Menstrual cup: How it works
Although they have been around for years, menstrual cups are still something that cause confusion for a lot of women. As a relatively new adoptee of the DivaCup, I remember thinking menstrual cups were gross and vowed to never go near one. However, after reading about how much more cost-effective and eco-friendly these cups were, I figured that they were worth a try for the environment (and my wallet’s) sake. At first I found the DivaCup a little bit tricky to figure out, but I quickly become evangelical about how handy it was. Now I would never go back to tampons! Since I started using one I’ve had a ton of questions from my family and friends.
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So, as a menstrual cup convert – here are the answers to some of those questions.
Can you exercise in a menstrual cup?
Yep! You can do it all. I like to mix up my workouts pretty frequently, and so far nothing has gone awry. I’ve lifted weights, done HIIT, spin classes, ran, swam and done yoga all while wearing my menstrual cup at the heaviest stages of my cycle without any leakage or feeling any movement from the cup. When I went on my first run with it in I was pretty worried all the bouncing up and down might cause it to move, but you honestly forget it’s even in there.
How do you put a menstrual cup in?
The box will have more detailed instructions, but the technique I use is to fold the cup in half into a “U” shape and insert it as high as feels comfortable. Then let go and allow it to retake its original shape. Similar to a tampon, if it feels uncomfortable you probably have it in at a weird angle. If that’s the case, I would recommend taking it out, cleaning it and reinserting it at an angle that works for you. Another tip I have is to make sure you are relaxed when you’re inserting, as any tightening of the vagina muscles will make it harder to put in.
Does a menstrual cup stick out?
If you have inserted the cup properly and have the right size, the cup should not be sticking out. The tip of the stem of the cup should be about ½ an inch inside the vagina, any further in may cause leakage as well as making it trickier to remove.
Are menstrual cups unhygienic?
This was my biggest concern before I started using a cup, but rest assured if you follow the instructions properly they are perfectly hygienic. The “yuck” reaction is pretty common when talking about menstrual cups, but if you make sure to wash yours according to the guidelines there is nothing gross about it. To clean mine, I use boiling water and unscented, oil-free soap. Between periods, I keep mine in my bathroom in the little bag that came with it. I was also worried about it being a messy process, but once you know how to remove it properly it isn’t messy at all. You pour the contents into the toilet, clean the cup and reinsert. Unlike tampons and pads which need to be disposed of, the DivaCup is reusable so you don’t have to worry about waste.
How do I take out a menstrual cup?
This is the aspect of the cup that took the most getting used to for me. I sit on the toilet, grip the stem with my thumb and forefinger and pull it out slowly to make sure there's no spillage. Sometimes the cup can move up while you’re wearing it and make it harder to remove. If this happens, I tense my stomach muscles to move it down slightly, which helps me get a grip on the stem and then I can remove it. I’ve never had any issues with it getting stuck or being unable to remove it.
Is my vagina too small to use a menstrual cup?
As a 23-year-old with no kids, this was something I was unsure about. Most brands provide a variety of sizes, it is not a one size fits all situation. The DivaCup is sold in three sizes: Model 0 for 18 and under, Model 1 for those under 30 or who haven’t had a baby, and Model 2 for those aged 30 and over and/or who have had a baby. I currently use a model 1 and the fit is perfect.
Can I have sex with a menstrual cup in?
This depends on what kind of cup you go with. Personally, I haven’t tried, but reusable cups are not recommended to be worn during penetrative sex. Due to their shape, some people mix up menstrual cups with diaphragms, but they are not interchangeable. Menstrual cups are made of thick material and would, therefore, be uncomfortable to be worn during sex. However, there are cups designed to be worn during sex, so if that is something you would be interested in there are options out there.
Are menstrual cups comfortable?
For me, yes! Obviously, I can only comment on my own experience but once it’s in I can’t even feel it anymore. I find it more comfortable than a tampon because I don’t have to worry about changing it as frequently, nor worry about all the harmful chemicals that many tampons contain.
Would you try a menstrual cup? If you’ve tried one, what was your experience like?