And people just don't want that and or near the bodies. You know, we don't know what they're what the handful of bits of those bleaches and plastics are made alone the fact that some of those tampons and pads take up to 500 years to break down and lend. So you know, even even organic tampons take at least five years to break down. So they're still a major waste component. So I think it's just a no brainer. I think it's a no brainer. And also, young people haven't got established behaviors around sanitary products. So they haven't used something else like pads or tampons for 10 or 20 or 30 years. So you're actually it's just a no brainer. Bring it on.

Smile Makers , 40:37
Amazing. Um, okay, sorry, last set of questions. I was wondering if we could do like a quick fire kind of thing. One thing you wish people knew about, and then menstrual cups, periods, and the vulva or vagina

Mary Bond , 40:56
Okay, one thing?

Smile Makers , 40:57
Yep, menstrual cups first.

Mary Bond , 40:59
One thing that I wish people knew about menstrual cups is that they are so much better for your body. There's so much better for the environment, and there's so much better for your pocket.

Smile Makers , 41:10
Brilliant. What about what about period?

Mary Bond , 41:15
Ah,periods can be a real pain in the bum. But honestly, by using a menstrual cup, you can really make them so much more manageable. So give it a shot. .

Smile Makers , 41:24
Perfect. And what about the vulva and vagina

Mary Bond , 41:28
Vulva and vagina? So what ever they look like? They're amazing. they're yours. Be proud of them. They're capable of amazing thing.

Smile Makers , 41:41
Brilliant. Thank you so much, Mary. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health issue like this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a five star review on Apple podcasts or wherever you're getting your podcast from. This will help us make it easier to find. For more sex positivity. head to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com See you there.
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