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10 Tips for first time menstrual cup use
Ok, so you have decided to give a menstrual cup a go. You have read the rave reviews or been recommended to try one by a cup loving friend. It may seem daunting as you look at your new purchase and wonder just how well it will work. To help you as you begin along your menstrual cup journey, we have put together a few tips to help you get the best results when using your cup for the first time.
It is important to remember that every women is different, in cycle length and flow, in cervix position, in pelvic floor strength, and the list goes on. However, following the below suggestions, should help prevent or resolve any issues you may be experiencing.
Don’t expect to be able to insert and then remove your cup perfectly the first time and then proceed with life as normal with no further issues. In some cases, this might be exactly what happens, but experience shows that it takes a little practice to get used to using a menstrual cup – but the results are always worth it! You may wish to consider wearing a panty liner for the first couple of cycles until you are confident with using your menstrual cup.
If your cup is correctly sized and inserted:
- You should not be able to feel it inside of you
- You should not experience any leaks
- No part of the cup stem should be protruding from the vaginal canal (please read about trimming the end)
1. Read the instructions
Make sure you read the instructions that come with your cup thoroughly, BEFORE using it. This may seem obvious, but we know many of us get so excited about our new period cup, that we just jump right in without fully knowing what to do.Get a grasp of the different folding techniques, so that you can try each and find the one that suits you best. For all menstrual cups, use only as directed and always read the label. If any symptoms occur from the use of the cup, please see your doctor/healthcare professional.
Inserting a menstrual cup will be easier when you are relaxed. Try your menstrual cup for the first time when you ARE NOT having a period. If you have difficulty inserting or removing it, at least you won’t be dealing with rampant hormones, blood, and stress at the same time. DO NOT leave the cup in place, simply try inserting, walking around, and then removing it.
3. Wet the cup
It is easier to insert a cup when it is wet. For this reason you may want to dampen the entrance to your vagina with water or a water-based lubricant as well as the rim of the cup. Many women find it helpful to learn how to insert their cup while in the shower.
4. Get the correct angle
Do not insert a menstrual cup in a straight up (vertical) angle. For correct insertion, it needs to be put into the vagina at a horizontal 45 degree angel. Aim towards the base of your spine. Squatting down with knees spread open is often a good way to first insert your menstrual cup. You should stop inserting the cup as soon as the cup and end of the stem can no longer be seen.
5. Wait for the ‘pop’
To ensure the cup doesn’t leak, it needs to achieve a good suction seal around the vaginal wall. Once you insert the cup, it needs to ‘pop’ open to form the seal. Some people feel this pop, others do not. Gently run your finger around the base of the cup. If it feels flat or scrunched at any spot, it probably hasn’t popped open properly. Grip the base of the cup and try rotating it 360 degrees. If that doesn’t work, remove the cup and try again. You may also want to try performing a few pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), as this can help establish a proper seal.
6. Keep it low
Many women make the mistake of placing the cup too high in their vagina. It should sit low in the vagina (lower than a tampon), and ideally, not over the opening of your cervix. The end of the stem should be sitting no more than 1cm from the vaginal opening. Nothing should be sticking out, but it should be only just inside you.
In some cases the menstrual cup may rise up higher and then settle in it’s own position. Do not be alarmed by this, it just means you may have to reach a little further in to remove it. If the cup is sitting right against your cervix, you may experience some discomfort. Try re-inserting the cup again.
7. Partially insert then open
Another tip is to only insert the first part of the cup and then try opening it just inside the vaginal canal. One it has opened, you can gently push it up into the correct position.
8. Trim the stem
The stem of the menstrual cup should not be protruding outside your vagina, or irritating your labia. Some women who have a low cervix, may find that this happens. To combat this, simply trim the end to a length where it will not be a problem. Please note: DO NOT trim the end until you are able to easily remove your cup. Trim no more than half a cm at a time, and try your cup again to see if it is more comfortable.
9. Remove correctly
Do not pull on the stem! Use the stem simply as a guide to find the base of the cup.
If the cup is hard to reach, try bearing down so as to push the cup down your vaginal canal.
If the cup is slippery and hard to grasp when you try to remove it, you can use a tissue to wipe the base before pulling it out.
10. Get the right size
Often leaking issues or discomfort may be due to a cup that is the wrong size for your needs and stage of life. Make sure you read the menstrual cup sizing guidelines for the particular brand you are purchasing accurately, to ensure you have a cup that will provide a correct suction seal around your vaginal wall.