Mens¬≠trual cups, also just cal¬≠led cups, are pro¬≠bably the most popu¬≠lar period pro¬≠duct among the reus¬≠able alter¬≠na¬≠ti¬≠ves. Did you know that mens¬≠trual cups have been on the mar¬≠ket for ages? Actually since the 1930s, only a short time after tam¬≠pons ent¬≠e¬≠red the mar¬≠ket! Mens¬≠trual cups were mainly used by ‚Äėhip¬≠pie com¬≠mu¬≠nities‚Äô. But they are slowly ent¬≠e¬≠ring the main¬≠stream and are beco¬≠m¬≠ing more and more popu¬≠lar ‚Äď and rightly so! It‚Äôs crazy that mens¬≠trual cups have only become a trend in recent years, isn‚Äôt it? Most people are still won¬≠de¬≠ring how to use the mens¬≠trual cup, so let‚Äôs explore the won¬≠der¬≠ful world of cups together!

What are menstrual cups?

Mens¬≠trual cups are small con¬≠tai¬≠ners that directly collect the mens¬≠trual blood inside the body. They usually have a capa¬≠city of bet¬≠ween 10 and 30 ml and are made of medi¬≠cal sili¬≠cone, rub¬≠ber or latex. There are now mens¬≠trual cups in various sizes and shapes. When used cor¬≠rectly, they can last up to ten years. Howe¬≠ver, it is pos¬≠si¬≠ble that the colour of the cup will change slightly over time. But that is not so important, as this does not affect the func¬≠tion or hygiene. What expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠ces have you had with mens¬≠trual cups so far? Feel free to tell us about your per¬≠so¬≠nal expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠ces ‚Äď we are already quite curious to hear from you.

How does a menstrual cup work?

Let‚Äôs get to the heart of it all: How to use the mens¬≠trual cup cor¬≠rectly? And how does it work? The requi¬≠re¬≠ment for the suc¬≠cess¬≠ful use of mens¬≠trual cups is in any case that you are not afraid to touch your own body and to see and feel your own mens¬≠trual blood in all its colours, shapes and con¬≠sis¬≠ten¬≠cies! The pro¬≠cess of using mens¬≠trual cups is actually quite simple: wash, fold, insert, ‚Äėpop open‚Äô, collect the blood, remove the under¬≠pres¬≠sure, take it out, wash, and then the cycle starts all over again. And do not for¬≠get to wash your hands. That went way too quick for you? So let‚Äôs talk about it again slowly with per¬≠so¬≠nal tips and detailed inst¬≠ruc¬≠tions on how to use the mens¬≠trual cup properly!

Three dif¬≠fe¬≠rent fol¬≠ding tech¬≠ni¬≠ques for the mens¬≠trual cups.

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

The mens¬≠trual cup is inser¬≠ted into the vagina using a various of fol¬≠ding tech¬≠ni¬≠ques. It is best to try out dif¬≠fe¬≠rent fol¬≠ding tech¬≠ni¬≠ques at the begin¬≠ning 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 its¬≠elf inside the body to catch the blood. It is important that the mens¬≠trual cup is not inser¬≠ted too far and lies against the vagi¬≠nal wall. You should also make sure that it has ope¬≠ned com¬≠ple¬≠tely inside you and that the cer¬≠vix 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 fin¬≠ger around the inser¬≠ted mens¬≠trual cup. When it is pro¬≠perly posi¬≠tio¬≠ned and unfolded, a slight under¬≠pres¬≠sure is crea¬≠ted. You can easily check this by pul¬≠ling the cup down gently. If the cup does not really move, it fits per¬≠fectly. If the cup sli¬≠des down a little by pul¬≠ling it slightly, it is not yet cor¬≠rect and the cup has pro¬≠bably not fully ope¬≠ned. In this case, you can turn it slightly in one direc¬≠tion until it has unfolded com¬≠ple¬≠tely. But some¬≠ti¬≠mes if not¬≠hing works, just take the cup out again, take a deep breath and try again. Also make sure that the air holes of the mens¬≠trual cup are free, because they create the desi¬≠red nega¬≠tive pressure.

How do I know when the menstrual cup is full?

After twelve hours, at the latest, you should take out the mens¬≠trual cup again. You can empty the mens¬≠trual blood directly in the toi¬≠let. On hea¬≠vier days, howe¬≠ver, you may have to empty the cup more fre¬≠quently. For many users it is dif¬≠fi¬≠cult to feel exactly when the cup is full. For example, you can set an alarm clock and go to the toi¬≠let and empty the cup regu¬≠larly every few hours. This is espe¬≠cially hel¬≠pful in the begin¬≠ning, when you are not yet too fami¬≠liar with your mens¬≠trual flow. You might also feel a slight pres¬≠sure in your abdo¬≠men or get mild cramps when the mens¬≠trual cup is full. For example, I often have the fee¬≠ling that my blad¬≠der 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 bet¬≠ween your index fin¬≠ger and thumb at the lower end. This will release the vacuum and you can care¬≠fully pull it out again. Be care¬≠ful that the mens¬≠trual blood does not drip out of the cup uncon¬≠troll¬≠ably as this may cause a small bloo¬≠d¬≠bath. Espe¬≠cially at the begin¬≠ning it is a good idea to prac¬≠tice inser¬≠ting and remo¬≠ving the cup in the sho¬≠wer or squat¬≠ting down. It might also be hel¬≠pful if you put one leg on the edge of the bath¬≠tub. But the most important thing is that you are rela¬≠xed! And tip num¬≠ber 1 is of course to stay calm and be rela¬≠xed! Important: do not for¬≠get to wash your hands pro¬≠perly when inser¬≠ting, chan¬≠ging and empty¬≠ing the cup.

How to clean the menstrual cup properly

To wash the mens¬≠trual cup, first rinse it with cold water. You can also clean the small holes on the upper edge of the cup with an inter¬≠den¬≠tal brush. Before and after your period, sim¬≠ply boil the mens¬≠trual cup in a pot for a few minu¬≠tes. Make sure that the cup does not sink to the bot¬≠tom of the pot, as this could cause it to melt or become defor¬≠med! It is best to place the cup in a whisk so that it floats in the water and does not touch the bot¬≠tom of the pot.

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

Most mens¬≠trua¬≠ting people need a few cycles to become fami¬≠liar with the mens¬≠trual cup. So don‚Äôt worry if it doesn‚Äôt go too well for you when first try¬≠ing the cup and you are still won¬≠de¬≠ring how to use the mens¬≠trual cup cor¬≠rectly. After a few cycles the hard work and prac¬≠tice will pay off. Every move¬≠ment is in place and inser¬≠ting or chan¬≠ging the cup is no pro¬≠blem any¬≠more and will only take a few seconds.  Because, as with ever¬≠ything in life, the beau¬≠ti¬≠ful say¬≠ing app¬≠lies here as well: Prac¬≠tice makes per¬≠fect! It is really worth it, because mens¬≠trual cups are a game chan¬≠ger for many mens¬≠trua¬≠ting people. Once the cup is pro¬≠perly pos¬≠tio¬≠ned, you won‚Äôt even notice it! And until then: prac¬≠tice, rela¬≠xa¬≠tion and time until you become an expert on how to use the mens¬≠trual cup.

What if it just won‚Äôt work?

No pro¬≠blem. If even after a few cycles you don‚Äôt get used to the mens¬≠trual cup, then maybe it‚Äôs just not meant to be. And that is also per¬≠fectly okay. For¬≠tu¬≠n¬≠a¬≠tely, there are other envi¬≠ron¬≠ment¬≠ally friendly pro¬≠ducts that you could try during your next period! How about mens¬≠trual under¬≠wear 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.