Chances are if you’re reading this then you’re somewhat familiar with the concept of a menstrual cup, but still have some questions you NEED answered before you make the leap (How do I choose it? Fold it? Insert it? etc.)
Trust me, I was once in your shoes, which is exactly why I created this guide on how to insert a menstrual cup for beginners.
Because while it can be super intimidating to start using a menstrual cup, once you make the switch I can almost guarantee you’ll never go back to tampons again.
Not only are they much less expensive (think $30 once every 10 years vs. $15 a month), but they’re free of toxins found in conventional period products, including aluminum, alcohol, fragrance and bleach that lead to cramping, painful periods and hormone imbalances like endometriosis.
Add on the fact that they also help to majorly cut down on environmental waste and are extremely low maintenance (change once every 12 hours) and it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
But before you start using your menstrual cup, there are some key tips that will make insertion as a beginner so much easier, optimizing your menstrual cup experience as a result. Read below for more!
Pro-Tip: Need help on selecting a menstrual cup perfect for your needs, size, flow, etc.? See this guide featuring a roundup of the best menstrual cups for beginners.
HOW TO INSERT A MENSTRUAL CUP FOR BEGINNERS
+ Clean Your Menstrual Cup
Before your first use, you’ll need to sanitize your menstrual cup by boiling it in a pot of water for 5 minutes, using tongs or a slotted spoon to make sure the cup doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan (this is how you’ll sanitize it after each cycle as well). Let it dry and cool before using.
+ Wash Your Hands
Once your cup has been sanitized, wash your hands in warm water with a non-toxic hand soap (this brand is my fave).
+ Fold Your Menstrual Cup
As shown in the diagram above, there are three recommended menstrual cup folds for beginners. Here are the specific instructions for each fold.
C-Fold Menstrual Cup:
Fold your menstrual cup by flattening the cup and bending it in the middle, bringing the two ends together to create a C-shape. (See diagram above).
Punch-Down Fold Menstrual Cup:
Use Your index finger to press down on the rim and collapse the menstrual cup. Pinch to hold into place. (See diagram above).
7-Fold Menstrual Cup:
Fold the menstrual cup by squeezing the cup to flatten. Once flattened, fold the top right corner of the rim down and across the opposite side of the body of the cup, creating a 7-shape. (See diagram above).
+ Get Into A Comfortable Position
Try sitting or squatting on the toilet with one leg raised. If you’ve used a tampon before, I suggest getting into the same position you do when you insert one.
+ Insert Your Menstrual Cup
Once your menstrual cup is folded and you’re in a comfortable position, use one hand to gently separate your labia and the other to insert your cup slowly, rim-first, into your vagina. Slide it up and back at a 45 degree angle (towards your tailbone, not straight upward) until the body of the cup is fully inside of your vagina, with the stem of the cup within approximately 1/2 inch of your vaginal opening (this will differ person to person, depending on the position of your cervix). The cup should sit lower than a tampon, with the rim right below or around your cervix. (See diagram below!)
+ Secure Your Menstrual Cup
Once inserted, give the stem a very gentle tug to ensure your cup is properly in place and has formed a suction-like seal around the walls of your vagina. You should feel some resistance as you softly pull down. You can also double check to make sure your menstrual cup is fully opened by running a finger around the body of the cup. If you feel any folds, use the stem to gently rotate the cup until it opens completely, creating a seal.
HOW TO REMOVE A MENSTRUAL CUP FOR BEGINNERS
Hooray! If you’ve made it this far chances are you’ve successfully inserted your menstrual cup and are no longer a beginner (at least at insertion).
Once you’ve worn your cup for up to 12 hours (timing depends based on brand and size of cup) it’s time for removal and reinsertion. Here’s the easiest way to do so:
+ Wash Your Hands
+ Resume Your Comfortable Position
+ Use The Stem As A Guide, Do NOT Pull
This is the key part of removal for beginners, as I find it intuitive to want to pull on the menstrual cup stem for removal. Instead, use the stem as a guide to locate the ridging at the base of your cup. Pinch the base with your thumb and index finger, wiggling the cup from side to side as you gently pull it out. Keep it upright to avoid spilling. When the base of your cup is past the vaginal opening, tilt your cup forward to remove the front rim first, followed by the rest of the cup.
+ Empty Your Cup Into The Toilet
+ Wash Your Cup
First rinse in cold water, then wash thoroughly with warm water and a mild, non-toxic soap. Rinse thoroughly, then follow the instructions above to reinsert.
COMMON MENSTRUAL CUP QUESTIONS FOR BEGINNERS
At what age should you start using a menstrual cup?
It’s safe to use a menstrual cup once you start your period, or about 12 years of age.
Can virgins use a menstrual cup?
Yes! If you’re old enough to menstruate then you’re old enough to use a menstrual cup, regardless of sexual activity. That being said, anything being inserted into your vagina can potentially tear your hymen, including internal menstrual products (cups, tampons, etc.)
How long can you wear a menstrual cup?
This may depend on the specific menstrual cup brand recommendations, however in general most menstrual cups on the market can be safely worn for 12 hours before being emptied and rinsed.
Can you sleep with a menstrual cup?
Absolutely! However if you have a very heavy flow, you may need to empty and rinse during the course of the night to prevent leaking. If you know you have a heavy flow, I recommend choosing a menstrual cup brand that can accommodate (see this post for tips!)
When should you replace your menstrual cup?
This advice often varies depending on the brand, however most menstrual cup brands on the market recommend replacing every 2-5 years (with some like Saalt lasting as long as up to 10!)
Can I use a menstrual cup if I have an IUD?
Yes. Because a menstrual cup sits inside the vagina while an IUD is placed inside the uterine cavity they shouldn’t interfere with one another.
If removing and reinserting, follow the steps above under wash your cup. If your period has completed and you’re doing a final wash between cycles, follow the sanitization steps under the how to insert your menstrual cup for beginners section. Make sure it’s completely dried, then store in a breathable cloth bag (most brands will provide this) until your next use.