Intro – What is a Menstrual Cup:
- 1. What is a Menstrual Cup?
- 2. 18 Benefits of a Menstrual Cup
- 3. Cons of a Menstrual Cup
- 4. Why haven’t we heard of them?
- 5. Menstrual Cups vs Disposable Menstrual Products
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup:
- How to Choose a Menstrual Cup
- 1. Cervical Height – How High Does Your Cervix Sit? (Very Low / Low / Medium / High / Very High)
- 2. Your Age & Births
- 3. Soft or Firm? Physical Activities & Menstrual Cups
- 4. Bladder Sensitivities & Menstrual Cups
- 5. Light or Heavy Flow
- 6. Medical Grade Silicone & “Cheapies” & FDA Registration
- 7. Different Types of Stems
- 8. Different Colors and Cup Markings
- 9. Heavy Periods – High Capacity Cups
- 10. Menstrual Cups and Virginity and/or “Teens”
- 11. Is My Vagina Too Small to use a Menstrual Cup?
- 1. Menstrual Cup Folds
- 2. How to Insert & Remove a Menstrual Cup:
- 3. How to Store Your Cup
- 4. Creating a Good Seal
- 5. When to Empty Your Cup
- 6. How to Trim Your Cup Stem
- 7. Menstrual Cups in Public
- 8. Sex & Menstrual Cups
- 9. Can I use the bathroom while wearing a cup?
- 10. Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup – Odors & Stained Cups
- 11. Lubrication & Menstrual Cups
- 12. Troubleshooting a Menstrual cup (Leaking, Collapsing, Opening, Painful Removal, Sliding or Rotating Cups)
- 13. Other Menstrual Cup Tips
- Common Menstrual Cup Questions
More on Menstrual Cups:
- Menstrual Cups and Internal Birth Control
- Menstrual Cups & Prolapse
- Kegel Exercises
- Vaginal Discharge and Cervical Mucus
- Menstrual Cups for Homeless or Developing Countries
- Menstrual Cup vs Menstrual Disc
Intro – Part 1 –
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A Menstrual Cup is a type of reusable period product. It is worn inside the vagina, either around or below the cervix. During menstruation, the cup is used to catch menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it.
A Menstrual Cup normally holds more than a single “super” sized tampon, which will allow you more freedom throughout your day.
When a Menstrual Cup is positioned properly, it is undetected. It can not be seen or felt.
You can use a Menstrual Cup safely for up to twelve hours, depending on your flow. The cup needs to be removed periodically to be emptied and cleaned.
After emptying and rinsing the Menstrual Cup, it can be immediately reinserted.
Since a Menstrual Cup collects your flow instead of absorbing it, it won’t interfere with the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina.
Parts of a Menstrual Cup:
Rim – Depending on the shape of the cup, it can have a “regular” style of a rim or a “flared” rim. There are also cups that don’t have a defined rim.
Secondary Rim –
- Visible – A transition from the body to the rim either by an edge or a slope. This area is normally thicker and firmer than the body.
- Invisible – There is no visible transition like an edge or slope. However, the silicone thickens as it nears the top rim.
- There are also cups that lack either.
Air Holes – The number of air holes, their size, placement and travel path all vary from cup to cup. That is if the cup features them or not.
The number and size of the holes can help getting a cup to open by allowing air to fill it up. They can also help in creating a good seal to ensure the cup stays in place.
If there are no holes or if the holes are very small, the cup might cause the user some issues by staying collapsed. It almost might cause the cup to seal too tightly and make removal painful if the seal is not broken beforehand.
If the hole placement is too low or if the holes are too large, they can compromise the full capacity of the cup or cause leaking sooner than expected.
The travel path is not something that should “make or break” your decision in buying a cup. For cleaning purposes, a straight travel path is the easiest, but a dental brush or toothpick can help make sure the area is thoroughly cleaned.
Body – The main area of the cup.
Base/Grips Rings – The base of the cup is the area between the body and the stem. It is the area that you will want to pinch and hold while removing the cup. The majority of cups have grip rings of some sort at the base of the cup
Seal – The seal is the piece of silicone separating the base and the stem. This piece can be thin or thick. It’s important to pay attention to the seal when trimming a stem if needed so that you don’t cut or file into the cup’s body causing it to become useless.
Stem – Like cups, stems come in all shapes, sizes, thickness, firmness…etc.
Some people don’t take stems into consideration if they are already comfortable retrieving and removing a cup without it. However, if you are unsure, you might want a cup with a stem that has some length. You can always trim the stem of a cup, but you can’t add it back on.
Measuring lines – Cups may or may not have measuring lines and/or numbers. If you like or need to log how much blood loss you have, you might want to check if the cup that you’re interested in includes these.
- Silicone (Medical Grade Silicone) – Most Common!
- TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers)
- Natural Gum Rubber
Most menstrual cups are made of silicone. Medical Grade Silicone has been tested to be biocompatible which means it is safe to be used inside of the body. Other silicones that have not been tested for biocompatibility, may not be. These are not suggested as the material and grade of the silicone are unknown, posing a potential health risk.
You can also find a few menstrual cups that are made with TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers), also known as Thermoplastic Rubbers.
. TPE is created with a mix of polymers, usually a plastic and a rubber. It is commonly used to create catheters in the medical field.
There is also one Menstrual Cup made with Natural Gum Rubber. This cup is not suggested to those who have sensitivities or allergies to rubber/latex.
A bit of History:
You may think that menstrual cups are a new invention. In truth, a type of Menstrual Cup was patented in the 1860’s. These were designed to be inserted into the vagina but were still attached to a belt. Many more types were invented over the years until 1932 when the more modern style Menstrual Cup was patented by two midwives by the names of McGlasson and Perkins.
In 1937 Leona Chalmers patented the first usable cup. It was made of latex rubber. Although we now know how hygienic and practical a Menstrual Cup can be, people at the time weren’t familiar or comfortable with the idea. During World War ll, there was a shortage of latex rubber and production of the cup was halted. After the war ended, Leona Chalmers changed and patented a new design.
In the 1960s the Tassaway brand of Menstrual Cup was introduced, but it was not successful.
It wasn’t until 1987, when “The Keeper” was introduced, that Menstrual Cups made their turn around. This cup was also created using latex rubber, like those before it. Fifteen years later the “MoonCup” was created. The cup featured the same design as “The Keeper”, but it was the first cup that was manufactured out of silicone. Both of these cups are still around today.
Back to Nowadays:
Over the years many other brands of Menstrual Cups have been created. They come in various shapes, sizes, colors and with different stems, rims, firmness, and diameters.
Although this gives a potential cup user a wide range of options depending on their wants and needs in a cup, it can be daunting to someone just starting out.
Intro – Part 2 –
18 Benefits of a Menstrual Cup:
1. They are Reusable
It’s 10 o’clock at night and you just jumped out of the shower. You’re drying off and you spot a SPOT on your light blue towel! You go to grab a tampon from under the sink and are horrified to find out that you only have ONE left! This may last you a few hours, but then what?! Do you get dressed and go to the store or wad up some toilet paper to hold you over??
A menstrual cup is a reusable menstrual product. You simply use it as needed for up to 12 hours at a time depending on your flow, empty it, rinse it, and reinsert. One cup is all you really need, although some people like to have one or two more as a spare or back up.
Since it’s reusable, you’ll never open your cupboard only to find out that you forgot to restock. Which also means that you save money every month!
Most cup companies state that a menstrual cup can last you at least ten years with proper care.
2. No Waste
Whether you want to do your part to have an Eco-Friendly environment, or that you want to save a few pennies on trash pick-up, a menstrual cup has no waste aside from the packaging it originally came in.
No more running to the store or sending someone to pick some tampons and pads for you!
No more checking if you have “enough” when you’re about to leave the house.
You carry ONE menstrual cup with you and it’s stored away in a safe place…your vagina!
When a menstrual cup “fits” you and is placed correctly, you won’t feel it! It beats strings & wings!
5. Long-Lasting Protection
Again, a menstrual cup can be worn safely for up to 12 hours, depending on how heavy your flow is. On your first couple of days, it’ll probably be more like 4-6 hours before you need to empty it. When your flow starts to slow down, you can use the cup for the full 12-hour duration. Make sure you remove, empty and rinse it out at that 12-hour mark, but you can reinsert it again for another 12 after that.
6. Easy Care
Caring for your menstrual cup is no big chore! Most companies suggest boiling the cup when you receive it, before your first use. After that, it’s up to you if you want to boil it or not. Some people boil it at the end of every period. Others don’t ever boil it after the initial time.
You can wash your cup with gentle soap and water. Try to stay clear of using antibacterial soaps or soaps with oils in them. These may shorten the lifespan of the silicone or TPE.
To avoid staining, rinse all of the blood from your cup with cold water first. You can then use hot water to rinse/wash it.
7. Keep Your PH
Tampons absorb. They absorb everything including your body’s own natural secretions. A menstrual cup collects your menstrual flow and doesn’t interfere with the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina.
Since it doesn’t absorb your natural secretions, you don’t get that cringe-worthy, painful, dry removal!
8. One Cup
Unlike tampons, you can use one cup throughout the duration of your period. You don’t have to switch to a smaller cup when your period lightens – although some people still like to.
9. Sleep Longer!
Some menstrual cups hold more than the average “Super” sized tampon, which can allow you to get some extra Zzz’s. Since the cup collects your flow and keeps it contained, you won’t wake up to a river of butt crack blood and stained sheets!
10. No Strings, No Wings
No more wet strings while you use the bathroom!
No more butt crack strings when you wipe!
No more wings stuck to your pubic hair!
Have you ever gone to the beach or pool and worry the whole time that either:
- You can’t swim because you’re wearing a pad.
- Your tampon string is hanging out?
Many of us have! But the great thing about menstrual cups is that the cup can’t be seen or felt, AND you can use them during almost any activity…including swimming! Another bonus for ex-tampon users, a cup won’t absorb the pool or ocean water!
11. Gender Neutral
Not all women have periods, and not all who have periods are women. If you’re confused or offended by this, there’s no need to be. This may or may not apply to you. If it does, you’ll be happy to hear that using a Menstrual Cup may lessen the fuss of menstruating. Since it holds more than a tampon and there’s nothing to see when looking down at your underwear, you can reduce the emotional stress, annoyance, and anxiety of being reminded. However, if you have dysphoria about inserting a cup, it may not be the best choice for you.
12. Get to Know Your Body & Your Flow
It might be strange at first for you to get to know your body like you have never before, but it really empowers you.
Using a Period Tracker App can notify you when to expect your period so that you’re prepared. It won’t be 100% correct 100% of the time, but at least you know if you need to pack for it. And like I said before, you only need ONE cup!
Knowing your body and your flow will help you know what’s normal FOR YOU.
13. Do What You Want, When You Want
Menstrual Cups can be used at any time. Even if you’re not bleeding. Discharge? Spotting? Expecting your period? You can use a cup and not have to worry about surprises.
You can use a cup while you sleep, work, lounge, hike, ride a bike, yoga, swim, party, travel, fly, bungee jump, walk the dog, dance, ….etc., etc! The list is endless!
The only thing that most cup companies (I say most because not all advise against it) suggest not doing, is having penetrative vaginal sex. Some people are willing to try and are successful (SEXessful) and others don’t care to try or are not willing to try. It’s your choice. However, foreplay, oral and safe anal sex are welcome 🙂
* Remember, menstrual cups will NOT prevent an unwelcome pregnancy and will NOT protect you from STD’s.
14. Great for People with a Heavy Flow
If you’re like me, I had very heavy and long periods. For several days, I bled so much that I was changing my tampon AND pad every hour. Sometimes I even had to change my clothes because I would saturate both. I was bleeding so much that the doctors were concerned. I couldn’t leave my house because I was anemic. It made me tired and faint. With changing so often, it was a chore to go anywhere too far and I lived 30 miles from the nearest store!
Since I’ve started using a menstrual cup, my periods seem to have eased up and even shortened. Which has made my life a lot easier! It’s not going to be the case for everyone, but using a cup may give you some extra time between changes/emptying.
15. Allergies to Disposables
Do you find yourself with an unbearable itch and/or rash every time you use a tampon or pad? You may be allergic to something that’s in them or that was added, i.e. fragrance/perfumes, bleach.
Most reputable menstrual cups are latex-free, plastic-free, odor-free, BPA-free, dioxin-free, PBE and PBDE-free, lead-free, mercury-free and cadmium free. Some have dye added to them to create colored cups, but the dyes should be tested to be body safe as well.
16. Odor Free
Some might disagree and say that there is an odor to them. If there is an odor, there might still be a cleaning solution on them after they were manufactured and processed. Make sure you wash it well, but there should be no fragrance added to the cup itself.
Since Menstrual Cups collect instead of absorbing, the blood is kept in a liquid state. This doesn’t allow the blood to dry and create an odor.
Your cup might start to have an odor to it, as does your vagina. It’s nothing compared to the rotting smell of blood, but not very pleasant either. Don’t be embarrassed. Many experience this with various cups. A good cleaning will do the trick.
Some of the things you can do to clear up the smell on your cup are: boil it, soak it in hydrogen peroxide overnight, use “Milton” tablets or denture tablets, wipe it with rubbing alcohol, soak it in lemon juice, soak it in white vinegar, or even just allow it to sunbathe in a window sill. Check with your cup’s manufacturer’s websites or pamphlets for what THEY suggest.
17. Less Bathroom Breaks
As I mentioned above, some menstrual cups hold more than the average tampon.
A super absorbency tampon holds approximately 9 to 12 ml of menstrual blood. Which is just under a half an ounce.
An “average” menstrual cup holds up to 30 ml or 1 ounce.
During a “normal” period a person loses an average of 20-60 ml of blood.
Although with these numbers it may seem like you can use your menstrual cup nonstop for two days straight, you DO still need to empty it by each 12-hour mark for a rinse!
18. Save $$$!
Since you only really need one and because they’re reusable, you won’t be throwing your money in the trash…literally!!
Although the initial cost of a menstrual cup can go up to $40 (many are less expensive), you won’t need to purchase boxes or packs of disposables each month. For some, disposables can cost $20+ a month. If you have additional menstruating people in the house, the expense can be significantly more!
If $40 is a little more than what you’re comfortable with spending, try reusable cloth pads for a few months and save up that money to purchase a menstrual cup 🙂
These are just some of the reasons why a lot of people have switched to using a Menstrual Cup. I’m sure there are many more. Some have switched for one of the reasons and have found additional benefits. I’m sure you will too!
Intro – Part 3 –
Are there CONS to a Menstrual Cup?
Well, yes. To be honest, not everyone who tries a Menstrual Cup falls in love with it…or the idea of it. And that’s fine. That’s the nice thing about alternative options, you’re free to choose!
Here are some things that people might not like about Menstrual Cups:
1. Learning Curve
Like almost everything else we do, there is a learning curve. For some people, inserting, using and removing their Menstrual Cup came easy. For others, it took some time to get the hang of it. Practice will help! Once you get the hang of it, it’ll become second nature and you won’t need to think about what or how to do it.
2. May seem messier
At least it may seem messier in the beginning when you’re first learning. Again, this is part of the learning curve and practice will help! Remember, you most likely won’t need to empty your cup as often as changing a tampon or pad, so you’ll be dealing with your period a lot less throughout the day. When you learn how to insert and remove your cup, you’ll also learn what position your body needs to be in and also how to hold the cup just right so that you don’t spill.
3. “Fit” problems
A specific Menstrual Cup might not “fit” you well. Most of us have heard of the Diva Cup. It’s very popular and can even be found at the local supermarket. However, it doesn’t feel comfortable for everyone who tries it. A chief complaint about it is that it’s too long. Others find it too soft or too firm. A great thing about Menstrual Cups is…..you have options! The Diva Cup is not the only cup out there!
4. Initial cost
It may seem that Menstrual Cups are expensive. Most reputable cups on the market cost anywhere from $15-$40 USD, and it may take a couple or even a few different cups to find the one that “fits” you perfectly. However, once you find a cup that is comfortable and meets your needs, you won’t have to spend anything else for your period for the next (approx) TEN YEARS!
There are some groups (on Facebook and forums) that allow “destashing” of cups. This is, selling gently used cups. Even if you don’t feel comfortable purchasing a used cup and sanitizing it to wear, you can still use the service to sell the cups that you didn’t care for and recoup some of your funds back.
Some people feel that the maintenance of a cup has to be a big chore. Even some Menstrual Cup companies state to boil a cup before storing it away. In reality, a good rinse with water or a mild soap wash is sufficient.
6. Public bathrooms
Yes, it may be much easier for some to change their tampon or pad in a public bathroom. However, remember that you probably won’t need to empty your cup as often. Some people can go several hours more using a Menstrual Cup than a tampon or pad before needing to visit a bathroom. If your period is light, you might even be able to hold off for up to 12 hours! If you do need to empty your cup in a public facility, there are some tips that might help you out!
Intro – Part 4 –
Why Haven’t We Heard of Them?
That’s a great question! I think we all wonder this when we are introduced to them. Why didn’t my mom tell me? Why didn’t they give this option in “Sex Ed” at school? Why are there no commercials?
Well, first of all, the early versions of Menstrual Cups weren’t very successful. Our mothers and grandmothers probably didn’t even know about them. I know my mother didn’t until I told her about them.
Schools these days, I know that they’re very selective about what they can and can’t discuss. Since everyone has different cultural and religious beliefs, people felt that those topics should be taught by parents. Some felt that the topics were inappropriate between a teacher and a student.
I remember learning about periods, pads and tampons in 5th grade. In 7th grade, they went over them again. They didn’t really go into describing them or teaching us how to use them, but they were mentioned.
For both of my children, a son, and a daughter, “Sex Ed” was merely a discussion about hygiene. The only mention about menstruation was that it happens. No real explanation of why and how to care for it. “Sex” in this “Sex Ed” class, was brushed off as they were only told to “abstain”.
It seems Menstrual Cups have a larger following in certain parts of the world for one reason or another. It’s like they broke through that “ick” factor before many of us. So the “ick” factor is one big thing.
Many of us were raised to be quiet about our periods. That it was something we needed to keep a secret. We’re taught to think that our period is “gross”. That knowing or touching our “private parts” wasn’t something we should do. That all of it is shameful.
When I first got my period, I lived in my grandmother’s house. She raised my sisters and me to keep everything surrounding our periods, as discreet as possible. Our tampons and pads were kept under the sink and we had to wrap our soiled items in a specially folded newspaper to be thrown out. Period blood is “gross”. Our bodily functions are “gross”. So even at home, it was something I felt I needed to be ashamed about.
It wasn’t until my dad moved us out of my grandmother’s house that I felt a little more at ease about my period in my home life. I have to give my father some big props! He was a single parent of three bleeders. He did well not to make it anything out of the ordinary. He snaked up tampons from clogged toilets without complaining, and never asked if we needed “stuff”, he just bought it. I love you, dad! You’re awesome!
However, at school, we hid our tampons in our sleeves if we needed to change ourselves. Sometimes we would just go to the nurse’s office because it had a private bathroom. We were embarrassed and/or teased by our schoolmates if they knew. Years and years of this “shame” carried over to adulthood.
Most Menstrual Cup users will probably tell you that they found out about cups from word of mouth, either from a friend or family member or that they happened across something online.
To date, there’s only one company that I know of (at least in the USA) that has a commercial out and I’ve only seen it maybe a handful of times if that.
I’m not exactly sure why more companies don’t make a commercial. The only thing that I can think of is that their budget is a lot smaller than the big name brand pad and tampon makers.
Since a single Menstrual Cup can last upwards to ten years, cup companies don’t continue to make sales from one person every month.
I don’t know about all stores, but I do know that some stores charge more for “prime real estate”. The cost for having a product on a shelf in a specific, well-seen area can be very costly. Plus, what store wants to carry a product that doesn’t need to be purchased more than once every ten years?!
Intro – Part 5 –
Menstrual Cups vs Disposable Menstrual Products
The largest difference between a Menstrual Cup and a Disposable Menstrual Product is that most Menstrual Cups are reusable. With proper care, a Menstrual Cup can last up to ten years.
Are used one time and then tossed in the trash. This means you spend approximately $40 on a Menstrual Cup once every ten years vs $40 a month on disposables.
A cup can be worn safely for up to twelve hours at a time, depending on your flow. One average size large cup normally holds at least 30 ml.
Most tampon companies state that you should replace a tampon at least every 8 hours whether you need to or not. A super absorbency tampon holds approximately 9 to 12 ml of menstrual blood.
All you need is a single Menstrual Cup when you’re out of the house, and you’ll probably be wearing it.
When you use disposables, you need to make sure to carry extras! You’ll always have your Menstrual Cup handy. No more running to the store to make sure that you’re well stocked.
When your Menstrual Cup “fits” and is placed correctly, it disappears inside of your body and can not be felt or seen.
Tampons may not be felt when inserted, but you’ll always have a string to deal with. Pads are always worn outside of the body. They may be bulky and may be seen through clothing.
Removing a cup may be easier. A cup doesn’t remove your body’s natural secretions so it stays lubricated.
The same can not be said for removing a tampon. If your tampon is not saturated, it may be dry, scratch, burn and create micro-tears on the way out.
Menstrual Cups collect your flow and do not interfere with the pH or bacterial balance in your vagina.
A tampon absorbs your flow and everything else, leaving you feeling dry.
Although a Menstrual Cup may end up with an odor after being worn, it can be washed and cleaned before being stored.
Tampons and pads are placed in the trash where they will dry and start to give off a foul odor.
A cup can be worn during almost any activity, including swimming.
Tampons can also be worn during almost any activity. However, some find that tampons will absorb pool or ocean water while swimming. Pads inhibit you from swimming altogether.
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup – 11 Things to Consider!
There are so many menstrual cups on the market these days. They range in shape, size, color, and firmness. It’s hard to know what’s going to work for you and what’s not.
Before you get too overwhelmed, here are 8 things you can check or do to help narrow down your search:
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 1
Cervical Height – How High Does Your Cervix Sit?
Some people don’t think it is important, while others like myself, use it to help narrow down the length of a cup for someone.
Your cervix moves constantly with every movement throughout the day, as well as throughout the different phases/times during your cycle.
I feel it is best to check your cervix during your period.
According to fertility specialists, during your period the cervix is normally low, hard and slightly open to allow the blood to flow out. It may be easier for some to detect it during this time. It is also normally at the lowest point, which will give you an idea of the size or shape of cup you might want to consider.
There are two ways to check your cervix:
Method One – Knuckle Measurement:
- Wash your hands
- Spread your labia and gently insert your middle finger
- Locate your cervix with your fingertip (it should feel like the tip of your nose)
- Take note as to which knuckle is closest to your vaginal opening
*** You may find that you are between knuckles – Low/Medium or Medium/High ***
Please remember that everyone is different. Your hands may be smaller or larger than someone else’s. So this method is for an approximate size and may not be completely accurate for everyone.
- Low Cervix – You’ll want to use cups that are either size small, that were designed shorter than the “average” cup, or that are more bell-shaped.
- Medium Cervix – You have more choices with shapes and sizes than with a low cervix. Both size small, shorter cups, and bell-shaped cups may work for you, as well as some of the “V”-Shaped “average” cups in both small or large sizes. With a medium cervix, the possibilities are endless, and I would suggest trying something in the “middle” (average size/medium firm) to avoid getting overwhelmed.
- High Cervix – Again, you have more choices with shapes and sizes but you may find that “V”-shaped cups are easier for you to reach during removal. If a cup is short, you may need to do a series of Kegel squeezes to bring your cup down closer to the opening of your vagina. Your vagina is like a pocket. Your cup can never “get lost”.
Method Two – Ruler Measurement:
- Wash your hands
- Spread your labia and gently insert your middle finger
- Locate your cervix with your fingertip (it should feel like the tip of your nose)
- Take note as to where your finger stopped at the opening of your vaginal canal
- Use a ruler to measure the tip of your finger to the stopping point.
This method is more accurate as you have a specific number measurement to work with.
Most cup companies state the total length of the cup. This includes the stem of the cup, which can be trimmed to make the cup shorter if needed. However, even using a number measurement won’t take into account the vaginal fornix. The vaginal fornix (or arch) is the area around a cervix. Depending on where your cervix is located, you may be able to feel a space totally around your cervix, or mostly around it.
The fornix allows the vagina to stretch, elongate and expand during childbirth, sexual arousal and penetration. During sexual arousal, the vagina can expand upwards to 200 percent it’s normal size. When an object – penis, toy or other is introduced, the vaginal fornix will allow the vagina to stretch and accommodate.
For those using a Menstrual Cup, the rim of the cup may rest in the vaginal fornix allowing the cervix to be nestled inside of the cup.
This is an important note to take when searching for a Menstrual Cup. Since the vaginal fornix may allow the cup to sit higher, you won’t have to limit yourself to an exact maximum measurement. You’ll still likely be comfortable with a Menstrual Cup that is 5-10 mm longer than what you had measured during the “Knuckle Guideline”.
The rim of the cup nestles into these “grooves” or “pockets” which may make the cup seem shorter once it’s in place.
When shopping by number measurement, don’t limit yourself to ONLY cups that are less than the number you measured. Cups that are a little larger/longer by a few millimeters should be fine because of the vaginal fornix.
Cervical height might not be the only factor to consider when choosing a menstrual cup.
Other things that might help you narrow down your cup search are:
Scroll down to continue…
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 2
Your Age & Births
You may have seen this many times on websites or Menstrual Cup packages:
- Recommended for women under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally or by cesarean section.
- Recommended for women age 30 and over and/or for women who have delivered vaginally or by cesarean section.
These are guidelines in case you have no idea which size will work for you and if you’re set on a specific cup shape or brand. However, don’t use them as a “rule” that you have to follow.
You’re looking for a cup that will work with YOUR body and meet YOUR needs. Which means, if you have a heavy flow, you might just want that large sized cup for the higher capacity even if you’re under the age of 30. Also, if you’re over the age of 30 but have a very light you might want the shorter, small sized cup.
Comfort is a huge key! If the cup isn’t comfortable, why would you want to wear it?! Longer cups are normally the larger size. If you have a low cervix, a longer cup might not feel comfortable for you no matter what age you are! If you have a high cervix, you might find yourself “fishing” for your small size cup, which could make your experience with a short cup quite scary!
As for giving vaginal birth, it’s usually mentioned because pregnancy and stress to the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) during birth may make them lose some tone. A larger cup is then suggested by companies because they’re normally wider in diameter. However, Kegel exercises or exercising, in general, may tone your PFM making a small cup work for you, too.
Since we’re all different, one could never say that a specific cup is or is not going to work for another person. As you can see, there are other factors that could help narrow down which cup or cups might work for you better. The best place to start is to locate and measure your cervix (as explained in the previous section).
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 3
Soft or Firm Cup?
Physical Activities & Menstrual Cups
A common question that is asked is: “What cup should I use while I work out?”
Honestly, I can’t answer that. There’s no magical cup that works 100% of the time for 100% of the people, whether they’re working out or not…
I have read posts, blogs, and comments, and spoken to several people who use menstrual cups while performing various physical activities and sports. From aerial silks, extreme yoga, weightlifting, gymnastics, to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and many others.
The majority of these people find that when they use a softer cup it tends to leak on them. However, they had better experiences while using a cup that was firmer. It’s not always going to be the case and it might not be the case for you, but the numbers fall heavier on better results with a firmer cup.
- If you’re experiencing leakage while doing your activities – try a firmer cup than the one you have currently.
- If you have a sensitive bladder – pick a cup that’s medium firm instead of going straight to the firmest cups on the market like the MeLuna Sport or Yuuki Classic.
Firm Low Cervix Cups:
Photo Left to Right: Lumma Easy Cups: Low Cervix & Medium Cervix – Lena Cup – Ruby Cup – AmyCup “Crystal” – MeLuna Shorties
- MeLuna “Shorty” – This variation of the MeLuna is shorter than “Standard” sizes and made for those with a low cervix. You can also find these cups in a “Sport” version which is the firmest of the three firmness variations that they offer.
- Ruby Cup – Their “Medium” size cup is the larger of the two sizes they carry. It’s shorter than most cups on the market. Being short and bell-shaped, this cup should sit higher than “V”-shaped cups. I would suggest the size medium, as the size small seems softer.
- Lena Cup “Original” – This bell-shaped cup with a flared rim is one of the firmest cups of this design. Some people find that the size large is still too long for their low cervix, but the size small might be a good fit.
- AmyCup “Crystal” – This is another cup which was designed to be short, like the Ruby Cup. It is also labeled as a “Medium” for the larger of the two sizes that they have to offer. This is the firmest of the bell-shaped cups that I know of on the market. However, they may not be available for shipping in your area.
- Lumma Easy Cup – This cup comes in TEN different sizes. They have two “low cervix” cups in two different sizes, as well as a “medium” set which has four variations. The smallest of the two is just about the same size as the MeLuna Shorty in Small. However, the Lumma Easy Cup is silicone and has unique finger hold placements instead of grip rings.
Firm High Cervix Cups:
Photo Left to Right: Lunette – Alicia Cup – MeLuna – Yuuki
- Lunette – It’s the shortest cup of this group in both sizes. If you have a very high cervix, make sure to leave the stem at least partially intact. This cup normally doesn’t have any problems with opening and staying open. While it doesn’t hold as much as some of the others, the Lunette seems to be a great cup for those who work out or those who need that firmness to get their cups to open more easily.
- Alicia Cup – This is one of the longer cups on the market. It’s not actually being made anymore, but there is some stock still floating around for purchase. Originally the Alicia Cup was available in four sizes, but only the size small and medium have been spotted.
- MeLuna “Sport” Version – I find that the MeLuna cups feel different not only between their different firmness versions but also between their sizes. The XL MeLuna Sport is a good match to the Yuuki Classic. The TPE of the MeLuna seems more rigid than the Yuuki’s silicone.
- Yuuki “Classic” – Also known as “The Rock”, the Yuuki “Classic” is the firmest cup on the market. Not only is it a little longer than the “average” cup, it also holds a bit more as well.
Soft Body, Thick & Rigid Rim:
Photo Left to Right: FemmeCup – NaturCup – SheCup – MoonCup
Some other cups that might interest you are the cups with a soft body and a thick and rigid rim.
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 4
Bladder Sensitivities & Menstrual Cups
Some people don’t know if they have bladder sensitivities or issues prior to using a Menstrual Cup. Others experience sensitivities with the use of tampons, sex toys, during masturbation, intercourse, etc.
If you try a Menstrual Cup and feel that you need to urinate more often than normal, or you feel like you don’t empty your bladder completely when you do urinate, you may have a sensitive bladder. You may also experience some discomfort, pain or even cramping while using a cup.
If this is the case, you might want to look into a softer cup or try a cup that’s a different shape.
Using a cup that’s softer will apply less pressure in those sensitive areas. Switching the shape of a cup from the one that you’re currently using may also shift the pressure to an area that doesn’t give you any issues.
It’s hard to know if a cup is soft or firm prior to making a purchase. Most Menstrual Cup Companies don’t include this information when marketing a cup. The only way to get an idea is to read reviews or watch videos that fellow cup users may have posted.
One last thing to mention is the size of the air holes. Menstrual Cups with small air holes or no air holes seem to create a stronger seal/suction. This can be a good thing if you find your cup migrating often, but it can be an issue if your bladder is sensitive. The “suction” can become uncomfortable and may pose a problem when removing your cup. If the suction is too strong, it can tug your cervix downward causing pain. You’ll want to make sure to collapse the side of the cup to break the seal before removal.
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 5
Your Flow – is it Light or Heavy?
Menstrual Cups usually come in two different sizes within a single brand; small and a large, size 1 & 2, A & B. Other companies have included additional sizes; small, medium, large, low cervix, high cervix, mini, shorty, teen, etc.
Many of these companies give guidelines on which size to get.
They normally recommend a small cup for people under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally or who have delivered by cesarean section.
They’ll recommend a large cup to people age 30 and over and/or for those who have delivered either vaginally or by cesarean section.
But again, these are guidelines and recommendations. There are many who are under the age of 30, who may be virgins, and use a large cup. There are also those who are over 30 that need a small cup.
What you want and need in a cup is determined by you.
If you feel that you have a light flow, a small-sized cup should be sufficient. However, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to use a small cup. If a large cup feels comfortable and you want to be able to use it for the full 12 hours without fuss, then it’s perfectly fine.
If you have a heavy flow, you’ll probably want to get the largest capacity cup that “fits” you comfortably. This doesn’t always mean the largest cup on the market is going to be the best fit.
A lot of people don’t pay attention to how much they bleed. We measure the amount in how much blood covers a pad or when a tampon has fully expanded. We use words such as, “spotting, light, normal, moderate, or heavy”, but we’re all different and have different definitions of what “light” or “heavy” may be. Someone’s “light” flow, might be the next person’s “heavy” flow and vice versa.
Some companies offer their cups in a two pack. If you’re unsure of which one will work for you, it’s a great idea to pick up one of these packs, as they’re normally cheaper than buying them separately.
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 6
Medical Grade Silicone & “Cheapies”
Almost every single Menstrual Cup on the market mentions “Medical Grade Silicone“. Whether they’re a “cheapie brand” or “name brand”. We already know that’s not always true.
Medical grade silicones are generally grouped into three categories:
- Short term implantable
- Long-term implantable
So even a “Medical Grade Silicone” doesn’t mean it was tested to be used INSIDE of the body for an extended amount of time.
In the United States, the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) regulates devices that will be implanted into the body.
Materials approved as Class V and VI can be considered medical grade, and most medical grade silicones are at least Class VI certified.
The term “Medical Grade” means that this particular silicone has at some point been tested for Bio-compatibility or Biological use (at least through the FDA). This means that the silicone has undergone extensive testing to make sure that the silicone does not create a potential toxicity resulting from contact of the components of medical devices or combination products with the body.
The FDA does NOT test each product or inspect each factory. Companies must provide sufficient paperwork – testing, comparisons, manufacturer facilities, etc. to the FDA and pay a fee. This only ensures that they have information for who to contact if anything should go wrong. If a report is made, it is documented. A single report against a product will not mean a product is pulled from the shelf.
FDA Registration Vs FDA Approval
The FDA does NOT grant “approval” to menstrual cups or the silicone that is used to make them. As long as a company can provide the necessary documentation and certificates, the FDA deems them to be safe enough to exempt them from the approval process. Using the term “approval” or “approved” is misleading and misbranding. Menstrual Cups are Class II – Medical Devices. The FDA only gives approval to class III devices (More details here). No Menstrual Cup is “approved” by the FDA.
A Menstrual Cup can only be “FDA registered” – For a Menstrual Cup to be legally sold in the USA, the silicone manufacturer, the cup manufacturer, and the seller/vendor, all need to be registered with the FDA.
How Do I Know What’s “Medical Grade” or Not?
There is no way to tell, by looking at a silicone, if it’s Medical Grade or not. The only thing you CAN do is to judge for yourself.
If the menstrual cup is very inexpensive, it’s most likely not “Medical Grade”. If you find a cup design duplicated several times with a new name, it’s probably a “cheapie” cup.
Scrolling through eBay and/or Amazon, you can find a couple of “brand names” that carry several different cup designs. Most of them are under $10 each. Sometimes closer to $1.00 each.
Many “cheapie” cups are found on sites like Alibaba, Aliexpress, Wish, Groupon, and others like them. Many are sold for under a dollar.
Buy from a reputable company. Do research. Ask friends, family, Menstrual Cup Facebook groups. Google search the cup or company. Check YouTube. Gather as much information as you can about that cup or company and make your assessment.
Are Non “Medical Grade” Silicone Cups Safe?
Honestly, I can’t answer that. All of the professionals that I had contacted, said to focus on whether the silicone is “Medical Grade” or not since it was tested to be sure that it IS, in fact, safe to use within the body.
The other classes of silicone have not had Bio-compatibility testing.
Many that have used “cheapie” cups say they are fine and they have had no issues.…yet. However, who knows what may surface in the future.
We don’t know what kind of slow toxic leaching may be possible.
“Cheap” Menstrual Cups and other items may contain “fillers”. These are materials or substitutes that may be added to a silicone to lower the cost of manufacturing. They cost less than medical grade silicone and may be added to stretch the number of parts/pieces that can be made.
Fillers that probably weren’t tested as safe to be used inside of the body.
These “fillers” do not include colorants and hardeners, which also need to be tested for bio-compatibility if and when used for an item that is implanted either short or long term inside the body.
I know we don’t like to think of it, but these items/components are tested on living tissue. Normally mice, rats and/or rabbits.
The actual silicone was tested at some point, not the Menstrual Cup itself after it is produced. So when a company says that they did “No animal testing” it’s true. They most likely didn’t do it themselves.
Here’s a reply from one of the manufacturers that I contacted (for privacy reasons, let’s call them “AAAA”. They manufacture both medical and non-medical items).
“AAAA does not test on animals – I also find animal testing revolting. At the same time, we need a safe product for people. Our Silicone suppliers are basically forced by the FDA to test their material on animals for a ‘Bio-Compatibility Certification’ We find Dow QP1 best for our Menstrual Cups. Please see Bio-compatibility Cert attached and other Bio-compatibility material links on our website.
Please feel free to forward this to your friends – unfortunately, we are a bit trapped by the FDA, the American legal system and our requirement to get people safe products.”
Just because a cup listing shows a photo that they have certificates, doesn’t mean that actually HAVE certificates. It’s easy enough to Google search “ISO Certificate” and save to your computer to do with as you wish.
They can edit the certificate to show their own “company” name and whatever else they want it to say. We’ve all seen what wonders photo editing programs can do!
Here’s a reply from one of the largest worldwide silicone suppliers (who do not make Menstrual Cups but supplies silicone to manufacturers who make them):
“The retailer may make any claims they want about their product, but the liability also lies with them if anything goes wrong.” – Susan Cassar @ Wacker Chemical Corp
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 7
Different Types of Stems
Just like a Menstrual Cup is unique, so are the stems that they feature. They come in all different shapes, lengths, firmness, thickness, etc.
- Some stems can be made of a solid piece of silicone, while others may be hollow. Both work the same, however, a little more care may be needed to ensure that a hollow stem is completely clean of any blood.
- Stems may or may not consist of grip rings.
- While a stem shouldn’t dictate if a cup is going to work for you or not, there are some features of certain stems that may interest you more than others.
Remember, you’re only using the stem to wiggle your cup down until you can reach the base of the cup. You will NOT use the stem to remove the cup completely from your body. A stem will NOT support the weight of the cup, especially if it contains fluid in it.
This type is great for someone who needs a shorter cup length but still likes to have a designated stem to grab onto. Some ball stems are completely spherical, while others are flattened on two sides.
This gives you a nice flat area to place your fingers.
If you find your fingers slipping off a straight stem and feel more secure reaching and wiggling a ring, this is a feature you might like. There is at least one cup stem that is a series of rings, forming a ladder.
May be either solid or hollow, short or long. The tip may be rounded, flat, or taper to a point.
Stick with Ball End
These come in all sorts of lengths and contain a small ball at the end. This ball acts as a stopper so that your fingers don’t slip or slide off of the tip of the stem.
While some people feel they need the stem or at least part of it, most people end up trimming it down or removing it completely off. If you already know that you don’t need a stem, you can look for the cup that lacks one to begin with, or look for ones that have a stem that can be easily removed and leave the least amount of excess silicone (read more on the ‘How to Trim Your Cup Stem‘ section).
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 8
Different Colors and Cup Markings
Menstrual Cups come in every color of the rainbow! Some are even offered in BLACK!
The color doesn’t change how a Menstrual Cup works or performs, but some might choose a color based on a few things.
- First and most obvious, it’s the individual’s favorite color! Anything that will make THAT time of the month more pleasant, works for me!
- Second, if there is more than one cup user in the household, having a specific color per person will keep the confusion down.
- Lastly, if you find that your blood stains menstrual cups easily, you might want a colored cup to keep those stains at bay.
Even with a colored cup, stains may start to set in and eventually show. A good overnight soak in 1/1 part Hydrogen Peroxide and Water will take care of that.
(*Check with the cup company before using any alternative washing methods other than what is listed on packaging or sites)
Still…there’s nothing wrong with owning a white or clear cup. In fact, some prefer having a white or clear cup. One reason is that they feel that they can see if it’s dirty or stained or not.
Another reason is that there’s one less thing to worry about….
Just like using 100% Medical Grade Silicone, coloring, dyes, or pigments also need to be FDA compliant. Meaning that they also need to have bio-compatibility testing to be safe to be used for short or long term inside of the body.
Outside: If you’re prone to chafing, you might want to hunt down a cup that has minimal raised areas on the outside of the cup. This can include:
- Grip rings
- Measuring lines
- Secondary rim transitions
- Brand names
Some companies have kept the marking on the outside of the cup to a minimum. Others chose to keep them but went with a lower profile so they’re not so raised. It seems that lately, more and more companies are listening to the wants and needs of the community, and have been rounding off any and all edges of the markings inside and outside of the cup.
Inside: While you won’t feel these markings, they may need extra attention while cleaning.
Some markings can allow easy cleaning with a swish of water. Others may need to be rubbed clean if there are hard edges.
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 9
Heavy Periods – High Capacity Cups
For many of us, heavy periods are just part of our lives. Some have always had heavy periods. For others, heavier periods arise because of other reasons such as PCOS, PID, fibroids, Endometriosis, and others.
No matter which situation you’re in, your period can be quite a challenge. Many people find themselves “doubling up” while using tampons AND pads at the same time. Even then, it seems like you’re changing them out a lot more frequently than you would like.
Many people who have a heavy period, even due to conditions mentioned above, find that using a Menstrual Cup can give you some time back.
How Much is “Too Much”?
Everyone is different, so it’s hard to define what a heavy period is because it varies from one person to the next. The best thing to do is figure out what’s “normal” for you.
The average amount of blood lost during the complete duration of a period is approximately 30-40 milliliters or about 1 ounce or a bit more. Most of us lose less than 80 ml.
60 ml or more during the duration of a period would be considered “heavy bleeding”.
If you feel that you’re a “heavy bleeder”, you might want to note this with your doctor. It may be “normal” for you, but it’s best to be sure.
A “Super” absorbency tampon holds approximately 9 to 12 ml of menstrual blood.
Since an average, large sized Menstrual Cup can hold approximately 30 ml or more, you’ll have less frequent trips to the restroom to change.
However, there are some cups that were designed to be “High Capacity”. These hold more than the average cup at up to 40 ml and in some cases a bit more.
A person who uses a “Super” absorbency tampon and who normally frequents the restroom every hour, might find themselves needing to empty their cup every three hours or so. I know it doesn’t seem like a long time, but gaining two hours can mean getting through a long car ride without having to stop at every gas station!
Also, once you’ve used your cup for a few months, you’ll get to know your body and your flow. You will create a mental time schedule for when you need to excuse yourself to empty your cup instead of getting an unexpected leak!
If you experience clotting like many people do, you’ll be happy NOT to feel those clots drop out of your body!!
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 10
Menstrual Cups and Virginity and/or “Teens”
Many people have different beliefs and/or definitions of what virginity is. Virginity is what YOU believe it is in YOUR culture or YOUR religious traditions.
Since we all come from different walks of life, I’m not going to sit here and tell you what I believe. It’s totally up to you and how you feel.
A Menstrual Cup is like a tampon in this instance. If you’re comfortable using a tampon, then you should be able to adapt to a cup.
If you believe that your virginity is taken if any object is inserted into the vagina, then a Menstrual Cup is not for you.
If you feel that your virginity is lost when your hymen is “torn”, then you’ll probably want to check with your doctor before you decide to use a Menstrual Cup. If you still decide on using a cup, you’ll probably want to seek a cup that is smaller or narrower.
It is possible to use a menstrual cup even if and when your hymen is still intact with sufficient lubrication and gentle stretching.
If you feel that virginity is lost with penile-vaginal penetration, then a Menstrual Cup will not take your virginity.
Since Menstrual Cups come in many shapes and sizes, they can be used by young and old. There are even companies that have designed their cups, or some of their cups, specifically for teens or first-time users. These tend to be smaller, shorter, or narrower.
Someone who has just started their period, whether you’re a “teen” or even younger, will most likely only experience spotting or light bleeding. This irregularity is normal for at least the first two years because your hormones are crazy and unbalanced. A small sized Menstrual Cup may be sufficient during this time. However, some companies offer a two pack of cups: one in each size that they have to offer. This will allow you to try both sizes to see what feels comfortable to you and gives you an option depending on your flow. PLUS, it’s normally cheaper by the pack!
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup Part 11
Is My Vagina Too Small to Use a Menstrual Cup?
We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so do our vaginas. What’s “normal” for you may not be “normal” for the next person.
First of all, so there’s no confusion, the vagina is the elastic muscular canal between the outer vulva (vaginal opening) and the cervix. You may or may not have a membrane of tissue surrounding or partially covering the vaginal opening called a hymen.
When someone comments that they’re “too tight”, they’re normally referring to their vaginal opening, not the vagina itself.
The vagina is never too small to accommodate a penis, finger, tampon, toy, Menstrual Cup and a wide variety of other things including a baby. The vagina is designed to expand and elongate (when a person is aroused). It lengthens and pushes your cervix and uterus upwards.
Things that may cause a feeling of being “too tight”:
The vagina releases its own natural lubricant. This allows for an easier and less painful penetration. If there is insufficient lubrication, penetration of an object may be difficult. If you feel “dry” while inserting a menstrual item, toy or penis, using a store-purchased, a water-based lubricant may help.
The hymen is a piece of tissue that lines the vagina opening. It can be of any size and can also be thick or thin. The hymen normally does not cover the vagina entrance completely and has an opening, except in the case of an imperforate hymen (see below). Some people are born without a hymen intact.
We frequently hear of a hymen being “broken” or torn. However, a hymen can still remain after penetration with an object, if the area is well lubricated and gently stretched. On the same note, it is believed that a hymen can be torn during various activities including masturbation, riding a bike, horseback riding and others.
If the hymenal membrane is still intact, it could cause a feeling of tightness.
Anxieties can play a big part in the whole experience. Vaginismus causes the Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM) to involuntarily contract. This condition may tighten the PFM so much that a penis, toy, or other, feel too large, uncomfortable, painful, or even making it impossible for them to enter.
This can occur at any time in life and can happen due to a variety of reasons including infection, disorders, fear or phobia, injury and/or trauma, conflict or abuse.
Treatments can include self-awareness, breathing exercises for relaxation, lubrication, and touch therapy either with fingers or a toy.
Someone with a severe case of vaginismus may need to seek the help of a therapist. They will help you figure out the root of the condition and may work with you to use vaginal dilators or trainers. These will help you to gain control of your PFM and use them to relax.
This is a birth condition in which the hymen covers the vaginal opening completely. This is most often noticed during adolescence when menstrual blood lacks an exit. A surgical incision can be done to treat an imperforate hymen.
Different Techniques – Part 1 –
Menstrual Cup Folds
Here are some of the more popular and practical folds that you can do while inserting your Menstrual Cup. Some of them are easy and some are a little trickier to get the hang of. If you’re having trouble with one fold, find that your cup isn’t opening easily, or are having some comfort issues while inserting, you might want to experiment with another fold.
Some folds create a small insertion point. Others create a smaller body overall. Some people find that certain folds help them open a particular cup more easily, especially when used with a softer cup. If you have more than one cup in various firmnesses, you might find that you use more than one fold as well.
The order in which the folds are listed is the easiest to the trickiest. However, remember that the easiest fold may not be the one that works for you or with a particular cup.
1. “C” Fold:
A quick and easy fold to do with most Menstrual Cups. However, the point of insertion maybe too large to be comfortable for some. The fold may make it easier to get a softer cup to open.
2. “Punchdown” Fold:
Another pretty quick and easy fold that creates a small insert point. This fold is easy to hold while inserting but may cause some difficulties with softer cups.
3. “7” Fold:
A one motion fold is easy and quick to do, but the insertion point and body of the cup may feel too large to be comfortable for some. You can use a finger between the crease to “nudge” the rim open.
4. Triangle Fold:
This fold is similar to the “7” fold, however, it creates a smaller insertion area.
5. “Labia” Fold:
This fold can be tricky when first learning it. You may need to practice it a few times before it’s time to insert it. It can also be hard to hold if the cup is very firm. However, this fold is great for cups that don’t open easily. The fold allows you to use a finger to the press the rim open.
6. “Origami” Fold:
This is another fold that you might need to practice before it’s time to insert. It creates a small insertion point and allows you to “nudge” the rim open.
Folding your Menstrual Cup is going to be “trial and error” until you find what works for you with a specific cup. If one fold doesn’t work or feel comfortable, try another. Once you figure out which fold works for you, it’ll become second nature and you won’t have to think about it!
Different Techniques – Part 2 –
How to Insert & Remove a Menstrual Cup:
For some people, inserting and removing their cup comes easy. For others, it can be a challenge when you’re still new. We all have different experiences when it comes to using a cup for the first time. We were all new to it at some point, so don’t be discouraged!
Tips before you begin:
- Relax! – If you’ve been researching cups, you’ve probably seen it many times, but it’s crucial! If you have any anxieties, you may be tensing your body without even knowing it. This causes your muscles to clench up and can make inserting and/or removing your cup more difficult.
- Take a break! – If you’re getting frustrated, take a break and try again later. I know that you’re determined to get this to work, but we commonly start making mistakes when we’re in this state of mind. It will do you no good to force the process. Your cup isn’t going anywhere!
- Practice! – Practice makes….almost perfect! You can practice inserting and removing your cup even when you’re not on your period. This will help you figure out which position feels comfortable, which folds work for you, and how to get the cup to open, all without worrying that you need to use the cup RIGHT NOW.
- Water-based Lube is your friend! – If you’ve been practicing for a while and you’re starting to feel dried out, use a water-based lube to help ease your cup in.
- STOP! – If you’re starting to get frustrated, dried out, and feeling swollen….it’s really time to take another break!!
Inserting Your Menstrual Cup:
- Wash your hands
- Find a comfortable position
- Sit on the toilet and scoot back
- Prop a foot on the toilet
- Prop a foot up on the side of the tub
- Squat down
- Fold the Menstrual Cup (click for details)
- Gently spread your labia
- Insert the cup aiming towards your tailbone, until your hand rests on your body
- Release the cup (If your cup was not inserted completely, you can use a finger to maneuver the cup up and into place)
*** Tips after inserting your cup ***
- Insert a finger and “swipe” around the rim –
- Check that the cup is open
- Make sure the cervix is inside or below the cup
- If you are unable to reach the rim with your finger, feel as high up on the cup as you can.
- If you notice any indentions, it could mean that the cervix is holding the rim from opening.
- Gently pull or wiggle the cup back and allow your cervix some room to drop in.
- After your cup is in place, bear down with your muscles to bring the cup closer to the opening of your vagina. Use a wet wipe or cloth to clean the grip rings and/or stem of any excess blood. This will help eliminate any “residual slobber” spotting.
- Give your cup a gentle tug to check if it sealed.
- If there’s a slight resistance, chances are your cup created a seal/suction around your cervix.
- If it slides easily, you may want to give the base a pinch or spin your cup to hopefully create a seal.
- Not every cup may seal! It depends on your cup and your body.
Removing Your Menstrual Cup:
- Wash your hands
- Find a comfortable position
- Sit on the toilet and scoot back
- Prop a foot up while in the tub
- Squat in the tub
- Bear down with your muscles to bring the cup closer to the opening of your vagina
- Gently spread your labia and locate the stem of the cup
- If needed, slightly wiggle the cup down by the stem until you can reach the base of the cup. The base is the area you’ll want to hold when the cup exits your body for stability. The stem will not be able to hold the weight of your cup upright, especially if it’s filled.
- Holding the base of the cup, wiggle or slide your cup down and out, keeping it level to avoid spilling.
- Dump the contents into the toilet or drain.
- Rinse (if possible) and re-insert or store
*** Tips for Removing your Cup ***
- Break the seal/suction – If your cup has created a seal around your cervix, you don’t want to pull your cup down without breaking it. If you do, you might tug too hard on your cervix causing discomfort, cramping and/or pain.
- Either pinch the base of the cup
- Press/Collapse the side of the cup
- Press/Collapse the rim of the cup
- Protect your urethra! – Even if you don’t normally have a sensitive bladder or urethra, you might find it uncomfortable or even painful if your cup rim brushes or hits it on the way out. This is more common with a firmer cup.
- Bring your cup down to a comfortable position – approximately half way out
- Slide your thumb higher up the body of the cup
- Slightly compress the side nearest to your bladder
- Continue to hold until the cup completely exits your body
Remember, it may take some practice before you’re completely comfortable with inserting and removing your Menstrual Cup. I can’t promise that it will “click” with your first try, or even your second and third for that matter.
Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged. If after a few months of trying a particular cup it’s still not working, you have many options to choose from. Maybe THAT cup is just not the right one for you!
Different Techniques – Part 3 –
How to Store Your Cup:
Most Menstrual Cups arrive with some sort of storage case. Either a pouch or container with holes. A simple cotton drawstring bag is most common. After you’re confident in your cleaning process, you can store your cup in whichever was included in your purchase.
(AmyCup “Original” storage container, Cup Spot, Sckoon bag, Lumma Collapsable Sterilizing Container, Casco Cup storage container, Fun Cup Tyvek Pouch, Moskito bag, LaliCup bag)
If your cup doesn’t come with a bag, you can either purchase one that was specifically made to hold Menstrual Cups or any small fabric bag that allows airflow.
If you’re comfortable with leaving your cup out in the open, you can place it on a shelf or counter. Just make sure you give it a good wash prior to using it again. A medicine cabinet is fine.
Never store your Menstrual Cup in an airtight container or Ziploc type bag. Moisture has no way to evaporate. If your cup doesn’t have a breath of fresh air, bacteria can start to grow and can also create a foul odor!
Different Techniques – Part 4 –
Creating a Good Seal
Whichever menstrual cup you choose, it’s a good habit to check that you have a good seal.
After you insert your cup, give the stem a gentle tug.
- If the cup slides down easily, chances are that the cup is not properly sealed.
- If the cup has some resistance, it should be sealed well and properly in place.
HOWEVER, it is best to double-check that your cervix is not on the outside of the cup. There is always a chance that you have missed your cervix and that the cup has sealed to your vagina wall.
Different Techniques – Part 5 –
When to Empty Your Cup
Many of us are sold on the idea that we can use a Menstrual Cup for up to 12 hours. I know I was. But if you have a heavy flow, you might find yourself needing to empty your cup every 6, 4, or even 2 hours.
“When” you need to empty your cup, totally depends on how light or heavy your flow is.
Some people think that you can use a cup until the rim. In reality, it doesn’t work this way. Once you fill the cup to a certain point, there is a possibility that it could overflow. You’ll want to leave at least a little space from the collected fluid and the rim of the cup so that when you pinch the base, there’s “wiggle room” for the fluid to occupy instead of overflowing onto your hand.
Furthermore, if the air holes are large and/or low, you might find yourself spotting or leaking sooner than you had expected.
So, how do you know when you need to find a bathroom?
Well, the only safe way is to schedule a time. I know it seems silly, but since you can’t see what’s going on when the cup is placed, you’ll need to anticipate an overflow.
It’s probably best to do this experiment in the safety of your own home. You may need a change of clothes!
Start off on your heaviest day and insert your cup. Set a timer for three hours. At the end of the three hours, remove your cup and try not to spill. Take notice as to how full your cup is.
If the cup is ¼ full
You can probably use your cup for another couple of hours.
If it’s ½ full
Maybe add one hour – instead of 3 hours, you can wait until the 4th hour.
If it’s ¾ full
This would probably be the best time to schedule.
If the blood is at the air holes or above
You’ll want to drop the time down an hour – instead of 3 hours, you would empty it at the 2nd hour.
If possible, continue to do this until your period lightens up. This will give you a good idea of when you need to empty your cup on your heaviest days. As your period starts to taper down, you can add more hours.
Remember, everyone is different so we’ll all have various schedules between emptying sessions.
Different Techniques – Part 6 –
How to Trim Your Cup Stem?
Different Techniques – Part 7 –
Menstrual Cups in Public
First of all, you can do almost anything your heart desires while you’re using a Menstrual Cup. Ride a bike, hike, run, swim, skydive, camp, hula hoop….and so much more!
And because a Menstrual Cup holds more than a tampon and keeps you dry, unlike a pad, you can spend more time doing what you want and less time finding a restroom!
Depending on your flow, you may even be able to use your Menstrual Cup up for up to 12 hours before needing to remove and rinse it.
If you do find the need to empty your cup while you’re out, here are a few things you can try or do.
Quick Return – Empty as needed, reinsert.
Some people don’t have a problem with emptying their cup and reinserting it without a rinse. Although you’ll probably want to wipe yourself again just to make sure you didn’t leave any blood behind.
Dry Wipe – Empty as needed, wipe with toilet paper and reinsert.
After you empty your cup into the toilet, wipe the majority of blood away (clotting) before you reinsert.
Find a private bathroom – Family Restrooms
Most family restrooms are larger and normally consists of a toilet, sink, and baby changing station. This will give you space and privacy WITH a sink handy.
Quick Rinse – Water Bottle
You can take a water bottle or even a small pocket-sized spritz bottle with you into the stall if you feel the need to wet your cup OR yourself down.
Grab n’ Go – Wet Paper Towel
Before entering a stall, grab and wet a paper towel (normally already provided in restrooms). Use it to wipe your cup OR yourself down. You might want to grab an extra one to wipe your hands of any blood before unlatching the door!
Baby Wipes – Wet Wipes
Pick up a travel-sized package of baby/wet wipes. These will fit in a small handbag, clutch purse, or even pocket! If you have a large container at home (which is normally cheaper to buy), you can fill a “snack” baggie with a few and carry that 🙂
Reusable Cup? Why not Reusable Cloth?
If you’d like to stick to Eco-Friendly products, you can invest in some cloth wipes, or make your own out of scrap flannel. They can be carried wet or dry and stored in a waterproof bag or pouch.
…And one tip for when you’re not in the comfort of your own home…
Before you sit down on the toilet, lay a couple of squares of toilet paper on the water. When you empty your cup, your blood will be enveloped in the squares and won’t stick to the bottom of the bowl! No evidence left behind! 😀
Different Techniques – Part 8 –
Penetrative Sex & Menstrual Cups
First of all, since we all walk different paths in life, this portion is only referring to penis/vaginal penetrative sex.
You’re probably wondering:
“Why?!” – Simply, some people don’t like to wait.
“Just put a towel down!” – I’m lazy, and I don’t like to clean more than I need to, especially after a good time! Using a Menstrual Cup while having sex may allow a mess-free experience.
“Shower sex!” – Lucky you! I sadly don’t have an en-suite (yet) and the only shower is between BOTH of my children’s bedrooms.
“It’s only 7 days! Can’t you wait!?” – Not everyone’s periods ONLY last 7 days or less.
If you are looking for a menstrual cup that is specifically designed to be used while having penetrative sex, you can check out the SoftCup or Flex, which are actually Menstrual DISCs.
I have actually contacted several menstrual cup companies (the ones that answered are listed at the bottom), to ask for their exact reason why we “can’t” have penetrative sex while using “their” menstrual cup. I was very surprised that a few of them asked me HOW it was possible or told me that it was IMPOSSIBLE.
A couple asked me to elaborate, and a few more said that they don’t have any problems with people having penetrative sex while their menstrual cup was inserted as long as we remember that…..
***A menstrual cup will NOT prevent an unwanted pregnancy or protect you from STDS***
First of all, the vagina can expand by 200 percent when sexually aroused. Remember that the vagina was made to give birth to a small human. Even if your lover’s member is the “size of a baby’s arm” it still doesn’t equal the WHOLE baby.
If you and your partner are comfortable with having penetrative sex while using a cup, then there should be no reason that you shouldn’t at least try it. If you or your partner should experience any pain or discomfort while having sex with the cup inserted, you need to communicate that. Maybe it’s not the right cup for it or maybe not the right position.
Like anything else, COMMUNICATION is the key.
Your partner will want to be gentle during the first insertion. It’s a new experience for both of you so neither of you knows where things are going to fit. I have found that no matter what size the cup is, or how soft or firm it is, my husband and I are able to enjoy this time, pain-free.
However, for a “first timer” a softer cup might be easier to manipulate. A softer cup will collapse to the penis as it will when your finger is against it while inserting or removing your cup.
Start off slow at first. Get to know the feeling, test to see if there’s any pain for either of you. Let your partner move around and see if there’s another area that feels more comfortable. Maybe it feels better with the cup above or below or even to the side of his penis.
Once you both are comfortable, you can gain some speed and momentum.
People always ask, “Won’t the cup stem stab him in the ‘pee’ hole??” Hmmmm, well…..
- You can trim the stem if you are able to remove your cup without it.
- Not all men exit the vagina with each thrust. If your partner doesn’t, then he will likely keep the stem pressed off to the side.
- The stem is usually soft enough, even on a firm cup, to get pushed to the side.
- If the stem is long then it has more area to bend when it’s “poked”.
- If he gets “stabbed” it’s very doubtful that it will enter further than a few millimeters. He will probably feel it, but not be bothered by it.
Again, COMMUNICATION IS KEY!
A couple of tips for success:
- Empty your cup prior to having penetrative sex. This will eliminate leaks.
- Make sure you have a good seal on your cup, also to eliminate leaks.
- Because your vagina expands and your cervix normally moves higher when aroused, your cup might be harder to reach. Allow your body and vagina to return to its normal state for an easier removal. If you had emptied your cup prior to having sex, you should be all set until the morning anyhow.
- If you have more than one cup, experiment with them. You might find that you and/or your partner enjoy one cup over another. Some allow for more sensations, others dull it.
You never know if it’ll work for you unless you try it. If it’s not something you feel comfortable with, then that’s totally fine too! There are so many other ways to enjoy each other while your cup is inserted. Penetrative sex doesn’t have to be one of them.
While not all of these companies agree with using a menstrual cup while having penetrative sex for one reason or another, these are the companies that took time to reply and answer me. Thank you all very much!
Sckoon, Yuuki, EvaCup, LaliCup, Ruby Cup, Super Jennie, Lady Cup, Lunette, and LuvUr Body.
Different Techniques – Part 9 –
Can I Use The Bathroom While Wearing a Cup?
For most people, the answer is YES!
You insert the Menstrual Cup into the vagina, you urinate through your urethra, and defecate (poop) through your anus. These are three separate entrances/exits. It is impossible for urine or fecal matter to collect into the cup unless you’re “going” while you remove it.
Although these are separate areas, they are located close in proximity with only a thin wall of mucous membrane and connective tissue between them.
Some people have no issues using the restroom as normal. Others may experience some difficulties with either a slow stream of urine, feeling like they need to urinate more frequently or that their bladder didn’t empty all the way when they do. They can even feel like they’re constipated.
If a Menstrual Cup is too firm for you, it may be pressing against your bladder, your urethra, or your rectum causing you to feel this way. It may cause some people to cramp or have pains even when they don’t feel the need to relieve themselves.
People who experience this may find it frustrating and a hassle to remove their cup each and every time they need to use the restroom.
Some things that may help your situation and make you more comfortable are:
- Trying a softer Menstrual Cup
- A softer cup will ease the pressure off of those sensitive areas
- Trying a different shape
- A different shape may shift the pressure of the cup to an area that isn’t sensitive
- Trying a different size
- Like changing the different shape, a different size may also shift the pressure of the cup to another area.
Different Techniques – Part 10 –
Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup – Odors & Stained Cups
*Also see “Menstrual Cups in Public” and/or “Menstrual Cups in Developing Countries”
Cleaning your Menstrual Cup doesn’t have to be a huge chore.
In fact, some people just use plain tap water to clean their cup before storing.
The way that you clean your Menstrual Cup, and what means you use, are totally up to you and how comfortable you are.
- Boiling – Most Menstrual Cup companies suggest boiling their cup when you initially receive it, before the first use. They also suggest boiling the cup after each period has ended, before you store it away.
- On the stove – Using a pot, make sure that the water comes to a rolling boil first, and then submerge your cup completely for at least three minutes. You can use a “tool” of some sort, like a whisk or slotted spoon, if you feel more comfortable keeping the cup from touching the cookware.
- In the microwave – Using a microwave-safe container or a container specifically made to sanitize your cup in the microwave, insert your cup and fill the container with water. Set your microwave to 2-5 minutes.
- DO NOT place a lid completely over the container.
- Steam needs to be able to escape!
- You may want to set the container on a plate or bowl to catch water that may boil over.
- Allow the water to cool completely before removing.
- On the stove – Using a pot, make sure that the water comes to a rolling boil first, and then submerge your cup completely for at least three minutes. You can use a “tool” of some sort, like a whisk or slotted spoon, if you feel more comfortable keeping the cup from touching the cookware.
- Cup Wash or Wipes– There are “soaps” and wipes specifically made for cleaning your Menstrual Cup like the DivaWash, Lunette Feelbetter Wash or Lunette Cupwipes. These are supposed to take the guesswork out of which soap is safe for you and your cup. However, not everyone wants to buy a specific wash – or maybe you are still sensitive or allergic to ingredients that are in them.
- Mild Soap – Any mild soap or “intimate” wash that does not contain perfumes, oils, or anti-bacterial properties should be fine to clean your cup.
- Tablets – Cleansing tablets such as Milton Tablets, are safe to use to clean a Menstrual Cup. These work like denture cleansing tablets and some people use those too!
- Water – Some people are very sensitive and/or allergic to soaps in or on their genital area. They prefer to NOT wash with any type of soap. Plain water is all they use to rinse their cups and themselves the best that they can.
Blood itself has an “irony” odor. Our bodies have an odor, too. While cup companies mention having “no odor”, this is typically referred to having blood sitting on a pad either in your underwear or in the trash, or having a tampon disposed of in the waste can. When blood is exposed to air, the bacteria (from our vagina) and old blood start to give off a foul odor.
Sometimes this odor can cause your cup to smell as well. If you find this happening, there are a few things you can try to eliminate it.
- Shortening the time that you use a cup between rinses.
- Baking Soda – Add water to make a paste consistency, then use an old toothbrush to clean your cup. Make sure you rinse well or boil before use.
- Soak in either-
- Rubbing Alcohol
- White Vinegar
- Lemon Juice – Soak your cup for at least an hour or more and then wash your cup as normal or boil to remove the soaking solution.
- Sun Bathe – Place your cup on a sunny windowsill for a couple of hours. This can also be done after a soak if needed.
If you find that you Menstrual Cup is taking on a brownish reddish hue, then your cup is starting to get stained. Although it doesn’t interfere with how the cup performs and isn’t harmful, some people just don’t like looking at a stained cup. Either it isn’t pleasing to see or makes the person feel as though it’s not clean.
Whichever the reason may be that you’re seeking cleaning tips for stained cups, here are a few that might help:
- Always rinse your cup in cold water first as to not set in stains. After all traces of blood are gone, you can use hot water for a good rinse.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Most over the counter hydrogen peroxides are safe to use straight from the bottle. However, you can dilute it if you wish. A 50/50 mix will still do the trick. Soak your cup overnight to rid it of any stains.
*Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down when exposed to light (which is why it’s stored in a brown bottle) and will turn into water.
- Sun Bathe – Place your cup on a sunny windowsill for a couple of hours. The sun will “bleach” your cup.
Please use these methods at your own risk and visit the website of the specific cup that you purchased. Some companies suggest certain cleaning methods and others advise against them.
Some feel that using some of these methods too frequently may shorten the lifespan of a cup. If a cup is a “cheapie” there’s a greater chance that it will deteriorate quicker since the material is unknown.
If your cup has a sticky, slimy, tacky or gummy feeling that won’t wash off, chances are that your cups integrity has been compromised. It’s time to buy a new cup!
Pay special attention to the air holes, if your cup has them. Clean them thoroughly to ensure that blood is not left behind allowing bacteria to grow. An easy way to clean your cup is to fill it with water, place a flat palm over the rim and squeeze the body. This will push anything through the air holes out as the water is forced through. Make sure to do this carefully or you will get splashed!! 😛
You can also use an old toothbrush, dental brush or toothpick for any stubborn blood bits.
Different Techniques – Part 11 –
Cups & Lubrication
The vagina releases its own natural lubrication. This allows for an easier and less painful penetration. If there is insufficient lubrication, penetration of an object including a Menstrual Cup may be difficult.
We all have a feeling of dryness from time to time. If you feel the need for a supplement while inserting a menstrual cup, you can find a water-based lubricant in the hygiene aisle at almost any drug or grocery store.
Make sure that the lubricant is WATER-BASED. This will ensure a longer lifespan of your cup.
Why Not Silicone-Based?
- The silicone molecules in a silicone based lubricant will bond with the silicone molecules of a silicone item; Menstrual Cup, sex toy or other.
- The silicone item will then start to deteriorate.
- The item may have a slimy, sticky, or gummy feeling that will not wash off.
- Tiny holes may start to form allowing bacteria to fester making the item unsafe to use.
Try to find a lubricant that is free of glycerin, propylene glycol, and parabens.
Even after weeding out all the silicone-based lubricants and the ones that lack Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, and Parabens, there is still a huge variety of lubricants that you can use.
Many companies offer sample packs for under a dollar. Some of them even have a sample kit of the different varieties that they offer. From gels to liquids and sensitive to gentle to extra gentle!
Vaseline, Mineral Oil, Baby Oil, Vegetable Oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, and many others are said to be safe to use on any item EXCEPT those that contain latex. However, these may not be ideal for some to use INSIDE the body as they may increase the risk of urinary or vaginal infections.
Some say that oils break down silicone. Although silicone is pretty resilient to many things, the risk is up to you.
I would suggest against using any oil lubricants on “cheapie” cups as the materials are unknown.
Different Techniques – Part 12 –
Troubleshooting a Menstrual cup
- Spotting – If you’re experiencing light spotting on your underwear while using the cup.
- This might be “residual slobber”. This is when the blood coating your vaginal walls, even after inserting your cup, slides down and out.
- To help eliminate this extra blood, bear down after you insert your cup and wipe the stem and/or grip ring with a wet wipe or cloth.
- Insert a finger to check the rim of the cup or as high up as you can.
- Make sure the rim isn’t sitting partially on the cervix.
- Make sure the cup didn’t push the cervix to the side.
- If you are unable to reach the rim, insert a finger as high up as you can.
- Take notice if there are any indentions. If there is, your cervix might be keeping the rim from opening.
- Gently wiggle or pull back on the cup to allow your cervix to drop in.
- Check if the cup has created a seal.
- Gently tug on the cup.
- If there is a slight resistance, chances are you do have a proper seal.
- If the cup slides easily, pinch the base to create a seal and gently tug again.
- Not everyone experiences a “suction”. It depends on your body and the cup.
- Gently tug on the cup.
- This might be “residual slobber”. This is when the blood coating your vaginal walls, even after inserting your cup, slides down and out.
- Overflow – Either invest in a cup with a higher capacity or empty your cup sooner than you have been doing. You may also want to try a cup that’s a little firmer if you don’t have bladder sensitivities.
You may also find that your cup is only half full when you remove it but experienced overflow, these might be the case.
- Your cup may be sitting higher within your vaginal fornix, allowing your cervix to sit inside of the cup and compromising the capacity.
- You might want to try a cup that has more length – “V” shaped cups.
- If you have a low cervix, it may also be sitting inside of the cup.
- Try a cup with a rounded body – “Bell” shaped cups or cups like the FemmyCycle, Merula, or Formoonsa.
- If your cup is soft, it may be compressed which will cause the fluid to be higher than when a cup is completely expanded.
- Your cup may be sitting higher within your vaginal fornix, allowing your cervix to sit inside of the cup and compromising the capacity.
If you find that the body of the cup is collapsing or staying “smashed”, you might want to try a cup that is a little firmer. This will keep the cup fully expanded during use.
Trouble with Opening – Soft Cups:
If you’re having trouble getting a softer cup to open, there are a few things that you can try.
- Run your cup under cold water to firm up the silicone.
- A different fold.
- Some folds may allow the cup to open more easily.
- The “Labia” fold allows you to press on the rim to help it pop out and expand completely.
- Inserting the cup halfway.
- Sometimes adjusting the position of where you release a cup to open will help.
- If halfway doesn’t work, try sliding it in or out a bit and try again.
- If you find that after several attempts, folds, and positions, the cup still does not open easily, you might want to try a cup that’s firmer.
People normally experience a painful removal when they don’t break the seal their cup has created, when they hit their urethra, or when the cup is firm and applies pressure to other sensitive areas.
- Breaking the seal – If you give your cup a gentle tug and there’s resistance, the cup probably created a seal around your cervix. You’ll want to pinch the base, press on the side of the cup, or collapse the rim of the cup to break the seal before removing it any further.
- If you pull the cup down without breaking the seal, you may cause yourself some discomfort, pain or even some cramping.
- Urethra – Even if you don’t normally have a sensitive urethra, the cup or the cup’s rim may brush, hit, or apply pressure in that area during removal, causing some irritation.
- When you remove your cup halfway, slide your thumb up the body of the cup to compress the side nearest to your bladder. This will collapse the side of the cup/rim and avoid hitting the sensitive spot.
- Some people find their cup or rim to be causing too much pressure during removal. You can pinch the body of the cup to collapse it for an easier removal, but make sure to empty your cup before the capacity gets too high. You may also consider purchasing a softer cup.
Migrating Cup – Sliding or Rotating Cups
First of all, make sure that the cup “fits” you correctly. If you have a low cervix and your cup is too long, it just might be pushing or sitting outside of your body.
If you feel comfortable with reaching your cup without a stem, you can try turning your cup inside out to see if it “fits” better. If that works, you can continue to use it this way, or take note of the size when shopping for another cup.
If your cup is, in fact, sliding down, turning to its side or rotating completely, you might want to consider checking these:
- Cervix – Check that your cervix is either right above or sitting inside of your cup.
- Seal/Suction – Gently tug on the cup and see if there’s resistance. If there is, you should have a good seal. Some people don’t create a seal depending on their body and the cup.
- Consider a Softer Cup – Some find that a firm cup will slide out easier on them. A softer cup may stay in place better as it can collapse and move with the body more.
- Pelvic Floor Muscle – If you know for a fact that you have a weak PFM, consider doing Kegel exercises at least a couple times a day for a few minutes each session. PFM don’t actually “hug” your cup to keep it in place. It is more like a hammock of muscles that your cup sits on. If they’re not toned, your cup may slip beyond them.
- A cup with a flared rim – These tend to ride up and sit higher for people. This might help you keep the cup in place.
Different Techniques – Part 13 –
Other Menstrual Cup Tips
FAQS – Common Menstrual Cup Questions
Q: What is Menstrual Cups made of?
Most Menstrual Cups are made from some type of silicone. Medical Grade Silicone is the only type that was tested to be safe for use on or inside of the body for an extended amount of time. There are a few Menstrual Cups that are made with TPE and at least one that is made from Gum Rubber.
Q: I’m allergic to latex, can I still use a Menstrual Cup?
If you’re allergic to latex, you should research the cup(s) you’re interested in and make sure that they are from respectable companies. Beware of companies that claim to use “Medical Grade Silicone” when they actually don’t or add fillers to cut costs. You never know what materials they used to create a “cheap” cup. You’ll also want to stay away from the cup made from Gum Rubber (Read more).
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup if I have an IUD or the “Ring”?
- Most Menstrual Cup companies claim that you can. However, you’ll want to double check with the company you purchase from. It’s suggested to let your doctor know that you’re planning on using a cup. They can instruct you when it’s safe to start using a cup after the procedure and they can also trim your IUD strings so that they don’t get in the way. Pay attention to the height of the strings on a normal basis. If they feel lower than normal, it could be a sign that you’ve dislodged your IUD. Make sure to break the seal before tugging on your cup. This can also cause your IUD to be dislodged.
- If you are using a “Ring”, the ring is inserted first and then your Menstrual Cup.
Q: How does a Menstrual Cup stay in place?
- The vagina is an elastic muscular canal. It can expand and stretch like a balloon to accommodate various items and objects including a Menstrual Cup. It will also hug against the item and return to its normal size when the item is removed.
- Menstrual Cups may create a slight seal/suction around your cervix.
- Toned pelvic floor muscle creates a “hammock” for the cup to sit upon and keeps it from sliding out.
Q: Can you feel the Menstrual Cup while wearing it?
- We have very few nerve endings in the vaginal canal. If a cup “fits” you and is positioned correctly, you shouldn’t detect it at all.
- If you feel any pressure (after getting used to using the cup), feel like you need to urinate more often, feel as though you didn’t empty your bladder completely when you do urinate, or have a slow urine stream, the cup might be too firm. I would suggest trying a cup that is softer, or trying the cup again with it turned inside out (as long as you’re comfortable retrieving it without a stem).
Q: Can my cup get “lost”?
- No. Your vagina is NOT a never-ending canal. It is more like a balloon in which the Menstrual Cup only has one way out. However, if you have a long vaginal canal or a very high cervix, your cup may slip out of reach. You may also place your cup into the vaginal fornix (the area around the cervix) which may also put it out of reach.
- Bear down with your muscles to bring the cup closer to the opening of your vagina. You may need to do a series of pushes, but your cup should eventually be close enough to reach.
- I would suggest trying a longer cup, or one that’s “V” shaped.
Q: Can my cup get stuck?
No. When you’re new to using cups, you might think that it’s stuck. The cup can and may create a seal/suction around your cervix. If it does, don’t panic. Bear down with your muscles to bring the cup closer to the opening of your vagina. Locate the stem and rock/walk/wiggle your cup back and forth to bring it down enough to reach the base of the cup. Pinch the base to break the seal. If it doesn’t break, use a finger to press on the side/body of the cup. If you can reach the rim, you can also press down on it to break the seal.
Q: Will airport security detect my Menstrual Cup?
No. Security will not detect a Menstrual Cup with their machines or wands.
Q: Will my cup feel different while I’m on a plane?
No. Cabin pressure will not crush or cause your cup to feel different in any way.
Q: Does it hurt to use a Menstrual Cup?
- A Menstrual Cup should not hurt while you insert, use or remove it. If it does cause you discomfort, pain or cramping, you might want to troubleshoot the reason for it.
- If a cup “fits” you, you should not be able to feel it while wearing.
Q: Is using a Menstrual Cup messy?
I’m not going to lie, it can be. Especially when you’re new to using it. Once you get the hang of it, it will become less messy and a lot easier to insert and remove. Wet wipes are your friend!!
Q: How do I know which size to use?
There are a few things you can use to help determine which cup(s) might work for you. Finding and measuring your cervix is the best place to start. If you have a low cervix, you don’t want to get a cup that will be too long for you and vice versa for a high cervix. You can also use your flow amount to determine if you prefer the lower capacity with a small or the higher capacity with a large size cup (Read more).
Q: Will a Menstrual Cup stretch out my vagina?
It may, but it’s not permanent. Your vagina is an elastic muscular canal. It’s like a balloon. Fill it with air and it will expand. Let the air out and it returns to its normal shape.
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup if I’m a virgin?
Honestly, that is totally up to you, depending on your beliefs or religion. But yes, virgins are and have been able to use a Menstrual Cup, comfortably. However, a larger cup may feel too large to be comfortable during insertion. You might want to try a smaller size or a cup that’s narrower, and some water-based lube to help ease the cup in (Read more).
Q: Can I use my Menstrual Cup to sleep?
YES! Since a Menstrual Cup holds more than a tampon, many people find that their cup gives them a longer period of rest time. Make sure to empty your cup before bed. It will give you a fresh cup with full capacity to fill while you catch some Zzzz’s!
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup to swim?
Definitely! The great thing about using a cup is that it only collects your menstrual flow and NOT absorb pool or ocean water!
You can swim, wade, dive, and even scuba while using your cup! It has been reported by a scuba instructor that pressure changes while diving does not cause the cup to collapse.
Q: When should I empty my Menstrual Cup?
- Depending on your flow, you can use a Menstrual Cup safely for up to 12 hours.
- Since a Menstrual Cup typically holds more than a tampon, you can probably wear your cup for two extra hours on top of the time you normally need to change a tampon. So if you would normally change your tampon every 2-4 hours, you might want to check your cup every 4-6 hours. If your cup is only half full, you can probably add another hour. If it’s to the rim, subtract and hour (Read more).
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup for sports?
Of course! In fact, many people that play sports or do physical activities such as Jiu-Jitsu, weight lifting, yoga, aerial silks, bike riding, hiking, etc., find that they prefer using a Menstrual Cup over other menstrual products because it’s comfortable, holds more, and can’t be detected. They have more time to do what they love doing rather than worrying about their period! Read more…
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup while I have sex?
Most Menstrual Cup companies suggest against using their cup while having penetrative sex. However, not all are against it. Contact the company if you have any concerns. Use a Menstrual Cup at your own risk if you choose to engage in the activity and remember that a Menstrual Cup will NOT prevent an unplanned pregnancy, and will NOT protect you against STD’s
Read more on Sex & Menstrual Cups
Q: Will a Menstrual Cup prevent me from getting pregnant?
- A Menstrual Cup will NOT prevent an unplanned pregnancy, and will NOT protect you against STD’s
- Some claim that a Menstrual Cup has actually helped them GET pregnant when they were TTC (Trying To Conceive).
Read more on Sex & Menstrual Cups
Q: How do I clean my Menstrual Cup?
- Here are some popular methods:
- Plain Water. Rinse all blood first to prevent stains, and then a hot water wash.
- Mild Soap – including “feminine” washes and/or Menstrual Cup specific wash
- Sanitizing Tablets
- Boil – either stovetop or microwave safe container
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Lemon Juice
- White Vinegar
- Everyone has their own cleaning methods. Use these at your own risk. It’s up to you to be comfortable with your routine.
- Some companies suggest against some of these methods. Visit the cup company’s website or contact them by email if you have any concerns.
Read more on Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup
Q: How long should I boil my Menstrual Cup?
If you feel the need to boil your Menstrual Cup, make sure to bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 3-5 minutes with your cup fully submerged.
Read more on Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup
Q: Will the blood go back into my uterus if I turn upside down?
Highly unlikely. The opening of the cervix is very tiny. Our blood trickles down through it with gravity, and our muscles are pushing the unused lining down and out. Even if you’re standing on your head for a few minutes, it’s very unlikely that it will have enough time to trickle back to your uterus.
Q: Why did my cup turn to the side/upside down!?
- There’s really no solid answer for this. However, it does seem that everyone who has experienced this has also trimmed the stem completely off. They feel that maybe the stem helps “anchor” their cup in the correct position and without it, the cup flipped.
- Others feel that the cup might be too small and not placed correctly to create a seal/suction, allowing the cup to become dislodged and turn with body movements.
- I can’t tell you for sure why it’s happening, but I would suggest maybe trying a cup with a different size or a different shape.
Read more on Troubleshooting a Menstrual Cup
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup if I have long nails?
- YES! It might take some getting used to, but it’s still possible.
- When introducing your thumb and pointer finger into your vagina, tuck one nail into the other so your nails are not pointing outward to your labia. When your fingers reach your cup, you can separate them and grasp your cup.
- If you start with shorter nails (even if you’re getting any type of artificial nails applied) and then grow them out, it’s easier to get used to.
- Using gloves or finger cots may feel more comfortable when inserting or removing.
- Make sure you use a nail brush before and after you insert/remove your cup.
Q: Do I have to be on my period to use my Menstrual Cup?
- NOPE! That’s one great thing about Menstrual Cups…you don’t have to be bleeding to use it.
- Some people use their cups on a daily basis to keep dry from discharge. Others use it to help against stress incontinence.
- If you’re expecting your period you can use your cup and not have to worry about it, packing or carrying extra supplies for “just in case”.
Q: Why is my Menstrual Cup leaking?
First of all, determine if your cup is truly leaking or if it is residual blood.
- Residual Blood:
- After you insert your cup, squat down and bear down with your muscles.
- Wipe the stem and base of the cup with a wet wipe or cloth.
This will remove any excess blood that may be finding it’s way onto your underwear.
- Make sure cup is completely open.
- Check position of the cervix – right above or inside the cup
- Check suction/seal –
- Give the cup a gentle tug. If the cup has resistance, it has created a seal.
- If not, pinch the base of the cup and gently tug again.
- Not all cups will create a seal with your body.
- Empty your cup sooner to avoid overflow.
- Seek a higher capacity cup.
- Cup may be wrong size/shape for you.
Read more on Troubleshooting a Menstrual Cup
Q: Why is my cup sliding down?
Cup may be wrong shape or size for you.
Read more on Troubleshooting a Menstrual Cup
Q: My cup feels too long! What do I do?
- You can try to turn your cup inside out and see if it “fits” better.
- Only do this if you’re comfortable retrieving your cup without a stem.
- Trim the stem.
- Find a shorter or smaller sized cup.
Q: I can’t reach my cup! What do I do?
- Don’t Panic!
- The vagina is like a balloon. There is NO way for a cup to travel from the vagina into other parts of your body.
- Squat down, part your knees and sit your bum on your heels.
- This will roll your pelvis forward for you to get a better angle.
- Bear down with your muscles like you’re having a bowel movement
- This will bring your cervix down closer to the opening of your vaginal opening.
- You may need to do a series of pushes like giving birth.
- Insert your fingers and locate the stem.
- You may need to push your fingers in deeper to reach.
- If you still can’t reach, continue to do another series of pushes.
If you can reach the cup with your longest finger (normally middle), you can nudge the base of the cup to release the seal/suction and bring it down.
Q: What do I do with my Menstrual Cup when I’m not using it?
- Give it a good wash and store it away for your next period.
Most cups come with some sort of storage bag or container. If not, you can use any bag that allows air flow. NEVER store your cup in an airtight container! It needs fresh air to allow any moisture to evaporate.
You can store your cup in the open, sitting on a shelf or in a cabinet. You can also tuck it away in a sock or undie drawer.
Make sure to keep your cup out of the reach of pets! Some pets think they’re chewing toys!!
Q: How long does a Menstrual Cup last?
Most companies state that their cups last up to ten years with proper care.
Q: When should I replace my Menstrual Cup?
- Make it a habit to inspect your cup before storing it away.
- If there are any tears, nicks, or scratches or feels tacky, sticky, or gummy even after washing it, it’s time to go shopping!
Q: Can I use a Menstrual Cup if my cervix/uterus is tilted?
- Definitely! There are many people who are successfully using a Menstrual Cup with their tilted/prolapsed, cervix/uterus.
- Shorter cups may be a more comfortable “fit” for you.
Q: Do I have to remove the cup to use the bathroom?
- NOPE! However, there are some people who feel safer not to lose their cup while they go! It’s totally up to you.
- If you feel like you need to urinate more often while using a cup, feel like you don’t empty your bladder completely when you do, have a slow urine stream or feel constipated, your cup may be applying too much pressure in a sensitive area. You might want to look into a cup that’s a tad softer.
Menstrual Cups and Internal Birth Control
Many people have been successful with using Internal Birth Control, such as an IUD or NuvaRing®, alongside using a Menstrual Cup.
Since it’s common for some to experience spotting or bleeding daily while fitted with an IUD, a Menstrual Cup can be invaluable. A cup, even a small size, should be sufficient to continue to collect for a full 12-hour duration.
If you’re thinking about using internal birth control with your Menstrual Cup, speak with your Gynecologist prior to the procedure. Your doctor can trim the “strings” of the IUD shorter to minimize the chances of the IUD becoming dislodged.
Get to know where your strings are and their normal length. Monitor them regularly during your period and when you have your cup removed. If the strings suddenly feel longer than normal, it might be a sign that your IUD has migrated and you’ll want to check with your doctor.
After your cup is inserted and correctly placed, use a finger to swipe around the rim and make sure the strings are not between the cup and your vaginal wall. The IUD strings should be inside of the cup.
Make sure to break the seal/suction of the cup before removing it. If the seal is not broken, there is a chance of dislodging the IUD.
If you’re using a contraceptive ring, the ring is inserted first, and then the Menstrual Cup.
Again, be sure to speak with your doctor about using a Menstrual Cup prior to having the procedure done.
Menstrual Cups & Prolapse
Many people experience at least one, and sometimes more, of the several types of Pelvic Organ Prolapses.
- Bladder Prolapse – Cystocele
This is the most common kind of pelvic organ prolapse. This happens when the bladder presses against the wall of the vagina.
- Urethral Prolapse – Urethrocele
This is when the urethral tube which carries the urine from the bladder to the outside of the body curves and/or widens.
- Uterine Prolapse
This happens when the uterus drops from its normal position and allows the cervix to press further into the vagina.
- Vaginal Vault Prolapse
This type of prolapse normally only happens after a hysterectomy. When the vagina no longer has the support from the uterus, it may drop into the vaginal canal.
- Small Bowel Prolapse – Enterocele
This is when the small bowel presses against the wall of the vagina.
If the tissues separating the vagina and rectum are too weak, it can cause a bulge into the back wall of the vagina.
All of these prolapses are caused by stretched or weakened ligaments, tissues, fascia and/or muscles (pelvic floor muscles) that support the pelvic area.
It is most common for someone who has been pregnant or has given birth to experience one or more of these prolapses due to the strain during pregnancy or delivery.
Breastfeeding can lessen Estrogen levels and contribute to weakening the vaginal walls.
Aging may be another factor in experiencing a prolapse. With falling Estrogen levels during and after menopause, the pelvic floor may lose some of its strength and elasticity.
Many people who have a Pelvic Organ Prolapse do not have symptoms and may not even realize it. These are minor and do not cause any issues or pain.
Others have found them quite bothersome and have reported symptoms such as:
- Pelvic pressure
- An abnormal bulge inside your vagina
- A feeling as though something is protruding out of their vagina
- A pulling or stretching in the groin area
- Lower back pain
- Painful intercourse
- Spotting or bleeding
- Urinary problems or incontinence
- Problem with bowel movements
A prolapse rarely gets better on its own. Speak with your doctor if you’re unsure. They may recommend you to see a special Physical Therapist to correct the prolapse and get your organs back to where they belong!
Things that can worsen your prolapse include:
- Chronic cough/allergies – sneezing
- Heavy lifting
Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a Menstrual Cup successfully and without pain. The key here is to find a cup that doesn’t cause any discomfort and is still effective.
Since a prolapse will cause the vagina to be shaped differently than a “normal” vagina, it may take some trial and error to find the right cup, position, and angle. However, with the right one, it should be comfortable and possible.
The majority of the people with a prolapse of any kind have reported finding a shorter and/or wider cup to “fit” better. Firmness depends on the individual, but some feel that their cups actually helps support their vaginal walls rather than making their prolapse worse.
Kegel Exercises are to keep your pelvic floor muscles (PFM) toned or to strengthen them. What are pelvic floor muscles you ask? The PFM are a layer of muscles that stretch from the pubic bone to the coccyx (tailbone). A hammock if you will, that supports your pelvic organs. These include the bladder, bowel, and uterus (if you have one!)
These muscles help you control urination (peeing), bowel movements (pooping), and flatulence (farting), among other things.
When the PFM is contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the openings of the vagina, anus, and urethra are tightened.
Before I get into it, if you are having any symptoms or issues you’ll want to get the advice of a doctor. They can confirm if you have a weakened pelvic floor or one that is hypertonic (too tight). If needed, your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist or continence professional to determine the cause and instruct you with exercises to target your specific needs.
Weakened Pelvic Floor –
If your PFM are weak you may not be able to control them as well, resulting in one or more problems such as:
- Incontinence – leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, etc.
- Sudden or constant urges to urinate
- Feeling as if you didn’t empty your bladder or bowel completely
- Uncontrollable flatulence – either from the anus or vagina
- Reduced or painful sensations
- Sliding of a tampon or Menstrual Cup
- Bulge at the vaginal opening – prolapse
- A feeling of heaviness in the vagina – prolapse
People can experience weakened PFM at an early age. Some only notice issues after certain life events such as pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. Others have experienced weaken PFM due to obesity, chronic constipation, surgery, constant coughing, and heavy lifting.
Strengthening your PFM will help you gain support and control to your bladder and bowel reducing the likelihood of incontinence issues.
If you’re unsure of where your PFM are located, one of the easiest ways to consciously control them is to stop or slow the flow of urine midstream. Hold it for a second or two, and then relax to continue. The muscle that you feel tighten around your vagina and anus is the muscle that you want to target.
Once you know where these muscles are and how to control them, you can do Kegel Exercises at any time without anyone knowing.
When doing your Kegel Exercises, you can be standing, sitting, or lying down. Try to squeeze and hold the muscles without tensing your upper body. If you’re holding your breath and pulling your belly button in, you’re doing it incorrectly. Breath normally and hold the squeeze for ten seconds, then relax. Relaxing is just as important as the exercise. It allows the muscles to recover and prepare for the next contraction. Repeat the exercise up to ten times, relaxing a few seconds in between. Doing this two to three times a day will help strengthen your PFM or keep them toned.
Remembering to do these exercises can be hard. It’s not a part of the body that we see and think about. A great way to schedule a “workout” is to pair it with something you do on a daily basis. Sitting in traffic, typing an email, watching your favorite show or news, waiting for dinner to heat etc.
Hypertonic Pelvic Floor –
This is the opposite of a weakened pelvic floor in which the muscles are too tight and cannot relax. If you have hypertonic pelvic floor muscles and you perform Kegel exercises, you can make them worse. This is the importance of seeking the advice of a physician beforehand!
Hypertonic Pelvic Floor muscles are also known as Nonrelaxing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. A specific reason for it is unknown. For some, it may have started in childhood. For others, symptoms may arise in adulthood when urine or bowel movements are voluntarily held. Either out of habit, lifestyle, occupation, or previous bladder or bowel incontinence.
There have been several studies, including with many who were abused, people with scar tissue, those with conditions relating to nerves, various exercise routines, people with anxieties, and many others, but nothing has lead to a specific cause of Nonrelaxing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.
Symptoms can include:
- Sudden urges to urinate
- Leaking urine (tired muscles)
- Hesitate urination
- Painful urination
- Bladder Pain
- Painful sex
- Pelvic aches after intercourse
- PFM spasms
- Lower back pain radiating to the thighs or groin
- Pelvic pain in general
Again, a Physical Therapist can help identify, target and suggest exercises to help.
Some of the techniques that may be used to help include:
- Trigger point massage
- Myofascial release – tissue release
- Strain-Counterstrain – alleviate muscle and connective tissue tightness
- Biofeedback – neuromuscular training in which patients learn how to contract and/or relax muscles.
Physical Therapists who specialize in pelvic floor dysfunction may be found at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Web site (www.womenshealthapta.org/plp/)
Vaginal Discharge and Cervical Mucus
Every person with a vagina will have vaginal discharge, mucus, and secretions on a normal basis. It’s a normal part of vaginal functions and self-cleaning.
Fluid made by glands in the vagina. It helps prevent infection by carrying away dead cells and bacteria.
The amount of discharge, the odor, and the color will change depending on your cycle.
Usually, the color will range from clear to a milky white-ish.
It’s normal for the amount to increase during ovulation, breastfeeding, or sexual arousal. It may also increase if there is a lack of personal hygiene.
This fluid is secreted by the cervix and plays a part in nourishing and protecting sperm as it makes its journey to meet with an egg.
The amount of mucus will fluctuate during ovulation, which will be the most fertile days in your cycle.
Normal consistency is clear and stretchy, similar to that of egg whites.
Cervical mucus is normally lowest immediately after your period which can cause “dryness”.
Taking note of what’s “normal” for you in both discharge and mucus will help you keep your vagina healthy. If there are any changes in odor, color or texture, or if you experience itching or burning, it’s a sign that you may have an infection and that it’s time to contact a physician.
Some of us experience the extra wetness while either of these are exiting our bodies. It can make moving around uncomfortable, cause chafing, irritation, and rash. Some people experience an accumulation of wetness that seeps through to their outer clothes.
Using a pad on your underwear to collect mucus is safe. However, it is not suggested to regularly use a tampon during these times. Since tampons absorb all moisture, you may experience vaginal dryness, micro-tears, and vaginal ulcers, and have an increased risk of infections or even more serious, Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Menstrual Cups are perfect for collecting excess discharge and mucus and are safe to wear for up to 12 hours before needing to be removed and washed. They can be re-inserted immediately after. Unlike tampons, you can use any size Menstrual Cup to help keep the moisture down.
Since Menstrual Cups do not absorb or interfere with the delicate balance in your vagina, you can use it even when you’re not on your period!
Menstrual Cups for Homeless or Developing Countries
Menstrual Cups are a great idea for anyone….as long as they have access to clean water. Otherwise, it could cause some problems.
We’ve all seen companies advertise that they donate menstrual hygiene products to developing countries or those in need, including Menstrual Cups. This is awesome and I stand behind them 100%. I’ve donated money and items and purchased items from companies that donate and distribute. I’ve done both online and locally.
If you’re interested in being a part of this, there are many organizations online that have a hand in supplying these items, as well as menstrual cup companies.
Some menstrual cup companies offer a “Buy One, Give One” program, in which for every cup purchased, a cup is given to someone in need.
Normally with cup companies, they have a person with cup knowledge hold a class locally to teach people how to use a cup and how to care for it.
If water is available, it can be boiled to drink and can also be used to clean a cup, as long as the water has not been contaminated with chemical toxins.
However, if the person or area does not have access to clean water on a regular basis, a Menstrual Cup may not be the best idea.
Menstrual Cup vs Menstrual Disc
Both a Menstrual Cup and a Menstrual Disc collect your menstrual flow instead of absorbing it like a pad or tampon. An average size large Menstrual Cup will hold approximately the same amount as the Menstrual Disc. They can be worn safely for up to 12 hours before needing to be removed, thrown out or rinsed and reinserted, depending on your flow. All types of internal birth control can be worn at the same time, including the IUD and ring. Neither the Cup or Disc will interfere with the delicate pH balance of the vagina.
The similarities between the two end there.
Menstrual Cups are normally “Bell” or “Funnel/V” Shaped.
Menstrual Discs are shaped more like a diaphragm – An outer ring with a soft center.
Most Menstrual Cups are made of some type of silicone. You can find a few that are made with TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), and at least one made with Gum Rubber.
Menstrual Discs are made of a Polymer Blend.
Menstrual Cups come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, diameters, firmness and even colors.
A Menstrual Disc is a “One Size Fits…Most” collector that may not be comfortable for all as the diameter of the rim is large.
Menstrual Cups can be folded several different ways to allow the user control of how small the insertion point will be. Some find that holding a certain fold allows the person a better grip while inserting it. Others feel that a certain fold with a particular cup will help it to open more easily with their body.
A Menstrual Disc is “folded” by pinching the rim together at the center, making a “taco”.
A Menstrual Cup can be worn below the cervix or it can sit higher with the rim completely nestled in the vaginal fornix. A slight seal or suction may be created depending on the cup and your body, which may help the cup stay in place better.
A Menstrual Disc is placed under your cervix to rest in the vaginal fornix closest to your anus and then tucked behind your pubic bone. Since the Disc does not create a seal, some find that certain movements such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or bearing down in any way, may dislodge the Disc allowing menstrual fluid to leak or gush.
A single purchase of a Menstrual Cup can last up to ten years with proper care. It is meant to be washed and reused. Which means no restocking products each month.
While most, if not all, Menstrual Discs were created to be a “one-time use” item that is thrown out after each use. There was at least one disc in the past that was reusable for the duration of your period. However, it was still meant to be thrown out when your period ended. With a Disc, you will need to continue to restock your supply each month.
Most Menstrual Cup Companies suggest against using their Menstrual Cup while having penetrative sex. However, not all of the companies are against it. Use Cups at your own discretion and at your own risk. Many have been successfully using a Menstrual Cup while having penetrative sex without any issues. If you have any concerns about it, check with the company to see how they feel about it.
Menstrual Discs were created to be worn while having penetrative sex during your period.
Since Menstrual Cups are more like a cup, some find it easier and less messy. Using two fingers to pinch the base, the cup is walked or slid out and held upright with the contents contained. The contents are then emptied into the toilet.
A Menstrual Disc can be a little more tricky and messy for some. When removing the Disc, a finger is inserted to “hook” the ring that was tucked behind the pubic bone. The Disc needs to stay parallel to the ground to avoid spillage. Some find that as soon as they dislodge the rim, it allows blood to gush over since the “bag” of the Disc may not have expanded fully during use.
Since a Menstrual Cup is washed and stored or reinserted, there’s no chance that blood and odor will linger in your trash.
If a Menstrual Disc is not rinsed well before being discarded, there is a potential that it can cause a foul odor until the trash is emptied.
While using either the Cup or the Disc, practice will be needed to figure out the best way to insert and remove the device FOR YOU.