Learning to use a Menstrual Cup: First Impressions

Learning to Use a Menstrual Cup

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I’m not sure how I first became interested in using a menstrual cup. I didn’t personally know anyone who used one (well, I did. I just wasn’t aware of it at the time). It was probably something I originally heard of it as a crunchy thing practiced by women who don’t shave their armpits. However, I’ve always hated every single thing about pads and tampons, and the more I read about cups (thanks internet), the more I began to wonder why they weren’t more common place.

I didn’t jump right in because A) menstrual cups were difficult to find for sale in the normal places where one buys disposable products. B) I had boxes of disposables to use up. C) I became pregnant. Still, I was intrigued by the concept and ended up ordering a DivaCup when I saw them for sale online (I also love that my cup is made in Canada).

Now that I have been using my cup I’m find myself wondering even more often why they’re not standard. I started using mine as soon as my cycle returned postpartum. DivaCups come in two sizes, and I had ordered size 2 because I delivered my daughter and am 30 years old. I was nervous about insertion—something about getting a correct seal and finding a fold method that works was intimidating. However, I had nothing to worry about as the first try went well and the cup worked for me right away. I walked out of the bathroom thinking, “Really? That’s it?”

Admittedly, the learning curve is a bit steeper for some people. Suzi from Cloth Diaper Addicts tried for 40 minutes before concluding that she had the wrong size. However, most of the stories I’ve heard from friends or online have ended more positively. It does help to be familiar with your own plumbing before ordering a cup.

Sara’s story

“I am 33, have given birth vaginally to 2 babies, and I would say I have an average/slightly-heavy flow. I use the size small Super Jennie very happily now. I started with the size 2 Lunette between the birth of my first and second, and it worked beautifully, but things change, and I needed a softer, more rounded cup after baby #2. It’s so helpful for people trying out a cup to know where their cervix sits in the vaginal canal, as well having a lot of patience at first. They are so freeing, comfortable, and convenient. I will never go back to disposables.

While insertion was easy for me, I definitely found removal to be more challenging. I was aware that I needed to break the seal, but that was easier said then done. After realizing how easy it would be to panic, I sat on the edge of the bathtub and watched a YouTube video on insertion and removal. I’ll include it at the end of this post—it’s nine minutes long but worth watching before you start trying to use the cup. It helped considerably. I found that working the cup down until I can pinch the bottom, breaking the seal, works effectively for me.

Sabrina’s story

“I’ve loved cups from the start. Right away I loved that they’re green, but also that they weren’t drying and that they weren’t making me itchy (I seemed to have some sort of allergic reaction tampons). Now that I’ve found a cup that really suits me (Yuuki Classic), I am so happy with it. It’s super comfortable; I can forget it for hours.”

Before trying a cup I had sometimes read them referred to as “revolutionary” and thought, “well that’s a bit extreme.” While nothing is going to make a period actually go away, I have found the cup eases the burden significantly. As women, we effectively spend a quarter of our adult lives menstruating. With a cup I end up dealing with this for two minutes at the beginning of the day and two minutes at the end. Some women find that using a cup reduces cramping (worth it by itself). I am also personally much more comfortable with using medical-grade silicon than I am with the thought of chemical-laden disposable products. Another big plus is not having to worry about all the smelly garbage that is created through disposable use.

Devanie’s story

“I got the Ruby Cup because I love the fact that they donate one to a girl in Africa! I didn’t know what kind of cup I needed and I didn’t want to get a DivaCup since it was in stores. I just felt like shopping small and giving to charity. I fell in love with it the second I started using it! it was amazing—no smell, less cramping, 12 hours without needing tampons or liners, no worrying about tampon strings at the beach or the pool! I was a competitive swimmer for 11 years I wish I had known about them then! …

Recently I’ve been having trouble getting it in and getting it open and having it feel right, so I cut off the stem and that helped a lot (I have a really high cervix, and I think it might be tilted). I’ve still been having trouble opening it and then I lost it, so I just did some research and ordered a Lena because it’s stronger for stronger vaginal muscles. I think the only frustrating thing about (using a cup) is finding one that fits right. It can also be a little messy and time consuming, but that’s probably because I don’t have the right fit!
-Devanie from Labor of Love

Update: I have now been using my menstrual cup for over a year and find I rarely (if ever) need to use any disposable menstrual products. For me, the Diva Cup has been a definite win, and I have no intention of going back to my tampon-dependent days. Sale links in this post are for Amazon, which I find does have pretty good prices on menstrual cups.

Menstrual cup insertion/removal instruction video

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Women talk about their early experiences and their top tips for switching to a menstrual cup. | www.growingwildroots.com

19 thoughts on “Learning to use a Menstrual Cup: First Impressions

  1. I’ve been so curious about them. I HATE tampons though so I’ve been hesitant… and I don’t mind pads (I use cloth pads). But maybe I’ll give them a try someday 🙂

    Thanks for linking up at #SustainableSundays!

    1. I think hatred of tampons/disposable pads (and the waste they create) is what drove me to make the change. I really like that once inserted I can actually forget that I have my period for a full day. If you’re feeling brave I think it’s well worth a try. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  2. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing on #SustainableSunday. The video was very informative. I probably should look into a menstrual cup, but for now I’ve settled on only using tampons without plastic applicators…baby steps!

    1. Thanks! You can find them around, that brand in particular. I just saw them in the health food store today, so it’s nice seeing them gain traction in the market.

  3. Awesome blog Kris….a friend told mine told me about the Diva cup just last year…..only wish these were around years ago….so much better than pads etc….love that you are encouraging young Moms with your own experiences… <3

    1. Thanks Cheryl! My main hope is that I can inspire people to make the world a better place through this little blog of mine. At the very least I’m having a lot of fun. 🙂

  4. Personally, my experience has included squatting on my bathroom floor for 15 minutes, nose wrinkled, room-mates hopefully safely out of wondering-what’s-going-on-in-there range trying to grasp the rubber thing. Or accidentally dropping it in the toilet and trying to find a time when my hosts were away to boil it in a thrift-store pot (since it felt hardely ethical to used their stew pot). Or the two yeast infections I’ve got since using it. Or the midnight phone-call from a friend who thought she would have to go to the emergency department to have her’s removed from hippy-scorning doctors (after attempting to dislodge it with a pencil). Or road-tripping with the thing in grubby truck-stop bathrooms. Because life and trying to be organic is comical. Six months later I’m finally figuring out how to work with the thing…and…ahem…even finding it a worthwhile experience. Until now, it’s been as much comic relief.

  5. I have a couple different ones and nearly gave up on them. The videos were so helpful! Thanks for sharing this on FromTheFarm..it’s one of this weeks favorites! Hope to see you again soon!

  6. Thank you so much for this blog and that video link. I am menopausal now but was always curious about the cups. This answers so many questions I didn’t know I had.

    1. I’m so glad you found it informative. Thanks for the comment. All I’m really hoping to do is raise awareness about this really good option. 🙂

  7. I love my menstrual cup, too! I didn’t realize that different brands would have different fits. I might have to try out a different one. I use the Diva Cup. I switched to the post-childbirth model after my daughter was born, but it doesn’t feel like it fits as well as it used to. Mostly it has a tendency to slip out if I cough or sneeze too much. Thanks for this post!

    1. I was scared to sneeze when I first used mine! Luckily, in my case, it stayed in place. Maybe check out the Put a Cup in it resources at the bottom.

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