The right handling is just as important as finding the perfect menstrual cup to prevent leakage and support a comfortable fit.
Before you use the cup you sterilise it by putting it in boiling water for a few minutes. It’s not really necessary to boil it every month but if you are more comfortable doing it, go for it. Oh, btw, you should definitely boil it in case you have had an infection!
How To Get It In?
You are prepared and keen to finally test the cup? Let’s go! It’s up to you to figure out the perfect position for inserting your cup. Many people I know have one foot at the floor and rest the other one on the edge of the bath tub or the toilet lid, others just sit on the toilet with both legs spread. Just be creative and see what feels best for you.
To insert the cup you need to fold it – this way it’s easier to fit into your vagina and it will open as soon as it’s inside of you. And of course there are quite a few techniques as well – just try them all and see which works best for you. I’ll explain a few briefly but you can also just watch this video by Precious Star Pads for a more graphic explanation. Again, I can’t recommend her channel enough, Bryony really is a menstrual cup pro!
- The most common folding technique is the C- or U-Fold: You pinch the cup close, fold it in a half so the cup looks like a flat U. Or C (whichever letter you like more) and insert it.
- The Punch-Down Fold is great if you are concerned that the cup might be too big for you. Here you take your index finger, press one side inside of the cup and wrap the rest of the cup around it – this way it leaves a smaller shape to insert.
- For the 7-Fold you pinch the cup close and fold one side down to form a 7 shape with the rim – this also creates a smaller shape for easier insertion.
The firmness of the cup also determines the usable folding techniques – the softer the cup the more elaborate folding methods are possible.
Insertion & Opening
Once you have inserted the cup push it further up till it feels comfortable. Don’t beat yourself up if the cup won’t reach your cervix – there’s no need for it to sit directly in front of it. As soon as you inserted the cup make sure it really is open – therefore slide your finger around the cup to check if it’s still folded or if it’s ready for its duty. To help it open you can push the bottom or turn it through 90°. Turning it will also increase the seal and minimise the chance of leakage.
Cut The Stem For More Comfort
Many cups come with a stem – if you have trouble with the stem always sticking out of you and gives you pain just take your scissors and cut it off. You don’t really need it to get the cup out and a perfect fit is more important than having a cup with a stem. (Hint: a small, soft cup without a stem can easily be worn during PIV sex on your period. I have tested it and it was brilliant.)
Tips & Tricks For First Time Users
If you have trouble inserting the cup don’t give up and try to relax first. As long as you are tense it won’t be a great experience at all. So be gentle to yourself, take a bath which warms you up and softens your muscles. Lube is also always a great idea to make the insertion easier. Give a tiny amount of water-based lube or self lubricating jelly (you can get both for free at GPs, sexual health clinics and advice places in the UK) on the sides of the cup and it’ll slip in easily.
How To Get It Out & Clean?
Depending on your flow many brands recommend to empty the cup 2-4 times a day. This can be a bloody affair, especially with a heavy flow.
For getting the cup out it’s also the best to relax. Then you pinch the bottom of the cup to release the vacuum and many cups have a few lines at the bottom to support a better grip. That’s crucial otherwise you’ll feel like you’re going to pull your cervix out and that’s not particularly great. When the vacuum is released you can pull the cup out by either using the stem, ring or ball (depending on the design of your cup) or by just pinching the bottom (that’s my method to go with).
I usually pour it out immediately without having a look at the liquid I produced and wrap the cup with toilet paper so it’s dry. The reason for that is my heavy flow. If I’d lift the cup out of the toilet bowl I’d have blood everywhere and it’s a bit exhausting to clean the toilet every time after emptying the cup. So pouring and wrapping it is. After that I reach for the sink and rinse the cup, clean myself and insert it again. Voilà. If your flow is lower than mine you can probably skip the wrapping part.
If you are out and about and miss the safe space of your home toilet emptying the cup can be a bit annoying but we have to do what we have to do. The easiest is to find a toilet which has a sink in the cubicle so you can clean everything behind closed doors. And no, you don’t have to get out of the cubicle to rinse your cup because it’s not necessary to rinse it after emptying. Just clean it with toilet paper and insert it again.
The most annoying part for me is the fact that I always get bloody hands from changing the cup. So I spend a good time cleaning my hands in the cubicle so I don’t look like I committed murder when I step out to wash my hands. Wet wipes could help but well, I already struggle with carrying tissues so this isn’t practical for me but maybe for you.
A Last Few Words
Please be aware that learning how to use a menstrual cup needs some time like the most things in life do. Every body is unique and what works for me might not work for you. But keep trying and maybe just wear the cup at home for the first couple of times till you two get used to each other. Also you always can have a research online (you find sources I trust here) if you feel like something’s odd or drop me a message – assistance is out there. And if you decide that menstrual cups aren’t for you it’s fine as well – there are many other menstrual products out there, so let’s all embrace our journey! ❤