Have you ‘CUP’verted? A complete guide for Beginners on Menstrual Cup

Updated: March 12, 2020

I am not particularly fond of welcoming ‘Aunt Flow’ every month.

Well, who in the world is?

I’ll tell you the exact reasons why: Uneasiness, pains and rashes, smell, need to check and change every few hours, hefty prices, trouble of disposing off and creating huge amount of non-biodegradable plastic waste along with body aches.

But, but, but……. I was pleasantly surprised one day as I started using menstrual cup. It took away all the complications of my periods (except the cramps and the aches, sadly)

Now what is this thing? You surely must have heard and seen a lot of hype about it on social media but may be skeptical on using one for yourself. I’ll try and simplify it for you. Also, do check the Pro Tips at the end.

A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped feminine hygiene device made of 100% medical-grade silicone or rubber that sits in the vagina to collect menstrual fluid.

How to Use a Menstrual Cup During Periods

To insert it, fold the top of the cup and push it into the vagina, aiming it toward the lower back. Some people find insertion easier when they are squatting. Others prefer to be standing, sometimes with one foot raised.

Once the rim of the cup is in, continue to push the cup into the vagina until the entire cup and stem are inside.

The cup should “pop” open, preventing any menstrual blood from leaking. To ensure this, hold the cup by the base (not the stem) and turn it one full circle, or 360 degrees.

Some people run their finger along the rim of the cup to ensure that it is in the right place and has opened correctly. You could also try and pull down the stem a little. If properly inserted, it won’t easily come out, and you’ll feel a light tug.

When it is in the right place, most people cannot feel it and can forget that it is there.

To remove the cup, bend slightly, as if you are having a bowel moment. Some people use the vaginal muscles to push the cup a little lower into the vagina.

Reach into the vagina and grab the step of the cup using your forefinger and the thumb, and gently pull it down. Now pinch the base of the cup to remove the suction and remove it from the vagina. Try to keep the cup upright to avoid spilling any fluid.

You may find it difficult the first few times and may get anxious or frustrated. But do not worry, a menstrual cup can not get lost in the vagina. Just take a break and try again after some time. Having short nails helps too.

Ways to Fold the Menstrual Cup

Pros and Cons of Menstrual Cup

ProsCons
Reusable and SanitaryTakes some practice to learn insertion and removal
Lower costs and less landfill waste Cup emptying can be messy
Leak, Odor, Chemical and Rash Free Possible fit problems
Lasts for 10-12 years Maintenance
Doesn’t dry the vagina, thus preserving the healthy bacteria Using a public bathroom for emptying and cleaning can be a challenge
Comfort of sitting, standing, walking, swimming, dancing, exercising in any way you feel like, without even realizing you are on your periods. Can feel uncomfortable if not inserted properly or upon using the wrong size

Some Popular Indian brands with Prices

Small

Medium

Large

FAQs

a. How does it work?

The small, flexible cup is made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it.

b. What size should I use?

There are different brands of menstrual cups available, and they usually come with a cloth storage bag. Most are available in two sizes.

  • The small size is size 1. It’s preferred by females under age 30/who have never given birth vaginally.
  • A slightly larger version, size 2, is for women over age 30. This size is also recommended for women who have given birth vaginally and women who have a moderate to heavy menstrual flow.

c. What are the risk factors involved?

Menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor, especially if you’ve had uterine prolapse, which is a condition in which your uterus slips into the vagina because supporting ligaments and muscles have become weakened or stretched. This condition is most common in postmenopausal women who’ve given birth vaginally.

You should also discuss your options with your doctor if:

  • you’re allergic to rubber or latex
  • you use an intrauterine device for birth control because sometimes it’s necessary to shorten the string attached to the IUD so that you won’t pull it out when you remove your menstrual cup
  • you’ve ever had TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)
  • you’ve recently had gynecological surgery, given birth, or had a miscarriage
  • you have a vaginal infection
  • you’ve never had sexual intercourse and you’re concerned about maintaining your hymen

d. How to clean the Menstrual Cup?

During cycle, wash the cup using soap and water right away.

After each cycle, sterilize the cup using boiling water or a sterilizing solution used for baby bottles.

e. What is the shelf life of Menstrual Cups?

The menstrual cups last anywhere around 10-12 years for most of the brand. (check package details before buying).

Make sure to carefully clean the cup well at the next opportunity.

f. Can you have intercourse while wearing a menstrual cup?

It’s possible to have intercourse while the cup is in your vagina. It’s really a matter of personal choice whether you want to remove it first or not.

Pro Tips

  • To keep your cup stains free, always rinse with cold water first.
  • Initially, if you are a beginner, then it’s best to use the cup when you are at home.
  • If the stem feels too long, you may cut it short as per your requirement.
  • Firmer the cup, the easier it is to ‘pop-open’.
  • It may take a cycle or two (or maybe more) to master the skill of insertion, sealing and removal. Therefore, do not get frustrated, and try again after some time (once you feel confident)
  • After insertion, you might feel just a bit of leakage. Do not worry, it is the fluid residue that was left on the vaginal wall.
  • Short nails help a lot!

Do you still have any doubts or questions? Do check Busting common doubts, questions and myths around Menstrual Cups (FAQs) – A complete guide for Beginners on Menstrual Cups – Part 2

Using one already? Do share your experiences to motivate other women.

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