Ten Tips and Tricks for Using a Menstrual Cup for the First Time

I’ve been using a menstrual cup for a little over a year now. While I wasn’t initially enthusiastic about the idea, I knew I needed to give it a shot. My moderate to heavy flow was forcing me to change my tampon at inopportune times. I was also having some pretty serious cramps that I’d heard could be alleviated with the use of a cup (while I’ve yet to find actual data on this, I am amazed at how my cramps practically stopped once I started using the cup). Although I was uncertain at first, I can now say that I’m a fan and will not be switching back to tampons. Think you want to try a menstrual cup? Check out my tips below about making the switch.

  1. There are many great options out there, but they are all so different. Take this short quiz for a better idea of which products suit your needs. There is also this handy chart to help you compare products without getting overwhelmed.
  2. Get comfortable with your anatomy if you aren’t already. Plan to spend a couple minutes reading and rereading the package insert and positioning yourself. Some women prefer to sit on the toilet, but I was so nervous that I’d drop the cup with all the fumbling and folding and reaching. I squatted in the tub my first time.
  3. Size matters. Fit is important for comfort as well as for preventing leaks. Be sure to select the appropriate size. For instance, because I am over 30 years old and have given birth, I meet the criteria for Diva Cup Model 2.
  4. The instruction manual will explain how to fold your cup in order to insert it. Understand that this is not a hard rule. You might experiment with a few different folds. Do whatever feels comfortable. You’ll know if it’s not in properly.
  5. You need a good seal. Read the instructions for your product carefully to ensure a good seal upon insertion. For example, in order for the Diva Cup to form the best seal, it needs to be rotated once inserted.
  6. Get to know your flow. One of the most fascinating aspects of using the cup is being able to measure my flow each day. Because the cup collects rather than absorbs the way a tampon does, you can see exactly how much blood you lose each day. Pay attention to this, and you’ll be able to plan for days when you might want to wear panti-liners or determine when you can stretch how long you wear the cup.
  7. Removal can be messy. I wear mine for about 10 hours, so there are some days when it is really full. Just as a tampon comes out much more easily when it’s full, the same is true for cups. Mine has come out unexpectedly fast and spilled on the toilet seat. Your fingers will also likely get messy, so if you’re not comfortable with that, the cup probably isn’t for you. I actually prefer to remove it in the shower and pour it down the drain. Then I can just rinse the cup, reinsert, and clean up right there in the shower.
  8. Speaking of mess, consider keeping a little pack of wipes for cleaning your cup should you need to empty it in a public bathroom. But, only use the ones made for menstrual cups; chemicals in other wipes could break down the cup’s silicone or irritate the vagina. An alternative to wipes would be rinsing in the bathroom stall with a bottle of water (think gas station bathrooms on road trips).
  9. Hot water will stain the silicone over time. Rinse with cool water during your cycle. I only use hot water at the beginning of each cycle when I boil it to sanitize.
  10. Use a small mason jar for storage. It’s easy to store, you don’t have to worry about little fibers from the soft bag it comes with, and you can add boiling water right to the jar when sanitizing.

I’m so happy with my decision to switch from tampons to the cup, and I hope my insight has helped you become comfortable with the idea. Or, have you already made the switch? What tips do you have?

tips for using menstrual cup

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 8 and 6-year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education, earned her BSN, and now works as a pediatric emergency nurse. In her free time, Alyson enjoys flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

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