Menstrual cups are an eco-friendly way to deal with your period. In this guide, we’re going to look at how you use one, how safe they are, and why it’s an excellent time to make the switch. 

Choosing the right size cup

It’s very important that you use the right size and shape of menstrual cup. No two brands of menstrual cup are exactly the same. Whilst they are all made from the same materials, there are different sizes. Some cups are wider, some are longer. Your internal anatomy will dictate which size, shape and firmness you need, which is why it's important to learn everything about menstrual cups. Younger women and those who have not had a vaginal birth will probably need a smaller cup. 

How to insert a menstrual cup

Choose a quiet time when you are not going to be interrupted, as it may take a bit of practice before you get the hang of using your new menstrual cup. This is not something to try when you’re late for work, or in the ladies’ restroom at the office.

Head into your bathroom, lock the door and make yourself comfortable.

Wash your hands before inserting the cup. Do a good job here, as the last thing you want is to introduce some nasty germs into your body. 

It’s going to feel a bit icky when you first try and insert a menstrual cup, even if you are accustomed to using a tampon. Menstrual cups are larger than tampons, so the trick is to fold it over to make it smaller. The cup will spring back into shape once its inside, so don’t worry that you will inadvertently damage it!

Wet the menstrual cup. It’s a lot easier to insert a lubricated cup than a dry one. You can also use water-based lubricant if you prefer. 

Hold the rightly folded cup so the rim is facing upwards and the pointy end is facing down. The cup needs to be inserted rim first. Holding the cup firmly, relax and gently push it into your vagina. If it is positioned correctly, you won’t be able to feel it. If you can feel the cup, remove it, and try again. 

Once a menstrual cup is inside your vagina, it should spring open and form a tight seal. The cup will not move until you take it out again, so if you can feel your menstrual cup shifting around, remove it and have another go.

If you’re finding it hard to insert the cup, try sitting on the toilet with your legs apart. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and think happy thoughts. The tenser you are, the harder it will be to insert the cup.

Some women find it easier to stand with one foot resting on a chair or the side of the bath when inserting their menstrual cup.   

Removing a menstrual cup

Removing a menstrual cup isn’t always easy, but the trick is to break the seal before you try and take it out. Gently insert a clean finger inside your vagina and locate the rim of the cup. Push your finger against the rim, so it breaks away from the vaginal wall.  This breaks the seal and makes it easy to remove the cup.

Grab the stem of the cup and gently remove it, taking care not to spill the contents. Empty the cup in a toilet or sink and rinse it out with clean water. It can then be reinserted. 

You can also remove, empty, and clean your cup while you are in the shower. Fill it with soapy water and give it a good scrub with your fingers to remove any gunky bits. 

Don’t trim the stem too short

Menstrual cups usually come with a stem, which you can grab and use to pull the cup out. It’s best to leave the stem long when you first start using a menstrual cup. This makes it easier to remove the cup. As you become more comfortable inserting and removing a menstrual cup, you can trim the stem so it’s shorter. 

Practice makes perfect

Don’t despair if you are finding it hard to insert your menstrual cup. There is a knack to it, and once you have gone through the motions several times, it will get easier, we promise!

Practice inserting and removing your cup until you are comfortable with the process. Before long, you’ll be a pro at this.

Know when to remove your menstrual cup

The great thing about menstrual cups is that they can be left in place a lot longer than a tampon. Whereas you should change a tampon every four hours, it’s OK to wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours. However, an overly full cup will leak, so get to know your body and how often you need to empty your cup.

Most women’s menstrual flow is heaviest in the first 2-3 days, so it is best to empty your menstrual cup every 4-6 hours. Once your flow slackens off, you can leave the cup in place longer.

Try and get into the habit of emptying your menstrual cup a least twice a day. That way you won’t forget about it and end up dealing with a leak. 

Tips for everyday use

Menstrual cups are very easy to use, but it’s wise to carry a small pack of toiletries with you when you are using one. 

If you need to wear your menstrual cup and you don’t know if you’ll be able to rinse it out, have a bottle of water handy and use this to clean your cup. Since it can be a bit messy emptying a full menstrual cup, keep some wet wipes in your purse, just in case you can’t wash your hands. 

Caring for your menstrual cup

Menstrual cups can last for many years with the right care.

•    Wash your cup with soap at the end up the day, to keep it fresh and clean. 

•    Sterilize your cup in boiling water for 10-15 minutes at the end of your monthly cycle. 

•    Store your cup in a fabric bag between uses, to keep it clean. 

Once you’ve tried a menstrual cup, you won’t want to go back to tampons and sanitary pads. Tell us how much you love your cup below in the comments.