I have been using menstrual cups for well over three years now. My verdict? I love them, but I am not in love with the one I’ve been using all this time (the Mooncup). Even though I’m not in love, I will attest to the fact that it has changed my life for the better (not constantly searching for the next toilet! And a significantly reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome).

Now as much as I love my Mooncup, I do have a couple concerns that prevent me from loving it:

– I find no matter how well I put the cup in, it leaks. I have come to the conclusion that the shape of the cup doesn’t compliment my body on heavier flow days, and I think a small amount of blood leaks through the suction holes.
– The Mooncup tends to drop. My kegels are apparently stronger than I initially thought, for example, when I pop to the bathroom to pee, the cup does drop a little and I need to push it back into place (the suction is not broken, I have checked multiple times!).
– The Mooncup tends to drop when i exercise too to the point where I can feel the bottom of the cup peeping out. Not the most comfortable feeling when you’re in a 1 hour gym class!

However, there has been one day a month that has plagued me, it was this day that made me bite the bullet and look for other solutions. Third day of my period is heavy, and I mean the kind of heavy where my normal menstrual cup (hold approximately 29 mls) needs to be changed about every 2 hours before it leaks. Yes you read that right, that’s basically a tampon changing frequency on heavy days, so on this day, I loose the convenience of popping in the cup and forgetting about it. All other period days of my cycle are fine and my normal menstrual cup holds it without issue (apart from the small leaks mentioned above). This has been bothering me for a while and one weekend I thought to myself, ‘why am I putting up with this when I can look for solutions?’

After some research I chose the Merula XL. Why? Because it was affordable (£24) compared to the other options and had decent reviews.

So to my friend Google I went and searched for menstrual cups for heavy periods. I read through several blogs and review sites which showed a number of cups; cups I had never heard of and read stories of my fellow women who have pretty heavy days or heavy periods in general.

I decided on the Merula XL cup. I will say that I largely landed in this cup because it was the most cost effective and I’ll be honest…the sheer size of this cup frighted me. For the purposes of my trailing out the cup, I decided to try and use the Merula XL cup every day of period, even on my regular, non heavy days.

Before I get into my thoughts on this cup, I just want to put a disclaimer out there that our bodies are different. Our experiences will be different

Day 0 – spotting

I usually get a day or two of spotting before I begin my cycle, I don’t like pads so I typically use my Mooncup l to catch any spotting I get.

On this day, the Merula XL arrived in the post. I was so excited about this that I went over to my Force Mujer girls, Gemma and Kim, to unpackage it.

Our first impressions? This baby is large. Just look at that size difference between the Mooncup and the Merula cup.

Not gonna lie, I was genuinely terrified yet intrigued by this product. When I got home, I boiled it for 5 mins before first use as instructed. The instructions also say to boil with a pinch of vinegar – I don’t know , what a pinch means nor do I know what kind of vinegar I should be using. So I just stuck with boiling water.

Before I tried it out for the first time, I cut the first ladder off. My experiences with the Mooncup l already gave the knowledge that the two ladder handle would be too long for me.

Trying it for the first time.

I believe the only way to insert the Merula XL is by the punch down method. I had a showered and popped this in towards the end. It… was a struggle, it was strange trying to get it in and it did minorly hurt (talking 1/10 scale), so only very minorly. But once the cup was in, it was OK. But wait, that’s not all; the next challenge I had was getting the cup to open inside. I was worried it was going to be difficult as some of the reviews suggested, but honestly, all I did was poke it on the side and then straight t in the base and it popped open.

About 10 minutes later while sitting on the couch watching TV, I felt a sudden strong pop and suction feeling. It was very shocking, like I had been flicked on the cervix. It didn’t hurt, but my best guess was that the cup didn’t open fully until this very moment when it formed the strong suction I read about.

Summary of day 0, surprisingly more comfortable than my regular sized one. With my Mooncup, I found my muscles liked to push it out when walking or moving, especially during exercise. This one, so far, had not yet slipped down.

Day 1

I woke up in the morning and wandered off to the bathroom. When I reached to remove the Merula cup I did have a slight worry about getting it out due to its size. However, it was fine. I did have to reach my fingers further to break the suction (which is really strong by the way), but once the suction was broken, all that was needed was to pull it out by squishing it as small as it can comfortably go. I emptied , rinsed it with water and put it back in.

It wasn’t any easier or harder to put the cup in place, but it went in OK and I just pushed on the base of the cup to get it to open inside. I did not feel the sudden pop suction that I felt the previous night.

I wore this all day at work without issue.
However, in the evening, breaking the seal to remove the cup was a struggle, it seemed to break them reseal itself. After some time, I managed to get it out, but it definitely was not as seemless as the Mooncup.

Day 2

No leaks in the night.

Breaking the seal in the morning was really easy. I found that when the cup is filled with fluid, you can feel it when you try to remove it, the best way to describe it is a feeling of resistance and bounce when you push on the base of the cup. The thing I learned with this cup on this day was that, due to needing to squish the cup as much as possible to remove, it does result in the contents falling out and getting all over your fingers. Messy, but it doesn’t bother me.

I was getting minor cramps which is not unusual for this day, but then I felt a sudden plop-open feeling inside. It was quite uncomfortable. I’m not sure whether it’s because I didn’t open it correctly and the cup had filled a little and plopped open into shape, I’m not entirely sure.

However, after I felt the plop open, the cramps did start to subside. Whether is this a coincidence or the cause is still up for debate in my mind, but it is possible that the strong suction was causing the cramps. On the other hand, I did just take ibuprofen a couple minutes before. So it could have totally been the placebo effect.

15 mins later, I decided to take the cup out to see if it was the cup causing the pain. Again, it was a struggle to break the seal. While attempting to break it, I thought to myself ‘if I pull it out without breaking the seal, could I pull my uterus out?’. Thankfully, I did not attempt to give myself prolapse and did eventually break the seal once I got my fingers around the rim.

To continue the testing of whether it was the Merula cup causing the pain, I decided to pop in my regular Mooncup. However the pain remained. Two hours later, the cramps were gone (maybe due to ibuprofen), so I decided to pop the Merula XL back in to give it another go.

Today was gym day: I wore this baby to the gym. Didn’t even notice it was there, but I felt like I was carrying a secret. No leaks, even on this heaviest day, and even with all the leg presses and running, the cup did not slip downwards. I was thoroughly impressed.

Day 3 – that one day of heavy flow

Removed the cup in the morning, just to note – you do need to push the cup to a more reachable position with your kegels (this is much harder to do than with the Mooncup cup).

Even on the heaviest day of my cycle, I put this Merula cup in and went about my day by my day. I did have a fear that I would go to the toilet to be met with a bloody mess, but alas thus never happened. Like all the other days…there were zero leaks.

Day 4

Just as a note, the day following my heaviest day is usually pretty light. After removing the cup in the morning, I noticed there wasn’t a lot of blood remaining so I decided to use my regular Mooncup. Nothing further to report on the Merula XL cup.

Day 5

On this final day, I didn’t even use a cup. Why? (a) I didn’t leave the house and (b), there was only blood when I wiped.

Final verdict

So far I’m liking this Merula XL cup, I like the security I feel and its reliability. I won’t be using it every day of my period, but will save it for the heavier flow days and stick to my Mooncup for the others.

If you’ve read this way, wow! Thank you! And I hope you find this first impression review helpful.

If you’ve tried heavy duty menstrual cups, let us know your thoughts!

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