Making the switch to a menstrual cup can feel a little daunting as you have to get used to managing your period in a completely different way. We have written this guide to help you on your way to becoming a happy menstrual cup user and avoid some of the common mistakes people make when first using a menstrual cup. Before you start using your new menstrual cup, let’s run through some basics to get you acquainted with your new cup.
Before first use, check your menstrual cup over for any damage and that the air holes at the top of your cup are open. You should always sterilise your cup before you use it, by boiling it, immersed in water (in a pan put aside for this purpose) for 20 minutes. You can pop your menstrual cup into the middle of a whisk to prevent accidental burning. Or you can use Milton sterilising tablets, our favourite sterilising method as it provides a discrete and convenient way of sterilising your menstrual cup. Set aside a 1.5 or 2 litres container for this purpose, fill it to the top with cold water and pop in a quarter of the Milton sterilising tablet, set the rest of the tablet aside for next time. Allow the tablet to completely dissolve then pour half of the water away, then refill your container to the top with cold water. Drop-in your menstrual cup for 15 minutes rinse off with water and wipe dry or drip dry.
Wash your hands thoroughly and give your menstrual cup a quick wash with cold water before inserting it for the first time.
NOW relax, I mean really relax this is probably the most nerve-wracking part of learning how to use a menstrual cup for most people, and it’s completely normal. Choose a time when you can stay at home and relax to try out your cup for the first time. Just after a shower or bath is a great time to give your cup ago as your pelvic floor muscles will be relaxed and inserting your menstrual cup will be more comfortable.
Find a comfortable position to insert your cup, and you can lie down on your back or stand up, squat down or sit on the toilet seat. You’ll find a position that works best for you over time. Now fold your cup we recommend the punched down or 7 fold as these folds have a small insertion tip. The C fold shown on most instruction manuals isn’t the best. When you use the C fold, the widest part of the cup is just at the beginning which can make it very difficult to insert your menstrual cup. If you know where your cervix is it will help you to angle your menstrual cup so that you do not place your cup past your cervix.
To find your cervix, insert a finger into your vagina and feel for your cervix, which feels kind of like the tip of your nose. It is a small, squishy nub with an indentation in the middle. If you can’t find your cervix, this probably means it’s very high, and in that case, your cervix likely won’t cause any problems. However, your menstrual cup might sit higher up inside you.
To insert your cup, relax your jaw muscles, YES relaxing your jaw does affect your pelvic floor muscles. Gently insert the tip of the cup, keeping the angled downwards towards your tailbone until the cup is past your pubic bone. If you experience any pain, you may want to use a water-based lubricant such as KY jelly. When the entire cup is inside, you let go and allow the cup to pop open.
You may have heard or felt a “pop.” This is a sign that the cup has opened. Otherwise, reach up and feel around the base of the cup. It should be round or at least oval. If it’s not open, you can open it manually with a hand. Also try doing a few Kegel exercises, squats or rotating the cup in a full circle by twisting the base. You can also reach up with a finger and press part of the vaginal wall out of the way so that air can travel up and open the cup. When it is in place, you can also try to pull it gently down, to make sure the vacuum has been made. Then stand up and walk around a bit if you can’t feel it “well done” you successfully inserted your cup. If you can still feel it, push it up a little higher in till you can’t feel it anymore. Avoid cutting the stem in till you are confident with removing your cup. We recommend wearing backup protection such as a panty liner until you are confident using your cup.
To remove your cup, wash your hands. Try to relax, and there’s no rush!
Squat down as this shortens your vaginal canal and pushes the cup down, making it easier for you to remove. Make sure to have some toilet paper or a wipe with you as removing your cup for the first time can be a little messy, removing your cup in the shower is a great way to avoid any mess. Bear down with your muscles so the cup will travel down farther. Continue doing this until you can reach the stem. Then break the seal by squeezing the bottom part of the cup until you feel or hear the suction release. Now gently rock the cup from side to side while pulling down. When you get to the opening of your vagina, make sure you take it out upright to reduce spillage. If the rim of the cup is too wide to remove comfortably, use a finger to fold the cup into a C fold or a punch-down fold before you take it out of your vagina. Always pull the cup out while pinching the ridged bottom of the cup. Empty the contents down the toilet and thoroughly wash your cup down with cold water, check that the suction release air holes are not clogged before inserting it again.