It’s the perfect summertime solution to swimming without a tampon - the menstrual cup. Catching up to a full ounce of blood and lasting twelve hours before you need to empty it, the cup allows for long summer days at the beach or camping under the stars. However, it’s one of the products we get the most questions about - and there is a bit of a learning curve when you first try it.
At Lunapads, we are proud to sell the DivaCup, one of the most popular cups out there - and with good reason! I’ve been using one for over a decade, from the Andean mountains to the subways of New York City, and it has never failed me. Don’t be afraid to make the switch - here’s our top tips to help you get cup-savvy in no time.
The First Time, Take Your Time
When you first use your cup, pick an evening where you’ll be at home. Insert your cup and then - just relax. Fold some laundry. Watch some Netflix. If you have any leaks or discomfort, you’ll be at home to deal with it. The next morning, take your cup out in the shower, making any spills a non-issue.
Call In Some Backup
If you’re worried about leaks because you’ve got a heavy flow or just not sure you’ve perfected your insertion strategy, consider picking up a pair of period undies or some liners to catch any extra leaks. A cup shouldn’t leak if used correctly, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
If you’re having persistent leaks, consider that you might have the wrong size of cup. Most come in two sizes. If your cup has started leaking after several years of being a committed cup user, it might be time to size up.
Be Ready To Fold, Spin and Squat
There are many ways to fold and insert a menstrual cup (I’m a fan of the Punch Down Fold, myself). When you’re starting out, experiment with a couple to find the most comfortable option for you. Similarly, you might need to experiment with the most comfortable body position to insert your cup - you might put one foot on the toilet seat or squat down. Don’t forget you can trim the stem of the cup if it is poking you.
Once you’ve got the cup in, don’t forget to spin it. It’s totally painless, and you’ll create a strong seal to ensure that the cup doesn’t leak.
Yes, You Will Be Able To Get It Out
Your cup is too big to travel past your cervix, so it CANNOT get stuck up there. It’s just not possible. Removal problems largely fall into two categories: the cup has ascended in the vaginal canal during wear and now you’re having problems grabbing it, or the seal is refusing to break.
If your cup has travelled upwards on you, bear down like you were having a bowel movement and the cup should move downward. It might be helpful to squat or sit on the toilet. You can then grab the cup and remove it.
If the cup seal is refusing to break, run a finger between your vaginal walls and the outer walls of the cup to disrupt the seal. The cup should then come out easily.
In either case, stay calm. If you’re tense, then it makes removal a lot more difficult.
Know When You Need To Throw In The Towel
Allow yourself about three cycles to get into the rhythm of using your cup. It’s a new thing to learn and you need to be patient with yourself. That said, there are some warning signs of a cup that’s just not going to work, including:
- Lots of pain at any point
- A cup that makes it hard for you to empty your bladder completely (the cup material is too firm for you)
- Perpetual leaking, no matter what you try
- The small holes at the rim of the cup are sealed or strangely shaped (this is probably a manufacturer's defect)
Cups do need to be replaced - although they are less likely to be a cause of toxic shock syndrome than tampons, they can eventually break down. We recommend replacing your cup as your manufacturer recommends or at least every couple of years.
If your cup is severely discoloured, sticky, smells bad or develops a powdery texture, it is time to replace it. Otherwise, cups are easy to take care of: boil your cup between cycles and wash it whenever you change it. Take care of your cup, and it will serve you well for a long time.