SSIS Advice Column

SSIS Advice Column

January 25, 2019

Welcome back to the SSIS column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email ssis@brandeis.edu or leave a question in the Google Form link on our Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions!
(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)

I have a light flow and am prone to vaginal infection but I really want to try a menstrual cup to reduce waste. What do you recommend?

Thank you for your question! It’s awesome that you want to reduce menstrual product waste. Choosing a cup can be quite challenging: There are so many different brands, materials and shapes that menstrual cups come in, and it’s not very feasible to try out a bunch since they can’t exactly be returned! We do offer two different menstrual cups in the SSIS office (SCC 328), both for $20: The Diva Cup, which is transparent and made of silicone, and the Keeper Cup, which is brown and made of gum rubber. (Note: the Keeper Cup CANNOT be boiled). There are many more options than what SSIS offers, however.

In regards to your light flow, there are some cups that might be better for you: The size one Lunette or Luna Cup, or a size Small Ruby Cup, or a Super Jennie Cup in Small, all of which are small or smaller versions of their respective brands. None of them are sold at SSIS, unfortunately, but we can definitely let you know where to get them!

It seems that your concern might be with what seems to be health/sanitation of the menstrual cup. While disposable menstrual products tend to be more common and normalized in our society, that definitely doesn’t mean that menstrual cups are inherently unsanitary. For instance, there is little evidence that menstrual cups such as the Diva Cup increase the risk of yeast infections. The Diva Cup is made of silicone, which is generally biocompatible with the body and non-allergenic to most (it’s latex-free and gluten/tree nut/peanut free, though the packaging itself is not guaranteed to be free of gluten/tree nuts/peanuts). Removing, emptying and rinsing out the cup at least twice a day is also a good idea to keep things clean. These are great tips for preventing complications with your cup, but if you currently have an active vaginal infection, it is important to discontinue use of your menstrual cup until the infection subsides.

With proper care, menstrual cups can be quite sanitary and safe to use. For the Diva Cup, cleaning can involve washing the cup with the brand’s DivaWash and water. Also, warm water and a mild, unscented, water-based (oil-free) soap work just as well. It’s also a good idea to, at the end of your cycle, boil the menstrual cup in an open pot of boiling water for five to 10 minutes with plenty of water. Be sure not to leave the pot unattended, as the cup can be damaged easily in this situation. (Also be aware of your menstrual cup’s material composition: boiling will melt cups made of rubber!) If your cup appears discolored or damaged after cleaning/boiling/etc., it might be good to discard it and purchase a new one.

Hopefully this information helps somewhat with your menstrual cup choice. There’s a lot of information and products out there, but in the end, it is all up to personal preference. We hope you can find a cup that’s right for you!

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a month. He just told me that he’s really into feet. How do I handle his weird fetish?

Thank you for your question! It seems like you may have reservations about this specific fetish. Before getting into anything else, we think it’s important to validate both you and your boyfriend’s feelings and experiences. It’s totally understandable that you may have reservations about your boyfriend’s fetish, as long as you make space for his feelings and experiences about the situation as well. You never have to help your boyfriend act on this foot fetish if you’re not comfortable doing so, but it’s also important to realize that foot fetishes are actually fairly common and healthy to have.

Initially, it may be helpful to take some time to think. How does this situation specifically make you feel?

Research is also a great way to learn more about this fetish and what it may mean to your boyfriend. None of this may directly apply to his experience, but it’s good to have a background of knowledge in order to engage with an experience you have not had. If you’re comfortable, perhaps consider asking your boyfriend questions about it: When did this fetish arise? What are some things that turn him on that relate to his fetish? Hopefully the two of you feel safe and comfortable enough with each other to have an open, honest and nonjudgmental conversation about it. Consider coming up with a Want/Will/Won’t list if you haven’t already: What do each of you want to do sexually, are willing to do and what won’t you do? It may be helpful to have a visual guide of the experiences you both feel comfortable sharing, so you could try writing down your lists and then comparing.

It’s completely valid to not be interested in exploring this fetish with your boyfriend, as long as he does not feel judged for it. It’s pretty cool that he had enough trust to confide in you, and hopefully with some personal reflection and open conversation, you can come to some sort of mutual understanding!

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