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 use. Article 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..