A common fear for women who are new to the idea of trying a menstrual cup is the fear of the cup getting stuck or lost. The first thing we can confidently tell you, is that the cup cannot get lost inside of you. The cervix sits at the top of the vaginal canal and blocks anything (but sperm) from proceeding any further inside the body.
However, on the very rare occasion, a cup may get stuck in the vaginal canal, or at least take some extra time and patience to remove. How rare is this occurrence – extremely rare! and it is rarer still that a woman would need assistance by a medical professional to help remove a cup. It is also avoidable in many cases, if the correct size cup has been purchased to begin with. The two main reasons a cup may get stuck include:
- A cup that is too short for a long vaginal canal (high cervix)
- A cup that is too big for the person using it. This particularly relates to teenage girls or women who know that their pelvic and vaginal anatomy is particular small.
How to reduce the chances of a menstrual cup getting stuck:
- Ensure you purchase the correct size cup. Check the position of your cervix. If your cervix sits high in the vaginal canal, opt for longer brands of cups such as the Diva, Pelvi, and Juju Model 3. Be sure to avoid short or ‘low cervix’ cups. It is natural for a cup to travel up the vaginal canal, and a short cup will be harder, if not impossible to reach if you have a very high cervix.
- Any women under the age of 20 are best to start their cup journey using a Teen size cup. These are much smaller than regular sizes and make insertion and removal easier. The smaller size also makes the idea of using a cup a bit less intimidating to young users. If your doctor has told you that you have a particularly tight vaginal canal or small pelvis, or if you ever experience pain or discomfort inserting or removing tampons, then you should also opt for a Teen size cup.
- Do not cut the stem of any cup until you are confident in removing it and are familiar with where the cup tends to ‘position’ itself once inserted. The stems are not designed to be used to pull the cup out, but they are helpful for finding the base of the menstrual cup or wiggling the cup lower so you can grasp it better.
- Practice all the different types of period cup folds, especially those that have a smaller insertion area (such as the punchdown fold). If you are familiar with these folds and the cup gets stuck, you can fold it while it is inside and then remove. This can be messy and uncomfortable, but it is helpful in cases where a cup is too big for the user and difficult to remove.
But what if the cup does get stuck?
We realise that a cup getting stuck can cause a lot of distress and concern, so here are some tips to help with removal. Don’t rush! Take your time and try several attempts if necessary. Providing you have the right length and size cup, you should be able to remove your cup quickly and easily with a bit of practice.
- First things first – take a deep breath, relax and remind yourself that it cannot get lost.
- Relax. This is so important. Being tense will tighten your pelvic floor muscles and make removal more difficult. Go and have a cuppa, a warm bath, whatever you need to calm down a bit. If your cup has been inserted for 8-12 hours, don’t panic, you don’t have to get it out in that time. This is just the recommended duration for wearing a cup, and while this timeframe is best for general cup use, there can be the exception in cases such as these. In the instance of a stuck cup, do not let the time you have had it in cause more stress, if you need to leave it overnight and try again in the morning, then do so.
- Squat down low. Squatting helps shorten the length of the vaginal canal.
- Use some toilet paper to dry the base of the cup (if it can be reached) and your fingers. A dry cup and fingers will make grasping the cup easier.
- If you can reach the cup, squeeze the base to release suction and gently wiggle it downwards.
- If you can’t quite reach the cup, then while squatting, ‘bear down’ with your pelvic muscles. This means pushing like you are having a baby or doing a poo. This causes your muscles to push the cup downwards.
- If the seal seems tight and the cup doesn’t want to move, run your finger up along the side of the cup (between the cup and vaginal wall) and collapse the cup in on itself. This will help break the seal.
- If you feel the cup is too big and won’t fit back out through the vaginal opening, try to refold the cup while it is still inside, the punchdown fold is great for making the cup smaller. Then gently remove the cup by wiggling from side to side.