Menstrual Cups: What Every Woman Should Know

This post may contain affiliate links.

 menstrualcupsfbAfter publishing my post about how much I loved my Diva Cup I was surprised how many of you wanted more information about menstrual cups.  At the time I wasn’t prepared to answer many of the questions because I had so recently started using one myself.  Since then I have tried a few more brands and have had enough time to get very comfortable with using a cup.  Enough so that I took out my video camera and filmed myself inserting one…………………………. into a wine glass.  I hope at least a few of you were shocked for a millisecond on that one.  In all honesty using a cup can change your life for the better.  All women should know this is an option, especially teenagers who have decades of periods to look forward to.  This video will answer all of your questions about how and why menstrual cups are the greatest things since sliced bread.  If not I have some more information for you to read in this post and links to even more helpful resources.  I’m also hosting a giveaway for 1 Diva Cup and 1 Lunette Cup (and extras) at the end of the post.

There are several brands of menstrual cups on the market even beyond the five featured in the video.  I showed you the Diva Cup, Lunette Cup, Keeper Cup, Fleur Cup, and the Moon Cup, and MCUK.  Other brands to consider are Meluna (the most customizable with options for soft/med/hard and different stems), LadyCup, and Yuuki.  Another option is the Softcup that is less bell shaped.  You can find a chart comparing several of these brands at The Eco Friendly Family.

Choosing a Cup

Choosing a menstrual cup can seem as overwhelming as picking a cloth diaper system.  Unlike diapers for your baby it makes more sense to pick one to try and hope it works, then if you find it isn’t the best fit for you, use what you know about the first cup you tried and work based off of your likes and dislikes to pick the next one.  For example, I started using a Diva Cup with great success with only one complaint- it felt a TEENY bit too long and without getting a very perfect insertion I would need to remove and replace it or else I would feel the end of it- even with removing the stem.  Knowing this I looked at other cups and read reviews and experiences from other women who, with the same issue, tried a Lunette cup which is slightly shorter.  I still prefer the Diva Cup and Lunette to the Keeper cup, mostly because they are more flexible.  I haven’t tried any others just yet.  If you are wondering if your vagina is short you can reach in; if you can reach your cervix easily with a finger then you might want to try a shorter cup or possibly use a Size 1, although most women who have given birth would be best to start with a size 2.

Other factors to consider are how soft or hard the cup is.  The Keeper cup is harder which can be better for women with stronger pelvic muscles or who have not given birth.  With the Meluna you can choose from different styles that would be a softer cup, regular, or hard.  With cups averaging about $30 each most people won’t buy multiples to try so being a vigilant researcher and informed consumer as well as learning more about your own body (even your vagina and your pelvic muscles) will save you money in the long run.

Using the Cup

A cup has a learning curve but most women will get the hang of it within 2-4 cycles.  Expect to have some amusing moments in the bathroom as you transport back to the first time you used a tampon and studied the booklet showing a line drawing of a teen going “Captain Morgan” over a toilet seat.  Seeing a cup you might expect that it is too large to insert and be comfortable but remember that you will be folding it, and even though it still has a wider circumference than a tampon it isn’t by too much and it is much smaller than a vaginal ultrasound wand and *ahem* other things.  You can find several different ways to fold a cup which is handy if you try one fold and it doesn’t work, try another!

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Benefits of Using the Cup

There are so many benefits to switching to a cup.  I have my reasons, in order of importance.

Comfort- When I wear a cup I cannot tell it is there.  There are no strings, no weird cramps, and no pads that can be very uncomfortable.  I have forgotten I was on my period several times.  Some women report fewer menstrual cramps and a lighter or more regular flow after using the cup for a while.  Unlike tampons and pads, cups do not pull any moisture away with them and only hold your flow.
Less changing- I used to change tampons at least 4-6 times a day.  They just weren’t comfortable to wear any longer than that no matter how heavy my period.  I can go all day without changing my cup and usually change first thing in the morning and then before bed.  You could go an entire day of work or school without having to rummage for a tampon at the bottom of your purse in the public restroom.
Less waste- Since switching I have not purchased or wasted any more plastic packaged tampons.  No more applicators, packaging, or actual feminine products being tossed or flushed.
No more chemicals- Feminine hygiene products are exposing you to more than just cotton.
Stop the midnight Target run and save money- I haven’t had an “oh shit” moment when starting my period since using a cup because my cup is always right where I left it.  Running out of tampons and making my husband run to the store late at night is no longer an event we face.  If I only had one cup it would have paid for itself twice over since starting to use it.  Maybe even more.  You’ll need to replace your cup every few years but that is nothing like buying a box or more of disposable products each month.

 

Troubleshooting the Cup

Common problems when inserting the cup include the cup unfolding too early, the cup not unfolding when already in place, and the cup not creating a seal that can lead to leaks.  From personal experience I use a “two-handed” method to place the cup inside since my biggest problem has been the cup unfolding too early.  I hold it together with two hands, as I place it in I remove one set and keep the other on the end until far enough that I can let it open.  Twisting the cup will help if you have issues with it not unfolding and will help with your seal.  Trying new ways to fold the cup before insertion can affect how it goes in.  Each woman will find a fold that works best for them.

Other potential problems with the cup involve it sliding down which could mean the size is too small for you or that you need a softer or harder cup.  Sliding can also be a sign that you didn’t get a proper seal and it is moving down because it wasn’t placed in properly.

Leaking is also normally related to how it was placed and has little to do with your flow.  Most cups have ample room for an average flow.  On your heaviest day you might need to change an extra time or two than normal.

Getting over the ICK factor and “Owning it”

Cups admittedly involve more “face to face” time with your lady parts than tampons or pads.  Tampon applicators mean that even though you are inserting something you don’t have to touch it.  People- there are sinks.  Also, that vagina belongs to you and touching it every once in a while is OK!  You won’t go elbow deep, but you will have to go further than when using a tampon.  In reality it isn’t that far.  I just want to be real here and tell people that you will have to “go there” because everyone should know what they are getting into when switching to a cup.  There are good reasons to be familiar with your lady parts, how strong your muscles are or aren’t, and what is actually happening during your period.  You never know when this information will help you when a health issue arises.  Own it.

Where to buy?

You can find cups on websites like Amazon.com or buy from smaller businesses locally or online.  Many cloth diaper stores carry them like Kelly’s Closet, Diaper Junction, and Sweetbottoms Boutique.  I’ve included affiliate links in this paragraph only for anyone interested in making a purchase after watching such a fabulous video!  A small percentage of purchases will go back to Dirty Diaper Laundry and might just reimburse me for the 500 (okay, 5) cups I had to buy to make the video!

All products used in this video were purchased by me.  No promotional products or monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.  

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.
  • Theresa Wright

    Im trying to find out are u able to pee with the cup inserted in or do u have to take it out

    • Lee

      Why would you be unable to pee with a cup in? Your pee doesn’t come from inside your vagina, it comes out of your urethra, directly below your clitoris, above your vaginal opening.

  • Jessi

    I know you posted this over a year ago, but I just recently stumbled across cups. I’ve been using tampons since I was 18 or so, but I have a trip coming up next month where we’ll be out in a national park during my period and I’m worried about being close to a bathroom. While looking at options, I stumbled across this blog. Of course, the idea of a menstrual cup is appealing. It seems like a much easier and better choice.

    However, I’m having so much trouble with my new DivaCup. Maybe it’s just that I’m not doing it right, but I just can’t reach far enough to get the cup in to where it needs to be. Is there a trick to this? Am I just crazy? It doesn’t seem to be leaking, but it’s very uncomfortable (and it seems to be the placing and not the size of the cup that’s the issue)…

    • kimrosas

      Have you tried pushing the bottom of the cup to get it higher? There is a video I did after this one about inserting cups that has another tip about using your muscles to pull it higher.
      Also have you trimmed the stem?

      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

      • Jessi

        I didn’t trim the stem. It doesn’t seem to me the end of it that’s uncomfortable. It’s like I can’t push it into the correct place. I also tried using muscles to pull it higher, and it pulls more, but it still feels awkward. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to feel? I had just read somewhere that if it feels weird then it probably isn’t high enough or sealed.

      • Jessi

        I should probably mention that I’m in my early 30s and using a DivaCup2.

  • sjonsey99

    Im having trouble rotating the cup. The instructions say do 1 full rotation to get a good seal but I can’t turn it no matter how hard I try!!! It doesn’t rotate at all. What am I doing wrong?

  • vanessa

    4 months ago I had the nexplanon inserted into my arm. I have been on my period ever since. Cramps, the occasional forgetting to remove it, leaks, and the constant purchasing of tampons and pads had me miserable. I consulted my gyno and she recommended that I get it removed. I decided I had already suffered 4 months, I’ll wait the 2 more months and just deal with it. My awesome boyfriend suggested I switch to a diva cup. He spent a good 20 minutes folding and unfolding it to find the easiest way for me to insert it. I have been using it for a week now. My cramps are gone, I’m not running to the bathroom while at school or work, I’m saving money, and my trash can isn’t embarrassingly overflowing. I think I can handle these next 2 months now.

    • kimrosas

      I can’t imagine dealing with a period that long but the cup seems to be working to make this time tolerable. Great guy you have too!
      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

  • anne

    i have a question….. you said you only need to change the cup 2-4 times a day, however i have a small bladder and i pee A LOT. And im usually at work, thus a public bathroom, so how do you change it in a public bathroom without dirtying yourself, the toilet etc?

    • kimrosas

      You can still pee with the cup inside. If you have to change the cup in public (rarely should you need to) you can dump the contents and wipe it clean with TP and replace until you are home to do a good hot water wash in your sink

  • mads

    Dear Kim,

    I have recently bought a Shecup in india which has Ball Stem at the end which is not very long. First time i inserted correctly but after some time it slide a little high and then i got scared regarding the pulling out of the cup. So my question is, is there a possibility that the cup might slide very high and you are not able to remove it? If yes then what is the solution to that? I know i am just panicking too much but just wanted to know! -

    • kimrosas

      Since the cup can’t go higher than the cervix you will be ok. If for some reason your cervix is so high that you can’t reach the bottom of the cup try bearing down (like pooping) to move the cup down low enough to reach it.
      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

      • mads

        Thanks a lot Kim for the information!

  • Krissta

    Thank you very much Kim!! :*

  • Penny Lane

    Thanks for sharing. This is my first month using a cup and I feel the same way. Never again with the messy, uncomfortable tampons. I have a lunette, and I have felt some discomfort at times. Is there one that is softer and more flexible?

  • thehotsinger

    I’m super excited to try a menstrual cup! I’ve used tampons for years (because they’re more comfortable than pads for me) and have terrible cramps and back pain. I’m intruiged by the idea of a lighter flow and a shorter period as well as less pain! I found a less expensive American made cup called Anigan EvaCup. Do you, Katie, or anyone else know if it is a decent brand? I’ve been contemplating a lunette because I’m short. Also, I’m 29 and haven’t had a kiddo. The decision between small and large sizes has me perplexed! Thank you in advance. =]

  • Deepa

    I can’t seem to get mine in. Do you have ideas for very small folds for the cups? Thanks!


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