The world of feminine hygiene has seen a significant shift in recent years. With the rise of sustainable and eco-friendly products, menstrual cups have become a favorite for many. If you're considering making the switch or are curious about how to use a menstrual cup, this guide is for you. Plus, as a bonus for our readers, get 20% off Organicup (Now AllMatters) with the code "beginner".
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a sustainable and reusable period product that is made from medical-grade silicone and is free from harmful chemicals. It’s flexible, and cone shaped to fit the vaginal canal, with a lip to create a seal to collect all the menstrual blood without leaks. Ours is also uncoloured to avoid using any colour additives. Cups are an easy-to-use alternative that is just as efficient at stopping leaks as tampons or pads, but can actually hold even more liquid. It is a better choice for your body, your wallet, and the planet!
Related: The pros and cons of menstrual cups
Before you buy
Menstrual cups come in different sizes, and it’s important to make sure you get the size that best fits you. AllMatters menstrual cups come in three different sizes, Mini, A, and B. We have a size guide that will help make the choice easy if you need a little more guidance. Generally, the size comes down to your age, if you’ve given birth or not, and how heavy your period is.
So you’ve picked your size and made your purchase, congratulations! Now what?
Before you use your menstrual cup
When you get your menstrual cup for the first time, remove it from the box and recycle the packaging. Then you’ll want to sanitise your menstrual cup. You do this by boiling your cup in a pot of water for 3-5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on your cup, as it should never touch the bottom of the pot. Also, check the air holes at the top of the menstrual cup to make sure they are open because this is what will help break the seal when you remove the cup.
Now you’re ready to use your menstrual cup!
How to put in a menstrual cup
Sanitise: before touching your cup, or yourself, always wash your hands in warm water with an oil free, fragrance free soap or cup wash.
Relax: find a position that’s comfortable for you. You can squat, sit, lie down, put one leg up, whatever you think works best. Then make sure your muscles are relaxed, and if you’re feeling nervous take some deep breaths, as tensing up will make insertion more difficult.
Tip! You can also add a water based lubricant to the rim of the cup to make insertion easier.
Fold: there are many different folding methods, so don’t be afraid to experiment to find what is the best method for you. The two most popular methods are:
- The C-fold: hold your cup in both hands, using your thumbs, push the cup flat together, and fold in half tightly to make a c shape. This fold is easiest for beginners and opens more gently than the punch-down fold.
- The Punch-Down Fold: hold your menstrual cup in one hand and use your index finger on your other hand to firmly press one side of the rim downward inside the cup. Pinch the sides of the rim together to keep this fold secured. This fold is recommended for people who have some trouble with their menstrual cup opening once inserted.
Insert and release: once you you’ve tightly folded your cup, rim facing upwards, spread apart your outer labia with your free hand, and insert the cup at a 45 degree angle into your vagina. Once the entire cup is inside you, remove your fingers and let it open up. You might hear a pop or suction noise, which means the cup has successfully unfolded and created the seal. If you’re in doubt, reach in and feel around the base of your cup, it should feel rounded, without any noticeable folds.
What if my cup has folds?
If you feel any dents or folds on the base of your menstrual cup, gently grip the base of the cup – not the stem – and rotate it to make it unfold. Once your menstrual cup is in place, you can gently pull the stem and if you feel resistance the suction seal has been created and you inserted the cup correctly!
Where should my menstrual cup sit?
Your cup should also sit a little lower than a tampon would. It should be a couple of inches from the cervix, and the end of the stem should be within a half inch or 1.5 cm from your vaginal opening. If you have a lower cervix, you might have to trim the stem down if it is sticking out, or causing annoyance or irritation. You’ll know your menstrual cup is in the right place if you don’t feel it inside you or experience any leaks.
How long can I wear my menstrual cup?
Now that you’ve got your cup in, you are ready to use it for up to 12 hours. The cup holds more ml than a tampon (more than 3 super tampons to be exact), so you can safely sleep in, or go to work without worrying about any mess. Depending on the size, and how heavy your flow is, you might have to change it more often. In the beginning, empty your cup when you would change a tampon to get to know the cup and your flow.
According to the NHS, on average you only lose 5 to 12 teaspoons of blood throughout your period, so you might be surprised about how little you actually bleed.
How to remove a menstrual cup
Sanitise: as with insertion, wash your hands with warm water and mild soap before touching yourself or your cup.
Relax: find a comfortable position; any tension in the pelvic floor is going to make the menstrual cup harder to remove.
Remove: when you remove your menstrual cup do not pull on the stem! It’s important to break the seal before pulling on the cup, this helps prevent damaging the cup, and prevents hurting you. Reach inside and squeeze the base of the cup to release the seal and gently ease it out. Alternatively, you can also use your index finger alongside the cup to break the seal that way.
Empty and wash: once you’ve taken out your menstrual cup, discard the contents into the toilet or sink and rinse the cup with water. Remember to clean the air holes! If you’re without clean water, you can use toilet paper or a sanitising wipe and rinse it later. Then you’re ready to reinsert!
How to store
At the end of your period, you should sanitise your cup by boiling it in water for 3-5 minutes. This helps the cup last longer and prevents infection. After boiling, store it in your AllMatters cotton bag, and you’re all set until your next period.
FAQs About Menstrual Cups
1. How often should I empty my menstrual cup?
Answer: Typically, a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours. However, depending on your flow, you might need to empty it more frequently, especially on heavier days.
2. Can I sleep with a menstrual cup in?
Answer: Yes, you can safely sleep with a menstrual cup inserted. It's a popular choice for overnight protection.
3. Is it safe to use a menstrual cup with an IUD?
Answer: Many people use menstrual cups with an IUD without issues. However, it's essential to discuss with your healthcare provider and ensure the cup's suction doesn't dislodge the IUD.
4. Can I exercise while wearing a menstrual cup?
Answer: Absolutely! Menstrual cups are designed to form a seal, making them leak-proof, which is ideal for physical activities. Whether you're doing yoga, swimming, or running, a menstrual cup can be a reliable choice.
5. How long does a menstrual cup last?
Answer: With proper care, a menstrual cup can last for several years. However, it's recommended to replace it every 2-5 years, depending on the brand and material.
6. How do I know if I've inserted the menstrual cup correctly?
Answer: If inserted correctly, you shouldn't feel the cup, much like a tampon. If you feel discomfort or the cup leaks, it might not be positioned correctly. Remove and reinsert.
7. Can virgins use a menstrual cup?
Answer: Yes, virgins can use menstrual cups. However, it's essential to choose a size suitable for your body and comfort level.
8. How do I clean my menstrual cup in public restrooms?
Answer: If you're in a public restroom and can't wash your cup, you can wipe it with toilet paper or a menstrual cup wipe and reinsert. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly at your next opportunity.