Tips to make using a menstrual cup a success

A menstrual cup can be a very liberating sanitary product. A major obstacle for many women, however, is getting the insertion and removal right. To help women who are going to use a menstrual cup for the first time, or to assist those who are experiencing problems, I have written this article. I have gone through many classic beginner mistakes, and I will try my best to point these out to you.

Buying a menstrual cup
It helps immensely to do proper research before buying a menstrual cup. First of all, it is good to realise that there are many brands of menstrual cups, and some might be more suitable for your body than others. The Diva Cup, for instance, is quite long, so if you have a low cervix, this cup might not work for you. However, this length does add to the capacity of the cup and makes it ideal for women with a heavier flow. The Mooncup (U.K./MCUK) is a very modest cup, and while this might make it a comfortable and easy-to-use cup, it does mean that the capacity is quite low. MeLuna cups are not made from silicone, but do come in various softnesses and sizes, and with various handles/stems. This company has produced a softer cup for women with a sensitive vagina or bladder, and a more rigid cup for women with strong pelvic floor muscles.

To avoid buying an unsuitable cup, it would be good consider:
– the height of your cervix during your period (the height of the cervix differs throughout your menstrual cycle)
especially if you have a low cervix, you might consider a shorter cup like the MeLuna MINI.
– the strength of your pelvic floor muscles (these are strengthened in exercise, especially yoga and horseback riding, and they are weakened with age or after giving birth)
if you have strong muscles, it might be good to buy a more rigid cup, or a smaller cup, to ensure easier use
weaker pelvic muscles might do well with a larger cup.
– the nature of your flow: is it heavy or is it light?
for heavier periods, cups with higher capacity are more suitable.
for lighter periods, smaller cups might be more comfortable.
– whether you have given birth
the vagina is stretched and the pelvic floor muscles are weakened after child delivery, so for these women, a larger cup would be more suitable.
– whether you are still a virgin
as the vagina is still quite tight, a small cup might work best.
– the type of handle/stem you would prefer
the classic handle is a normal stem, but some people might prefer a ball or a ring.
experienced cup wearers might prefer not to have a stem at all.
– how sensitive you are to pain and pressure (for instance whether you can clearly feel wearing a tampon), and how sensitive your bladder is.
if you are very, very sensitive, it might be good to consider a softer cup. this cup, however, is harder to use properly.
– whether you want a coloured cup, or a clear cup

Cleaning a menstrual cup
There are several ways to clean your cup before first use and between periods.
You can boil the cup in water (make sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan by holding it with wooden sticks, putting it in a tea egg or something similar). Some people might prefer to sterilize their menstrual cup with medical sterilizing tablets.
During periods, brands often recommend to rinse your cup with water, although having two cups on hand and using one while boiling the other is safest. If you don’t have a sink nearby, you could just wipe it up with wet wipes or bring a bottle of water to the bathroom.

Inserting a menstrual cup
– RELAX! The worst you can do is to get all tense and stressed down there. Take your time, put on some nice music, and keep breathing. Really, this is the most important tip ever.
– you might want to insert your menstrual cup in the privacy of your own bathroom, with a sink nearby. Taking off your trousers might also help.
– make sure you wash your hands properly before inserting the cup.
– it might help to squat whilst inserting your menstrual cup. You could also open your vagina with one hand, and insert the cup with the other.
– try different folds to find the one which best suits you.
– remember that your vagina curves backwards, towards your rectum. Be sure to insert your cup in this direction, or it might leak.
– some people prefer to wear their menstrual cup low in their vagina, while others wear it higher up. Find out the position that works best for you, and creates a proper seal.
– always check whether your cup has opened fully, and whether there aren’t any indentations in the cup.
– to help the cup to open fully or seal properly, you can try to turn the cup. Keep trying to turn the cup, while keeping calm and relaxed, and your cup will open up eventually. Also try different positions in your vagina.
– to get a stronger seal, you might like to contract your vaginal muscles a few time after inserting the cup.
– pushing the cup higher up, and then pulling it down might also help to create a good seal.
– trim down the stem to the length that best suits you. Don’t cut off too much though!
– find the position in the vagina that feels most comfortable and does not put pressure on your bladder.
– if you think insertion is painful, try inserting the cup using water-based lubricant.
– if you have inserted the cup properly, it won’t leak (at worst, it will leave a few traces of old blood, which a pantyliner can easily handle).

Removing the menstrual cup
– RELAX! Also removal is easiest when you’re totally calm.
– especially the first times, removal might be nicest in the privacy of your own bathroom, with a sink nearby. Taking off your trousers might also help.
– make sure you wash your hands properly before removing the cup.
– you can slightly pull down the cup with the stem, to make it easier to reach. Never remove the cup using the stem though!
– to break the seal, firmly press the base of the cup. You can also insert a finger next to your cup to break the seal.
– wiggle your cup out, and then deposit the contents of the cup in your toilet or sink.
– if you find removal painful, try removing the cup using water-based lubricant, or fold the cup back into your insertion fold when taking it out.
– it might be nice to track how much blood you are losing during your cycle.
– rinse the cup with water (or wipe it) before reinserting.

Help, my menstrual cup is leaking!
At the beginning, I had some cases of leakage with my menstrual cup. I now know what caused them:
– once, the cup did not fully open up. Try twisting the cup until it opens up, or remove it and reinsert it.
– a few other times, the cup was not tilted enough towards my backbone. In other words, it was tilted in the wrong direction in my vagina.
– another time, I had not trimmed down the stem yet, and the stem was sticking out my vagina, which caused the cup to wiggle whilst I was walking.
– for me, high insertion seems to work best.

I hope that helps! Leave a comment if you have got any other questions, and good luck with your cup journey! Relax, and do not give up!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you have any medical questions or show any signs of TSS, consult a doctor immediately.

2 thoughts on “Tips to make using a menstrual cup a success

  1. Chillitan says:

    Thank you for the information! I think it helped me a lot. I am wearing it the first time and it is leaking. Also it moves up and down about 1cm when sitting down and standing up but it is firm. I am going to trim the stem in the next days.

  2. Beth says:

    Thank you! I just started using a Lynette today and wasn’t sure if I was doing everything correctly (I had some leakage). This was very informative and helpful!

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