How to Usa a Menstrual Cup
A menstrual cup is a flexible silicone cup worn inside the body to collect menstrual flow. It is folded and inserted into the vagina similar to a tampon, where it then pops open and forms a seal with the vaginal walls.
Once in place and sealed, a menstrual cup will collect menstrual flow for up to 8 hours, and should then be removed, cleaned and reinserted.
Before you use a menstrual cup
Your menstrual cup is not likely to be supplied in a sterile state. Disinfect your menstrual cup by placing it in a pot of boiling water on the stove for 3-5 minutes. Allow it to cool completely before handling it with clean hands.
How to insert your menstrual cup
Wash your hands.Your hands should be clean before inserting your menstrual cup. Wash your hands in clean, drinkable water with a mild soap.
- Find a comfortable position. Stand with your legs apart, or with one leg up on the toilet. Most importantly, stay relaxed as this will make insertion easier!
Fold your menstrual cup. Fold your menstrual cup in half lengthways over itself so the rim forms a ‘C’ or ‘U’ shape (known as the ‘C Fold’). There are many different ways to fold a menstrual cup - we recommend searching online for video demonstrations and trying different folds to find one that suits you.
- Insert your menstrual cup. Use one hand to part the labia and the other hand to insert your folded menstrual cup into your vagina on a 45-degree angle, aiming it towards the tailbone (not straight up). Insert the whole cup and stem, or allow the cup to open with the stem still protruding, then gently slide it up into your body using your your index finger until no part of the cup is protruding from the vaginal opening. Running your cup under water prior to inserting it will lubricate it and make insertion easier. Running it under cold water will make the cup firmer and pop open quicker whilst running it under warm water will cause the cup to soften and open more gently.
- Form a seal. Ensure that your menstrual cup is fully open inside you by running your finger around the outside circumference of the cup, making sure there are no dents in the menstrual cup. A dent indicates your cup has not fully opened and you may need to reinsert it, do a few pelvic floor squeezes or gently twist your menstrual cup inside your body to help it pop open. Once opened, the cup will form a seal with the vaginal walls which prevents leaks.
- Clean up. Wipe around the labia to remove any residual menstrual blood, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Your menstrual cup can be worn for up to 8 hours.
How to remove your menstrual cup
Remove, empty and clean your menstrual cup every 8 hours or sooner if you have a heavy flow.
If you are new to using a menstrual cup, try removing it in the shower where you will be more relaxed and less likely to be worried about making a mess.
If emptying in a toilet, line the toilet with a little toilet paper first - this helps the blood flush on the first flush.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands with clean drinkable water and a mild soap.
- Find a comfortable position. Sit on the toilet, squat down, stand upright with your legs apart or stand with your leg up on a toilet or step. Relax your body.
- Break the seal. Insert your index finger and thumb into the vagina and pinch the base of your menstrual cup to break the seal. If you can’t fit two fingers, try sliding your index finger along the side of the cup and pushing inwards to break the seal.
- Remove your cup. Whilst gripping the base of the cup, relax your pelvic floor muscles and slowly wiggle your menstrual cup downwards and out of the body, keeping it as upright as possible to avoid spills. Avoid pulling the stem, as this may damage your cup and increase the suction seal, making it more difficult to remove.
Empty. Ensuring you have a good grip on your cup (they can be slippery) empty the fluid into the toilet and flush.
Clean. Using clean, drinkable water and a menstrual cup wash or a mild pH-balanced soap, wash your cup to remove any residue and ensure the suction holes are clean. Reinsert your cup and wash your hands.
Cleaning and storing your menstrual cup
With proper care, a menstrual cup can last many years.
Clean your menstrual cup each time it is removed and reinserted with clean, drinkable water and a mild, menstrual cup wash or pH-balanced soap.
At the end of your period, place your menstrual cup in boiling water on the stove for 3-5 minutes to disinfect. Set an alarm to prevent the pot boiling dry.
In between periods, store your menstrual cup in its breathable fabric pouch. Never store your menstrual cup in an airtight container or bag.
When to replace your menstrual cup
Your menstrual disc should be replaced if it has: cracks, holes, tears or other physical damage, developed an odour that can’t be removed with cleaning, or changed colour (other than regular staining) or texture.
Avoid digging fingernails into your disc when removing it as this may cause the silicone to tear.
How to dispose of your menstrual cup
Check with the manufacturer but most cups will need to be disposed of in your household garbage if they are made of silicone as silicone is not recyclable in Australia. You can also check with your local council to see if they have a facility which handles recycling of silicone.
Internal period care products carry some risk. Here's what you need to know about using a menstrual cup safely;
- Seek advice from a medical professional before using a menstrual cup if you have any medical concerns, gynaecological conditions, have an intrauterine device (IUD), have recently given birth, have had surgery in the pelvic area, or if you have ever experienced Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
- Do not wear a menstrual cups for post-partum bleeding.
- Menstrual cups should not be worn during sex.
- Menstrual cups will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy.
- Practice good hand hygiene when using a menstrual cup and follow the cleaning instructions. Keep fingernails short if possible.
- Only use as directed and do not exceed the 8 hour maximum wear time.
- Seek medical assistance if you are unable to remove your menstrual cup.
- IMPORTANT: Menstrual cups have been associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. If you feel unwell with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fainting or skin rash, remove your menstrual cup and go to the hospital emergency department immediately.