Stems are not like tampon strings!
Menstrual cups are designed with many different features from one cup to the next. One of those features that may vary between brands is the stem. A cup may have a long stick, tab, ball, ring, no stem at all, or may have a mixture of these. They can be long or short, solid or hollow, thick or thin.
Most brands have a specific stem; however, some brands offer an option to choose the stem that you prefer.
Purpose of the Stem
The purpose of the stem is to locate the cup and, if needed, helps you to reach and wiggle the cup down low enough so that you are able to get a good grip on the base of the cup.
The stem is NOT meant to be used to completely remove the cup. The stem itself will not support the weight of the cup, especially if it contains extra weight from your flow. Instead, use the stem to bring the cup lower until you can pinch the base of the cup securely.
Trimming The Stem
The stem can be trimmed down if the cup feels too long, if it’s uncomfortable or poking you, or if the stem is hanging outside of your body. To do this, use a clean and sharp pair of scissors, nail clippers, or knife. Do NOT cut the complete stem off all at once. You may find that you need a bit of that length to reach and/or remove the cup. Rather, trim off small sections of the stem at a time. Insert the cup and see if it feels comfortable and if you can still remove the cup without any problems. If the stem still feels too long, you can trim off a bit more. Continue to try the cup on after each cut to ensure that you will still be able to reach it easily.
Most – but not all – stems include grip rings. This makes for an easy cutting guide.
CAUTION! For those of you who choose to cut the stem completely off, be sure that there is enough connection that you do not cut into the cup base.
Some cups, such as Venus Cup, are designed with an extra piece of material (e.g. silicone) or a “seal” that can be found typically inside of the cup where the stem meets the base. This acts as a reinforcement so that the stem is attached securely. It also gives the user a safe area to trim without cutting into the cup.
On a side note, if you would rather keep the stem intact and it doesn’t bother you while wearing the cup, it’s perfectly fine to leave it as is.