SSIS advice column

May 3, 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 or leave a question in the Google Form link on our Facebook page. (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?

Thanks for writing in! First of all, it’s great that you are trying to find solutions that work for your body. Menstrual cups are a popular form of menstrual products, and because they are reusable they do help reduce waste! A menstrual cup can be inserted into the vagina to collect blood and menses during a vulva-owner’s period. Menstrual cups come in different shapes and sizes, so there are lots of options when deciding what will work best for your body and your flow.

Menstrual cups when used correctly do not increase the risk of vaginal infection, and in some cases can even reduce the risk of yeast infections compared with pads or tampons. Pads and tampons are both made to absorb menses, which means that they alter the levels of moisture in the vagina. Because menstrual cups do not absorb menses (they simply collect), they should not significantly alter the vagina’s moisture or pH level. However, if you already have a yeast infection, it is not recommended to use a menstrual cup or tampon, because the friction can further agitate the infection. Proper use of a menstrual cup means cleaning it regularly (with soap and water, in the dishwasher or by boiling—depending on the material) and storing it safely between uses.

There are many menstrual cups available, and in fact SSIS offers three menstrual cups for sale in our office; the Diva cup (model 1), the Keeper cup and the Softcup. The Diva cup is a clear silicone cup; it can be cleaned with soap and water, in the dishwasher or by boiling. SSIS sells the Diva cup model 1, which is intended for use by vulva-owners who have not given birth vaginally. The Diva cup lasts up to 10 years and costs $20 at SSIS. The Keeper cup is similar to the Diva cup, but is made out of gum rubber; and it can be washed with soap and water. It is brown and obscure in color, which may be preferable to someone who doesn’t want to see their menstrual blood as much. The Keeper cup also lasts up to 10 years and is sold for $20 at SSIS. The Softcup is a disposable form of menstrual cup that can be used two times, and then discarded. The Softcup is made of plastic and can be worn during penetrative intercourse, although it does not prevent pregnancy or the spreading of STIs. The softcup costs 25¢ at SSIS. You can buy any of these products in our office, SCC 328, during our open office hours which are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this semester any day when classes are in session.

We hope this helps! Good luck!

  • Why doesn’t he text me after sex?

Thanks for writing in! While we do not know why your partner specifically doesn’t text you after sex, we can offer some tips about effective communication in sexual relationships.

Communication in any kind of relationship is important in making sure that all people involved are on the same page. At SSIS, we like to say that effective communication is four things: early, often, open and honest. This means that if something is confusing or upsetting to you, talking openly with your partner/partners about it as soon as it feels like an issue can help avoid any issues down the line. When communicating with your partner/partners, it is helpful to think about how you phrase concerns without putting them on the defensive. This can mean using “I” statements, such as “I feel confused when you don’t text me after sex,” and/or starting the conversation by saying that you don’t mean to attack them and you hope to have a constructive conversation.

Ultimately, how you choose to communicate with your partner/partners is up to you. If you’d like to talk about more methods of healthy communication or even roleplay how a conversation might go, feel free to stop by our open office hours in SCC 328 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days when classes are in session!

If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email or leave a question in the Google Form link on our Facebook page.

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