When trying to insert or remove a menstrual cup for the first time, make sure you have enough time to work with, and are in a washroom you feel comfortable in (public bathroom stalls are bad). You might not succeed in inserting the menstrual cup perfectly the first time, but you should get it right after a few tries.
Since the menstrual cup does not dry out the mucous membrane, you can practice with it even when you are not menstruating. In this case, you should wet the menstruation cup with water and use a water-soluble lubricant to help position the cup. However, during menstruation, there is naturally more moisture in the vagina so it is usually easier to practice inserting the cup during your period.
Menstrual cups are very comfortable to wear and sporting activities can be performed with no ill effect. If they don’t work for you in the beginning, don’t give up. They take a little practice and getting used to.
Inserting a Menstrual Cup
- After washing your hands, hold the menstrual cup upright and simply fold the upper and larger end of the cup in half. Then, once it is halved, fold it in half again.
- Now hold the folded menstrual cup between your thumb and index finger.
- Stay relaxed and try not to tense your muscles. This may make it painful or difficult to insert. Be patient; the first time inserting it is always the hardest, so don’t give up if you’re having trouble at first.
- Sit on the toilet or squat in a comfortable position and insert the menstrual cup into your vagina.
- Let the cup unfold by releasing your fingers from the cup and allowing it to expand inside your vagina. The base of the cup (often called the tab) should be within the inner lips of your vagina. Pull the tab slightly downward and forward until the menstrual cup fits firmly into place.
- The cup follows the natural slant of your vagina. It does not touch the cervix but rests comfortably below it.
Removing the Menstrual Cup
- Sit on the toilet and bear down with your muscles. This makes it easier to remove the cup.
- Grasp the stem firmly so that the tips of your fingers pinch the base of the cup. This action is very important as it allows air to enter around the cup, releasing the suction, and making it easy to remove.
- As you are sitting on the toilet, pull the cup forward and downward to prevent spilling. Empty the contents into the toilet, wipe and reinsert. Ease your cup gently forward and downward, supporting the bottom of the cup with your fingertips to prevent spilling.
- Empty the contents of the cup into the toilet.
- If you are still having your period and want to reinsert your cup, simply rinse it or wipe it with a tissue and reinsert.
- At the end of your period, wash the menstrual cup in hot soapy water. Or it can be rinsed (not soaked) in dilute vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 9 parts water). Rinse it in this solution for no more than 3 minutes.
- Let your cup air dry. Place your cup in the fabric bag it came in to store it between periods or store in a plastic bag or purse.
- DO NOT rinse or soak in any solution stronger than 1 part vinegar to 9 parts water or in any other chemical solution. Exposing your cup to such solutions can damage it.
Tips & Warnings
- When properly inserted, you should not be able to feel the cup inside your body. If it feels uncomfortable, you may need to push it a little deeper.
- If you find the stem on your menstrual cup is too long, it can be trimmed to a shorter length for comfort by using a standard pair of scissors.
- Empty and rinse at least every 12 hours. If you leave it in longer, watch out for signs of infection.
- On heavier days, when the cup is full it can leak. Wearing pads for these days can help.
- There are many different types of menstrual cups. Always follow the instructions that come with your particular brand.
- Follow your brand manufacturer’s instructions for removing and cleaning your cup.
- Although it is preferable to wash your menstrual cup each time you empty it, if you cannot access water it is fine to wipe it with a piece of tissue, ensuring it is thoroughly cleaned the next time.
- The menstrual cup fits the natural tilt of the vagina below the cervix. If inserted properly the lower portion of the cup (or the tab) should fit inside the entrance of the vagina.
- You may want to use a lubricant for easier insertion however, stay away from petroleum based jellies as they will damage the cup.
- In case you were wondering, menstrual cups are NOT a form of contraceptive, and must be removed before sexual intercourse.