Post contains affiliate links. I hesitated to do this post because, well, it’s been done before. I felt the same way about my Cloth 101 post but it was a huge hit, so here I am. I had some icky squicky feelings about menstrual cups at first too, but once I found a menstrual cup for a low cervix, I became a total convert. So going on some of the things I’ve often heard, and some that I heard during a recent mainstream Facebook chat, here are some FAQs and their answers.
What the??? Yes this is a common reaction. It’s a silicone (occasionally rubber) cup that collects menstrual fluid and can be reused for years.
WHY? No chemicals, no trash, not absorbent. Ever used a tampon that was a bit more absorbent than you needed? Taking it out can be…yeeowch! You can use the cup from the first day to the last. There’s no expense, always on hand, no smell. It’s discreet; no stealth pocketing of a tampon on your way to the restroom, no clogged toilets or embarrassment when your septic guy shows you the “sewer mice” causing your problem.
How do I know which to choose? Most brands have one for women under 30/never given birth and another for women over 30/have had a vaginal birth, though there are brands with other recommendations or sizes as well. MeLuna has a menstrual cup size calculator to help you choose. Tip: if your cup isn’t comfortable, try cutting the stem and/or flipping it inside out before writing it off.
Is the size recommendation always right? Not necessarily. It has a lot to do with your muscle tone. I really recommend trying the calculator above, and if you decide to try another brand, compare the recommended size to that of the brand you’re looking for. It’s not always as simple as age and babies yes or no! I know it’s an investment but even if you have to buy two to find the one that works for you, you are still ahead financially over disposable options.
Aren’t they gross? No, they really aren’t.
Don’t you get blood everywhere? Nope. Empty it over the toilet and you’re set.
How do you put it in? There are several fold options (check the manufacturer’s website) but basically you fold it into a “c” and slide it in, then release. If it doesn’t unfold, give it a slight twist. You might try adding a bit of water based lubricant if you are having a hard time inserting.
Can you feel it? If you have the proper size, properly inserted, nope! Not at all.
I’m having trouble with leaks. Help! If you’re not super familiar with your anatomy, you may be getting the cup beside your cervix instead of below. Try running your finger beside the rim and making sure it’s popped open and not beside your cervix. I find it helpful to insert it quite low and slide it up until it’s comfortable.
The stem is poking me. With most brands you can trim the stem until it is comfortable, even completely off.
How do you take it out? Reach in and grab the base. Do not yank by the stem or the base. Pinch the bottom until the seal releases, then slide it out. Keep the cup vertical or horizontal until it is out, then dump. When you’re getting started it can be helpful to practice in the shower, and some women find it easiest to do their emptying in the shower, particularly since you’re more relaxed then.
How often do I empty it? Typically you can go 8-12 hours before emptying it. If you’re new to cups, try it on the weekend when you’re home & check after 4 hours or so. Wear a pad as a backup. The average menstrual flow is less than 3 Tablespoons, which is not a lot. I know it seems like a horror movie and you’re imagining overflowing the cup every hour but that’s not likely. Wash your hands first!
What if I have a really heavy cycle and/or clots? You may have to empty more often. Think about how often you need to change your disposable products and check your cup at the same intervals at first. You’ll quickly get a feel for how often you should empty.
HELP! I can’t get it out! Don’t panic. Seriously. Don’t. If your muscles tense, it gets that much harder to remove. Relax, bear down and reach. Can’t reach it? Relax. Try again. It’s there. I promise.
How do you clean it? At least once a day, clean it in the sink with a gentle soap (I use Lunette Cup’s wash). At the end of my cycle I boil for 5 minutes, then store.
What do I do when I’m out? If you time it right, you most likely won’t have to empty it while you’re out. If you do, dump in the toilet, wipe with toilet paper or a disinfecting wipe, then reinsert.
Can it get lost? No, I promise you it won’t get lost, even if you can’t reach it. Your cervical opening is far too small to allow a tampon or menstrual cup through. 🙂
So do I have to take it out when I go to the bathroom? Fortunately there’s no string to get wet (eww) so you don’t have to remove it when you urinate. If you have a BM and the cup shifts down (totally normal if so) you may choose to empty & reinsert, or simply (with clean hands) gently push it back in place.
Can you use it when you exercise? I’ve used mine to run with no issues. I converted my cousin who does weightlifting competitions & she was thrilled with how it worked out. MeLuna has a sport version that is firmer, for women with very strong vaginal muscles, but it is of course, more difficult to insert. My cousin uses the size 1 Diva Cup with great results.
Can you use a cup if you’re a virgin? Yes you can. I highly recommend looking into MeLuna (no connection, I just like them & their variety) because they have 4 sizes and 2 lengths. They have some of the smallest menstrual cups I’ve ever seen.
How soon after birth can I use it? A cup is not recommended for post-partum bleeding. You can use one as soon as your doctor or midwife gives you the OK for things like intercourse & tampons. Keep in mind that your body may be different in the months after birth due to hormonal changes and muscle tone/elasticity. If it doesn’t work well for you at first, put it away and try again in a few months.
Have you used a menstrual cup? If not, what’s stopping you?