How to Use a Menstrual Cup
Tue Jul 19 00:10:00 2016
After a rough start to menstruation (my mom literally handed me a pad and went back to bed and I laid awake for hours wondering if I was going to die), I finally started to come into my own in terms of understanding and owning my period. The first time I felt like a real menstrual badass was when I decided to jump on the menstrual cup bandwagon that so many of my California hippie friends were advocating. I’m so glad I did but I wish I had better instructions on what to expect when I switched from chemical-laden tampons to this tiny blood-catching cup. I read the instructions that came with my menstrual cup and proceeded to do a terrible job at following them. I ended up with blood under my fingernails and on my bathroom floor, convinced that my vagina was punishing me for inserting a foreign object that she wasn’t familiar with inside of her. I now know that my vagina and my cup are best buds and that you can avoid a blood-splattered bathroom by folding your cup and emptying it with a little more grace. Here are my 9 must-follow steps for using a menstrual cup.
Step 1: Buy the damn thing already
Seriously, just do it. Waiting until next week or after you’ve read 30 different reviews on every menstrual cup that exists will not make this feel any less confusing. It’s a cup that you put in your vagina and, if it’s your first time exploring this option, it’s going to feel a little weird at first.
Step 2: Tell your friends about it
Call your BFF and spill. One of two things will happen. Either she’ll squeal with delight that you’re finally joining her in an eco and body-friendly method of menstruation management or she is going to give you the third degree about doing something so...disgusting. If she does the latter, you’re in the perfect position to spread some period positivity and clue her into the fact that neither vaginas or menstrual cups are in any way gross, disgusting, or otherwise shameful. Yay, learning opportunities!
Step 3: Check your mail 3 times a day
You want your cup and you want it now. Proceed to check the mail repeatedly until, finally, you hold the precious box of period goodies in your hands. Once you have the box, pretend it’s your birthday and you’ve received the gift of your dreams. Even if you aren’t convinced yet, the cup is a total period game changer and you’re going to fall in love with it.
Step 4: Get sudsy
Wash your hands and the cup thoroughly. You should have ordered a menstrual cup wash when you ordered your cup but, if you didn’t you can wash it with menstrual cup cleanser and water. Your cervix does a great job at keeping unwanted bacteria out of your precious vagina - don’t make her work any harder than she already has to. Do this before using your cup for the first time!
Step 5: Fold and hold
There are several different methods of folding the menstrual cup. You can fold it like a heart (the most popular method), like a shell (perfect for those of us who haven’t had a baby), or like a triangle. Your unique anatomy will prefer a certain way of folding so take some time and experiment a bit to see which method makes your vagina the happiest.
Step 6: Insert
Once your cup is folded and ready for insertion all you have to do it prop your leg up on the toilet and slide it right in. There’s a learning curve so don’t lose heart if it doesn’t feel right the first couple of times. Eventually, you’ll be able to remove, empty, rinse, and reinsert your cup at 2 a.m. without actually opening your eyes. Be gentle and tell your vagina to relax. A little period pep talk goes a long way.
Step 7: Forget about it (but not for too long)
One of my favorite parts of using a period cup is that I don’t have to constantly fret over changing it like I did when I used tampons. Seriously, who has time for that? Nobody. Nobody has time for that. You can safely leave your cup in for up to 12 hours. I wouldn’t go longer than that, though. You can still get TSS from leaving anything in your vagina for too long. Plus, cups aren’t leak proof - your white yoga pants look fantastic but getting blood out of them is going to require you to access that OM feeling in a serious way. Best to just check your cup so you don’t end up cleaning up a crime scene.
Step 8: Take it out
At some point, you’ll take your cup out. This is a chance to get really familiar with your vagina - and your blood. I won’t tell you that this process isn’t messy - it totally is. But...it’s not that bad. Simply insert two fingers into your vagina, squeeze the cup, and gently pull it out. You can empty it right into the toilet - voila! Word to the wise: remove your cup slowly and with as much grace as you can muster. Otherwise, you’ll reenact my first time of emptying a cup. It started with an alarming pop! sound and ended with me wiping period blood from my bathroom wall. Slowly, my friend, slowly.
Step 9: Rinse & Repeat
While you don’t have to rinse in between uses (if you’re just dumping and putting it back in), you’re going to want to clean your cup regularly to avoid stains and smells. Use a cup wash or a mild, fragrance-free soap to get your cup squeaky clean. Store it in its cloth bag until the next time you want to contain the volcanic levels of blood flowing from your body.
What was your first time using a menstrual cup like? Do tell!
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