How to Use a Menstrual Cup: A quick start guide
Menstrual cups are becoming more and more trendy. Whether for their practical use, financial aspects or because of ecology, but many women are choosing menstrual cups over pads and tampons lately. Still, menstrual cups are unknown to many, so we decided to answer all of your questions and tell you everything you need to know about menstrual cups.
A menstrual cup might seem like a big change from disposable period protection, but it’s not as complicated as it looks (and it has way more benefits!). Just like the first time you used a tampon, it just takes a bit of practice and then you’ll be a pro in no time.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a flexible, medical-grade silicone cup that is worn inside the vagina and collects your flow during your period. There are many compelling reasons to make the switch to the cup – and once you do you’ll never go back to pads and tampons.
Inserting Your Cup
- Start at home
Inserting your cup for the first time can be a bit of an adventure– one you probably don’t want to have in a public restroom or your boyfriend’s house. So the first few times you might want to stay closer to home – both for comfort’s sake and in case you need to make adjustments throughout the day.
- Clean Up
Before you handle your cup or touch your genitals at all, be sure to wash your hands. You don’t want to introduce new bacteria into your vagina – it has its own healthy balance to maintain. It’s a good idea to boil your cup for about 5 minutes before each period, just to be sure it’s completely clean and hygienic. (Check out our article on menstrual cup cleaning and care for lots more information about looking after your cup.)
- Assume the position
Most women find it helpful to sit on the toilet with their legs apart – similar to when you insert a tampon. You can also squat down in a shower or tub, or put one leg up on the edge of the tub – it all depends on what’s comfortable for you. Just take your time to find the right position – we’ve all done it so don’t worry about looking silly the first few times. You’re the only one who’ll see it!
The most important thing to remember is to RELAX. If you’re too nervous then your vaginal muscles will tighten, making it uncomfortable or even impossible to insert your cup. It might help to take a little time to get to know your body. Find your vaginal opening and insert a finger to locate your cervix (where your vagina ends and your uterus begins, it feels like the tip of your nose). Knowing your anatomy will make it easier to position the cup correctly – and getting comfortable with your body is generally important to help you recognize possible health issues early on.
- Try out the folds
There’s more than one way to fold a menstrual cup – and each woman has her own preferences. Depending on the style of cup you have and your own anatomy it might take a few tests to find the best one for you, but there are a lot of different options.
- Insert at an angle
Once you have your cup folded, hold it with one hand (with the stem pointing down), and insert it towards the small of your back, not straight up.
- Make sure it’s open
You can squeeze the base (not the stem!) and pull down lightly or rotate the cup 360 degrees – which can both help open the cup and create a seal that keeps the cup from leaking. You can also run your finger around between the cup and the wall of your vagina, making sure that the cup is not still folded.
- Check the stem
The stem of your cup should not stick out from the vulva and once you insert it you shouldn’t be able to feel it at all. If it pokes you, take the cup out and try another fold or insert it at a different angle. If you’re still uncomfortable, it might be a good idea to trim the stem down – just be careful to leave enough to help you out during removal!
- Enjoy your day!
You can leave your cup in for up to 8 hours depending upon your flow (much longer than tampons).
How to clean it after you use it?
The number one thing to remember is that anytime you’re going to touch your cup or yourself, wash your hands. Here are a couple of ways you can give your cup a good deep clean.
Boiling: Boil 3 cups of clean water on the stove. (Tap water is fine if you’re in a place with safe water but if not, use bottled water instead.) Submerge your cup but make sure the cup isn’t touching the bottom or sides of the pot. One way to do this is to put your cup inside a whisk to hold it away from the sides. Boil for 5 – 8 minutes then drain the cup and let it air dry. It is completely safe to boil the cups, but don’t boil the pot dry as this will destroy the silicone.
Sterilizing tablets for baby bottles: These are great because you can use them in cold water or if just don’t feel comfortable boiling your cup in a shared kitchen. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These tablets are also great at removing stains.
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.