What are menstrual cups? What is the best menstrual cup? If you are curious about cups but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, this post might just convince you!
Everything You Wanted to Know About Menstrual Cups (But Were Too Afraid to Ask)
For years, I have heard people talking about menstrual cups.
While the idea intrigued me, it equally grossed me out, so I usually read posts or Facebook threads about it, and then went on my merry way.
However, over the past year, my menstrual cycle has become rather erratic, heavy, and quite frankly, miserable, and I thought that perhaps a menstrual cup would help resolve those issues in a bit.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the cup for me either…but after trying probably four other cups, I finally found the one that works for my body, and I couldn’t be happier.
Because it really is so much different than any other menstrual products out there.
I know that I’m not the only one who has questions or concerns about menstrual cups, so I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned a long the way – and that I wish I’d known from the start.
Menstrual cups really are a great alternative to pads and tampons, and I honestly think everyone should know about these. Not only are they better for the environment, but they are better for your body and your wallet, too!
I’ll admit I was a little nervous to write this post, just because I know it can be an awkward topic for some (though I talk about giving birth and recovering from birth enough, it’s not too out of the norm for this blog). However, I have seen lots of people asking about these lately, so I hope that this will be helpful!
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable and flexible cup that is typically made of silicone or latex (there are other materials) that collects menstrual fluid. It doesn’t absorb the fluid like a tampon or pad would. There are a lot of benefits to it, including:
- Ability to go up to 12 hours without changing
- Reusable – will save you money over time
- Better for your body – it allows your menstrual fluid to flow more freely. The material is typically better for your body than disposable products, and, of course, it’s better for the enviornment.
- It can shorten your cycle and help with cramps – many people report having their cycle be shorter because of their cup.
There are TONS of cups out there, so it can be a little overwhelming. It is absolutely worth trying out though.
How to Insert a Menstrual Cup
It is definitely a lot more “hands on” than other menstrual products – that’s for sure. It can take a little bit to get used to, but in no time you’ll be a pro!
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water
- Consider wetting the rim of the cup for easier insertion
- Sit on edge of toilet or stand. You may have to find what works best for you. I actually have found the squatty potty to be some what helpful in getting the right position!
- Fold – your cup will likely come with instructions on how to fold it, but there are TONS of folds. The two most popular are the “c” fold and the “punch down fold”
- Separate the labia and insert into vagina. Push toward your spine until it is inside the vagina. Some cups require you to twist around to get it to seal.
What I Wish I’d Known
There is a learning curve
This is the one thing I want to emphasize to anyone who is wanting to try out a menstrual cup…or perhaps is trying one right now and wants to give up.
There. is. a. learning. curve.
Repeat it with me.
The first time I committed to making it work, I was in the bathroom for like 45 minutes. Then I would leave, and five minutes later come back because I was so uncomfortable.
I saw SO many reviews and people acting like a menstrual cup was a miracle, and I just didn’t get it.
Now that I’ve been using it for a bit, I’ve really come to understand how to use it, and it’s a lot easier. It has made my life easier. I hardly even realize I’m on my period anymore!
So don’t give up if it doesn’t work right the first few tries. Just keep trying, read everything you can, and even watch a few videos. There are some great groups on Facebook with people who can help you.
One size does not fit all
Most cups come in two sizes – small and large.
And the instructions tell you to get it based on your age and how many kids you have.
However, it’s more complicated than that, and the first thing you should do is know how high or low your cervix sits, as well as know how heavy your flow is.
This is CRUCIAL information, and honestly, it’s what made my first experience trying to put one in pretty terrible. I used the Diva cup (because it seemed to be the most popular brand), but I couldn’t even get it in.
I have since found out that because of how my cervix sits (which is very low), it never would have worked. I also have a super heavy flow, so even though I eventually got a cup that was good for low cervixes, the cup capacity was not enough.
So do yourself a favor, learn how to measure your cervix, and THEN decide on your cup. Most of the sizing charts for different cups would have me ordering a cup that would not work.
The firmness also plays a part. A more flexible cup can be easier to insert, but it also can be trickier to get to open. A firmer cup might be better for someone who is very active and/or has strong pelvic floor muscles.
There are tons of brands – and probably new ones pop up daily. I would definitely take time to read reviews and watch videos.
Putacupinit.com has a great quiz to help you figure out the perfect cup for you.
It will be the only thing you can think about
At least for the first cycle or two.
You’ll wonder if it’s in the right place, if it’s leaking, or if it’s full.
For me, the first few cycles it’s all I could think about because I kept feeling like it was about to fall out (which is why I realized I needed a different).
I just kept thinking, “Is this actually working? Is it going to be a disaster? This is kind of cool!”, and I just want to tell everyone about it…though I don’t, because it’s not exactly dinner conversation. haha.
Videos are Helpful
I thought these were a little weird at first, but watching videos about the cups I was using was really helpful – especially when I decided to try out the femmycycle.
Just go to YouTube and either search for the cup you are interested in or just search menstrual cup in general.
Don’t Be Afraid to Cut the Stem
Most menstrual cups have some kind of stem – and it’s kind of long! Not everyone minds this, but I couldn’t stand it. And it’s okay to cut it off!
Make sure you read the instructions for the cup though. Some shouldn’t have their stem or handle cut off (for instance, the little ring on the femmycycle cup should definitely not be cut off!)
12 Hours? Maybe…but not likely
Okay, this is just based on my experience.
People often tout the menstrual cup for allowing you to keep it in for 12 hours. Which you can do!
However, if you have a heavier flow like I do, that’s just a pipe dream.
With the femmycycle on my heaviest day, I can go about six hours without emptying – which is amazing. On light days, I can go 12 hours.
However, before I was using the femmycycle, the longest I could go on the heaviest day was two hours…which was not fun, especially if I was out and about!
It Might Reveal Interesting Things About your Health
This has been one of the biggest benefits of the cup so far – it’s helped me identify some possible reasons behind the health problems I’ve been having.
I discovered that I was bleeding a lot. We’re talking around 150 ml each cycle. Apparently average blood loss is between 15 ml and 75 ml, so I realized that my flow was definitely abnormally heavy. This has opened up some new conversations with my doctor as we try and figure out the pain I’m in most of the time
I also discovered that the coloring is a little bit off (it’s purple) which my acupuncturist was able to help with, oddly enough.
Rinse with the Cup pointing to the side/down
Let’s just say a few times I went to rinse the cup out, and although most of the blood had been emptied into the toilet, the remnants in the cup sprayed up with the water all over the place.
Not fun to clean up.
It Can’t Get Lost
There is literally no way for your cup to get lost – even if you can’t find it.
I had an experience where I literally couldn’t find it for a minute or so, and it was scary! However, as soon as I calmed down and realized there was no way it was going to migrate it’s way through my cervix and into my uterus, I was okay. The more stressed you are, the harder it can be to get out.
Just remember that bearing down like you are going to have a bowel movement can help bring it down. Relax!
Push toward your spine, not up
It can be easy to feel like you have to push the cup up. However, you really need to push back and toward your spine. It feels a little weird doing this at first, but it’s the only way to get it in!
Public bathrooms might scare you
Hopefully, you’ll be able to time things so you don’t have to empty your cup in a public bathroom.
However, if you do – don’t be scared! You’ll be okay. If you are lucky enough tobe using a single person bathroom, it’s not a big deal.
However, if you are in a multi-stall bathroom, just relax. You can bring a water bottle to rinse it off with in the bathroom, or really, you can just wipe it out with a baby wipe or toilet paper and clean it a little better when you go home.
The only awkward part of I’ve found is if there is a “pop” when you break the suction. I haven’t had this issue with my femmycycle, but I did with some of the other cups I’ve used.
Blood might get everywhere
It might pop out faster than you thought, your hands might get slippery and it falls everywhere…but don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world.
The thing I like about the femmycycle is the spill proof design, so if I accidentally dropped it, it wouldn’t get everywhere. However, most cups aren’t like this, and you may get blood everywhere. Just be careful!
It doesn’t prevent TSS
A lot of people will tell you that menstrual cups eliminate your risk for TSS. And while the risk of getting TSS is extremely low – there has been at least one reported case of TSS with someone wearing a cup.
In that situation, she scratched herself while inserting it, which introduced a place for bacteria to enter her bloodstream. So it’s more that she should have cut her nails than anything. But since there has been at least one case off TSS associated with a cup, it’s just good to be aware of!
You Might Feel Lightheaded
So before I started using a cup, I was in a Facebook group where people were talking about it. A few people said something about how they felt really lightheaded the first few times they used it.
This happened to me my first two cycles! I don’t know what the deal was, but it was really weird. It doesn’t happen anymore, though.
It Might Change Your Life
Now that I have finally figured it out, I really feel like it was life changing. I feel like it’s helped with cramps, and I honestly don’t even think about being on my period anymore. It’s freeing.
These are something that have become popular over the past few years, and I know there are a lot of questions. Thinx is the most popular brand…however, they are super expensive, so I didn’t feel like investing in them. I found a brand on Amazon that was less expensive, and I like them. They are good for catching leaks if you have them – though I wouldn’t wear them alone unless you are just spotting. Thinx are apparently better for this. However, I don’t like how they feel if they get too much on them – just feels a little wet. However, I do like them for backup. This is the brand I got.
Try Different Folds
There are tons of different folds for insertion. To be honest, some of them really confused me, and I was able to get it down with the popular punch down fold. It makes the insertion point a little thinner and easier to use.
How to Clean
Most cups come with specific instructions on how to clean. It is generally recommended to sanitize them before and after your cycle. The femmycycle recommends doing a mixture of vinegar and warm water, which is what I do. A lot of people will boil their cups. I recommend just checking out the instructions that come with your cup. I have this microwave cleaner that I got, which worked fine, but I burnt myself with the water a few times…so it’s not my favorite. haha!
Teens can use them
People often wonder if this is a good option for teens – and I think it’s a great one! As with everyone, it will take a bit of a learning curve, but they can work well. A lot of companies (such as MeLuna) have ones that are specifically for teens who may require a smaller one.
Can you use a menstrual cup with an IUD?
A lot of people wonder if you can use an menstrual cup with an IUD. From what I’ve read, most companies don’t recommend it – however, I have heard many women say they successfully do. So I would imagine it’s one of those “proceed with caution” types of situations – because there are women who have pulled their IUD out along with their cup.
The Best Menstrual Cup
I plan to do a more in depth post about these in the near future when I write a post about the best menstrual cups for people with low cervix’s, but I thought I would share which cups I’ve tried and my thoughts on them.
There are a lot of cups out there – and honestly, many of them are the same. However, it is important to find which shape and size is best for your body. There are the bell shaped ones, shorter and deeper ones, some have stems, others have rings, some have a higher capacity than others. Just be sure you get one.
Menstrual Cup Comparison
Diva Cup – I could not get the size two to work for me, and it made me almost swear off trying cups in the future. I was sent one to do a sponsored post for once, and it just didn’t work for me. I know this is a really popular one, though, and it’s available in retailers across the country. However, I really didn’t like it.
Blossom Cup – This cup is longer. I bought this one because it said on Amazon that it was better than the Diva, and there were thousands of very positive reviews. It was only about $15 as well, so I was excited to try it.
It took me a little while to get the folds right, but it eventually worked. It worked perfectly for awhile, but then it started feeling like it was going to fall out (due to having a low cervix), and that is not a comfortable feeling!
LENA – When I took a quiz about which cup to get, the LENA small was recommended. The company was nice enough to send me one, and I was excited to try it out. Unfortunately, even though I was using the size small, it was still too long, and it practically fell out. I felt like the silicone was higher quality than the Blossom cup, and it was really soft. I wished it had worked better, because when I was able to get it to stay in, it was very comfortable.
They have two main sizes – small and large; but I think you can get the LENA Sensitive on their website.
MeLuna – When I joined a menstrual cup group on Facebook, this is the brand that was recommended to me with having a low cervix. They actually have a huge variety of cups in different firmness levels, sizes, and even the stem (they have stemless, a ball, a ring, and a traditional stem).
I ended up going with the “Shorty” style because it was created for lower cervix’s. I got the large one for the capacity, though I wish I had gone with the XL, because I do think it would have held more. The only reason I didn’t keep with this one was because I was having to empty it every 2-3 hours, which I didn’t like. It was a little firmer than other cups, but I didn’t have any issues with insertion. I wouldn’t mind trying the XL someday. It’s definitely a high quality brand, and I highly recommend looking into them.
Femmycycle – This is the cup that has become my “Goldilocks” cup, as they call it in the menstrual cup world. I was really nervous to try it, because I heard some horror stories, and the reviews were less than stellar…however, I watched quite a few videos, read the instructions, and convinced myself I could figure it out…and I LOVE it. It did take me a few times to make sure it didn’t leak, and you do have to be careful when you remove it….but it’s the cup I was looking for. I have the low cervix one, and it’s very comfortable. Unlike other cups, it doesn’t have to open all the way. So don’t try to get it to open all the way. When you remove it, try and hook your finger around the opening to help release some of the suction, and then it won’t hurt when you take it out.
What I also like about this cup is the capacity. As I mentioned, I have a very heavy cycle, and it’s been a game changer in that respect. I plan to do a full review on this cup later, but for me, it’s the one I will keep doing. I also love that it is spill proof. When I was having trouble getting it to go in right, it actually flipped upside down. Thankfully, the spill proof feature prevented that from being a disaster!
The Femmycycle comes in two sizes – low cervix and regular. You can get the most bang for your buck on Amazon where you can get the low and regular for about $50. Buying one or the other is $39, so I definitely recommend going that route. The regular mainly just has a bigger ringer, and it might be slightly larger.
It is definitely different from other cups though, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t “get it” at first. I highly recommend watching some YouTube videos.