Mens­trual cups, also just cal­led cups, are pro­bably the most popu­lar period pro­duct among the reus­able alter­na­ti­ves. Did you know that mens­trual cups have been on the mar­ket for ages? Actually since the 1930s, only a short time after tam­pons ent­e­red the mar­ket! Mens­trual cups were mainly used by ‘hip­pie com­mu­nities’. But they are slowly ent­e­ring the main­stream and are beco­m­ing more and more popu­lar – and rightly so! It’s crazy that mens­trual cups have only become a trend in recent years, isn’t it? Most people are still won­de­ring how to use the mens­trual cup, so let’s explore the won­der­ful world of cups together!

What are menstrual cups?

Mens­trual cups are small con­tai­ners that directly collect the mens­trual blood inside the body. They usually have a capa­city of bet­ween 10 and 30 ml and are made of medi­cal sili­cone, rub­ber or latex. There are now mens­trual cups in various sizes and shapes. When used cor­rectly, they can last up to ten years. Howe­ver, it is pos­si­ble that the colour of the cup will change slightly over time. But that is not so important, as this does not affect the func­tion or hygiene. What expe­ri­en­ces have you had with mens­trual cups so far? Feel free to tell us about your per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces – we are already quite curious to hear from you.

How does a menstrual cup work?

Let’s get to the heart of it all: How to use the mens­trual cup cor­rectly? And how does it work? The requi­re­ment for the suc­cess­ful use of mens­trual cups is in any case that you are not afraid to touch your own body and to see and feel your own mens­trual blood in all its colours, shapes and con­sis­ten­cies! The pro­cess of using mens­trual cups is actually quite simple: wash, fold, insert, ‘pop open’, collect the blood, remove the under­pres­sure, take it out, wash, and then the cycle starts all over again. And do not for­get to wash your hands. That went way too quick for you? So let’s talk about it again slowly with per­so­nal tips and detailed inst­ruc­tions on how to use the mens­trual cup properly!

Three dif­fe­rent fol­ding tech­ni­ques for the mens­trual cups.

A step-by-step guide for you and your cup: How to use the menstrual cup?

The mens­trual cup is inser­ted into the vagina using a various of fol­ding tech­ni­ques. It is best to try out dif­fe­rent fol­ding tech­ni­ques at the begin­ning to find out which one is easiest for you. A quick tip: If you rinse the cup under warm water, it will be easier to insert it when still slightly wet. The cup will then unfold its­elf inside the body to catch the blood. It is important that the mens­trual cup is not inser­ted too far and lies against the vagi­nal wall. You should also make sure that it has ope­ned com­ple­tely inside you and that the cer­vix is above the cup so that the cup is leakproof.

Is the menstrual cup really positioned correctly?

You can best feel this by slowly moving your index fin­ger around the inser­ted mens­trual cup. When it is pro­perly posi­tio­ned and unfolded, a slight under­pres­sure is crea­ted. You can easily check this by pul­ling the cup down gently. If the cup does not really move, it fits per­fectly. If the cup sli­des down a little by pul­ling it slightly, it is not yet cor­rect and the cup has pro­bably not fully ope­ned. In this case, you can turn it slightly in one direc­tion until it has unfolded com­ple­tely. But some­ti­mes if not­hing works, just take the cup out again, take a deep breath and try again. Also make sure that the air holes of the mens­trual cup are free, because they create the desi­red nega­tive pressure.

How do I know when the menstrual cup is full?

After twelve hours, at the latest, you should take out the mens­trual cup again. You can empty the mens­trual blood directly in the toi­let. On hea­vier days, howe­ver, you may have to empty the cup more fre­quently. For many users it is dif­fi­cult to feel exactly when the cup is full. For example, you can set an alarm clock and go to the toi­let and empty the cup regu­larly every few hours. This is espe­cially hel­pful in the begin­ning, when you are not yet too fami­liar with your mens­trual flow. You might also feel a slight pres­sure in your abdo­men or get mild cramps when the mens­trual cup is full. For example, I often have the fee­ling that my blad­der is full when the cup is well filled.

Trouble-free emptying of the menstrual cup

To remove the cup from inside of you, it is best to squeeze it lightly bet­ween your index fin­ger and thumb at the lower end. This will release the vacuum and you can care­fully pull it out again. Be care­ful that the mens­trual blood does not drip out of the cup uncon­troll­ably as this may cause a small bloo­d­bath. Espe­cially at the begin­ning it is a good idea to prac­tice inser­ting and remo­ving the cup in the sho­wer or squat­ting down. It might also be hel­pful if you put one leg on the edge of the bath­tub. But the most important thing is that you are rela­xed! And tip num­ber 1 is of course to stay calm and be rela­xed! Important: do not for­get to wash your hands pro­perly when inser­ting, chan­ging and empty­ing the cup.

How to clean the menstrual cup properly

To wash the mens­trual cup, first rinse it with cold water. You can also clean the small holes on the upper edge of the cup with an inter­den­tal brush. Before and after your period, sim­ply boil the mens­trual cup in a pot for a few minu­tes. Make sure that the cup does not sink to the bot­tom of the pot, as this could cause it to melt or become defor­med! It is best to place the cup in a whisk so that it floats in the water and does not touch the bot­tom of the pot.

How to use the menstrual cup: Reach your goal by being relaxed and with practice over time

Most mens­trua­ting people need a few cycles to become fami­liar with the mens­trual cup. So don’t worry if it doesn’t go too well for you when first try­ing the cup and you are still won­de­ring how to use the mens­trual cup cor­rectly. After a few cycles the hard work and prac­tice will pay off. Every move­ment is in place and inser­ting or chan­ging the cup is no pro­blem any­more and will only take a few seconds.  Because, as with ever­ything in life, the beau­ti­ful say­ing app­lies here as well: Prac­tice makes per­fect! It is really worth it, because mens­trual cups are a game chan­ger for many mens­trua­ting people. Once the cup is pro­perly pos­tio­ned, you won’t even notice it! And until then: prac­tice, rela­xa­tion and time until you become an expert on how to use the mens­trual cup.

What if it just won’t work?

No pro­blem. If even after a few cycles you don’t get used to the mens­trual cup, then maybe it’s just not meant to be. And that is also per­fectly okay. For­tu­n­a­tely, there are other envi­ron­ment­ally friendly pro­ducts that you could try during your next period! How about mens­trual under­wear or cloth pads?

Note: You are using an IUD for con­tracep­tion? Then you should be espe­cially care­ful when remo­ving your mens­trual cup! If the vacuum does not dis­solve com­ple­tely, it can cause the IUD to move slightly. And that would not be good. So always pay attention!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.