Menstrual cups like the Diva Cup and Moon cup are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to pads and tampons during the menstrual cycle. At this point, I’m too far on the inside to barely even remember that some people think this is gross. (You’re gross.) I vaguely remember once upon a time when the topic kind of made me cringe, but what can I say? Intrigue soon won out. While I don’t personally use cups for most of my periods out of preference, there are a few handy reasons some women opt for the cup.

  • They last all day for most women which means no changing. You might find this hard to believe if you’re a pad or tampon user, but the amount we bleed in an entire month’s period is only 2-3 tablespoons. When absorbed, it looks like a whole lot more.
  • They’re an affordable and eco-friendly option as one cup can last for several years if well-cared for.
  • If you’re feeling uncomfortable with synthetic ingredients in conventional pads and tampons, the silicon cup is a safe alternative (far cheaper than 100% cotton tampons and arguably less hassle than cloth pads).
  • And my own favorite use of the menstrual cup, nothing compares to this if you want to go swimming while bleeding. Tired of seeing a trail of blood whisked out of your soaked tampon in the pool? I have your solution.

I have gone through the trials and tribulations of learning how to use a menstrual cup and come out the other end. Unscathed? Not so sure. But ready to help you be more prepared and less traumatized with this much-needed guide. As someone who has stood in the bathroom crying with a Diva Cup suctioned to my cervix while my husband frantically scoured womanly forums he wouldn’t normally dare to enter, I know pretty much every possible traumatic problem you may be about to run into. That’s why I’m here to steer you around and, in worst case scenarios, through the delightful process of learning to use a menstrual cup.

It’s A Process

First things first, if you’re not used to shoving sizable pieces of rubber (without a handle, I know what you do in your spare time) into your vagina, don’t think you’re going to purchase your Diva Cup and be ready to go on your next period. For the love of all that is holy, please don’t wait until you start bleeding to try this. Get the cup and head to the bathroom for practice runs while there is nothing to complicate things and potentially create a gruesome murder scene in your bathroom (or worse yet, someone else’s bathroom).

Getting it In

Before you get started, you’ll need a water-based lubricant. Silicon is out as silicon lubricants will degrade the silicon the cup is made of. While lubricant isn’t absolutely necessary and many people will be able to insert the cup without it once you get the hang of it, I would highly recommend using it when starting out.

There are 2 basic shapes that you can fold the cup into for insertion. These are the C-fold and the pinch fold. The C-fold is fairly self explanatory: just flatten the rim of the cup out and fold it half in the vague shape of a C. For the pinch fold, you’ll put a finger on one side of the rim and push it into the cup until the other side forms a point. While the pinch-fold seems like it would be smaller and easier to insert, I actually had better luck with the C on my first tries. Try both and see which is easiest.

After you form the fold, squeeze some lubricant onto the rim. Stand however you have best access to your genital region, with legs wide or one leg up on the toilet or side of the tub. The more you do this next part, the easier it will be to get the cup in as far as you want it and opened properly. For now, just focus on getting it inside and letting it pop open (it will probably pop at least part of the way open on its own).

The cup has to be opened up all the way to form a seal with your vaginal wall to work without leaking. The recommended way of checking that it’s fully open is to take a finger and run it all around the outside of the cup, between the cup and your vagina. If you’re not used to touching all up in there, this part will take some getting used to. From here, the getting-in process will be a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you.

Getting It Out

While this part may be easier than getting the cup in, this half of the instructions may be the most-needed. Of all the stories I’ve seen, this is where the scary parts come in. Let me start by saying that the only thing scary about is the perception that you have this thing stuck in you forever and it’s never coming out. I would like to confirm that it is not stuck. I repeat, it is not stuck. There’s nowhere for it to go, and you can absolutely get it out. So if the whole thing is getting a bit overwhelming, take a break, calm down, and come back to it.

There is absolutely no reason to head to the ER. While this can make for a hilarious story (see here), it will also make for a lot of unneeded stress and the truth is that medical professionals also don’t know about menstrual cups or their removal. In said hilarious story, this led to manhandling it out with forceps instead of Googling some simple instructions.

The main reason it may seem like the cup won’t come out is because of suction. Suction, you powerful beast. The goal is to squeeze the base of the cup to break the suction, but on your first tries this might be difficult. An alternative is to slide a finger up between the cup and the wall to help break the suction, and then squeeze the base to pull the cup out. The finger suction-breaking was the real life-saver for me.

Once the suction is broken, you can pull it out pretty easily. So if you pull and it feels like you’re pulling your cervix out with it (which I can say from personal experience is painful), the suction is still alive and well. Break the suction, pull the cup out. This is part of why the cups have tiny little holes around the sides, so the suction won’t get too strong. Be sure to keep these holes cleaned out between uses.

What’s Your Experience?

With these excellent instructions and the powerful wisdom that came from failing, you’re now surely set to succeed in your future menstrual cup endeavors. I’d love to hear your take. Are you into the cup or not? And do you have any good stories?! Come on, we’d love to hear your misadventures! Share with us in the comments below!

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