Menstrual Cups

Tips and Help

It can be a bit daunting using a cup the first few times. If you aren’t familiar or comfortable with your body, it might be helpful to get yourself acquainted first. Don’t be shy! The following are some tips and advice.

Insertion

  • Squatting is a recommended position for insertion/removal, but if that doesn’t work, feel free to try other positions.  You could try lying on your side on the bed, standing with a foot up on the side of the bath.
  • If you need to use a lubricant to help insertion, use one specially designed for silicone.  Some cup companies sell lubricant that can be used with their cups.
  • Some people find running the cup under hot tap water can help warm the cup up (for more comfortable insertion) and soften the silicone.  Conversely, if you feel a stiffer silicone would insert better, try running it under cold water.
  • If you find one fold difficult to insert, difficult to keep folded, or difficult to “pop open”, try different folds – some people find some folds work better for them than others.
  • When releasing your folded cup, release gently to allow the cup to slowly open up – which can prevent it popping open suddenly, which can cause a little discomfort.
  • Make sure the rim full pops out (You can feel this if you run a finger around the cup once inside).
  • Turning the cup (holding the base of the cup and twisting it) can help it get fully open and create a seal.
  • You can do a few kegels to move the cup further up into position.
  • If you can feel it, or its uncomfortable its probably in the wrong spot.
  • It doesn’t go in as far as a tampon, it should sit just inside the vagina.

Removal

  • If you can reach up to the rim, press the rim in slightly to break the seal (you may hear a sound when this happens), then you can bring the cup down.  You may find pressing the body of the cup can do this also, but if the cup is full this can cause the contents to spill.
  • Remove the cup slowly, and make sure you have broken the seal before trying to remove it, don’t just yank it out.
  • The stems are not supposed to be used for pulling the cup out, you are supposed to hold the base of the cup to actually remove the cup.
  • When you have brought the cup down to the entrance of the vagina, tip the cup sideways a little to bring it out.
  • If the cup is not full (or you don’t mind some spillage) you can squeeze the rim of the cup to create a smaller section to pull out.
  • “Baring down” (as if trying to do a bowel movement) can help push the cup down to a position you can grasp it more easily.
  • If it gets “lost” don’t panic. Relax and try “baring down” to push it back out.
  • Emptying it in the shower (while showering) means you don’t need to worry about spills.
  • When emptying the cup into the toilet, flush straight away or put some toilet paper in the bowl first – or the blood will sink to the bottom and be hard to flush out.
  • Don’t be alarmed if the contents of the cup isn’t all liquid blood, or has a layer of clearish liquid on top – menstrual flow is blood and tissue, and sometimes separates.

Other Tips

  • Trim your fingernails before using the cup.  You should also wash your hands.
  •  You may need to trim the stem – But try with it uncut first, and cut small bits off at a time (you can always cut more off, but you can’t stick more back on if you’ve cut too far)  Be careful not to cut into the base of the cup.
  • Don’t let it get overfull, as emptying could then be messier and chance of leaks is greater.
  • If you are having difficulty, try a different fold or different body position
  • Because they don’t absorb like tampons do, you can have a “dry run” to test it out before your period so that you are comfortable using it before you need to. Although until you are bleeding you won’t know if it is working properly, it is helpful for learning insertion and removal and getting to know your body.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to try a few cups until you find one that is right for you.

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Cleaning – See this topic on cleaning cups

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Using a cup | Leave a comment

FAQ

Can you wear them if you are a Virgin?
Physically, yes, just as you can with tampons… (there may be cultural/religious reasons which would prevent you using anything internally) I have seen some people comment that they have had problems and may need to break the hymen first if its not already.

They look very large and I have a small vagina – it’s not going to fit is it?

Without wanting to be vulgar, the vagina is made to stretch.. the cups are a lot smaller than a babies head, which the vagina can stretch to fit. Penises, vibrators etc. are all around the same size as a cup… which also fit into a vagina…. When women have problems with “being too tight”, its probably always because they aren’t relaxed. It almost seems to me that some women want to think that they are so”tight” that its not going to fit. There are 2 sizes in all the cups.. although the difference is usually only VERY small. They all come with age recommendations… If you really feel that you are better off with the smallest diameter cup, then the small Diva, Lunette or Lady/Pink Cup are probably best choices as they are the brands with the smallest sizes – however if your vagina is short, you might find the Diva is too long for you.

Can you wear them for swimming?
Yes…. some people are concerned they might leak, but I have not heard of anyone having this problem, and it has not happened to me.

Are they easy to use?
Ok…yes and no. It can take a few goes (for some women, lots of goes) to find the correct and comfortable fit…. some women get it fine the first go. Being relaxed and familiar with your body helps. After you’ve found that however, it should be easy then to use it each month. Apart from the insertion/removal -which is the tricky bit, it’s simply a case of tipping the contents out, giving it a rinse/wipe and putting it back in. You can steralise it daily or at the end of your period (or not at all – some women just wash them with soap…… but make sure you rinse it well before putting it back in as soap and vaginas don’t mix well…..).

Are they safe?
If you are allergic to latex rubber then you cannot use a keeper (and there is apparently a risk of constant exposure to latex causing a latex allergy – however hundreds/thousands of women have used the rubber Keeper for years without problem). If you are having problems getting it in/out you might feel sore, and I suppose you could have problems if you did something like drop it into the toilet and then put it back in without washing it (bacteria and other nasties where they shouldn’t be). Nothing in life is ever 100% safe, but they seem to be a lot safer than tampons which women assume are safe because they are white, packed to look sterile and sold by big companies. They have been around long enough that if there were any major problems with their use, something would have been reported.

Can they cause TSS?
TSS is a serious illness that is thought to be caused by elevated levels of certain strains of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes) that are naturally present in the body.  It is believed that menstruating women are at higher risk because the bacteria can multiply in the menstrual blood.  However non-menstruating women, menstruating women wearing pads, males and children have also been reported to suffer from TSS infections.  Menstruation related TSS remains the highest form of TSS.   Tampon use is thought to be a higher risk of TSS, as the bacteria can multiply on the tampon the longer it is left in place, and the act of using a tampon may damage the skin of the vaginal walls, allowing the bacteria to enter the bloodstream.  Menstrual cups have been tested to see if the bacteria that causes TSS will “grow” on the material of the cups, and the findings indicate that they have a lower risk of TSS than using a tampon.  However there has been at least one report of a case of TSS associated with the Diva Cup useArticle on TSS and Cups.

My Dr/Gynocologist says they are unsafe
Several women have has their Gynos do a swab of their cups and found nothing nasty growing on them. Drs and those who aren’t familiar with the idea will probably be ‘scared’ of them….as it is natural to be concerned with something you know nothing about. Several people have reported their doctors being less than enthusiastic about the idea of cups, but very few have had any actual reason why they could be bad. Those who have given reasons usually relate to cleanliness (under the assumption that penises, fingers, tampons and other articles that are put into the vagina are sterile), TSS and I’ve heard one mentioned being concerned about having a cup in the vagina causing the vagina to stretch (but a full tampon doesn’t?). Of course you should always listen to your Drs advice, Particularly if there is a health/physical reason why cup use might not be recommended, but it is worth remembering that Drs do not know everything, and may simply not be well informed enough to feel they can recommend a cup. You can always consult a different Dr for a second opinion.

Can you feel them when they are in?
I believe it would be up to the individual woman. Some women can (as they can feel tampons) and some can’t. Usually if you can feel it, it’s not a painful feeling, just an “I’m aware it’s there” feeling. If it is causing discomfort its probably inserted too high or not correctly somehow. Some women have to cut the stem off to stop feeling that, others can leave it whole. The feeling of the stem is an obvious poking sensation. I am sometimes aware of the cup but only when I think about it. I occasionally feel them stem (which I have left intact,as I have the Lunette), but its just a feeling off being aware of it, not uncomfortable in any way. If I let the cup open too quickly that can sometimes give me cramps, as it does for a few other women from what I have seen… but taking it out and trying again stops mine.

Do they leak?
They work by creating a seal against the vaginal wall, if they don’t form this seal properly, they will leak. This is why choosing the right shape and size cup for you is important. The cups all have air holes, so if you left it in place too long you may find it fills past the air holes and that could cause leaks. I’ve had the cup fill beyond the air holes without problem, but other women find they can’t. Not having it positioned in the right spot could cause it to not create a seal and that could leak, as could having a cup that is either too large, too small or not the right shape. There may be some women who would find none of the cups fit well enough to stop leaks completely, but most find success with their first cup, or after buying another cup in a different brand. I’m sure most leak problems would be due to the position of the cup, which may take a few cycles to perfect, so it does pay to keep persevering. Most women wear a pantyliner as extra protection, because as you empty your cup the blood continues to flow, any blood that had made its way down before you put the cup in, could stain your underpants… some women confuse this with the cup leaking because it’s not working properly. Several women have described a sort of “bubbling” feeling when their cup is too full and/or breaks suction, which is usually a sign that the cup is going to leak if not emptied straight away. See this article on how much an average flow is.

Can you wear them during sex?
You are not supposed to wear the reusable ones during penetration sex (I have seen 2 women comment that they have, how this is possible I don’t know, since they sit down low and have stem that couldn’t be comfortable to your partner). However you can wear them for non-penetration sex (such as oral sex) or take the cup out before penetration. The insteads disposable cups are more like a contraceptive diaphragm and can be worn during penetration sex as they are worn higher.

What happens to the returned cups?
Apparently all returned cups get destroyed. There was a theory that returned cups got sent out to people as samples, but the cup companies I’ve asked about this say that is untrue, so I believe all would destroy them.

You can get a sample Cup?
Yes and no….. When I talk about having “sample” cups, I’m not talking about the fact I’ve got samples to try out in the usual sense of the term….. I have received actual cups which from some brands have been punched with a hole to make them (semi) unusable… and I have received these “samples” to take around to show other women for promotional reasons, and to write about on my websites. They don’t give out samples to the general public for you to try before you buy… (and infact even I haven’t been able to get a sample of a US Moon Cup yet).

Can you wear them while doing yoga or anything where you go upside down (will the blood flow back up and cause problems)?
Well yes, physically speaking you can wear them when you would be upside down. If you think about it, its not that much different to when you are laying down. I haven’t heard of any definitive medical advice to say this can be dangeous (some say this can cause Endodemetriosis), but I have seen a link to a Yoga website that suggests this is not a good idea – though it also says its not a good idea for menstruating women to do certain positions regardless of their chosen method of blood catchment as it was more to do with the energy flow than actual blood flow. If you are concerned, don’t wear a cup overnight or if going upside down.

How can I make it easier to put in?
That depends on you really… some women seem to perfer using a lubricant (Waterbased only), some simply wet it with water. Some like it cold, some like it warm. Some say running it under cold water helps it pop open easily, some find a cold cup makes them clench their muscles more. I think the key thing is to relax. It’s not a race, take your time and if you don’t get it right simply try again or leave it for another go later. Don’t think of it as something you *have to do*, think of it as something you *want* to do (which might take the pressure off and relax you). It could take several cycles to get familiar enough with your body and the cup to get the insertion and removal all settled. Certain positions can be easier than others… I found lying down on my side to be easiest for insertion at first (not something you’d be able to do while out!), then after more practice I could do it while sitting on the toilet. I’ve seen the suggestion to try masterbation or gently opening the vagina with your fingers to help prepare your body before just shoving the cup in, which is a good suggestion.

How do I cope in public toilets?
That again depends on your personal preferences. You might like to take a small bottle of water or a moistened cloth with you so that you can clean up in the stall. NEVER EVER use the water in the toilet bowl to clean your cup!!!!!!! (I can’t imagine why anyone would want to, but I’ve seen people suggest it). One website claims you can even urinate on the cup to clean it. You can wipe it with toilet paper, a baby wipe or cloth before putting it back in, or you can use a water bottle to rinse it off. Some women don’t clean it at all. Your hands might get a little blood on them, so if you are not happy washing them in the sinks in public, you might like to take a cloth to wipe them. You could carry a small zip-lock bag in your pocket/bag to hold a cloth for this purpose. Remember though that apart from the blood, if someone saw your cup they would probably only know what it was if they had seen them before. So if they know what it is they are probably either a fellow cup user or have looked into it. It could be an opportunity to show other women the Menstrual cups too.

Do they hurt to remove?
Some women might feel a little discomfort. The main thing to remember is to break the seal first, don’t just yank it out. (You stick your finger up to the rim of the cup, press it in and you might hear a lovely “schloop” sound as the suction breaks) The stem isn’t like a tampon string – generally you don’t pull it out by the stem….. you also should fold the cup slightly while inside you and most people find it easier to hold the base of the cup for removal than the stem. Your cup should come with instructions on how to do this. Since tampons absorb liquid leaving the vagina dry and the tampon larger than it was when you inserted it, many women find those are uncomfortable to remove. However with a cup they don’t absorb anything and don’t get bigger, so your vagina’s natural lubrication should be enough to help it slide out easier than a tampon would. Given the shape of the cup, removal should be easier than insertion, because the smallest end is coming out first! The rim can be a little uncomfortable coming out… but that will get easier over time, and it is overall only a quick process taking it out.

Where can I buy one?
You can buy direct from the company themselves, or other sites (even on ebay) Places that sell nappies/diapers and cloth menstrual pads often stock them, as do some healthfood stores. Doing a “Google” search brings up thousands of results that should help you. You might be tempted to go for the cheapest one, the one made in your country, the one wth the best trial period, or one that seems most talked about, but do some research to see which one suits you best, as they are a big purchase, and you don’t want to buy one without thinking about it.

Do they have a trial?
Miacup has a 6 month returns policy, Keeper (and presumably Moon Cup (US) has a 3 month one.

The Divacup has now taken away their 12 month trial. Mooncup (UK) used to have a 3 month one, but now would seem to do just exchanges for other sizes – preferring (like the Lunette manufacturers) to help women work through their problems than just refunding money. Most women seem to be able to get the first cup they buy to work… most women have a few “teething troubles” getting the cup to work their first few cycles, which is normal. Being able to return the cup is useful if you are not sure which size you need to get, and to be honest, Diva was a popular choice largely because of its return policy, but interestingly, it seems more Diva cup users find they need to buy another brand for better results – this could simply be because its the more commonly used cup so will have more people using it anway…. but it really is worth looking at other things than just price and returns policies when looking for the right cup for you.

What if it gets lost up there?
Your vagina is not a neverending tunnel! It’s extemely unlike that its going to travel up very far..its not going to enter your cervix and be lost forever. But it can feel that way when you find you can’t immediately feel the stem. If you can’t find it, bear down (almost like you are trying to do a poo), and at the same time, feel up as far as you can, and you should find it. Don’t just yank it out, you’ll have to try and break the suction, by poking your finger into the rim to poke it in, which releases the suction.

If it really has travelled up higher than you can reach, and bearing down doesn’t get it any closer, then as embarrasing as it might be, go to your Doctor, and they can remove it for you. I know 2 people who have done this, and I believe you’ll find Doctors have seen all sorts of things, so don’t be too embarrased! I don’t want to alarm anyone by telling them it can happen, but I’m wanting to say that in the VERY uncommon event it should happen, you’re not alone, and that you needn’t worry that it will be lost forever..

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Using a cup | 2 Comments

Cup Images

These are pictures of the cups I have. (none of the stems have been trimmed)

Diva (sm), Femmecup, Keeper (sm), Lady Cup (lge), Lunette (lge), Miacup(lge), Mooncup (UK)(sm), Pinkcup (sm)

July 10, 2008 Posted by | photos | Leave a comment

Cup Icons – Miacup

They are 100×100 pixel icons suitable for blogs/forums or other such use. Feel free to use them.. To use them,right click the one you want and save it to your hard drive… then upload it to the forum/journal.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | icons | | Leave a comment

Miacup – My thoughts

I first heard of this brand when they e-mailed me to let me know they had set up their online store with a coupon for me to obtain a free cup…… which I was very greatful for! Having a look around their site I was very impressed with the amount of information on there – they appear to be genuinely interested in helping women with the product…. and of course the cup’s colour seemed very appealing, being one of the only cups available in an opaque coloured cup (since the Keeper is technically a “coloured” cup, brown being a colour afterall). I thought the cup was pink, as is shown in the main pictures on the site, but looking at their video on folding, the cup looked purple. I was excited to get the cup so I could see just how purple it was.

Because Lunette has always been my favourite for a few reasons, mostly being lack of writing and the tab stem, the Miacup also having these features is what first drew me to the cup… It is very similar in shape to the Lunette. The colour as well is a huge bonus for me, given that I am a purple nut!

Testing it out – It has the same more defined rim as most of the other cups, which makes it different to the Lunette, but otherwise, they are basically the same. The Miacup silicone is a little softer than the Lunette, and my Miacup is indeed purple. A pinkish purple, but more like the colour shown in the video, rather than the pink looking one shown. The colour is similar to the colour they use in their headings and buttons. The colour isn’t completely uniform, it has the occasional speckle/grain of lighter colour, which doesn’t bother me at all as the surface is perfectly smooth. I like that there is no writing on it (they have the Miacup logo on the inside rather than any writing). My only issue with an opaque cup is that with the Keeper’s holes you can’t see if they are dirty or not, but the Miacup holes are larger, and you seem to be able to see through the holes enough to see if they need cleaning. Also if you are interested in measuring your flow, and seeing the contents of the cup, an opaque cup is not the best choice. On the other hand, I do like the fact that an opaque cup won’t discolour like the silicone ones do. As with the other rimmed cups, I felt this cup more with insertion and removal, and a little blood got caught under the rim, so the outside needs marginal more cleaning than the smoother outer cups. But the flat stem is comfortable like Lunette, and overall I very much like this cup.

Gear – I got sent a very attractive boxed version, which I assume is not how normal customers would get their cups, but I’ll show what I got anyway. It came in a box that was sealed with sealing wax and cord, and even had a ribbon inside so that when you lift the ribbon all the leaflets etc. came out of the box easily. I was extremely impressed 🙂 It was like a nicely wrapped gift!

The pouch is satin with their logo embroidered on, and a satin lining. It is by far the best made and most elaborate cup pouch I’ve seen. They provide a small booklet that gives instructions on use. Which is the most informative instructions any of the cup manufacturers provide (second would be Mooncup (UK) who sent me a little booklet in several languages). I also got some leaflets and business cards with a 5% discount code on them. I like the minimal themeing on their printed matter – looks like recycled paper with just the pinkish purple and a dark grey writing. Nice and subtle.

Personal Observations – I’ve been very impressed with this company. Their FAQ section shows they have been looking around to see the sorts of questions women want to know and provide answers, and their forum will enable more discussion which is great. When I’ve suggested some ideas for the website I got back positive replies (and straight away!), which shows that the company seems to be interested in what people have to say. I like that the company donates money from each sale to charity (and encourages customers to donate as well), and is concerned with environmental issues.

Ratings

I’ve rated all the cups I’ve tried. They can be found here: https://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/my-comparisons-and-ratings/

July 10, 2008 Posted by | comparisons | | 3 Comments

Pink Cup – My thoughts

Basically this is just a pink coloured version of the Lady Cup, so see my thoughts on that here here

While pink isn’t my favourite colour, I think I prefer the pink over the clear cups (and certainly more than the yellow Mooncup (UK) or brown Keeper).  Its quite a nice subtle pink, just enough to let you know it’s not clear, without being overpoweringly PINK  if that makes sense.  It is still completely transparent, so the pink tone to the cup has not affected the ability to see into the holes.  To me it makes the cup appear a little less “medical” and a bit more like an accessory.  I think it’s fantastic to see a cup brought out in a colour, and hope to see more colours available in the future.

Comes in it’s own pinkcup bag, they seem to be essentially marketing it as a different product (much like Keeper Inc. doesn’t just market the Moon Cup (USA) as a “silicone Keeper”)

July 10, 2008 Posted by | comparisons | Leave a comment

Cup Icons – Femmecup

They are 100×100 pixel icons suitable for blogs/forums or other such use. Feel free to use them.. To use them,right click the one you want and save it to your hard drive… then upload it to the forum/journal.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | icons | | Leave a comment

Femmecup – My Thoughts

—  Note — this is based on the old Femmecup design.  They have redesigned the cup in a new silicone with a new stem

See the new cup https://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/new-femmecup-pictures/

The cup itself seems virtually identical to the Mooncup (UK). The only difference I can see is the Mooncup has rings around the base and stem to grip with and the Femmecup has a spiral instead (which I do like). The Femmecup has a clearish white silicone, which is much more appealing than the yellowish Mooncup.

It feels thinner than the Moonkup (UK), and I was sent 2 samples, one of their newer versions which have larger holes and a slightly softer silicone… their silicone still feels slightly different to the others to me…. it’s almost like the silicone is more plasticky than the more rubbery feel of the other cups.. but I think it’s easier to get/keep folded than Lunette and Mooncup (UK)… and about the same as Diva. The stem seems to be thicker (it’s the hollow tube kind) than Mooncup (UK), so untrimmed it feels a bit pokey (like most of the other cups). The holes were tiny, probably the same size as the Diva, and as with the Diva, putting my palm over the cup and trying to squirt water out didn’t do anything…. but in the newer sample I have, the holes are larger.

Its got the website address in raised letters on the inside, and 2 measurements 15mls and 7.5mls inside. Flat bottomed but no size marking (since it comes in one size only – which appears to be the same as the small Mooncup). Nothing on the outside except the spiral and the thick ridges and the thicker ridge rim (like Mooncup).

Testing it out – I tried it once for a “dry run” and once with my period. I found no leaking, it opened up fine…. same slightly more uncomfortable insertion than Ladycup or Lunette because of the rim being more bumpy, but it’s only in comparison to flatter cups. I’d expected the holes to fill up with blood as they had done on the Diva, but they didn’t. I don’t know if that was just luck or something different with my blood that cycle, not sure, but I was happy about that, since cleaning was then easy. I did get some blood collecting around the writing on the inside, which I hadn’t noticed until next time I went to use it and saw the dried blood there… so I need to do more than my lazy rinsing methods that work for the Lunette.

Gear – The bag it comes in is like a lighter weight version of the Mooncup bag (unbleached cotton). I also got a stack of (very nice) flyers to hand out. Mine was sent in a padded envelope, with the cup in it’s bag, inside a plastic display type packaging with cardboard top (like you’d expect to have a hole punched in so it can hang in shops). With it’s instructions. My newer sample came with a (flat for postage) box in their pink and blue colour theme so that I had an example of that packaging.

Personal observations – One of the nicest of the cup companies I’ve dealt with. Not only did they send me a sample in the first place (without a hole punched in it!), but they also sent me an updated sample when they changed the cup slightly, and the new packaging, so that I would be updated with their product. All e-mails have been very friendly and personalised to me (not your standard automatic responses), I’m quite impressed with this company.

Ratings

I’ve rated all the cups I’ve tried. They can be found here: https://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/my-comparisons-and-ratings

July 10, 2008 Posted by | comparisons | , | Leave a comment

Cup Icons – Ladycup and Pinkcup

They are 100×100 pixel icons suitable for blogs/forums or other such use. Feel free to use them.. To use them,right click the one you want and save it to your hard drive… then upload it to the forum/journal.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | icons | | Leave a comment