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How to use a menstrual cup

A Beginner's Guide to Using a Menstrual Cup: Tips for a Smooth Start

Pictured: Classic Bell Menstrual Cup


If you're a beginner contemplating making the switch to a menstrual cup, you're on the right path towards a more sustainable and comfortable period. However, just like any new venture, using a menstrual cup might require a bit of practice and adjustment.

Fear not, in addition to our illustrated How to Use a Menstrual Cup Guide, this article provides essential tips for a smooth transition.

1. Choose the Right Menstrual Cup: Selecting the right menstrual cup is crucial for a comfortable and leak-free experience. Cups come in various sizes, shapes, and materials, so it's important to consider your age, flow, and anatomy. Most brands offer size guidelines, helping you choose the perfect fit and we have a menstrual cup comparison guide you can use to see sizes, capacities and manufacture materials and origin. We also have a number of buyers guides including Should you Choose a Soft or Firm CupMenstrual Cups for Heavy Periods and Menstrual Cups for Teens.

2. Familiarise Yourself with Your Anatomy: Understanding your own anatomy is key to successful menstrual cup use. Locate your cervix, as this will help you position the cup correctly. Some& people measure their cervix height during their period is helpful in choosing the right cup size as there are Menstrual Cups for a Low Cervix and Menstrual Cups for a High Cervix.

3. Sterilise Your Cup: Before your first use and at the beginning of each cycle, it's important to sterilise your menstrual cup. Boil it in water for about 5-10 minutes, following the manufacturer's instructions. Allow it to cool before use.

4. Practice Folding Techniques: Menstrual cups are folded, inserted and then open up inside the vagina to create a seal. There are various folding techniques to choose from, such as the C-fold, punch-down fold, and 7-fold. Experiment with different folds to find what works best for you.

5. Do Dry Runs: A "Dry run" involves practicing inserting and removing your menstrual cup without actually having your period. It's a way to familiarise yourself with how to use the cup before your actual menstrual cycle begins. Going through the motions of inserting the cup, positioning it correctly in the vaginal canal, and then removing it will help you understand how to fold the cup for insertion, find a comfortable angle for insertion, and become more aware of your anatomy in relation to the cup. It's an opportunity to troubleshoot any potential issues you might encounter and build confidence in using the menstrual cup effectively. We recommend doing this in the shower as you will be relaxed and water aids the insertion of the cup.

6. Find a Comfortable Position: Choose a comfortable position for insertion, whether it's standing with one leg raised, sitting on the toilet or squatting. Relax your pelvic muscles to make insertion easier.

7. Insertion: Hold the folded cup firmly with your fingers and guide it into your vagina at a slight angle, back towards the tailbone rather that straight up. Once the cup is inside, it should unfold and create a seal against the vaginal walls. 

8. Check the Seal: A good seal is essential to prevent leaks. After inserting the cup, run your finger around the rim to ensure it has fully opened and created a proper seal. If you feel any indents in the rim of the cup, it hasn't opened correctly and may leak. Rotating the cup or doing a few kegel muscle squeezes is often all it takes to get your cup to open. If it still doesn't open, check out our Troubleshooting Tips: What to try if you can't get your menstrual cup to open.

9. Practice Patience: Using a menstrual cup might take some practice. Don't get discouraged if it takes a few cycles to become completely comfortable. It's normal to experience a learning curve so allow yourself to take a break from using your cup and return to tampons or pads for a day if you are getting frustrated with it.

10. Monitor and Empty: Unlike tampons, menstrual cups can be worn for up to 8 hours, depending on your flow. However, it's important to monitor the cup and empty it before it overflows to avoid leaks. If you have a heavier flow, you might need to empty it more frequently.

11. Removal: To remove the cup, relax your muscles and gently pull on the stem until you can reach the base of the cup. Pinch the base to release the seal, then tilt the cup slightly to break the suction. Be cautious not to pull the cup out too quickly, as this can cause discomfort. If you are having difficulty removing your cup, read our Troubleshooting Tips: What to do if your Menstrual Cup is Stuck.

12. Cleaning: After emptying the cup, rinse it with warm water or use a gentle, unscented menstrual cup cleanser. If you're in a public restroom, you can wipe the cup with toilet paper and reinsert it, but make sure you clean it thoroughly at your earliest convenience.

13. Sterilise Between Cycles: At the end of your cycle, sterilise the cup by boiling it in water and allow to air dry. Always store your cup in a breathable pouch and never in an air-tight container or plastic bag as this may promote the growth of bacteria or mould.

14. Be Kind to Yourself: Remember that every person's experience with menstrual cups is unique. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust.

By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of using a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups allow us to enjoy a more comfortable period and reduce the environmental impact of disposable menstrual products.

If you experience persistent discomfort or difficulty, try another different cup and if you have anatomical concerns, talk to a healthcare professional.