Menstrual cup! You could have heard about it, or you could be using it already.
If you are using one already, bravo. Welcome to the world of menstrual cups!
If not, this post will help you know more about it. And of course, yes, how to use it.
So what is a menstrual cup?
If you have been using pads and tampons during that time of the month, menstrual cup is one more cool option you can opt to use.
There are quite a lot of positives about using a menstrual cup, so you almost really have no reasons why you wouldn’t choose one.
In layman’s terms – a menstrual cup is, well, a cup with a small tail like thing that you insert into your vaginal canal.
It will sit there for a few hours and collect your flow. Once it is time, you remove the cup, empty the content in the toilet, rinse the cup well, and then insert it back again.
Most menstrual cup manufacturers promise a 12 hour leak-free protection.
This means you can go for hours before having to worry about going to the toilet to empty the cup, unlike pads and tampons that you need to change every 4-6 hours depending upon your flow.
What are the advantages of using a menstrual cup (over pads and tampons)?
The #1 reason I personally switched to a menstrual cup is to free myself from the punishing feeling of having a pad in between my legs for about 6 days in a month.
Even though you could be using an ultra thin pad, it is still something that is highly uncomfortable.
Plus you have to sit on your own pool of (dried) blood. And then the terrifying rashes!
With pads and tampons, your menstrual blood is absorbed and retained.
Hence, to make this process successful, both pads and tampons are loaded with toxic chemicals!
The last thing I would want to do is put such highly dangerous materials either close to or inside my lady parts.
If are using a tampon, it is well known that it absorbs all the moisture in your vaginal canal in addition to your menstrual blood, leaving you so dry and uncomfortable.
Plus most women complain that tampons leave behind residue of cotton or other small bits of the tampon itself upon removal.
And you cannot deny the fact that you are dumping loads of stubborn waste on to planet Earth that won’t degrade for hundreds of years.
Well, you may argue that being nice to planet Earth is not of your concern while you are on your periods – I get it.
But what if you had a very cool option to do so?
So here’s how to use a menstrual cup!
For one, the very moment you read about using a menstrual cup for the first time, you could feel a lot negative about it. I felt the same.
I was so hesitant to even try one because the whole process did sound scary. But in reality, it is not as it sounds.
Let’s dive into the details.
Get the right size
Make sure you purchase a cup of right size. There are various companies that sell cups in different sizes for different women (and the flow).
Usually the the size of the cups are mentioned based on either your age or whether you have given birth to children or not.
For instance, some companies sell cups with Sizes 1 and 2 – 1 for those who haven’t given birth, and 2 for all those who have given birth.
Other companies label their cups as Small (S), Medium (M) and Large (L) and make you choose based on your age.
If you can’t get the right one, you will figure out somehow by purchasing another one.
Cups come in a very affordable price and when you compare it with the expense involved in the recurrent purchase of pads or tampons, this is nothing.
Read through the instructions very carefully
If you think you can glance through the instructions on the box and get away with it, think again.
Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to using a menstrual cup and you will ruin your attempt to try one.
If you do not follow the instructions properly, you might end up unsuccessful with insertion or removal, or you might end up with leakage.
None of these are cool, so do not attempt to use one without reading the instructions.
I say this because every cup is different and it is good to know what the manufacturer says rather than having a bad experience and giving up.
Learn about the folds
So here comes the crucial part – the insertion.
When you open your box of menstrual cup, you see something really big and wonder how are you going to put something THAT big in there.
Here’s where the folds come to your rescue.
There are various folds that women use to insert the menstrual cup.
The C fold is the most popular fold that usually works for most women. But it didn’t work for me. The Punch Down fold worked for me.
You just have to try a few different folds to see which one you find comfortable and succeed with.
Here are some of the folds I have pictured – hope you can find them useful.
The C Fold
The simple fold and the most popular one is the C Fold. But might not work for all.
You just have to pinch the cup and then fold in half so you see a C shape when you look from the top.
The Punch-Down fold
Put your thumb finger on the rim and pull down. Fold the rest of the cup so you form a C-like shape with one side down.
This narrows down the rim a lot and helps with easier insertion. This is the fold that worked for me.
The S fold
Just like the C fold, you have to make an S, so involves two folding steps.
The 7 Fold
Pinch the cup in the middle. Bring one end of the rim downwards by folding it across to make a 7-like shape.
The double 7 fold
Just like the 7 fold, but you do it twice. Start by pinching the cup in the middle and do a 7 just up to the middle.
Then turn the cup to the other side and do one more 7 fold up to the middle.
I am stopping with 5 possible folds. There are numerous other ways in which you can fold your cup, but I am sure you can find your choice of fold in any of these.
Inserting your menstrual cup
Now that you have learned about the folds, its time for insertion. It is very important that you are pretty relaxed.
Wash your hands using soap or hand wash. Rinse your menstrual cup – it is easier to insert if it is wet.
Either squat or stand by placing one leg higher on the bath tub or toilet bowl. Make the fold and insert.
One of the most common mistakes women make while inserting a menstrual cup (and then giving up too soon) is to point right up.
That’s wrong, you have to insert in a 45 degree angle, aiming towards your tail bone and not directly upwards!
Once the cup is inside hold the tail of the cup and make a slight rotation to help make it unfold inside of you.
When the cup has unfolded, it will create a seal inside of you so it will stay in place and will not allow leakage.
When inserted correctly, you should not feel a thing about something inside of you.
Well, may be the first time, you could feel strange. But then you actually forget it.
If the tail of the cup is longer and bothers you while you walk or sit, you can (carefully) trim the tail.
But I did not find the tail to bother me, and I also find the tail useful while removing.
So I left it in place.
If you decide to trim the tail, do it very carefully as you might accidentally puncture the cup itself!
Removing your cup
You can go up to 12 hours with a menstrual cup before you have to empty it. But it depends on your flow!
When it is time, wash your hands and squat. Be relaxed.
Find the tail of the cup.
If you do not find the tail, do not panic. The cup cannot get lost inside of you as there is no way out on the other end.
Relax your muscles as much as possible. If your cervix is too high, chances are your cup has gone a bit upwards too.
Giving a little bit of mild push will help you reach the tail.
Once you find it, go a little bit further above and find the base of the cup and pinch it.
This is to break the seal so you can pull the cup out. If you try to pull the cup without breaking the seal, you will feel pain and discomfort.
Once you break the seal, it is also quite easy to pull the cup out.
You just have to pour the contents in the toilet, rinse the cup and insert again.
You will need to sterilise your cup by placing it in boiling water for 10 minutes between your periods (sterilisation is required only at the end of your periods).
Enjoy your periods
With the cup inside, there is no blood outside of you. You can simply, literally, forget that you are on your periods because you are not going to experience any flow!
You also escape the awful smell your pad could cause. With pads and tampons, your blood is absorbed and is out of your body for a while – this creates a bad smell.
But with a cup your blood is simply collected – so you don’t have to worry about smelling awkward during your periods.
And you need not restrict yourself from any fun activity like riding, swimming or anything challenging during your periods with a menstrual cup.
I warn you though, there is pretty much a learning curve. It might take one or two cycles for you to master insertion and removal techniques.
Things might seem scary, but when you actually try it out and experience a truly freeing period, there is no going back.