The most common question I get asked about cups is “How to insert a menstrual cup? What if I am unable to use it?”
I am going to answer this below in as much detail as possible, covering various apprehensions that women come across while inserting their menstrual cups for the first time.
Let’s take a quick look at the female genitalia:
- Urethral opening – is where women pee from.
- Vaginal opening – is where we bleed from during periods.
A menstrual cup is inserted in the vaginal canal through the vaginal opening. The entire cup needs to be just inside (so you can not feel it from outside if you keep your fingers there or while you walk)
#TIP: No Dry Run Please! Do not try (inserting) the cup for the first time when you are not on your period, as dry runs are usually not successful and can be a bit painful. During periods, blood acts as a natural lubricant and it is easier to slide the menstrual cup inside.
Q. How to insert a menstrual cup?
- Wash your hands, and stay in a comfortable position.
- Sit on the toilet seat with legs wide open or Squat on the floor Or stand with one leg on the floor and one on the toilet seat
- Fold the menstrual cup (most commonly used folds are c-fold or punch down fold)
- Now, with the stem downwards, and rim of the cup on top, glide the menstrual cup inside.
- During periods, you are naturally lubricated and most women do not need a lubricant. However, if you feel you are too dry and would like to use a lubricant, you can use water based lubricants (like KY jelly).
This video can also help in insertion:
Q. My cup opens up even before its inside, what do I do?
You need to get a good grip on the cup, once folded, hold it from the center (not from the rim) in one hand, and with another hand, separate the labia and glide the cup inside in a good confident move. You need to stay calm and relaxed. If you are too tensed, muscles tighten up and do not allow the cup to go inside.
Q. Only half the cup goes in, and then it gets stuck. I can’t push in further. What am I doing wrong?
It is possible that you are inserting in the wrong direction. The vaginal canal is not vertically up, but slightly tilted towards our back. Do not insert the cup in a vertically upward direction, but insert it in a direction parallel to the ground.
Q. It’s inside, how do I know it’s inserted properly?
The most common issue is that the cup might not open up once it’s inside. To check if the cup has opened up completely, and formed a seal with vaginal walls, you can run your finger around the cup. If you feel a dent, means it has not opened up.
Another indication of an un-opened / folded cup will be leakage. If the cup has not opened up, it will leak.
Another problem could be discomfort. Ideally, you only need to insert the cup completely inside the vagina, but in some cases, you may feel some discomfort / poking sensation. In this scenario, you might need to try and experiment with a few different placements of the cup. You can try pushing deeper, or tilting at a different angle. Some cups come with a long stem, and cutting the stem can also help.
One more way to check if it has opened and formed a good seal with the walls is to push it in and out in very small movements. If it doesn’t budge, it has formed a good seal.
Q. What is the best way to trim the stem of a menstrual cup?
Some cups come with a stem that is designed to be cut to a suitable length according to your cervix length. The best way to go about this is by cutting it in one quick/sharp stroke so you do not have any edges after cutting. You can use scissors or a nail cutter to trim. Trim a little at a time, reinsert to check for comfort, and cut more if required. You can smoothen the edge with a nail filing board. Boil the cup for a few minutes after cutting the stem.
Q. Is it safe to insert the menstrual cup if I have long nails?
It is safe for you to insert the menstrual cup with long nails. You need to be careful and not scratch yourself during the process of insertion. Insert the cup slowly with steady hands.
For health and hygiene reasons, you must wash your hands and clean under your nails to ensure you do not transfer any dirt/bacteria from them to your lady parts which can cause infections, irritation, and discomfort.
Q. The menstrual cup is uncomfortable, am I doing something wrong?
If you have considered the main causes of menstrual cup discomfort (inserted wrong, wrong size, too soft, too firm, etc), then it’s possible that the menstrual cup brand is the wrong one for you. If this is the case, then you will have to select another menstrual cup model to get the best experience from it. Take our cup quiz to get a appropriate suggestion.
But do consider what you think it was about the menstrual cup that caused it to be uncomfortable such as the diameter, length, softness/firmness, texture, stem, bell shape, and design – in order to select the features in another menstrual cup that may be more comfortable for you.