Everything You Ever Wanted To Ask About Menstrual Cups
You asked, we answered.
Moon cups, menstrual cups, the Diva Cup - what are they are why is everyone talking about using them for their period over the arguably more traditional tampons and pads?
Here's the answer to your biggest questions about them...
What is a period cup?
Menstrual or period cups are essentially a small, flexible silicone cup that you insert up into your vagina to collect blood when you are on your period. They are an alternative to tampons and sanitary pads.
The cups are re-usable, meaning they are seen as a more eco-friendly answer to menstrual hygiene, and they also collect more blood than tampons and pads, meaning they can also be used for up to 11 hours without being emptied. On days when your flow is heavier you might find you need to empty it earlier than on days when your flow is lighter.
What does a period cup look like?
How do you use a menstrual cup?
They can take a little getting used to at first, but once you’ve got the knack it’s as easy as inserting a tampon - promise.
First up you fold your cup in half and then insert it as far into the vagina as you can so that’s it’s high up towards the cervix. You might want to try a slightly squatted, hovering position for this as it can be hard to have enough manoeuvring room if you are fully sat on the toilet.
When we say fold it, press two sides together and then fold it side to side – we don’t mean fold the top over or it won’t unfold once you’ve got it in. You’re aiming to make it tall and narrow like a hotdog, not short and wide like a burger.
You then might need a little lube to help it on its way. Water or spit are both fine, as is a water based lube if you’re feeling fancy. Try just to put a little on the rim and sides of the cup as too much might affect the seal of the cup once it’s in place.
Once it’s up there as high as you can get it comfortably, you allow the springy cup to unfold back to its original shape so that the edges of the cup create a seal with the walls of your vagina. And VOILA, you’re ready for action – just give it a little push upwards and then a little turn using the stem of the cup to make sure it’s fully open and sealed nice and tight before you get on with your life.
How do you remove a menstrual cup?
When it’s time to come out, you reach up into your vagina and find the cup. Pull the small tail in the centre of the cup downwards until you can reach the edges.
With your thumb and first finger, gently squeeze the top sides of the cup to break the seal. Then gently pull the cup out, empty it into the toilet or sink, give it a rinse and reinsert.
Can a period cup get lost or stuck?
No. Much like with tampons, your cervix acts as a barrier to stop anything getting ‘lost’ up your vagina.
While it can feel like your cup is stuck when you first start using it, it isn’t actually and squeezing it and giving it a little twist can help break the tight seal that stops any leakages when removing. If you’re having trouble removing your cup when sitting on the loo, it can help to practice doing it in the shower as you can get a little more physical without worrying about things getting messy.
Are period cups safe?
They are indeed. Unlike tampons, using a menstrual cup doesn’t bear the (admittedly very minor) risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Another plus is that you can leave a cup in longer than a tampon or pad, plus you are being a friend to the planet as you aren’t creating the same level of waste that you do when using traditional menstrual hygiene products.
Why is my menstrual cup leaking?
It sounds like it’s either too full or incorrectly fitted. If it’s full, it’s time to empty and if you’ve only had it in for a little while, you might want to reinsert. A good trick is to give your cup a little twist once it’s in position to make sure it’s fully popped open and sealed tight. If you can really feel the cup, it might mean you haven’t inserted it far enough, which could also be causing leaks, so try using a little more lube to push it as high up your vagina as you can next time.
A good way to know your cup is in the right position before you leave the bathroom is to drop a few squats. It’ll help shift it into the right position and if it feels wrong after that, chances are it’s not in the right place.
If you’re still experiencing leaks, you might want to think about the size and type of cup you’ve got. Vaginas are all different and a different brand or shape might be better suited to you, so do your research online before investing.
Can you have sex in a menstrual cup?
It depends what kind of sex you are having. Oral, anal and fingering are all going to be fine when you’re wearing a cup. Penetrative sex is possible but you’re going to want to get your hands on the Intimina Ziggy cup, which is the first ever menstrual cup you can wear during penetrative sex as it sits higher than a usual cup, up below the cervix, similar to a where a diaphragm would fit.
It goes without saying that it isn’t an alternative to contraception and you should still be using condoms and birth control to protect yourself from STIs and pregnancy.
What size period cup do I need?
Menstrual cups generally come in two sizes. The smaller is usually for women under 25 who haven’t had kids while the larger is for those who’ve had kids or who are older. If you’ve got a heavy flow and a wide set vagina, chances are you might need the bigger size, no matter how old you are.
Can you sleep with a period cup in?
You can indeed and as you can leave it in for up to 12 hours, you can have a nice lie in without worrying about getting up to change your tampon or pad.
How do you store an empty menstrual cup?
Lol, so glad you aren’t trying to store a full one.
When your period is over, you should give your cup a proper clean by putting it in boiling water for at least five minutes. Then just pop it in a cloth bag or another breathable container (the one it came in is fine) so that any moisture on it can dry out.