First time using a menstrual cup? Here’s what to expect…

Menstruation | | INTIMINA
8 min read

This article was medically fact-checked by Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr. Shree Datta.

With so many women saying “enough is enough” to pads and tampons, you may have found yourself in possession of a shiny new menstrual cup! Armed with INTIMINA’s quick start guide and your new cup, you’re almost ready to go… Now all you need is the nitty-gritty on what to expect when using a menstrual cup for the very first time. Gathered from sage cup-veterans, the pros on the INTIMINA team and Lily Cup user experiences, this is menstrual cup real talk like you’ve never read before…

1. You’re going to get intimate, real intimate

Yes, you do have to insert your menstrual cup and yes, it’s a little different from even non-applicator tampons since you have to position it as well. Don’t forget to wash your hands each time you’re about to insert or remove your cup. Also make sure you don’t have any cuts or infections while using the cup. Having an open mind and fearless fingers (sans sharp nails please) is a requirement but we assure you it pays off BIG TIME. From being more attuned to your health downstairs to actually improving your sex life, getting acquainted with your vajayjay is awesome!

2. Patience is a virtue

While many women take to using a menstrual cup like ducks to water, there are just as many of us who find the first few times quite the fumble – and that’s totally fine. So when you are first time using menstrual cup, try inserting and removing your cup in the shower your first few times as the water can act as a lubricant and if you’re still a little nervous, being all squeaky clean should make you that much more comfortable!   

3. Every body is different

Different cup folds work for different women, so if one is just not working for you, try another. You can check out our top cup folding techniques here. We always recommend inserting your cup higher up in the vaginal canal than it needs to be at first so you have more room to move it around and get it to pop open. Rotating your cup or pulling it down ever so slightly can help stubborn little folds to open up and form that seal. Chill. Relax. A tense, freaked out vagina is a friend to no one.

4. Leaks can happen – but you’ll get it down fast

Many first-timers will have no mess, no fuss – but if you experience leakage the first few times you use a cup don’t fret! Just like with any new protection method, it’s useful to have some back up panty liners on hand just in case. As you get to know your body and how to use your cup, you’ll be a pro in no time. There are also different sized cups to fit different anatomies, so make sure to read up on the details before you purchase.

5. Once it’s in, you can’t feel it

Switching from pads and tampons to a menstrual cup is like graduating from diapers to normal underwear – seriously. Once inside, you can’t feel it at all, which is why so many cup users say they forget they’re even on their period. This is because most cups are made with medical grade silicone, which doesn’t absorb menstrual flow (or your natural moisture) like pads and tampons do, so they don’t cause irritation or that oh-so familiar dryness. Yay!

6. How to remove menstrual cup for the first time?

…Not squatting over a new pair of jeans – at least the first few times! One of the big concerns women have about removing their cup is that it will spill its crimsony contents all over the place. But this won’t happen providing you remove your cup correctly! Find a quiet place and allocate some time to learn the process. Use your vaginal muscles to push your cup downwards and with clean hands, squeeze the base of the cup to break its seal and pull out gently. Ta da! Easy peasy.

7. There’s really not that much blood!

While pads and tampons often look and feel completely saturated, inspecting your menstrual cup after removal is likely to leave you totally flabbergasted. On average we lose only 80ml or 5.5 tablespoons of blood each period – so your cup might look pretty empty even after 8 hours of wear. For those with very heavy flows, there are cups with larger capacities such as the classic Lily Cup or Ziggy 2 B size to give you total peace of mind!

8. Period blood is not like normal blood

You’ve probably had your suspicions from experiences with other menstrual products, but menstrual cups allow you to see your menstrual flow in all its gloopy glory. Period blood is not just blood – it’s also uterine tissue, cells from the lining of the vagina, red blood cells and proteins. This may sound gross, but monitoring your flow, it’s clots and color can tell you a lot about your overall health and some of us actually kinda like looking at it… Be proud of what you create eh!

9. Be gentle with your tap

A gentle rinse in any temperature water you have available, is enough to get your cup ready for reinsertion. While soap isn’t necessary, if you do decide to use it, be sure that it’s pH-balanced, to avoid any irritation or infections.

A word from the wise; when cleaning your cup, turning the tap on full blast with your cup pointing upwards will fill the cup rapidly and send watery period blood in skyward trajectory towards your mirror and surrounding bathroom. Avoid. Keep the stream light at first and gently clean the cup. Again, don’t forget to wash your hands before removal!

10. You’re going to want to talk about it… with everyone

Experiencing a disposable-free period is a thing of great majesty, but maybe Brian from the office doesn’t have to know about it. Then again, maybe he does? We get it, when you start to use a menstrual cup you quickly realize the many ways your period – and your life – are about to change for the better.

The final thing you learn is that it’s weird not throwing something in the trash. So weird, so amazing and so liberating. While it’s unlikely you’re going to be a menstrual cup pro from the get-go and no beginner’s cycle is complete without a few hiccups here and there, this is truly the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Coming Soon
Would you recommend the menstrual cup to your friends, daughters or family members?

Here is a personal review of Lily Cup One from one of Intimina fans 

As someone who can easily go through a regular tampon every 1.5 hours during the first 2 days of her period, you’d think that my first time using a menstrual cup would have been a revelation.

Well, in some ways it was! When I first tried a Lily Cup Classic, I wisely decided to do so at night – with a pad on, just in case of leaks. When I woke up the next morning to a full cup and zero leaks, I was ecstatic and ready to donate all my assorted liners to my roommate.

But, it seemed I had spoken too soon. For some reason, my ability to reliably open my cup has never surpassed a success rate of 70%, which is not quite high enough for someone as paranoid as me. (I do much better when  I wear one to bed, so perhaps my tossing and turning somehow rolls it open – further study required – but I’m particularly bad at the mid-day office empty and reinsert.) And so, as much as it pained my inner environmentalist, I only wore my cup at night.

That Is, Until I Tried Lily Cup One For The First Time.

This little cup has a thick, stiff rim which ensures that it opens and seals like an absolute dream! I used a C-fold to insert my cup, no problem –  at any time of day, I might add! The Lily Cup One has been a total game-changer in terms of making me a confident cup changer whether I’m at work, the gym, or trying to balance in particularly sketchy bar facilities.

Now, Lily Cup One is the smallest sized cup – but its bubble shape actually lets it hold a little more than a Lily Cup Compact Size A, meaning that it won’t make for too many more extra changes throughout the day (and, like I said, it’s so easy to use it doesn’t really matter). If you have a particularly high cervix though – as I do – you will also be taking full advantage of its removal ring.

All in all, I highly recommend Lily Cup One for those who are new to cups or find themselves having a little extra trouble with opening their cups – because Lily Cup One makes it all so incredibly easy!

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Facts checked by:

Dr. Shree Datta

Dr. Shree Datta, Ph.D.

Dr. Shree Datta is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in London, specialising in women’s health including all menstrual problems such as fibroids and endometriosis. Dr. Shree is a keen advocate for patient choice, having written numerous articles and books to promote patient and clinician information. Her vision resonates with INTIMINA, with the common goals of demystifying periods and delivering the best possible care to her patients

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33 thoughts on “First time using a menstrual cup? Here’s what to expect…

  • Courtney says:

    So this is more of a question. How long does the cup typically last before needing to replace it?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi, most of INTIMINA cups last up to 10 years, except Ziggy Cup (2 years) because silicone is thinner.

      Find more info here: This Is How Long Your Menstrual Cup Lasts

      • Autumn says:

        If it’s made of silicone it can last 10 years. TPE only lasts 5.

      • Topaz vivian says:

        Are they good for people with light periods?

        • INTIMINA says:

          Hi! We have cups for all sorts of flows and bodies – you can check out more info about how to choose the right cup for you with this guide.

          • Akansha Shah says:

            Hi. This is my first time to use the cup. Its really uncomfortable and painful. There is no leakages but it’s paining .. I feel so much of discomfort coz of the pain. Sometimes it’s like nothing, but

            most of the times when m walking or standing, I feel alot of stretch

          • INTIMINA says:

            Hi Akansha! First, I am so sorry that you are experiencing discomfort. It is possible that insertion or the cup being in the slightly wrong position could cause discomfort. I would recommend removing your cup and waiting a few days to make sure that any lingering discomfort might pass. (You can also wait for your next cycle). Then, I would perhaps recommend using a water-based feminine moisturizer on your cup during insertion to make sure that it enters you comfortably. Let me know if that helps!

  • Lee says:

    It seems that my cramp pain or cramp-feeling pain increases when I use the Lily cup. I’m using the smallest size already, what am I doing wrong?

    • Intimina says:

      Hi Lee,

      please contact our customer care, they can help you and lead you through the process, step by step.

      Best regards,

  • Dianne says:

    It’s my first time using the ziggy cup and I’m trying to register the product for warranty and am not able to on the website. Where it says register product, are the manuals to download.

  • MJB says:

    What is the youngest age one of these can be used?

    • INTIMINA says:

      There’s no specific age when menstrual cups become the right choice of menstrual care – it’s all about comfort level! Many new menstruators might not be quite uncomfortable with their period and their genitals, especially if they started their periods while still in elementary school. We have some tips for how to talk to your kids about periods, which should help them better understand the choices available to them! Their comfort level and desire to use different menstrual care products may change, so just try your best to give full information about the pros and cons of each as well as a chance to try different types of products out.

  • S says:

    I purchased a Ziggy cup
    Have a child
    And found it way to big by far way way to big to even try and use
    Not everyone is the same
    The ring is far to harsh and all round this is not a great product
    I love the idea
    Did not love the price to begin with
    But now I’m very disappointed

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi S! I wanted to give some more in-depth Ziggy advice to see if there’s a way you can make it work for you. Firstly, I would suggest using the ‘8 fold’ to insert. The 8 fold means pressing the cup in the middle and it will take a form of the number 8. To make this work correctly, it is very important to identify the front and back of the cup since the back rim needs to be inserted first.(The front rim will look slightly thicker). I also recommend sitting comfortably on the toilet with legs spread apart. It’s very important to relax your muscles first and use a water-based feminine moisturizer as well.
      This video might help!

  • Nicola says:

    Can you wear the menstrual cup through the night or do you need to wear a pad or tampon for bedtime?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Nicola! You can safely wear your cup for up to 8 hours, so most people are fine to wear them over night. I personally recommend putting your cup in slightly before bedtime if you’re new to cups, just to make sure you’ve got the seal sorted before jumping into bed. Or, if you’re particularly nervous, you can put a pad on just in case. But once you’re confident with your cup skills, then wearing it will be all you need overnight!

  • Ginger says:

    How do I know which one, and size will work for me?

  • Valentina says:

    Hi, i’ve been using the menstrual cup for 2 months, but I’ve noticed that after my period i start spotting for a few days, is it normal? Do anyone else experience this too?

  • Manasvi says:

    I am trying from to days spending hours in bathroom but it doesn’t not work .What’s wrong with me. I have also put some force but it start paining for some time .It only go about 2mm inside .What can I do please reply.

    • Intimina says:


      Thank you for reaching out to INTIMINA! We would kindly ask you to contact our Customer care team so they are able to assist you further with advice on use since the way of inserting a cup is slightly different between Lily Cups and Ziggy Cup and we cannot determine which one you currently use.

      Best regards

  • Anastasia says:

    How can I confirm that the size of cup is perfect for me? Will the tail end always be on an easy reachable point? or is it normal that the cup goes so far inside me, that I’ve to push it down to reach its tail?

  • Jahnavi Sheriff says:

    Hi! I have the LilY CUP A or one. The light pink one. But for some reason. It keeps leaking. Obviously on the lighter days it doesn’t. I’m still new to menstrual cup it’s like my 4th cycle of understanding. Have got the dark pink cup will try that and hopefully it will be the one ? any tips! I’ve tried the tugging and pulling and obviously there is suction because when I remove it I feel it but I feel it maybe a bit narrow for the vagina. I don’t know

  • Ellen says:

    Hi, I want to start using a cup but I’m wondering how to find something that would fit. According to my gyncologist I have a tight vaginal opening (I’m not a teenager but haven’t been sexually active yet and I guess my hymen is stubborn) and I can’t fit more than one finger in my vagina yet. I recently starting using light tampons but that is still uncomfortable. I have read about the different types of folds and sizes of cups, but that all looks like it is wider than a light tampon. Also it sounds like you need two fingers to insert the cup which I can’t do yet.
    I keep reading that anyone can use a menstrual cup, is that really true? How do you insert the cup without using two fingers? What do you do if you can’t fit the cup and a finger in at the same time?

  • Liz says:

    How do I know when it’s time to empty the cup or when it’s feel. Will I feel that it needs emptied like I do when a tampon needs to be changed?

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  • aino says:

    Its my first time ever using a menstrualcup. I havent even touched a tampon just so yk and i feel the cup on my every move. I dunno is it cause im doing something wrong or is it just the fakt that im using it the first time ever.

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