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Let’s Get Down and Dirty – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Menstrual Cups

I recently wrote a post about how how my Menstrual Cup Changed My Life.  I got quite a bit of positive feedback from the post and quite a bit of “Huh?  Seriously?” type feedback too!  So, I put out the question on the So Easy Being Green Facebook page and got some great questions about menstrual cups.  I also scoured FAQs about the subject and am going to tackle those too – in a very down-to-Earth, non-technical way {because that’s how I like to learn and read and hopefully you do too!}

Menstrual Cups

Knowledge is Power.  I didn’t know a thing about menstrual cups a year ago, well, other than seeing an occasional blog post on the subject every now and then.  The first time I tried to use my cup I failed miserably.  I only tried once that first cycle.  My next cycle, I really, really wanted to make it work, but I semi-failed again and only used it a few times.  Finally during my third cycle {of having a cup in my possession} I decided I was going to make it work.  And I did.

There is definitely a learning curve with Menstrual Cups.  You will need to learn your body and how it works for you.  Menstrual Cups aren’t cheap enough to buy one of each brand and see which works best for you {for most of us}, so do your research on what types work best for certain body types.  This post is intended to answer the Frequently Asked Questions about Menstrual Cups – not a review of each type and brand.  Although you’re more than welcome to read my reviews of the Lunette Cup and the Diva Cup.  After a couple of months, I’ll also have a review of the Sckoon Cup!

menstrualcupsexplained

First things first.  A menstrual cup is a flexible cup or barrier worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Unlike disposable tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. They are usually made from medical grade silicone.  Source.

Menstrual Cups are green-er, healthier, and honestly free you from your period.  But I know that’s all fine and dandy for me to say because I’ve been using one for about 7 months now.  Those first couple of months were challenging.  I had the same questions that some of you have and then some.

I know you may have a ton of other questions.  Feel free to check out the great list of FAQs on the SckoonCups.com.  I’ve also compiled a list of SEBG readers questions that were asked on Facebook and on my previous Menstrual Cups post.

Reader Questions and Answers

Casey asks “Can you feel it?  It looks so large in your hand.”

If the cup is inserted correctly, you cannot.  The cup sits low in your vagina, but high enough that you won’t feel it.  Need a visual?  Click here.  {That link also demonstrates 9 different folds you can use to insert}  The stem on all cups is uncomfortable for me, so I trim it completely down.  If you get a good seal, the cup should not move up or down but sit right in place meaning you shouldn’t feel a thing.

I agree, though, that the cup looks rather large, but once you fold it to insert, it doesn’t seem quite so big.

removeamenstrualcup

Valerie asks “How do you insert it and pull it out?”

Insertion is easy, once you get the hang of it.  It really does take some time learning and you probably won’t be totally comfortable until about your 3rd cycle.  Practice folding your menstrual cup and see which way works best for you.

menstrualcupfoldCollage

As you can see, folding the cup makes it much smaller, just a bit bigger than a tampon.  There are different ways to fold, like I said above and the picture above shows how I fold mine.  Remember, most menstrual cups are made of a medical grade silicone so they are easily pliable and bend and move with your body.

I have found that sitting is the best position for me to both insert and remove a menstrual cup.  I’ve also found that if you remember to push the cup back, not up, you’ll get a better placement.

Removing a menstrual cup comes with practice alsoThere are TWO important things to remember about removing a menstrual cup.  One, you should bear down and push.  Pushing similar to a childbirth push or a push like you’re having a bowel movement.  This makes the cup come down lower.  The second thing to remember is BREAK THE SEAL!  If you don’t, you’ll feel completely uncomfortable when removing.  To break the seal, simply use your finger to press the cup on one side before you start to pull on it.  You’ll hear a pop and that means the seal is broken.

Now, I suppose the stem is there to aid in removal, but I find that way too messy to try to use and I also cut mine off for better comfort.  I remove the cup, just as I insert it.  After I break the seal, I grasp the cup and fold.  Remember – practice.

menstrualcupquestions

Charlotte asks “How do you know when it’s full and how do you pull it out especially when it’s full?”

Honestly, you don’t know when the cup is full.  There’s nothing that you’ll feel, unless it’s just overflowing, but that’s unlikely to happen unless you have really heavy periods and leave the cup in for a longer period of time.  I suggest that you use that first cycle to learn your body.  Learn how heavy your flow is, learn the difference on different days, and get comfortable with your body.

It is true that the more full the cup is, the more likely it’s going to be messier.

Just for reference, I don’t have a heavy flow.  I would think about normal.  On my first 2 days, I empty the cup in the morning, 2 times during the day, and once before bed.  On my 3rd and 4th days I only have to empty in the morning and night.

The average woman only flows approximately 1 to 1.4 ounces (30-40 ml) per cycle {Source} and most cups hold 1 oz or 30 mL so you will be FINE.

Heidi wants to know “How to you not get freaked out when you go to remove it?”

Stay calm.  Freaking out will only make the process harder.  It gets easier than the first time you use it, I promise.

Also, I wanted to address the “ick” factor here.  You should be totally comfortable with your body, if you’re choosing to use a Menstrual Cup and if you’re not yet… you will be.  ;)

“Can you use a menstrual cup with an IUD?”

I asked Lunette this question directly and they responded with Yes.

“How many cups will you need?”

You really should only need 1 cup at a time, as you simply clean it immediately and put it back in.  You could have a back-up, if you chose to.  Different companies say different things about replacing them.  I think Diva Cup recommends every year, but the FDA recommends every two.

“Are menstrual cups drying like tampons?  Do they hurt when you take it out?”

No, No, No!  The silicone actually warms up with your body temperature and does not dry your body out like disposable tampons.

Charlotte also asks “How active can you really be with your cup – Swimming, Running, etc?”

Menstrual Cups are made for this – no more worrying about wandering tampon strings {yep, I went there} or changing a tampon or pad when you’re running a marathon!

sckoonmenstrualcup

Charlotte also wonders about backup protection “How many women still need to have a panty liner on in the first day or so?”

Lots of women still use a panty liner with a cup.  You shouldn’t have any leakage unless your seal isn’t correct OR if your cup is too full.  But with that said, it’s a good idea to wear a pantyliner especially when you’re just learning how to use the cup.

“I am totally freaked out, scared, and intrigued by menstrual cups at the same time.  What advice can you give me?”

My best advice is read, read, read.  Get comfortable with the topic.  Get comfortable with the idea.  I promise I was there just a year ago.  The idea totally freaked me out but I can honestly say that switching from disposable sanitary products to a menstrual cup was one of the best green decision I’ve ever made for myself!

Have a question that I didn’t address?  Leave it in the Comments and I’ll answer there and mention in a future post!

sckooncupsizeCollage

The SckoonCup is one of the newest menstrual cups on the market.  It is made by the reputable company Sckoon Organics who produces Mama Cloth,

Just like most, it comes in 2 sizes.  A Size 1 Menstrual Cup is small, for women who haven’t previously given birth vaginally and Size 2, Large for women who have given birth vaginally.

The SckoonCup  is very similar in size to the Diva Cup {both pictured below are size 2}.  Although it’s obvious that the Diva Cup is a bit longer.  They both seems to be about the same in width and softness/stiffness.

sckoondivacomparisonCollage

I just recently received the Sckoon Cup, so I haven’t been able to review it yet, but I’ll be doing just that in a couple of months!

sckooncups

Comments

  1. Amanda Alvarado says:

    I use a moon cup. I have a diva cup but it leaks on my heavy days! I am one of those that will fill up a cup in 2-3 hrs – lucky me!  LOL I'd love a colored one!  ;-) 

  2. Kim Pollock says:

    I have been wanting to try one of these forever and loved how you answered all the questions I had and it was good to see pictures of the ways to fold it.

  3. I love that you wrote about the menstrual cup. Here is my article on it. It explains a little more on cost, cleaning, choosing the right one for you, and what types of accessories you might need. http://cleaningouttheclutter.com/2013/02/a-menstual-cup-is-a-girls-best-friend/

  4. Hope I win so I can try this out! 

  5. Michele P. says:

    I am a little nervous however of trying these, but your post has been most informative and answered a lot of the questions/fears I had.  I still think, however, that I will need to relax well enough to be able to put it in… it is also helpful reading other comments about these type of cups and how well they work-tampons don't work for me at all, and this gives me an alternative to pads as well.

  6. Michele P. says:

    I've never tried this, but it sure looks interesting… I would need a size 2 ;)

  7. I like menstrual cups! I have a Lunette. I haven't used it in quite a while as I just had two babies pretty much back-to-back but I will be getting it back out when the time is right.

  8. I want to try a cup but the application process makes me uncomfortable. Has anyone else gone through this? 

  9. I've been wanting to try a cup for a while now; I'm turned off by the upfront cost, and what if I don't like it thing… So I hope I win the giveaway :) I've recently learned of all the bad stuff used in tampons and pads and really shouldn't be in your body, plus how much better for the environment the cup is!

  10. I had just started using a menstrual cup and LOVE it! At first I was pretty intimidated (flash back to when I tried to figure out how to use a tampon) but it is actually pretty comfortable and I love that I can wear it for up to 12 hours!

  11. I've always been curious about cups, but the cost is pretty high given that I don't know if it will work for me or not. Winning one would be awesome!

  12. Nicole Bear says:

    I have been using a menstrual cup for over 12 years now.  I would never go back to tampons!  I love my cup.  I started out using The Keeper, which is made of latex, but have been using the silicone Diva Cup for the past 9 years.  I have had my current one for several years (oops! I didn't know I was supposed to replace it every 1-2 years!) and it still works great, but apparently I should get a new one, so I hope I win. I would love to try the Sckoon Cup!

    • Awesome, Nicole!  I think they recommend that because of the FDA, but just check your cup periodically for tears or wear.  :)

      Lindsey recently posted…Choose Cartons – Earth Day Giveaway EventMy Profile

    • Don't worry you're safe to keep using your for as long as your want providing there are no holes/tears! The DivaCup only recently changed their 'guidelines replacement suggestion' from 10 years to 1 year, they haven't changed the quality of their silicone so it's just to get more sales/prevent questions about stainage. The other FDA approved cups are approved for 5-10 years.

  13. I have been intrigued by the menstral cup for a while now, but never remember to order one. Thanks for the info on this cup, I can't wait to read your review in a few months.

  14. I'd love to win a size 2 cup! I've been wanting to try a menstrual cup for awhile but just haven't gotten around to it. 

  15. I have never used a menstrual cup, but I am really intrigued by them!  I have used cloth menstrual pads and pantiliners before, and I prefer them over commercial pads.  I have always been apprehensive to try the cup, I think my biggest issue is thinking I may not put it in correctly.

  16. Shana Trahan says:

    I am still ebf, but have a couple to try out once my period comes back.

  17. I use a cup and really like it but I think I need to find a different brand/size that fits me a bit better. 

  18. I've been using the Diva Cup for over 10 years now. I love it, but I've been wanting to try another brand! Thanks for sharing this topic!

  19. Brooke
    Twitter:
    says:

    I tried the Diva cup a couple years ago, but had abdominal cramping each time I tried it. I want to use a cup, and wondered if you had read anything about others having pain?

    • I've been using menstrual cups for almost a year, now, and I've found that I get cramps from them when they're not in properly. Do you pull them back down a bit after inserting them? That might cause cramping.

      On the other side of it, I've found that mine being in properly reduces the normal menstrual cramping so it's almost nonexistent. The cramps when the cup's in let me know it isn't in properly and might leak.

      …Oh, and I started off with the Diva cup and have moved on to a MeLuna one as the Diva was just too big and stiff. For any curious UK people, MeLuna ones come in lots of colours, two sizes (I think), three levels of flexibility, and with non-poky ends. And they're around £13.

      • Brooke
        Twitter:
        says:

        thanks for the feedback. I don't recall pulling down on it, and don't typically have menstrual cramping, so the cramping with the cup surprised me. I think I will try a different cup. I really would like it to work. 

    • cramping can be pretty common at first, whilst your vagina works out what the hell is inside it and gets used to wearing the cup. But cups come in all different stiffnesses for a reason, softer cups cause cramping less and will not press on the bladder, stiffer cups are easier to pop open and are good it you have very strong vaginal muscles that crush softer cups but are more likely to cause cramping or bladder pressure. The DivaCup is considered medium stiffnesss, but the small size is also one of the widest 'small' sized cups and also the longest cup without the stem.

  20. I have been using the Lunette cup for almost a year now and it was my best decision to switch. I'm pretty regular so I know which day my period will start on. I love that I can insert the cup in the morning (even without having started bleeding) and then not have to worry about when it's actually going to start. I can also attest to running with the cup in. I ran my first full marathon in January, and of course I had my period. I ran the 26.2 without once being uncomfortable or having to worry about leaking or stopping to change anything. Never going back to pads or tampons! 

  21. Katie
    Twitter:
    says:

    I've always been scared of cups but I've always wanted to try them so much!  Especially now that I'm getting my blow back and it's heavy and awful!  I'm a pad wearer too, so it's just blech.  I need to just jump in and go for it!  Thanks for the pictures and post though, I think they help not make it so scary =D

  22. I've been using the Diva Cup for about 7 years now. I empty is about every 12 hours unless I'm having an especially heavy flow … otherwise, it's like not having a period at all!

  23. Yay, thank you!! Very informative. I'm interestd in the Schoon cup. Will be trying cups once my period comes back post breastfeeding!

  24. I've been using a diva cup sz 2, but I really think it's not a good fit for me. Looking for a different brand. Love the idea of a cup.

    • choose your next cup based on what you don't like about your DivaCup. too long even without the stem? get a shorter cup. too stiff? get a softer cup not enough capacity/leaks/fills up quickly? get a cup with higher airholes and a rounded bottomed shape like a Fleurcup, Si-bell, MeLuna etc as the Divacup has lower airholes and a v-bottomed shape.

  25. I don't know where I've been! This is the first I've heard of menstrual cups. I like the fact of having no strings. ☺I would love to try one!

  26. I will take size 2, please!

  27. Still researching, but I'm making the big switch soon!

  28. Chelsea b
    Twitter:
    says:

    I've used the disposable cups and they didn't work for me after many tries. I would like to try one of these. I'm worried about if I have to clean it in a public restroom. 

  29. I tried to use my diva cup after not having used it for a while. I am out of practice but shortly after inserting I felt like it had created a vacuum inside. It was extremely painful. I tried to just break the seal and give it a twist to reseal it but ended up just removing and giving up. Any suggestion for what I might have done wrong? I didn't have this problem before… 

    • I find I can avoid that kind of problem more easily if I let the cup open when it's only a short way inside, then push it further in when it's already open. Maybe that would work for you, too!

      Also, sometimes it's taken me two tries to put it in properly. If it hasn't worked properly the first time, it might be worth just trying again after taking a minute to relax.

  30. This has inspired me to give cups a try, I've been on the fence for a while, but why not take the leap!

  31. Rumsita
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for giving a timeframe for getting the hang of it.  I just tried a cup for the first time this month & definitely wasn't positioning it correctly.  Hopefully I can get it to work better in the next couple of months.  If not, I guess I'll try another brand to see if I can get that to work better.

  32. sherry moore says:

    I’ve been wanting to try one. I wear tampons and would love to have something that I dont have to buy each month. definatly would save a ton of money and be very green too : )

  33. I already use cloth pads & want to try a cup . 

  34. Sara Flickinger
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love my menstrual cup.  I want to try others, but do not have the funds at present to do so.  My periods are super painful and the cup has dramatically cut down on the amount of pain I feel!  Plus I am a heavy flow girl so the cup makes my periods so much easier to deal with!

  35. I have a menstrual cup that I tried a few times and failed miserably at. Maybe I'll give it a try again.

  36. elisabeth lind says:

    Very informative. More intrigued than I have been in the past ;)

  37. Have been thinking about trying something like this for some time.  Would love to get one and try it out!

  38. The cups almost make feel like I am not having a period. I have very heavy flow for a couple of days and they handled it well.

     

  39. I've been dying to try a menstrual cup but haven't bit the bullet yet on actually buying one…  I know it pays for itself after just a few months (those darn tampons are so pricy!) so I need to just go for it!  Thanks so much for all the info you shared!

  40. If this makes my period easier to handle, I am all for it!

  41. I've been contemplating a green change to my period for a while now. Both cloth pads and cups SCARE me! I know it's time to make that change though so here I am hoping to win! :) Thanks for the AMAZING and very helpful info in this post! It helps to read about the experience of someone I "know"! :)

  42. trisha kilpatrick
    Twitter:
    says:

    I actually tried a menstral cup once before but neither of the two brands mentioned here.  I think I chose the wrong brand because it was more like rubber than silicone.  I am very interested in trying again with a different brand.

    • there are over 30 different cup brands available now! sounds like you had the Keeper which is the stiffest cups out there!

  43. Thanks for this post. I have been debating on trying a cup but it seems overwhelming. Was very concerned about inserting and removing.  

  44. I actually picked up a generic brand cup online that I use. It definitely takes some time to figure it out well. I highly recommend wearing a panty liner just in case so that way if you have any leaks you are still protected. I'd love to try this brand because the shape looks like it might work better for me. :-) Thanks for having this giveaway!

  45. Ok- the sizing confuses me. I've had two c-sections for my boys, so while I have gone through pregnancy (and most of labor), twice- I haven't technically "given birth." Where would this leave me with sizing?

    • Also, I'm under 25 still. So, again, really confused about what size would be best for me lol Thanks so much for all of the nittygritty- I'm {almost} looking forward to my cycles resuming so I can switch to a cup!

      • Amy, I'm… ugh… 30 {still doesn't seem right to say that out loud}  ;)  I've had 2 C-sections also and I wear a size 2 comfortably.  I've read with other cups that no matter how you've given birth, if you have, you'll probably wear a size 2.

        With that said, I think you could go buy your tampon size, if you've used tampons before.  I would think if you wear anything larger than a "regular", you'd be a size 2.

        I honestly think size 1's are more for younger girls who haven't given birth {any way}.

  46. Naomi Holton says:

    Thanks for such a thorough post… I've been thinking about switching to a cup for some time now, so I really appreciate all the info!

  47. The Sckoon cup seems a little wider than the Diva cup. Does this change the comfort level?

  48. Mandy Ferguson says:

    I have realy been wanting to try a menstral cup!  I like the idea of it just collecting, not absorbing and drying out.  The folding it is a bit intimidating but I liked your visuals on how you fold it.  Looks pretty simple.

  49. Geri Fink
    Twitter:
    says:

    Does the Sckoon cup hold as much as the Diva cup? I see it looks shorter as you said so I was wondering. I currently use Diva so I was wondering about that. I do like that the Sckoon comes in color. It feels more girly and less clinical. 

  50. I use a cup and love it. It has def. changed how I feel about my periods! I just wanted to add that I put mine in in the morning and don't take it out until night. It has never filled/overflowed and I have a medium to heavy flow.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m not naive.  I still receive emails and comments every day asking about menstrual cups.  So many women are worried about the mess, having to reuse a cup with each cycle, and are just […]

  2. […] Instead of doing a huge, all-inclusive educational post, I’m just going to tell you my own experience and what I love about using one over the “old” tampon-and-pad method. If you want more of an informational overview, head over to this post that Lindsay wrote. […]

  3. […] 2.  Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Menstrual Cups […]

  4. […] Cup Changed My Life.  I even wrote a rather long post answering all your questions about Everything You Wanted to Know {and Some Things You Didn't} About Menstrual Cups.  Today, I'm sharing with you a company with a heart that I just can't wait to […]

  5. [...] products that are available instead of using disposables.  I've reviewed a few different menstrual cups and even shared how they completely changed my life.  I did a whole series on Mama Cloth [...]

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