Menstrual cups are reuseable cups to be used during a woman’s period. There are many popular brands and types available and it is common now to refer to menstrual cup by its other names such as diva cups, ruby cup, period cup, luna, moon, lunette, feminine cup, flex menstrual disc etc. These are all referring to medical grade silicone reusable menstrual cup.
What is a menstrual cup or diva cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable cup used during a woman’s period or menstruation. It’s shaped like a bell with stem and usually an alternative to sanitary pads or tampons. It is inserted in the vagina and creates a natural seal against the vaginal wall just below the cervix to prevent menstrual fluid to leak.
Many women turn to try to use the menstrual cup as it promotes eco-friendly usage because a cup of this product can collect menstrual fluid for up to five years (depending on how you take care of it). Instead of absorbing the menstrual fluid like tampons or pads, the menstrual cup collects the fluid which greatly decreases the amount of waste generated from the menstrual cycle.
How to Use a Menstrual Cup (Period Cup)
Using a menstrual cup can be daunting to women on their first try. However, you don’t have to worry because a menstrual cup is designed to stretch, adjust and return to its normal shape. You just have to identify when to use a small or large cup.
Small and Large Cup for different flow days
Since the vagina is soft and stretchy, menstrual cups usually have two sizes for women. The first one is the smaller size meant for normal flow days while a larger cup is usually created for heavy flow days.
When you just opened a brand new menstrual cup fresh from the packaging, you should wash it with soap and tap water. It should be medical grade silicone and you would not have to worry about hygiene issues.
When you reuse the cup, you should empty the content, give it a good clean with soap and water too. If it is inconvenient, you can just empty the cup and use wet wipes to keep it clean before keeping in the storage bag.
How to put in your menstrual cup? Step by Step on wearing the cup
Putting a menstrual cup for the first time can be tricky but here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it for the first time.
- Fold the menstrual cup
- Insert the period cup
- Wear the cup
- Remove the cup
- Clean the menstrual cup
Before inserting the cup, make sure you wash your hands and your menstrual cup with warm, clean water and mild soap.
Step 1: Fold the Cup
There are different ways to fold a menstrual cup, but here are 3 ways in which you can use:
- C-Fold – fold the cup in half pressing it closed, then fold again in half lengthwise. This way, you can see that it looks like a C. This fold is the most recommended way of folding the cup.
- 7-Fold- it is another way to fold a cup. By doing this, you have to fold the cup in half, pressed it closed. Pull down one top corner down towards the base of the cup, on the opposite direction of the top corner you pulled down. This way of folding a cup is popular to women who have difficulty inserting the cup as it creates a smaller insertion area rather than the C fold.
- Punch down Fold – this type of fold creates the smallest area of insertion. To do this, you have to push the rim down to the base of the cup, then, slowly remove your thumb while you pinch the cup together.
Step 2: Insert the Cup
To insert the menstrual cup, it is important to relax your muscle so it will be easier to insert the cup. First, find a comfortable position. You can stand, squat, sit on the toilet or bath.
You may want to use water or a water-based lubricant to make it easier to insert the cup.
Since you already fold your cup in the best way that suits you, you need to gently insert the folded cup in the entrance of the vaginal canal. Once the entire cup is inside you, simply remove your fingers and let it pop up. (Always check the guide included on your menstrual cup)
If you are unsure whether you put it correctly or not, just feel the base of the cup to see if there are noticeable fold, if none, you are good to go. If you feel that there are dents on the base of the menstrual cup, it means that it’s not properly inserted. To correct this, just slowly rotate the base of the cup (not the stem) to move it. To further check it, just gently pull the stem of the cup, if there’s resistance it means that you have placed the cup correctly.
Step 3: Wear the Cup
Once you have inserted the cup, and you’ve checked if it’s properly in place. You are good to go. You have up to 12 hours to use the cup. You can leave the cup for the whole day- clean it- then wear it again at night.
Remember: If you have a heavy flow, you may have to empty it more than once during the whole day.
Step 4: Remove the Cup
It is not ideal to leave the cup for more than 12 hours so you have to remove it. Before removing the cup, make sure you washed your hands with clean water and mild soap to ensure hygienic actions. You need to find the ideal position for you like you did when you inserted it.
The cup is very easy to remove, all you have to do is use the stem to guide your fingers to the base of the cup. Gently pinch the base to release the suction and slowly remove the cup.
Do not directly pull the stem of the menstrual cup as this may cause discomfort and sudden leakage.
Step 5: Clean the Cup
Now that you’ve removed the cup, it’s time to clean it. To do this, just empty out the collected fluid inside the cup into the toilet or the sink and rinse the cup with clean water. Once done, you can reuse it again following Step 1.
If it’s the end of your cycle, you can sterilize it by putting it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes (ensuring that the cup will not touch the bottom of the pot) or simply clean it with warm, clean water and mild soap then store it in the original pouch.
Tips on wearing menstrual cups
Here are some tips we grab from the women founder, Eve Williams, of Lazy Monk’s Menstrual Cup product. If I were to summarize wearing a menstrual cup, it would be patient, relax, be comfortable. Fold the cup a few folds, gently slot inside and adjust for comfort. Hope these help you as much as it helped us!
Tip #1: Read The Instructions
Make sure you read the instructions that come with your cup thoroughly, BEFORE using it. This may seem obvious, but we know many of us to get so excited about our new period cup, that we just jump right in without fully knowing what to do. Get a grasp of the folding technique, use only as directed and always read the label.
Tip #2: Relax
Inserting the menstrual cup will be easier when you are relaxed. Try your menstrual cup for the first time when you ARE NOT having a period. If you have difficulty inserting or removing it, at least you won’t be dealing with rampant hormones, blood, and stress at the same time. DO NOT leave the cup in place, simply try inserting, walking around, and then removing it.
Tip #3: Wet The Cup
It is easier to insert a cup when it is wet. For this reason, you may want to dampen the entrance to your vagina with water or a waterbased lubricant as well as the rim of the cup. Many women find it helpful to learn how to insert their cup while in the shower.
Tip #4: Get The Correct Angle
Do not insert a menstrual cup in a straight up (vertical) angle. For correct insertion, it needs to be put into the vagina at a horizontal 45- degree angle. Aim towards the base of your spine. Squatting down with knees spread open is often a good way to first insert your menstrual cup. You should stop inserting the cup as soon as the cup and end of the stem can no longer be seen.
Tip #5: Keep It Low
Many women make the mistake of placing the cup too high in their vagina. It should sit low in the vagina (lower than a tampon), and ideally, not over the opening of your cervix. The end of the stem should be sitting no more than 1cm from the vaginal opening. Nothing should be sticking out, but it should be only just inside you. In some cases, the menstrual cup may rise up higher and then settle in, on its own position. Do not be alarmed by this, it just means you may have to reach a little further in to remove it. If the cup is sitting right against your cervix, you may experience some discomfort. Try re-inserting the cup again.
Tip #6: Wait For The ‘Pop’
To ensure the cup doesn’t leak, it needs to achieve a good suction seal around the vaginal wall. Once you insert the cup, it needs to ‘pop’ open to form the seal. Some people feel this pop, others do not. Gently run your finger around the base of the cup. If it feels flat or scrunched at any spot, it probably hasn’t popped open properly. Grip the base of the cup and try rotating it 360 degrees. If that doesn’t work, remove the cup and try again. You may also want to try performing a few pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), as this can help establish a proper seal.
Tip #7: Remove Correctly
Do not pull on the stem! Use the stem simply as a guide to finding the base of the cup. If the cup is hard to reach, try bearing down so as to push the cup down your vaginal canal. If the cup is slippery and hard to grasp when you try to remove it, you can use a tissue to wipe the base before pulling it out.
How long can you keep a menstrual cup inside you?
Most menstrual cups are designed for up to 12 hours in you without rinsing and cleaning.
The practical length will depend on your comfort and discharge on that day. Personal experience shows that on a heavy day, you may want to empty the cup and rinse it after 3-5 hours, depending on individuals. The great news about the menstrual cup is it is designed to hold the stuff in, so you can easily clean in even in public restrooms without any mess at all! Considering that we usually visit the restroom once every 3-5 hours, that is just appropriate for checks and cleaning!
Why Choose a Menstrual Cup?
Switching to a menstrual cup is not quite an easy decision for most women. It can be quite intimidating at first as it’s not similar to using pads but closer to using tampons. However, If you opt to switch into a menstrual cup; here are a couple of benefits it can give you:
Comfortable and Very Effective
Menstrual Cups are comfortable to wear and offer better leakage protection than other menstrual products. It is not sticky and irritating like pads and it collects the fluid rather than absorb it like a tampon. Since it’s inside you, there’s no leakage unless you did not seal it properly.
Once you are used to it, you would not even feel anything at all!
Pads and Tampons will cost more as time goes by. However, a menstrual cup will save you more as you only have to pay a one-time price and you can reuse the cup. Many modern brands are designed to last for 10 years, saving you lots of money.
Since it’s a product designed to be reused, it can save tons of waste generated from the pads and tampons you’ve been using which can save the environment. You are going environmentally friendly, saving lots of unnecessary pads, tampons, and plastic packaging.
Why NOT to Choose a Menstrual Cup?
Yes, a menstrual cup also has its own disadvantages that you still need to keep in mind.
It can be messy
Inserting a menstrual cup can be an easy task but removing it is a different scenario. Since there’s fluid in the cup, you really have to be careful in removing it because it can be difficult and awkward to remove it. Especially if you are new to this, you may experience spills and leakage throughout the process.
Tough to find the right size
The menstrual cup comes with different sizes, it’s not a one-size fit all type of product so you have to find the right brand for you that will fit perfectly.
There can be a chance of infection
If you don’t wash and clean the cup properly, you can be irritated and there can be an infection. So you have to make sure that clean it and wash your hands before inserting and removing it.
Do menstrual cups cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)?
No, menstrual cups do not cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). There is no history of menstrual cup causing TSS. Scientific studies have shown there are no risks of TSS or other medical complications associated with disposable tampons because menstrual cups do not have fabric material.
Do menstrual cups cause cramps?
Yes, your menstrual or period cups can cause cramps if used incorrectly. One of the most common causes of cramps by menstrual cups is if the cup is too large or too long. You may need to do trial and errors with different menstrual cups, fitting, and adjustment to your body. There are 4 common reasons why you may have cramps from using your diva cups.
- Your period cup is too big
- The menstrual cup is too long
- First time users – your body takes time to adapt
- Lousy or wrong material
Period Cup is too big
The wrong size of a menstrual cup may cause discomfort and cramps. A simple solution is to buy a package of menstrual cups of different sizes, such as 1 small and 1 large. This is ideal too for days of different period flow volume. Newbies to moon cups may make the newbie mistake of using a cup that is too big as they “play safe” of not using a small cup because they are worried about losing a small cup into their vagina.
Fortunately, it is not possible to have a small cup lost in your vagina, your body anatomically will not allow it to go deeper and you can easily have a small cup to fit comfortably.
The menstrual cup is too long
If the stem of the menstrual cup is protruding out too much, then the cup is too long. You may opt for a smaller cup if your cervix is lower.
First time users- your body is adapting
For new users of such diva cups, give yourself some time to adapt and get used to it. You may be slightly aware of the cup, just like when you are wearing contact lenses for the first time. Gradually you will not realize it is there, and you will be very comfortable with using menstrual cups.
Lousy or wrong material
Only choose menstrual cups that uses high-quality silicone material. These are soft, firm and smooth and fits naturally.
Can menstrual cups cause prolapse?
For new users of menstrual cups, there are worries that the fiction and pressure on vagina walls causes prolapse. It is a common myth that menstrual cups causes prolapse easily. Most women do not have to worry about this.
For women who have given birth, their cervix may be lower and they tend to have body reaction when first using a menstrual cup, and there are lots of accounts on the internet where they overreacted and thought they had a prolapse. A visit to the doctor would clear things up.
Do note that if you are uncomfortable and suspect any medical issues with using a menstrual cup, do visit a doctor as every individual case is different. You may opt for other reusable solution (such as reusable pads etc) or just continue the disposable solution such as tampons or sanitary pads.
Can menstrual cups cause UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?
Urinary tract infections occurs when bacteria gets trapped in your urinary tract. The association with a menstrual cup is when you have a too-large-cup pressing on the urethra. Usually changing to a correct sized cup will solve the problem and reduce the risks of getting an UTI. Most people who use cups correctly do not face this issue.
If changing the size of the cup does not solve your problem, you may want to see a doctor or perhaps refrain from using menstrual cups.
Can menstrual cups cause damage?
No, menstrual cups do not do any damage or harm to you. The only risk is if you use a wrong size, such as too large cup, where the extra pressure may cause cramps or UTI. When you get used and know how to wear the correct size correct, it is comfortable, flexible, and does not cause any damage at all. Most of the time, new users tend to overreact to first time usage. After some guidance and checks on the internet, or with medical professionals, they tend to pinpoint the issues and solve it.
If you are unsure and prefer to be cautious, do check with a medical professional.
Can menstrual cups get stuck?
Only if you are nervous! Remember that menstrual cups cannot get lost inside you. The difficulties in removing it for new users is usually due to unfamiliarity and nervous fingers. If you understand that it is anatomically impossible to lose a period cup inside you, your calm fingers will easily remove it every time.
Relax and your body will tend to expel the cup. If you are nervous, your body will tense up and it is difficult to feel and take out the cup. You may want to adopt a squatting position and relax, using 2 clean fingers to insert, feel for the cup and pinch it out.
Do NOT insert any other objects to try and take out the cup, it may cause infection.
If you are unable to pull it out, it may be inserted at an odd angle, or that there is a strong natural suction when pressed tightly against your cervix. Use two clean fingers to pinch the stem or rim and pull gently at the side to ease open the seal so that air can get in and break the natural suction created when you insert the cup. This may be new to first time users, but it become routine and simple for all users after a few times
Where to buy menstrual cups?
Always remember that a menstrual cup us a feminine hygiene product so you have to take extra care when using it. Make sure to follow the procedures and wash your hands and the product to avoid getting an infection.