How To Use a Menstrual Cup

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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 and take more time to get the hang of doing. If you are having trouble with one fold, are finding 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 and 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 with various levels of firmness, you might find that different folds work best for different cups.

The order in which the folds are listed is from the easiest to the trickiest. But remember that the easiest fold may not be the one that works best 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 may be too large to be comfortable for some. The fold may make it easier to get a softer cup to open.

2. “Punchdown” Fold

A 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 that 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 inserting 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 because it allows you to use a finger to 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.

Final Say

Folding your menstrual cup is going to be a process of trial and error until you find what works for you with a specific cup. If one particular fold doesn’t work or feel comfortable for you, 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!

Related pages:

 

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 to it. 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 to relax! 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 most 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

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Find a comfortable position.
    • For example, you can:
      • 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
  3. Fold the menstrual cup (click for details).
  4. Gently spread your labia.
  5. Insert the cup aiming towards your tailbone, until your hand rests on your body.

  6. 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

  1. 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 keeping the rim from opening.
      • Gently pull or wiggle the cup back and allow your cervix some room to drop in.
  2. After your cup is in place, bear down with your pelvic floor 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.
  3. 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.
    • Note that not every cup may seal! It depends on your cup and your body.

Removing Your Menstrual Cup

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Find a comfortable position.
    • For example, you can:
      • Sit on the toilet and scoot back
      • Prop a foot up while in the tub
      • Squat in the tub
  3. Bear down with your pelvic floor muscles to bring the cup closer to the opening of your vagina.
  4. Gently spread your labia and locate the stem of the cup.
  5. 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.
  6. Holding the base of the cup, wiggle or slide your cup down and out, keeping it level to avoid spilling.
  7. Dump the contents into the toilet or drain.
  8. Rinse (if possible) and re-insert or store.

Tips for Removing Your Cup

  1. Break the seal/suction: If your cup has created a seal around your cervix, you don’t want to pull your cup down without first breaking the seal. If you don’t, 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
  2. 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” on your first try – or even your second and third, for that matter.

Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged. If it’s still not working after a few months of trying a particular cup, you have many other options to choose from. Maybe that particular cup just isn’t the right one for you!

Related pages:

3. How to Store Your Cup

Most menstrual cups arrive with some sort of storage case, such as a pouch or a container with holes. A simple cotton drawstring bag is the most common. After you have become confident in your cleaning process, you can store your cup in whichever storage case was included with your purchase.

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: AmyCup “Original” storage container; Cup Spot; Sckoon bag; Lumma Collapsible Sterilizing Container; Casco Cup storage container; Fun Cup Tyvek Pouch; Moskito bag; LaliCup bag

If your cup didn’t come with a bag, you can either purchase one that was specifically made to hold menstrual cups or you can use 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 a 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!

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.

    Things to do to create a seal:

        1. Pinch the base a couple of times

        2. Pinch the base and rotate the cup.

        3. Pinch the base and rock the cup back and forth.

        4. Insert a finger against the body of the cup and swipe your finger around the sides.

  • 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.

Related pages:

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 it fills to 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 some 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 you can’t see what’s going on when the cup is placed, so 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 of how much menstrual fluid is in your cup and adjust the timing for your next check.

 

If the cup is ¼ full

You can probably use your cup for another couple of hours.

 

If the cup is ½ full

Add one hour – instead of 3 hours, you can wait until the 4th hour.

 

If the cup is 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 that everyone is different, so we’ll all have various schedules between emptying sessions.

6. How to Trim Your Cup Stem


7. Menstrual Cups in Public

First of all, you can do almost anything your heart desires while you’re wearing a menstrual cup. You can ride a bike, hike, run, swim, skydive, camp, hula hoop, and so much more!

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 and 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

(E.g. family restrooms)

Most public family restrooms are larger and normally include a toilet, a sink, and a baby changing station. This will give you space and privacy with a sink handy.

Quick Rinse

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 rinse yourself.

Grab n’ Go

Wet paper towels

Before entering a stall, grab and wet some paper towels (normally already provided in restrooms). Use them to wipe your cup and/or yourself down. You might want to grab an extra one to wipe your hands of any blood before unlatching the door!

Baby/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 more 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! 😀

8. Penetrative Sex & Menstrual Cups

First of all, because we all walk different paths in life, this portion is only referring to penis/vaginal penetrative sex.

You’re probably wondering, “Why?!” Quite simply, some people don’t like to wait.

You might say, “Just put a towel down!” And someone might respond, “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 for 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 companies 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% 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 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 it’s 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 yet 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, a softer cup might be easier to manipulate for a “first timer”. A softer cup will collapse to the penis as it does when your finger is against it while inserting or removing your cup.

Start off slow at first. Get to know the feeling and 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:

  1. You can trim the stem if you are able to remove your cup without it.
  2. 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.
  3. The stem is usually soft enough, even on a firm cup, to get pushed to the side.
  4. If the stem is long, then it has more area to bend when it’s “poked”.
  5. 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!

Some 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!

Venus, Sckoon, Yuuki, EvaCup, LaliCup, Ruby Cup, Super Jennie, Lady Cup, Lunette, and LuvUr Body.

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 to 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 cup shape
    • A different cup shape may shift the pressure of the cup to an area that isn’t sensitive
  • Trying a different size
    • Like changing a different shape, a different size may also shift the pressure of the cup to another area

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 to do so are totally up to you and how comfortable you are.

  1. 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.
    1. 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 a slotted spoon, if you feel more comfortable keeping the cup from touching the cookware.
    2. 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 the microwave to 2-5 minutes.
      1. DO NOT place a lid completely over the container. Steam needs to be able to escape!
      2. You may want to set the container on a plate or bowl to catch water that may boil over.
      3. Allow the water to cool completely before removing.
  1. 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 may have sensitivities or allergies to ingredients in those washes.
  2. Mild soap: Any mild soap or intimate wash that does not contain perfumes, oils, or anti-bacterial ingredients should be fine to clean your cup.
  3. Tablets: Cleansing tablets such as Milton tablets are safe for menstrual cup cleaning. These work like denture cleansing tablets – some people use those too!
  4. 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.

Odors

Blood itself has an iron-y odor. Our bodies have an odor, too. While cup companies mention having “no odor”, this is typically referring to the odor that arises from having blood sitting on a pad either in your underwear or in the trash, or a disposed tampon sitting in the waste can. When blood is exposed to air, the bacteria (from your 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.

  1. Shortening the time that you use a cup between rinses.
  2. 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 using it.
  3. Soak your cup for at least an hour or more in one of the following soaking solutions, and then wash your cup as normal or boil to remove the soaking solution.
    1. Rubbing alcohol
    2. White vinegar
    3. Lemon juice 
  4. Sun bathe: Place your cup on a sunny windowsill for a couple of hours. This can also be done after a soak if needed.

Stains

If you find that your 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 it 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:

  1. Always rinse your cup in cold water first. This makes sure that the stains don’t set. After all traces of blood are gone, you can use hot water for a good rinse.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide: Most over-the-counter hydrogen peroxides* are safe to use straight from the bottle but you can dilute it if you wish. A 50/50 mix will still do the trick. Soak your cup overnight to get rid of any stains.
  3. Sun bathe: Place your cup on a sunny windowsill for a couple of hours. The sun will bleach your cup.

*Note: Hydrogen peroxide breaks down when exposed to light (which is why it’s stored in a brown bottle) and will turn into water.

Please use these methods at your own risk and visit the manufacturer website for 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 because the cup materials are unknown.

If your cup has a sticky, slimy, tacky or gummy feeling that won’t wash off, chances are that your cup’s integrity has been compromised. It’s time to buy a new cup!

Air Holes

Pay special attention to the air holes (if your cup has them). Clean them thoroughly to ensure that blood is not left behind in them and 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.

Related pages:

11. Cups & Lubrication

The vagina releases its own natural lubrication. This allows for easier and less painful penetration. If there is insufficient lubrication, penetration of an object, including a menstrual cup, may be difficult.

We all have that 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 the longer lifespan of your cup.

Why Not Silicone-Based Lubricants?

  • The silicone molecules in a silicone-based lubricant will bond with the silicone molecules of a silicone item, such as a 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 and 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!

Oils

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 because 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 because the materials are unknown.

Related pages:

12. Troubleshooting a Menstrual cup

Leaking

  • 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, toilet paper 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 are, then 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 seal or suction with their cup. It depends on your body and the cup.
  • 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 you experienced overflow nonetheless. If so, consider the following possibilities:

    • 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, like a V-shaped cup.
    • If you have a low cervix, it may also be sitting inside of the cup.
      • Try a cup with a rounded body, such as 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.

Collapsing

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.
  • Use 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 will help it open.
    • 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.

Painful Removal

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 might just be pushing or sitting outside of your body.

If you feel comfortable 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 you can 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 the following.

  • 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. Note that 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 more easily for them. A softer cup may stay in place better because it can collapse and move with the body more.
  • Pelvic floor muscles (PFM): If you know for a fact that you have 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. They are 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.

13. Other Menstrual Cup Tips

Related posts:

 

FAQs – Common Menstrual Cup Questions

Q:  What are menstrual cups made of?

Most menstrual cups are made using some type of silicone. Medical grade silicone is the only type that has been 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 of TPE and at least one that is made of gum rubber (i.e. latex).

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 they add fillers to cut costs. You never know what materials they used to create a “cheapie” cup.  You’ll also want to stay away from the cup made of gum rubber (read more).

Q:  Can I use a menstrual cup if I have an IUD or am using a birth control ring?

  • Most menstrual cup companies claim that you can. However, you’ll want to double check with the specific company from whom you intend to purchase your cup. 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 IUD insertion and they can also trim your IUD strings so that they don’t get in the way. Make sure to 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. Also make sure to break the seal before tugging on your cup because this can also cause your IUD to be dislodged.
  • If you are using a birth control vaginal ring, the ring is inserted first and then your menstrual cup is inserted after.

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 muscles create 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 from 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. It is also possible to place your cup into the vaginal fornix (the area around the cervix), which may also put it out of reach.
  • Bear down with your PFM 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, if needed.

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 it.

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-sized cup (read more).

Q:  Will a menstrual cup stretch out my vagina?

It may, but not permanently. 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 and depends on your beliefs or religion. But, yes, virgins are and have been able to comfortably use a menstrual cup. However, a larger cup may be too large to feel 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! Because 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 you go to bed. It will give you a fresh cup with full capacity to fill while you catch some zzz’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 will NOT absorb pool or ocean water!

You can swim, wade, dive, and even scuba dive while using your cup! It has been reported by a scuba instructor that pressure changes while diving do 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.
  • Because 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 next time. If it’s to the rim, subtract an hour next time (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 recommend against using their cup while having penetrative sex. However, not all companies are against it. Contact the specific company that made your cup if you have any concerns. Use a menstrual cup at your own risk if you choose to engage in penetrative sexual activity, and remember that a menstrual cup will NOT prevent an unplanned pregnancy, and will NOT protect you against STDs!

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 STDs.
  • 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 out all the menstrual fluid first to prevent stains, and then give it a hot water wash.
    • Mild soap, including “feminine” washes and/or menstrual cup specific washes
    • Sanitizing tablets
    • Boil, either on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe container
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Lemon juice
    • White vinegar
    • Sun bathe
  • 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 and fully submerge your cup for at least 3-5 minutes.

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 into 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 to prevent it from happening.

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 inserting 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 and then grow them out (or get any type of artificial nails applied), it can make the adjustment process easier.
  • 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 having a menstrual cup: 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 (it pushes against the bladder to prevent leakage).  
  • 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 its way onto your underwear.
  • Leaking:
    • Make sure cup is completely open.
    • Check position of the cervix – it should be right above or inside the cup.
    • Check the seal/suction:
      • 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.
    • That cup may be the wrong size/shape for you.

Read more on Troubleshooting a Menstrual Cup

Q:  Why is my cup sliding down?

That particular cup may be the 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 the 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 underwear 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 removing it so they don’t 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.

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