Men­strual cups, also just called cups, are prob­ably the most pop­u­lar period product among the reusable altern­at­ives. Did you know that men­strual cups have been on the mar­ket for ages? Actu­ally since the 1930s, only a short time after tam­pons entered the mar­ket! Men­strual cups were mainly used by ‘hip­pie com­munit­ies’. But they are slowly enter­ing the main­stream and are becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar – and rightly so! It’s crazy that men­strual cups have only become a trend in recent years, isn’t it? Most people are still won­der­ing how to use the men­strual cup, so let’s explore the won­der­ful world of cups together!

What are men­strual cups?

Men­strual cups are small con­tain­ers that dir­ectly col­lect the men­strual blood inside the body. They usu­ally have a capa­city of between 10 and 30 ml and are made of med­ical sil­ic­one, rub­ber or latex. There are now men­strual cups in vari­ous sizes and shapes. When used cor­rectly, they can last up to ten years. How­ever, it is pos­sible that the col­our of the cup will change slightly over time. But that is not so import­ant, as this does not affect the func­tion or hygiene. What exper­i­ences have you had with men­strual cups so far? Feel free to tell us about your per­sonal exper­i­ences – we are already quite curi­ous to hear from you.

How does a men­strual cup work?

Let’s get to the heart of it all: How to use the men­strual cup cor­rectly? And how does it work? The require­ment for the suc­cess­ful use of men­strual cups is in any case that you are not afraid to touch your own body and to see and feel your own men­strual blood in all its col­ours, shapes and con­sist­en­cies! The pro­cess of using men­strual cups is actu­ally quite simple: wash, fold, insert, ‘pop open’, col­lect the blood, remove the under­pres­sure, take it out, wash, and then the cycle starts all over again. And do not for­get to wash your hands. That went way too quick for you? So let’s talk about it again slowly with per­sonal tips and detailed instruc­tions on how to use the men­strual cup properly!

Three dif­fer­ent fold­ing tech­niques for the men­strual cups.

A step-by-step guide for you and your cup: How to use the men­strual cup?

The men­strual cup is inser­ted into the vagina using a vari­ous of fold­ing tech­niques. It is best to try out dif­fer­ent fold­ing tech­niques at the begin­ning to find out which one is easi­est for you. A quick tip: If you rinse the cup under warm water, it will be easier to insert it when still slightly wet. The cup will then unfold itself inside the body to catch the blood. It is import­ant that the men­strual cup is not inser­ted too far and lies against the vaginal wall. You should also make sure that it has opened com­pletely inside you and that the cer­vix is above the cup so that the cup is leakproof.

Is the men­strual cup really posi­tioned correctly?

You can best feel this by slowly mov­ing your index fin­ger around the inser­ted men­strual cup. When it is prop­erly posi­tioned and unfol­ded, a slight under­pres­sure is cre­ated. You can eas­ily check this by pulling the cup down gently. If the cup does not really move, it fits per­fectly. If the cup slides down a little by pulling it slightly, it is not yet cor­rect and the cup has prob­ably not fully opened. In this case, you can turn it slightly in one dir­ec­tion until it has unfol­ded com­pletely. But some­times if noth­ing works, just take the cup out again, take a deep breath and try again. Also make sure that the air holes of the men­strual cup are free, because they cre­ate the desired neg­at­ive pressure.

How do I know when the men­strual cup is full?

After twelve hours, at the latest, you should take out the men­strual cup again. You can empty the men­strual blood dir­ectly in the toi­let. On heav­ier days, how­ever, you may have to empty the cup more fre­quently. For many users it is dif­fi­cult to feel exactly when the cup is full. For example, you can set an alarm clock and go to the toi­let and empty the cup reg­u­larly every few hours. This is espe­cially help­ful in the begin­ning, when you are not yet too famil­iar with your men­strual flow. You might also feel a slight pres­sure in your abdo­men or get mild cramps when the men­strual cup is full. For example, I often have the feel­ing that my blad­der is full when the cup is well filled.

Trouble-free empty­ing of the men­strual cup

To remove the cup from inside of you, it is best to squeeze it lightly between your index fin­ger and thumb at the lower end. This will release the vacuum and you can care­fully pull it out again. Be care­ful that the men­strual blood does not drip out of the cup uncon­trol­lably as this may cause a small blood­bath. Espe­cially at the begin­ning it is a good idea to prac­tice insert­ing and remov­ing the cup in the shower or squat­ting down. It might also be help­ful if you put one leg on the edge of the bathtub. But the most import­ant thing is that you are relaxed! And tip num­ber 1 is of course to stay calm and be relaxed! Import­ant: do not for­get to wash your hands prop­erly when insert­ing, chan­ging and empty­ing the cup.

How to clean the men­strual cup properly

To wash the men­strual cup, first rinse it with cold water. You can also clean the small holes on the upper edge of the cup with an inter­dental brush. Before and after your period, simply boil the men­strual cup in a pot for a few minutes. Make sure that the cup does not sink to the bot­tom of the pot, as this could cause it to melt or become deformed! It is best to place the cup in a whisk so that it floats in the water and does not touch the bot­tom of the pot.

How to use the men­strual cup: Reach your goal by being relaxed and with prac­tice over time

Most men­stru­at­ing people need a few cycles to become famil­iar with the men­strual cup. So don’t worry if it doesn’t go too well for you when first try­ing the cup and you are still won­der­ing how to use the men­strual cup cor­rectly. After a few cycles the hard work and prac­tice will pay off. Every move­ment is in place and insert­ing or chan­ging the cup is no prob­lem any­more and will only take a few seconds.  Because, as with everything in life, the beau­ti­ful say­ing applies here as well: Prac­tice makes per­fect! It is really worth it, because men­strual cups are a game changer for many men­stru­at­ing people. Once the cup is prop­erly pos­tioned, you won’t even notice it! And until then: prac­tice, relax­a­tion and time until you become an expert on how to use the men­strual cup.

What if it just won’t work?

No prob­lem. If even after a few cycles you don’t get used to the men­strual cup, then maybe it’s just not meant to be. And that is also per­fectly okay. For­tu­nately, there are other envir­on­ment­ally friendly products that you could try dur­ing your next period! How about men­strual under­wear or cloth pads?

Note: You are using an IUD for con­tra­cep­tion? Then you should be espe­cially care­ful when remov­ing your men­strual cup! If the vacuum does not dis­solve com­pletely, it can cause the IUD to move slightly. And that would not be good. So always pay attention!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Founder Vul­vani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vul­vani. She loves research­ing, writ­ing and design­ing new art­icles or innov­at­ive edu­ca­tional con­cepts about men­stru­ation all day long. When she is not trav­el­ling the world, she enjoys spend­ing time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.