Can my teenage daughter use a menstrual cup?
We are frequently asked if teenage girls can use a menstrual cup. All of the brands we carry would say that it is fine for teenagers or young girls to use menstrual cups, however, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. Starting to menstruate can be a daunting experience for young girls. While it is a perfectly normal part of life, it can still take time for them to adjust to all that menstruation can entail. Giving a cup to a young girl and explaining where she needs to put it, can sometimes be a little more than she can handle. This can cause anxiety and the tightening of the vaginal muscles, meaning a small teen size cup is the best place to start. Alternatively, it may be preferable to stick with conventional period care products like washable cloth pads or period panties until she gets used to this new phase of life.
It should also be noted that there is the possibility of a menstrual cup tearing or stretching the Hymen, as is also the case when using tampons. The Hymen is a membrane which partially covers the opening of the vagina. The tearing or stretching of the Hymen can occur from penetrative sex, as well as a range of activities such as bike riding, horse riding, the use of tampons, and other physical activities. The amount of the vagina which the membrane covers can also vary from woman to woman with some Hymens only covering a small amount of the opening, and others covering a much larger area of the vaginal opening. If cups and tampons are inserted carefully, the Hymen can usually stretch to accomodate this, however, it is typically recommended that women who have not had penetrative sex start with a smaller sized cup. If for religious or cultural reasons it is important to minimise the chance of stretching the hymen, then we would recommend not using a menstrual cup.
Using a menstrual cup has many great advantages for young girls (especially if they are still at school). Cups enable them to continue participating in regular sporting programmes, including swimming. For young girls with a heavy flow, the use of a cup at school is much easier than having to worry about frequent tampon or pad changes. In recent months, several companies have designed menstrual cups which are smaller and more suited to young girls. The smaller size makes these cups less intimidating and easier to insert and remove. The brands we recommend for any teens or young girls first starting their menstrual cup journey are below:
Insertion and Removal tips for Teens:
As mentioned above, the Hymen does not fully cover the opening of the vagina. This means the cup does not ‘pierce’ it when inserted. Make sure you are gentle and insert the cup slowly without using force.
To insert the cup:
- After first washing your hands, make sure you relax.
- Try several menstrual cup folds to find one you feel most comfortable with. The Punchdown or 7-fold are great for younger girls, since these folds make the insertion point of the cup smaller.
- Use a little coconut oil or water based lubricant to make insertion easier. Fold the cup first, ensure you have a strong hold of the cup and then rub a small amount of the lubricant around the rim and walls of the cup.
- Squat down or place one foot on the toilet seat and gently pull the labia apart with one hand and slowly insert the cup into the vagina.
- You may find it helpful to wiggle the cup carefully and slowly from side to side while applying light pressure while pushing it in.
- Make sure it has fully opened by feeling for the ‘pop’ or running your finger around the base of the cup. You should be able to twist a cup in a full circle if it is fully opened and properly sealed.
To remove the cup:
- After washing your hands – relax. This is important, as the vaginal muscles will tighten if we are stressed which can make removal more difficult.
- Squat or raise a leg and rest it on the toilet seat. This position helps shorten the vaginal canal.
- Gently separate the labia with one hand, while carefully reaching for the base of the menstrual cup with the other hand.
- If you can touch the stem, use it as a guide to find and pinch the base of the cup. DO NOT just pull the stem. You need to break the suction first by firmly pinching the base of the cup with your thumb and forefinger, or running your index finger up along the side of the cup and pushing inwards (collapsing the cup in on itself). You can also use try ‘bearing down’ as if passing a bowel movement so as to move the cup down the vaginal canal.
- Once the suction/seal has been released, gently pull the cup out of the vagina, wiggling from side to side, and empty the menstrual fluid into the toilet.