It seems I’ve managed to convert a few of you, or at least pique your interest in menstrual cups. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment or even email me!
So, after reading my initial post about menstrual cups and how awesome they are, I’m sure you’ve done some additional research about which is your, hopefully, ideal cup; you’ve gone out and purchased said cup and now it’s sitting in your bathroom cabinet because you didn’t realise how big they were and you’re overwhelmed. Yes, they’re much bigger than a tampon…when the tampon is dry! Don’t worry, it is certainly not too big for you. Get that sucker out of hiding and start using it! Here’s what to do now…
Firstly, as I mentioned in my previous post, not to try a “dry run”, where you attempt to insert when you are not menstruating. The environment is not the same, and doing a dry run can actually put you off getting started. It’s called a “dry” run for a reason…yikes!
Most cup brands recommend boiling the cup for one minute before first use — it’s really not necessary but, if you feel more comfortable doing that, go for it. Otherwise, a quick rinse in warm water is just fine.
For your first time, I actually recommend inserting it in the shower. The warm water softens the cup a little and also helps with mild lubrication.
Don’t spin or twist it; there’s no need. Run your finger around the rim to feel if it’s popped open. If you can’t get it to open make sure your fold is where the air hole is. Or you can try inserting with the fold facing backwards. If that still doesn’t work, you might try enlarging the air holes a little.
Removal is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but the first few times may have you in a frenzy. Don’t worry, if you’re having issues you will get it out eventually, it won’t be stuck in you forever. Just remember to breathe and have patience. If you’ve been at it for a while, give it a rest and do something else for a while. It’s no use trying if you’re freaking out as this just causes you to become very tense so your muscles can’t relax. Here are a few things to try:
Bear down. All that time you spent strengthening your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing; well you can also push those muscles down. If you’re pushing down you should feel the cup come down with it. If you can grab the stem, you may be able to “walk” it out by swaying the cup side-to-side. If that’s not working, see if you can insert a finger beside the cup and push the cup in to break the seal. If you can get even further up, try to hook your finger over the rim and pull it out. Best to try all this in the shower though.
In addition to bearing down, you can try either squatting or lying down as these both help to position the cup lower and give you a better angle. If you weren’t able to walk it down, you might consider enlarging your air holes as they’re probably a little small. There are a couple of cups that are notoriously problematic like that, where almost everyone needs to enlarge the holes, but work perfectly well after enlarging.
Still no cigar? Don’t smoke. Your next option is…try a spoon. WHAT??? Yup, that’s correct – a spoon. Insert the handle of a clean spoon to the side of your cup and push in to break the seal while using your other hand to pull the cup out.
Hopefully, you have it out at this point and are happy to give it another shot. If you haven’t, it may be time to call for reinforcements. Call your partner, parent, sibling, whoever to give you a helping hand. It really does help, they have a different angle of reach. If you’re afraid or live alone, head to the GP and they’ll be able to remove it quite easily and when they ask you what it is, you can educate them! Win-win-ish.
Now, for some more random info and answers to questions you may or may not have…
My cup doesn’t sit straight.
It’ll settle around your cervix. Don’t worry if it tilts, that’s probably the direction your cervix is facing. As long as it’s not leaking and it feels comfortable, you’re good to go.
How do I know when it’s full?
The first few cycles I recommend having a backup liner or pad. You’ll need to learn how long it takes to fill your cup so you can empty it as each person is different. It actually gurgles when it’s getting full, so that should at least give you some indication.
Help! I’m leaking!
Hold up, it may not be a leak. It might be just some residual slobber. Don’t you just love all these terms we use for this kind of stuff? When you’re inserting and removing your cup, you’re bound to have some blood slide down your vaginal wall. Don’t worry, it’ll just slide out and that’s that. If you really are leaking then you’ll need to check some things. Is your cup full? Your cervix may be sitting in the cup and hence diminish some of the cup’s capacity. Your cup may not have popped open. Your cup may be too soft or too hard. Your cup may not be wide enough.
The cup I bought is too big…
Before you go out and buy yourself a new cup, there are a few things you can try. Cut the stem off only if you’re sure you don’t need it for removal. You can also try flipping it inside out, it makes the cup a little smaller and gets rid of the stem if you’re not sure about trimming it yet.
That’s fine! Don’t be disgusted. My advice for you is to chuck it back in! Even, or especially, if you’ve finished your period for the month. Your vagina is a wonderful self-cleaning oven. Leave it in for a few hours and the smell should be gone. If you’d like, you can also go ahead and boil the cup (assuming it’s fine according to manufacturer instructions), or soak it with some Milton tablets, or even clean with alcohol.
Can I wear my cup when I’m not on my period?
Sure! There are people who wear one all the time! I would suggest having two and alternating them each day to give them a chance to “air out”, but you can certainly wear one everyday if you like! All you had to do is empty and wash it in the shower. Don’t worry, it’s fine to leave them in for 24 hours.
Any other questions? You know the drill!