Whether you’re new at using menstrual cups, or looking for a new menstrual cup, the process of narrowing down what might work for you is basically the same:
- Locate & Measure Cervix
- Physical Activity
- Flow Amount
- Previous Experience – Penetration/Tampons/Childbirth
- Trial & Error/Learning Curve
How to Choose a Menstrual Cup explains all of the above in great detail.
Best Menstrual Cups for Beginners
Starter Kits, Duo Packs, and Dual Sets, are a great option to start off with. They usually contain two different sizes – small & large, and give you the ability to try both to see which length/diameter is more comfortable and/or easier to reach.
1. Venus Menstrual Cup Starter Kit
The Venus Cup is made of silicone, and although it is comparable to other average menstrual cups in size and diameter, it holds one of the highest capacities which makes it a very desirable cup if you normally have a heavy flow It is available in two sizes – small and large, and is one of the more affordable options on the market.
2. Hello Cup
The Hello Cup is made of TPE (thermoplastic elastomers/rubbers), and is available in two versions, low cervix (no stem) and standard (with stem). The low cervix cup is offered in small and large, while the standard cup is offered in three sizes: extra small, small/medium, and large. Since the low cervix cup only comes in two sizes, these can be paired. The standard cup comes in two pair choices: extra small & small, or small & large.
3. Lena Cup
The Lena Cup is made of silicone, and is bell-shaped with a flared rim. It is available in two sizes – small & large, and two firmness levels – sensitive & regular. Although the regular firmness is offered in a dual pack, unfortunately, the sensitive version is not.
4. Ruby Cup
The Ruby Cup is made of silicone, and is short and bell-shaped with a standard rim. It is available in small and medium, and is offered in a duo set together with, or without, a sanitizing container.
5. Super Jennie
The Super Jennie is considered to be a high capacity, silicone cup. It is bell-shaped with a standard rim. It’s offered in two sizes – small and large, and can be purchased as a set.
The Voxapod is made of silicone, and has a unique shape with plenty of reinforcement. If you’ve ever had trouble getting a cup to open, this one shouldn’t fail you. It’s available in two sizes – small & medium, but you can request to get the same size for both cups in their dual pack.
7. Yuuki Cup
The Yuuki Cup is made of silicone, and is V-shaped. This shape is often easier to reach for individuals with a high cervix. It is available in two sizes – small & large, and three different firmness levels These firmness levels are: Soft (which is more like a medium firm cup), Classic (which is one of the firmest cups on the market), and any of their colored cups are slightly softer than their ‘soft’ version. While the sizes and soft & classic firmness levels can be paired, only certain colored cups are offered in sets.
Another Reason to Buy a Kit
Purchasing two different cups from any brand not only gives you the chance to try different sizes or levels of firmness, it also saves you a bit of money. Normally, when a company makes these sets available, it’s at a well discounted price.
*Bonus – If you are able to use both sizes comfortably and easily, you can save one cup as an emergency to be stored in the car, locker, bag, purse, or even at your boyfriend’s house.
Narrow & Longer Menstrual Cups
There are a wide range of menstrual cups on the market. However, new, young, or inexperienced users, may feel more comfortable starting out with a cup that is narrower than the others.
If you have some apprehension about the insertion process, this is a great place to start. It will help you to get used to inserting a cup that’s not as intimidating as some of the larger, or wider, cups.
A little exploring is needed when using a menstrual cup. One, or maybe even two finger tips will need to be inserted (just past the vaginal opening), to reach the stem or base of the cup. A narrower cup offers a little wiggle room, which you may find easier to handle if you’re just starting out!
If you haven’t located and measured your cervix yet, don’t automatically go for the smallest cup that you can find. I would suggest starting with a longer cup. Why? Because when you’re learning how to use a menstrual cup, it’s much better to find out that the cup is too long but you can still reach it, than to find out that a cup is too short and you struggle finding it, causing immense stress and panic!
If your cervix is high, smaller cups have a chance to migrate until they can’t go any further. Usually, that’s around the cervix, but it can also get positioned next to the cervix as well.
I don’t want to scare you, but we’ve all heard horror stories of people ending up in the ER to have their menstrual cup removed. Finding the right cup for your anatomy and learning how to navigate it (inserting, positioning, removal tips & tricks of a cup) will ensure that you never have to visit the ER yourself!
Using a Menstrual Cup for the First Few Times
If it is possible, practice using the cup during weekends and other days when you don’t have to attend school, work, or any other obligations where you need to be. This way, if you start to feel uncomfortable, if the cup leaks, if it shifts, or even starts to come out because it wasn’t positioned correctly, you have the toilet at your disposal. The last thing you need is to be heading up a business meeting when this happens or learning in class with other students!
I know you might be trying to rid yourself of disposable products or lower your waste output, but use some type of back up for any spotting or leaking issues the first few times you’re using a cup. You can always use reusable cloth pads to avoid ruining your undies and furniture.
Empty Frequently to Check the Volume
Most menstrual cups hold a substantial amount of more blood than a pad or tampon. Although you shouldn’t have to empty it as frequently, it’s a good idea to start off checking the cup at around the same time frame that you would your pad or tampon. This will give you an idea of how long you can use your cup before it needs emptying.
When to Empty
Start off emptying your cup after three hours. If it’s ¼ full, you can probably use it for 6-8 hours total before it needs to be emptied. If it’s ½ full, then you can probably use the cup for 5-6 hours total before it becomes full. If it’s ¾ full, then it’s a good time to empty it before it overflows.
Although almost every menstrual cup company claims that you can use their menstrual cup for 12 hours, it doesn’t actually mean you can. It means that you can use it UP TO 12 hours safely. The reality is that it depends on the amount of your menstrual flow. If you have very light periods, then chances are, you will not need to empty the cup until 12 hours. However, if you have very heavy periods you will probably need to empty it a lot earlier, and more frequently.
On a Schedule
Once you figure out how long you can use a particular menstrual cup (they all have different capacities) you can then start to schedule your toilet breaks accordingly. Most individuals will only need to empty their cup 2-3 times a day.
Using the Cup Quiz
How the Quiz Works
Menstrual cup quizzes ask you a series of questions. It takes your answers and compares it with a database based on some type of point system, until it narrows down a selection of cups that might be right for you.
No Quiz is 100% Accurate
Quizzes on the internet are always going to be generalized for the masses whether it’s for a suggested menstrual cup, a macaron flavor, or a foundation color.
If you leave a question blank or answer ‘unknown’, the quiz may result in a wider database with options that might not otherwise be as specific to you.
Specific Combinations May Not Have Results
Although a specific line of questioning can lead to a wide range of results, some combinations might cancel each other out. For instance, if a cup feels too long, the quiz will suggest a shorter cup.
If the user can’t reach their cup, the quiz will suggest a longer one. The database may then have a conflicting outcome.
Specific Questions Not Present to Your Situation
Quiz creators try their best to accommodate every common or major issue, or situation, that someone might have while using a menstrual cup, but not everything is covered. Again, these quizzes are generalized and everyone will have a different experience or set of challenges.
Keep these factors in mind when completing a quiz, and don’t rely on them 100% to find the perfect cup. There’s still a chance that the cup that’s suggested for you will or won’t be your “Goldilocks”. Instead, use a quiz to help narrow down your selection, and then do some additional research to see what cup might be best when trying a cup for the first time.
I Got My Cup! Now What?
Most cups come with a user manual. Some are more detailed than others, and most cover a couple of folds, positions, how to insert, remove, wash, and store a menstrual cup. However, you can find more details and information about them by clicking on the following links:
Now that you’ve found a cup, let’s go through some common issues and what you can do to combat them before encountering them. The better prepared you are and the more knowledge you have beforehand, may help keep stress and anxieties down to a minimum.
1. Difficult Insertion
You’re welcome to practice using a menstrual cup as soon as you get it, even if you’re not bleeding. However, you may experience some dryness which will make the process difficult. Whether you’re dry to begin with, or you become dry after inserting and removing the cup a couple of times, a water-based personal lubricant will help immensely. It will help the cup slide in and out with ease, and without resistance or tugging on delicate tissues.
One thing to note is that the cervix may move throughout the menstrual cycle. It may be lower or higher during an actual period. Start off with trying a longer cup first, just in case your cervix is high.
Feels Too Wide
There are several different folds that you can try. Some folds make smaller insertion points than others, and may be more comfortable in the beginning stages of cup insertion. If the cup still feels too wide, you can try a smaller/narrower size.
Feels Too Long
If you have inserted the cup correctly and completely, and can still feel it at the vaginal opening, you can trim the stem down a bit and try again. Keep doing this until the cup feels comfortable, and you can still reach it for removal. Some users may need to trim the stem completely off but ALWAYS start off with a full stem first.
2. Pressure/Pain/Cramps During Use
It’s common to be aware that a cup is there when you are new to using menstrual cups, or if the specific cup is new to you. It’s something different and you may tend to focus on it for a while. The feeling or being aware of it, should pass as you go on about your day, but it should never cause you major pressure issues, pain, or excessive cramps.
At first the pressure you experience might just be from being aware of the cup, but if you notice that you have to urinate more frequently, don’t feel like your bladder is emptied completely when urinating, have a slow urine stream, or experience frequent constipation – then the cup might be too firm for you. You can try a softer or slightly smaller cup. Both will ease any excessive pressure off of any sensitive areas.
There should be NO pain at any time while using a menstrual cup. If you are experiencing pain, you may need some lubricant, a different fold, or to remove and reposition the cup. You might also want to try a softer or smaller cup.
When you’re learning how to use a cup, it’s very common to experience some cramping. Just like when you cramp during or after a pelvic exam, pap smear, ultrasound probe, finger insertion, or rough penetration of any kind – the release of prostaglandins (hormones that are created during a chemical reaction where an injury or alternative issue happens) can lead to some uterine contractions. These should subside after a short time.
Alternatively, you can try inserting the cup half way, letting it open, and then push it up into place. This will lessen the chance of the rim hitting the cervix while it opens.
The one thing we all dread is leaking while using any type of menstrual product. It’s no different with a menstrual cup. There are usually some specific reasons that a cup is leaking which have easy fixes, and it’s usually “user error”. It’s truly a learning process! We’ve all been there!
You would think that you just insert the cup and be on your way, but really, a bit of clean-up keeps you dry and spot free. There’s always some excess blood lingering around, even after you insert a cup. Using a wet cloth to clean the stem and cup’s base will eliminate any spots on your underwear, and keep you from wondering if your cup is positioned right.
It happens to the best of us. Menstrual cups are so comfortable that you may forget that you’re even wearing one! This can lead to overflows. Make sure that you schedule your empty sessions accordingly to your flow amount for the day, to avoid any (embarrassing) disasters.
Overflow but the Cup is Half Full
Normally we see this happen in shorter or smaller cups. Cups will move to the area of least resistance which is typically up/in and closer to the cervix, if the cup was placed above the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) as it should be. This will cause the cervix to sit deeper into the cup and compromise some of the capacity space.
As the cervix takes up the space, it also displaces the menstrual flow making it overflow sooner rather than later. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen if you have ever filled a cup with water and then tried to add ice; the water overflows. If you need a higher capacity, you can try using a longer or wider cup.
4. Difficult Removal
Getting the cup in might have been easy, but getting it back out is another thing. Through the whole process of using a cup, not being able to remove it with ease is definitely the scariest!
Can’t Reach It
Again, the cervix can move throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s normally at its lowest position right before, or at the beginning, of our period. However, around the middle to the end of our period it will start its ascent in preparation for ovulation. This is when the cervix can become hard to reach, or out of reach completely.
If you notice that your cup is becoming harder to reach a few days into your period, you might want to switch to a larger/longer cup. If you are already using the larger/longer cup, you can try squatting on the ground, or in the tub to roll your pelvis forward, thus getting a better reach.
You may also need to do a series or pushes with your PFM (pelvic floor muscles) to bring the cup even closer to the vaginal opening. This is the reason you should NOT trim the stem off completely until you’re comfortable and familiar with the process of using a cup.
When you are using a cup, it should create a slight seal so that no menstrual flow will pass the rim. However, once you gently tug down on the cup to remove it, it might start to create a suction. It’s like when you use a toilet plunger and place it in the toilet – it doesn’t create a suction until you pull.
The key to removing a cup without pain, is to break or release this seal before tugging on it. You can pinch the cup’s base to “burp” it which will stop it from creating a suction on the way out. Emptying your cup before it’s completely filled will help keep the mess of “burping” down to a minimum.
Even if you don’t normally have a sensitive urethra, the cup or even just the rim, brushing or rubbing against it can cause some irritation. To avoid this, use your thumb to slightly push down on the cup as it nears the vaginal opening. You don’t have to insert your thumb as most of the cup is already exposed. This will ease any pressure off of your urethra as it exits your body. Again, this is less messy if done before the cup is completely full.
It might seem like there is a lot to think about when choosing, or using, a menstrual cup but it’s really no different than choosing or using a tampon or pad for the first time. Which one do you get? How do you use it? Where do you put it? Etc. etc. Each product will have its own challenges and learning curves, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t need to think of all of these things again! At least you will know what to expect if you try another brand.
I highly recommend investing in a dual pack of menstrual cups. It’s the less expensive way to go, and gives you options of which cup you want to use. You may even benefit using both of them if your cervix moves enough for you to notice a change in comfort or ease of removal.
From the list of cups above that are available as a dual pack, I would suggest the Venus Cup. Both sizes hold a higher capacity than most cups of its length and diameter, and they are medium in firmness, which is a great place to start. The dual pack is a very affordable option that costs about the same for a single cup with regards to other brands.