How to Use a Menstrual Cup: A quick start guide

Menstruation | | INTIMINA
5 min read

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!

  • Relax

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.

32 thoughts on “How to Use a Menstrual Cup: A quick start guide

  • Amy says:

    I bought the lily cup in the size for women who have not had vaginal births. It seems too long. I have trimmed the bottom as suggested, but it is still poking out. If I sit down wrong, it pokes and pinches at the skin of my vaginal opening. If I trim any more, there may not be a stem left. Is that alright?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Amy!
      You can completely trim the stem off your cup if you’re very very careful not to create a hole in the cup. (We created these instructions to help!) But, to clarify: did you purchase a Lily Cup Classic or Compact? The Lily Cup Compact also comes in two sizes based on pregnancy history, is slightly shorter – as is Lily Cup One.

      • Ali says:

        Ok I managed with the first fold, dwpsite the suggestion it would sit lower than tampons though, which I found misleading, I found the only way the cup could fit without feeling it was if it was all the way in. That made the seal pull directly onto the cervix though and besides making it hard to reach (I do have a high cervix) on th first day I would exacerbate the cramps pain. Do you have any suggestions? It is supposed to a really latch onto th e cervix?

        • Intimina says:

          Hi there,

          I would kindly ask you to contact our Customer Care Team at and we’ll be able to assist you further because it is very important that we know which type of cup you’re using.

          Kind regards

  • DJ says:

    Hi, I am a beginner with cups and bought a lily cup B as I had a baby already. Even after following every step the cup still moves down and pokes out to the point that the rubbing causes irritation so I cut the stem and the cup still slides down. I think my problem might be doing the sealing? Any tips Will be welcome. Thanks.

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi DJ! Sealing may indeed be the culprit here. The best way to check is to insert your cup, and try to create a seal. Then, when you think you’ve got it right, give the step a gentle tug. It if move easily, then the seal hasn’t been created properly. This problem can be compounded by pelvic floor weakness caused by pregnancy. You can read more about testing whether your pelvic floor is weak and what to do about it here!

      • Ketkee says:

        Im a first timer user of the cup not yet married im getting scared because when I put finger inside the vagina it pains a lot so I’m getting scared of using the cup but I want to use cup as inget rashes from pads will my vaginap opening stretch while putting the cup

        • INTIMINA says:

          Hi Ketkee! I’m glad you commented 🙂 In terms of experiencing pain with insertion of a finger and getting rashes from pads, I would recommend speaking with your doctor. With the rash, some sensitivities that should be investigated. And pain with minor insertion can be linked to something called vaginismus. It can be tricky to diagnose, so speaking with a gynecologist who is experienced in treating people with the condition would be helpful. Before addressing this pain, I would not suggest using a cup yet.

  • Lucy Rook says:

    I have a massive problem with removing the cup. I have a high cervix and the cup seems to lock onto it and is almost impossible to remove this happens every time. I have tried putting my finger up and releasing the suction but my vaginal canal is too long and the cups seal won’t release unless I can reach the top of it. Dragging the cup down using the stem is very uncomfortable and I can feel all my pelvic organs being dragged down. I feel like I am damaging my pelvic muscles by pulling on my cervix. The cup latching onto my cervix also caused cramping.
    I would really like some advise on how to break the seal as the lily cup original doesn’t have holes???? Would pinching my own holes with a leather punch help?
    I am also wondering if I’m inserting it wrong? I use the punch down fold and insert to the stalk where the cup pops open, I don’t push it up high it just seems to go that way through the day. Thank you for your time.

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Lucy! Let’s see if I can offer some useful solutions. I would not recommend pulling on the bottom of the cup before you have broken the seal. If it’s hard to reach the top rim of the cup because it’s too high within you, is it possible to break the seal by squeezing the body? Almost like trying to put the cup back into ‘punch down fold’ shape while it’s within you by getting your finger as high as you can and using it to push inward and down on one side of the cup. Let me know if that works for you!

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Lucy! Let’s see if I can offer some useful solutions. I would not recommend pulling on the bottom of the cup before you have broken the seal. If it’s hard to reach the top rim of the cup because it’s too high within you, is it possible to break the seal by squeezing the body? Almost like trying to put the cup back into ‘punch down fold’ shape while it’s within you by getting your finger as high as you can and using it to push inward and down on one side of the cup. Let me know if that works for you!

  • Akshaya Sri says:

    What size cup is recommended for short stout virgins??

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Akshaya!

      Your body type as we normally think of it won’t affect the size of your cup. I recommend checking out this article about how to measure your cervix height.

      • Ellie says:

        Hi i bought the lily cup one for the for the first time yesterday i just wanted to check wether it is ok to sleep in then clean then use again all day as im worried i was a tampon user but found out about these from family and wanted to go them a try. So far i love it but i guess with the inserting and removal im struggling a little maybe that is because of my acrylic nails aha but any tips for a first time user to help me get better at inserting and removal thanks

        • INTIMINA says:

          Hi Ellie! First, congrats on your new menstrual cup! It can definitely take a bit of adjustment if you’ve primarily been a tampon user. Now, as to your questions: Yes, you can absolutely wear your cup to sleep in. You can wear your cup for up to 8 hours at a time, then give it a quick rinse and wipe before reinserting. Then, between your cycles you can give it a more thorough cleaning.

          In terms of removing your cup with with acrylic nails, this video from Put a Cup In It (or others on YouTube) may help with finger positioning. I would also say you may want to invest in nitrile gloves to protect your nails while changing your cup!

  • Chase says:

    I’m a virgin and got the Lily Cup One. I’m having trouble getting it up there, due to pain and going in sideways. I usually try the ‘punch down fold.’ any tips?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Chase! Does the cup seem sideways when you try to remove it or does it turn that way when you try to insert? It is normal for the cup to shift while inside you because our uteruses aren’t going to be perfectly straight, so if it’s sealing then it’s no problem. In terms of discomfort while inserting, a water-based lubricant can help, as well as switching up the position (ie trying standing with a leg on the tub instead of sitting or vice versa). Let me know if that helps!

  • LC says:

    I’m a 21 year old virgin .I’ve always used menstrual pads. As a result I’ve never inserted anything into my vagina. I bought the smallest cup I could find and I’ve tried different folds but I can’t seem to get my cup in. It hurts too much. Please help!

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi LC! I’m sorry to hear you’re having a bit of trouble and I hope I can help you out! Firstly – and I know it’s difficult – but the key is to relax. Try deep, yoga-like breaths throughout the insertion process. Additionally, it might help to use a bit of water-based lubricant can help, as well as switching up the position (ie trying standing with a leg on the tub instead of sitting or vice versa). I hope that helps!

      • LC says:

        I have to mention that I was trying to insert it during my non period days. I did use a lubricant, but had no success. However on the first day of my period, I decided to try again. It slipped in so easily. I was so excited!! I tried the same position and fold as before so I don’t know what was different this time around.

  • Brit says:

    Hey guys,
    I am 27 & finally decided to make the change to a cup.
    I am on the pill have been for a number of years & ive always just used pads or skilled period.
    However i want to try & have my ‘period’ more frequently now with a ‘cup’
    I tried to use it for the first time & it will not go in without causing pain?
    I have had sex a number of times with no pain & have used dildos aswell?
    Should i try lube?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Brit – first, congrats on making the switch! I hope I can help make sure it’s a comfortable one for you. Firstly, there’s no reason why your period should come more frequently using a cup. Are you using a menstrual tracking app like Clue? Our period can change from month to month in length, creating a general ‘average’, and of course things like hormonal birth control can alter the length. When it comes to pain, I would recommend trying a water-based lube if you’re experiencing discomfort. But, more importantly can be trying to make yourself relax. Deep breathing exercises, or even inserting post-orgasm can help with this. Good luck!

  • Britt says:

    Hi! I’m thinking about getting a Lily Cup after having a difficult time using the Saalt regular and soft cups. One thing that’s giving me pause is the up to 8-hour limit versus 12 hours for most cups. Could you explain that a bit more? Thank you!!

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Britt! Thanks for reaching out, I’m happy to answer your question 🙂 Basically, while we have never received reports of adverse health consequences from people who have used any of our cups for for longer than 8 hours, we have the 8 hour limit as a precaution. Current research suggests menstrual cups should be emptied every 4-12 hours, but this depends on the type of cup used and heaviness of your flow. So there is no clear evidence that wearing a menstrual cup for longer than 8 hours is associated with harm, yet we all react to menstrual products in different ways – our 8 hour rule is purely to err on the side of caution for the benefit of all people who might use an Intimina cup.

      • Cris says:

        Hi. I am a beginner and I am using Lily Cup A. I am worried that I am leaking. At first, I inserted it. Then after a few minutes, I heard a “blob” inside as it feels like my cup has opened. However, I was getting leaks. How can I know that I have formed a sealant? Is it possible that the leaks came from the time when the cup haven’t opened yet? Is the cup usually sideways? Because I can feel the stem leaning on the right side of my vagina. Thank you.

        • Intimina says:


          Thank you for contacting us. The most common reason a cup will leak is that it hasn’t fully opened up so it hasn’t formed a seal/suction. It’s important to try out all the different folds and insertion methods to see which one works best for you. This “How to Use” video can help you a lot with figuring out the best folds and methods for getting the cup in and you can try out each fold. Here is something that can be useful:

          If you need any additional help, don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Care Team.

          Kind regards,

  • Nisha Sharma says:

    Hi, when I insert the cup I feel very scared that it will get lost and I will not be able to get it out from my body. How much inside i have to insert the menstrual cup?

    • Intimina says:


      Thank you for reaching out to INTIMINA.

      Rest assured, you can push your cup as much as you can and you feel comfortable with it. Normally we recommend placing it high, but some women feel more comfortable with a lower position in the vagina. The most important part is to listen to your body and what feels comfortable to you. Your cup will find your cervix as the limit, so don’t worry, your cup won’t be able to go any further.

      Please bear in mind that you should experiment with your cup to find the method and position that best suits you. You will also be able to realize if you break the vacuum seal with a sudden movement or if the seal has never formed. The vacuum seal that forms will also help your cup to stay in place. In case you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Care.

      Have a great day!

  • Danielle says:

    I bought the lily cup B. First time user. I have a average height cervix. Almost to 2nd knukle.but when I insert the cup. It isn’t opening and my cervix is on the outside of the cup I tried to get the position right but I would have the cup halfway out of my vagina if I tried to get the cervix to fit inside the cup. I also feel like the cup isn’t opening because it’s too big. I have had 3 vaginal births. Did I buy the wrong type of cup?

  • AGI says:

    I am a newbie to menstrual cups and I have started using Lily Cup A. I am 32, married but have not given birth and I have a medium cervical height. I like the softness and the pliability of the cup and the insertion was quite smooth. However, the cup wouldn’t open completely inside and I always end up leaking. I watched your videos, tried different folds, tried running my finger along the sides and the vag walls but the cup still wouldn’t open fully to form a seal. I do feel a slight suction inside but it still leaks. While running the finger along the sides of the cup I felt some folds and no matter how much I try pushing them, it still would not even out. I kept wondering if the Lily classic isn’t the right fit for my anatomy. Have I missed something? Please let me know how to troubleshoot it?
    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *