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How to use menstrual cup

Menstrual Cup: A Complete Beginners Guide in 2021

It’s time that all the menstruating people upgrade their age-old menstrual products like sanitary napkins and tampons to this eco-friendly and hygienic product called Menstrual Cup. This article on Menstrual Cup: A Complete Beginner’s Guide in 2021 will answer all your basic queries to start your happy journey with this hassle free product.

Nowadays, everyone is getting concerned about environmental pollution and it’s a given that period products take a significant part in polluting our environment. This magical product actively reduces the pollution caused by menstrual products.

So, what does the menstrual cup mean?

Made of medical-grade silicone or latex rubber, a menstrual cup is a reusable, small bell-shaped cup which a person inserts into their vagina to catch and collect menstrual blood.

The reason behind everyone leaning towards this product is that this tiny cup can hold a lot more blood than any other period products like pads or tampons and it’s eco-friendly, also budget-friendly and hygienic. 

Depending on the flow, one can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours. 

Let us have a detailed guide on how to use this magical product called menstrual cup.

Is this a newly invented female hygienic product?

Although we came to know about this product in recent years and people are taking initiatives in using it rather than pads, American actress Leona Chalmers had invented menstrual cups in 1937. She patented its design with the promise that it wouldn’t cause any discomfort or consciousness of its presence. It was made of latex rubber material. Afterwards, many modifications have been done and slowly people started to use this product.

How to select a proper menstrual cup size?

First thing first. Before using it, you have to buy a menstrual cup and for that you must be aware of selecting a proper and comfortable cup size for your vagina. 

Menstrual cups come in various shapes and sizes- small, medium and large. 

The small size cups are for first-time users who are below 25 years and have not given birth vaginally. It has the capacity of around 15 ml which you can comfortably wear up to 8-10 hours depending on your blood flow. 

The medium size cups can be used by teenagers to below 30 people and who have not given birth yet.

The large size is for above 30 and/or people who have given birth vaginally. 

Before choosing a proper cup size, you must consider few factors:

  1. Your age
  2. If you have given birth,
  3. If you’re allergic to silicone or latex rubber or medical grade plastic
  4. Whether you have heavy flow
  5. The cup capacity of your selected brand
  6. Would you like a stemless cup rather than the normal one

There are many brands available in Indian market who are making these cups. Sirona, Pee Safe, iActive, Sanfe, Wow, iCare, and many more. It is better to go through the reviews of the users on any online forum before opting to buy a cup.

How to sterilize your menstrual cup before the first use?

Next up is sterilizing the cup before using it. Keeping the cup clean and hygienic is very important, but too simple. The most common way to sterilize the cup for the first use is to boil it for 5 mins in boiling water.

To wash the cup, use any vagina safe menstrual cup cleaner or any gentle soap. It’s better to use a soap which is especially made for washing menstrual cups (e.g., Sanfe or Wow) to prevent any kind of irritation in your vagina. 

You can use the steam sterilizers available in the market as well. But it might cost you a little unnecessary fortune.

Since a menstrual cup can be worn up to 10-12 hours without changing frequently unless you have a heavy period, it needs washing only twice to thrice a day while using it.

How to insert the menstrual cup in your vagina?

For the first-time users, it might be a nightmare to put the cup inside them. But NO, it DOES NOT get lost inside your vagina!

When your period starts, just make yourself relax, telling it’s no big deal. If you get nervous while inserting the cup, the muscles of your cervix and vagina get tensed, making it difficult to insert and position the cup in the right place.

So, the steps to insert a menstrual cup inside your vagina are as follows:

  1. Relax yourself.
  2. Wash your hands and vagina thoroughly with a gentle soap that maintains the pH level of your vagina.
  3. Wash the cup with water and rinse the excess water from its outer wall. You can use a water-based lube to the rim of the cup for easy insertion, but not many women do.
  4. Then choose a fold you’re comfortable with and fold your cup tightly in that way.
  5. Squat down or raise one of your legs and slowly insert the cup inside. It should sit slightly below your cervix.
  6. Take a deep breath if it doesn’t go in at the first attempt. Don’t worry. Try again. You’ll get used to the feeling. With a few trials, you should be able to put it inside.
  7. Once the cup is in your vagina, apply slight pressure at the base or try to rotate the cup by the stem. It will unfold with a pop and create an airtight seal that’ll stop the leaking. 
  8. Remember to check whether it is positioned correctly. It is not sealed until you feel it pop open inside you.

And you’re done. The good thing is, you won’t even feel anything inside if you’ve inserted the cup correctly. The good thing about using a cup is you can jump, run, swim and do every other daily activity without the fear of leaking and the cup falling out. It doesn’t come out unless you make it. 

Types of folds you can consider:

The most common fold is C-fold/U-fold. It’s basic and easy to make, hold and use. Most of the users prefer this fold. The other most commonly used fold is the push-down/punch-down fold. There are many other folds like 7, S, Diamond, Triangle, Labia and so on. It is totally up to you which fold you find comfortable to work with.

You can watch this video on YouTube to get a clear concept of how to use it. 

How long can you wear a menstrual cup?

Depending on your flow, you can wear a menstrual cup from 7 to 12 hours and completely forget about your period. If you have relatively light flow, you can use it up to 12 hours and also overnight. You only need to empty the content inside the cup twice a day.

How to take out your menstrual cup?

Many people can insert the cup properly, but when it comes to removing it, they get scared and mess up. However, it’s even easier than inserting.

The steps to take out the menstrual cup are as follows:

  1. Clean your hands first.
  2. Get in the same position you did while inserting the cup.
  3. Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina and grab the stem of your cup. Give it a pull until you can reach the base. 
  4. Give the base a light squeeze to release the suction and pull it down to remove the cup.
  5. Empty the cup and wash it properly.

How to wash your menstrual cup?

While you’re in your period, you can wash the cup with clean water alone before putting it inside again. However, it is recommended to use a soap especially made for washing menstrual cups to prevent itching and irritation. 

After your cycle is over, give the cup a good scrub and boil it again for 5 minutes in clean water. Store the cup in a breathable pouch and keep it in a hygienic place until your next cycle.

How much does a menstrual cup cost?

There are many brands that are making menstrual cups these days. Menstrual cup prices vary from brand to brand and the quality of the material. One unit can cost from 275 INR to 1000 INR and more. It’s recommended to go through the user reviews before buying your first cup.

Menstrual cup advantages:

Reasons you need to switch –

  1. Budget friendly-
    Unlike tampons or pads, you only pay once for a reusable menstrual cup. While using sanitary pads, you’ll have to pay a minimum of 1200 INR in a year, but this expenditure becomes close to zero when you’re using a menstrual cup. So why not?
  2. Eco-friendly-
    Reusable menstrual cups can last a long time (max. 10 years), which means you’re not contributing more waste to the environment with bloody pads and tampons.
  3. Sex-friendly-
    Some menstrual cups are designed in such a way that you can have sex without making a mess and your partner feeling anything inside your vagina. These sex-friendly menstrual cups looked like domes rather than normal bell-shaped ones.
  4. Safer and unlikely to get infection –
    As menstrual cups collect rather than absorb blood, you’re less likely to have any bacterial infection related to tampon use.
  5. There’s less mess-
    If you insert the cup properly, it should not leak or spill. While wearing a menstrual cup, you can easily take part in daily activities like working out, swimming, showering, or even pooping.
  6. Comfortable-
    Most of the users claim menstrual cups are more comfortable than using pads and tampons. Cups don’t dry out your vagina unlike tampons, and you can’t even feel the cup inside once it’s inserted properly.
  7. Holds more blood-
    A menstrual cup can hold double the amount of blood a super absorbent pad or tampon does.
  8. Has less to no odor-
    The most beneficial fact about menstrual cups is your menstrual blood won’t release bad odor. Because the blood stays inside your body (where it should be unless you take it out) and cannot come in contact with air to release any bad odor.

Menstrual cup disadvantages:

Although very few, but there still are few disadvantages of menstrual cups.

  1. Removal can be messy:
    While you’re removing the cup, it can be a little messy as blood might spill out from the cup. As removing the cup requires a little pull to dislodge it from its place, blood spilling from the cup is likely to be unavoidable. 
  2. Insertion can be tough for the beginners:
    Beginners often find it difficult to insert the cup inside the vagina. First, making the fold and holding it correctly while inserting the cup itself is a little tricky, then if the fold doesn’t open once inside and secure the seal, blood may leak afterwards. Second, because of nervousness and fear, many beginners just give up after the very first attempt. 
  3. Finding the correct size:
    Some users face a hard time because they start with a wrong size. Large cups aren’t for teenagers, and small cups aren’t for moms. Before buying your cup, you must be aware of the proper size that would fit you correctly without any discomfort for you and your vagina.
  4. Some may be allergic to the material:
    Although menstrual cups are made from medical grade materials, people who are allergic to latex, silicone or rubber material can face allergic reactions. 
  5. Vaginal irritation:
    A menstrual cup may irritate your vagina if it is not cleaned and cared for properly. Without proper wash, there is an increased chance for infection. So, it is recommended to wash the menstrual cup very well. Rinse and dry it properly after your cycle is over and store in a safe and hygienic place. Also, you should never use a disposable menstrual cup. Every time you’re about to touch your vagina/cup and afterwards wash your hands properly.

User reviews:

No worries of leakage, stains, and irritation, whatsoever. Hygienic, pocket as well as environment friendly.  No worries of disposal. I believe the above-mentioned points cover up almost everything that a woman would look for in the product she uses in her bleeding days. I was suggested ‘the magical product’ by my elder cousin sister. The only issue that I faced was the insertion part. I was using it the wrong way initially and was about to give up on it. As it caused extra pain (along with the period cramps). Finally, I decided to give one last try, and was determined to do it the right way, and that was it. Got no plans of returning to sanitary napkins (or go for any alternate) till menopause. 

Sneha Koley, 21, UG Student

It’s convenient for sure. No worry of buying pads, disposing of pads, or changing pads frequently. The only thing is, it wasn’t comfortable at first. First few times I used it, I had felt this fullness and the urge to pee often. To make it feel comfortable, I had to situate it in the right place. It takes trial and error to get it right. My fingers literally got tired for the first time until I was able to get it in place. Then removing it afterwards is also very scary. As I’m a new user, it’ll take some time for me to get used to it.

R H Rose, 26, Kindle Writer

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Reference:

  1. Menstrual Cup: Wiki

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