Menstrual cups are reusable cups used during a woman’s period as an alternative to sanitary pads or tampons. There are many popular brands and types of menstrual cups available and it is common now to refer to menstrual cup by its other names such as period cups, menstrual discs, etc. All of the names refer to the medical-grade silicone reusable menstrual cup.
Many women are considering trying out the menstrual cup due to many factors, but are apprehensive of putting on a cup. If you have weighed the pros and cons, and have decided to give the menstrual cup a try, this article will help beginners like you on the switch. Menstrual cups give you flexibility and freedom to do fun outdoor activities without restrictions.
Let us have an understanding of menstrual cup and how to use it, pictures and diagrams included.
What does a menstrual cup look like?
A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup-shaped like a bell with stem and usually made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it. Usage involves inserting it in the vagina, where the period cup works by creating a natural seal against the vaginal wall just below the cervix to prevent menstrual fluid leak.
How to choose the right size Menstrual Cup
Since the vagina is soft and stretchy, menstrual cups usually have two sizes for women. You should choose the right size menstrual cup based on your flow. The first one is the smaller size meant for normal flow days while a larger cup is 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 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.
There are just a few things to know to use a menstrual cup correctly:
- How to insert a menstrual cup
- The correct way to wear a cup
- How to take out a menstrual cup
- How to clean the menstrual cup
How to insert a Menstrual Cup (Period Cup)
To insert a menstrual cup, make sure you have washed your hands and your menstrual cup with warm, clean water and mild soap. Then, fold the cup and put it in.
How to fold the Menstrual Cup
There are many different ways to fold a menstrual cup. The following are 3 different folds of menstrual cup.
- 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 – 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.
How to put in a menstrual cup
To put in a 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.
Wearing the Menstrual 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.
We have dedicated a whole section below for tips on wearing the menstrual cup, but first, let’s touch on removal and cleaning.
How to take out a Menstrual Cup
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.
It is not ideal to leave the cup in for more than 12 hours, so make sure to take it out before that.
How to clean the Menstrual Cup
Now that you’ve removed the cup, it’s time to clean it. To do this, just empty out the collected fluid into the toilet or the sink and rinse the cup with clean water. Once done, you can reuse it again.
On the end of your cycle, sterilize the menstrual cup 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.
How long can you keep a menstrual cup in?
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!
Some of our customers go for hiking, camping, and bushcraft with these menstrual cups for many hours with no inconvenience caused.
Tips on wearing Menstrual Cups
Here are some tips we grabbed 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 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 water-based 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.
Where to buy Menstrual Cups?
You can buy menstrual cups in Walmart, Amazon, Target, Kmart, etc. You can also buy from indie brands which take great care and pride in using medical grade silicon for high-quality menstrual cups such as Lazy Monk menstrual cups.
Our menstrual cups are designed such that you can move easily and freely and do your favorite indoor and outdoor activities. Many of our friends even wear these menstrual cups to go hiking and camping in campground and river rafting.
Always remember that a menstrual cup is 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.