You are pre-teen starting on their menstrual journey or someone who has already walked the path and now wants to explore other more sustainable and convenient products. While most sanitary products are based on soaking up the blood, menstrual cups collect it.
Menstrual cups have been around for a long time, but it was not until recently that it gained popularity for its sustainability. Menstrual cups are a menstrual blood collecting device made of silicone that allows you to reuse it after a proper wash. This way you are not only ensuring a safe and healthy period but also reducing the carbon footprint caused by disposal of non-biodegradable sanitary products.
Did you know? As per United Nations Environment Program, disposable female sanitary products produce around 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission every year.
However, menstrual cups continue to be a point of concern for many. In order to control the flow, we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you understand menstrual cups and how it can help you during your monthly flows.
How to Use Menstrual Cups?
First thing to remember while using menstrual cups is that there is nothing to fear here. It is quite common to take a few tries to get used to it but the comfort at the end is unparalleled.
Before You Start
It is important to first sanitise your cup thoroughly before using it for the first time. Pour boiling water in a cup and drop your menstrual cups in there. Let it stay for 3-5 minutes, giving it time to clean before you move on to the next step. Ensure that the menstrual cup is not touching the walls or the bottom of the cup.
Step 1: Inserting a Cup
Inserting a cup has a couple of important steps you need to be mindful of.
Wash your hands with clean water and soap. Try not to touch any surface once you have washed your hands thoroughly.
The Very Important Fold
This is a tricky, yet an important part of the process. There are many different ways of folding a menstrual cup but you need that one which works for you.
You can either do the C-Fold or the Punch Down Fold
In the C-Fold, you press the center of the cup and fold it into half - which resembles the letter C. This reduces the lateral length of the cup which makes it easier to push it up the vagina.
Similarly, in the Punch Down Fold, you press the bottom center of the cup and press it tightly.
Not relaxing can constrict your muscles which makes it difficult to insert the menstrual cup.
Take a few deep breaths, relax your body and find a comfortable position. Most users prefer squatting down for a wider opening but you can also sit on the toilet or even stand if that works for you. The point is to make the process easier and comfortable.
It is recommended that you dab some water on the rim of the menstrual cup for lubrication. You can also use water based lubricants but water is usually the best option.
Keep the fold tight and retain your position as you gently insert the menstrual cup. Keep your hold on the fold until you reach the end of your cervix. Release the fold and allow the cup to open.
Check for Proper Insertion
Ideally, you should hear a pop after the release. Tug lightly on the stem of the menstrual cup to check if it has been inserted properly. This is to check if there is a proper suction seal created between the cup and lower cervix region.
In case it slides down upon tugging, reach to the sides and slowly rotate the cup till it opens completely. Check again for the suction and if you feel the resistance, its an indication that your cup has fit in perfectly. Additionally, feel the bottom portion of the cup, it should be smooth and devoid of any folds or bumps. Once the vacuum is created, you are ready to go.
What if the Menstrual Cup’s Stem Hurts?
The stem at the end of the cup is there to help you pull out the cup but for different anatomies, it is possible that it may poke and annoy. In case of such situations, trim the stem a bit (not while the cup is inserted).
Step 2: Wait for 8-12 Hours
Usually, a menstrual cup can be used for 8-12 hours. Depending upon your flow, you can regulate the usage and see the timeline that works for you.
You can start with emptying the cup a little earlier than the recommended time to check your flow and timelines for the cup.
Did you know? As per National Health Survey (NHS), UK, most women tend to lose 80ml during their menstrual cycle. Anything more than that falls into the Heavy Flow category.
Step 3: Removal
Like insertion, this step is too divided into multiple sub steps.
It is essential to clean your hands before removing your menstrual cup. Wash your hands with clean water and soap, and do not touch any surface before taking out the cup.
Relax Your Body
Just like your muscles need to be relaxed while inserting the cup, the same is required when you are taking it out. It is recommended you sit on the toilet when taking the cup out. Take a deep breath, allow your pelvic muscles to relax and then reach in to pull out the cup.
Taking Out the Cup
Locate the step of the cup and tread lightly upwards till you locate the base of the cup. It will feel taut with the blood in it. Press the bottom lightly to remove the suction and squeeze it gently, pull out the cup. Don’t worry if there is a light spill, it is very normal. Pour the blood into the toilet bowl. Wipe your privates with a gentle in
Wash Your Hands and the Menstrual Cup
Wash the cup with warm water and gentle menstrual cup wash to get rid of the residue. Once done, don’t forget to wash your hands as well! Dry the cup before storing it away.
Store it Away Post the Menstrual Cycle
Once your menstrual cycle is over, it is recommended that you sanitise the cup in boiling water. Once tried, place it in a cloth bag and keep it away in a clean place until your next cycle.
Things to Keep in Mind for First Time Users
If you are a first time user, it is understandable if you are a little overwhelmed. With a little practice and time, you will soon get comfortable with using menstrual cups, and hopefully, won’t turn back!
Until then, we know that you might have some questions. Here are some of the most important tips if you will be using the cups for the first time.
Age is not a bar when it comes to using menstrual cups. If you have your periods, you are old enough to use a menstrual cup.
For teenagers or pre-teens: There is still a lot of learning when it comes to first periods and choosing the right sanitary products. It is advisable to track your periods, and flows in order to choose the right cup for yourself. Usually, experts recommend teenagers and pre-teens to start with a small cup.
For those switching over to menstrual cups: You know your periods and are quite aware of what works for you. Those with heavy flows and wider cervix tend to go for larger cups. If you have given a natural birth, a large cup is more likely to suit you. However, with different anatomies and experience, no one-size will fit all. Measure your cervix and track your monthly flows in order to gain a better understanding. Talking to your gynecologist will also be helpful.
Since this will be your first time using a cup, there might be few leaks and discomforts. We suggest you use pantyliners for the first few times just to be on the safer side. Once you gain practice and experience, you can eventually do away with the liners.
We know pantyliners help but practicing inserting a menstrual cup while you are not on your periods helps you figure out the comfort factor. More time, more practice, greater comfort.
When in Doubt, Ask
We have all been through that. Maybe you are confused about how to use a cup. Maybe you want to understand how it feels. Talking to people who have used the cup before or medical experts always helps. For starters, you can go through your manual to understand the basics of using a cup as well.
Lubrication is Important
Before you insert a cup, use water or water based lubricants along the rim of the cup. This helps with the insertion and ensures a comfortable experience.
End of Menstrual Woes. Period
For most, period is an uncomfortable experience - it does not have to be awkward or inconvenient. Have a worry free experience with MyAvni’s menstrual cups and complete period kit. All you have to do is wash, use and reuse to a comfortable and worry free period experience!
Commonly Asked Questions
While the list of doubts and queries regarding menstrual cups is pretty extensive, there are few recurring questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and their answers to make your period journey more relaxed and safe.
Are menstrual cups safe to use?
Menstrual cups are safe to use if you follow the right procedure and maintain overall hygiene. Clean your hands as well as the cups before and after the usage. After every period cycle, clean the menstrual cup in boiling water and store it away in a clean cloth bag until the next cycle.
How to use a menstrual cup?
Clean your hands and the cup. Fold it in a technique that works for you, most common being the c-fold. Relax. Insert.
What are the different types of menstrual cups?
There are two size types available. Small cup with approximately 35 - 43 mm and the larger sizes are around 43 - 48 mm in diameter at the rim of the cup
How long can I wear a menstrual cup?
You can wear your menstrual cup for around 8-12 hours. However, it is important to check your flow and then decide on the timeline that works best for you.
Can I do my regular toilet functions while wearing a menstrual cup?
The menstrual cup sits below the cervix while urinary functions are via the urethra, away from the cervix. Having a menstrual cup won’t intervene with the process.
Can a menstrual cup get lost inside the vagina?
A menstrual cup cannot pass through the cervix. Therefore, it is impossible for the cup to get ‘lost’ in your vagina.
Are menstrual cups safer than pads?
Menstrual cups are made to collect period blood instead of absorbing them. This is better in comparison to the alternatives that absorb blood and may lead to the rare Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
Can I wear a menstrual cup if I have an IUD?
Yes. The Intra Uterine Device sits in the uterus and the menstrual cup is placed below the cervix. This makes the two instruments very exclusive to each other.
How to empty a menstrual cup?
Reach for the base of the cup with clean fingers and squeeze it lightly. Release the suction between the cup and the base of the cervix and gently pull it out. Tip the cup over a toilet bowl to release the menstrual blood.
Can I use a menstrual cup in a public bathroom?
If you have access to clean water and soap in the public bathroom, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, you can carry bottled water and the cup wash to rinse the blood off.