Menstrual Cups: A Newbie’s Perspective

MenstrualCupsThis post contains graphic language in regards to menstruation and the female anatomy.  If honest, open discussion of these topics offends you, please stop reading.

Menstrual cups…I have to say I waited a while to try them compared to mama cloth.  There was a two-year gap in my discovery and use of mama cloth and my use of menstrual cups.  I wanted to do a post now as a brand new menstrual cup user to give a newbie’s perspective on them.  I plan to go back in a few months and to offer more advice on getting used to them and ease of use.

A little background…  Before I had children, I was a tampons and liners only type person.  I never wore disposable menstrual pads except for at night.  After having kids, tampons were extremely uncomfortable.  I tried different brands and just couldn’t comfortably wear them.  I discovered mama cloth during my second pregnancy and that’s what I continued to use until this cycle.  I’d say my cycles are pretty average, the second day is heavy, third a little less heavy, and then it’s pretty light to spotting for another couple of days.  I don’t really have any flow at night other than slight spotting occasionally.

I have a tilted cervix, but this has not made it difficult for me to use the cup.  I do not have an IUD.  If you do, you should discuss using a menstrual cup with your doctor.

I would say I am probably more comfortable with my female anatomy than most.  I say this because I learned a lot about my body and had to get comfortable doing things like checking my cervix while we spent several years trying to conceive and going through infertility.  You have to be comfortable in touching your vagina to use a menstrual cup because there is no applicator.  The applicator is your fingers.  I promise it’s not gross or scary.  Just wash your hands before you start and RELAX!!  Being tense will make it harder to insert a menstrual cup just like it would a tampon.

Menstrual Cup Q&A

  • What is a menstrual cup?
    A menstrual cup is a reusable cup used to catch menstrual flow.  It is typically made of medical grade silicone.  Instead of throwing it away after use, you wash the cup and reuse it.
  • Is inserting the cup difficult or painful?
    Yes, and no.  The hardest part for me so far is getting the cup to stay folded before I get it all the way in.  I’m getting better at it, but it does take practice.  So, for me, it’s only painful if the cup pops open before I get it all the way inside.
  • How do you insert it?
    My cup came with insertion instructions and details on insertion and different folds for insertion are also available on the manufacturer’s website.  I will also direct you to Dirty Diaper Laundry’s video because it is great and offers tips that really help you get it right.  The tip to bear down while inserting was key for me.  And remember that you aren’t aiming the cup ‘up’, it’s almost going in horizontal towards your lower back.
  • Can you feel it?
    I could tell the cup was in at first, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.  Once I’d inserted it a few times and gotten more comfortable with it, I really couldn’t tell it was in it all.  I purchased the Lunette size 2.  The Lunette cup has a small stem at the bottom to help you grip and guide it.  I had to trim most of the stem off because it was too long for my anatomy.  Once I did that, it was super comfortable and I really didn’t notice I was having my period at all.
  • Will I get it right the first time?
    Honestly, probably not.  I didn’t.  I got the cup too high the first time and it was giving me cramps.  I just adjusted it, pulled it down just a tad, and it was a night and day difference.  I feel like I’ve gotten better at getting it right each time I do it.  It is definitely a learning curve because you’re learning your body’s own anatomy and what placement is just right for you.  Once you get it though, it’s very comfortable.
  • How often do you empty the cup?
    You can wear the cup for up to 12 hours.  On a heavy day, I wore mine about six hours before I changed it.  It is safe to wear a cup at night, but I don’t because I really don’t have a flow at night.  Unlike tampons, TSS cases have not been reported with the cup.  One BIG reason to use them.
  • How do you clean it?
    The first several times you use your cup, I would recommend emptying it and reinserting it at home if possible.  Mainly because you don’t want to be tense when you remove it and it might be messy until you get the hang of it.  DDL’s video above will also give you tips to remove the cup.  Bear down, pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal, and slowly pull it out.  I just empty the cup into the bowl, wash it with mild soap at the sink, and reinsert it.  Lunette makes a cleanser designed for use with the cup.  If you need to change while on the go, they also make cleansing cloths.
  • The cup is expensive.  I could buy several boxes of tampons for the cost of one cup.
    It is and you’re right.  But, the tampons are going to be thrown away.  The cup can be used for years if you care for it properly and that is going to save you lots of money.  On the low end, a box of tampons is going to cost about $4.  If you need one box every month, the Lunette has paid for itself in ten months….
  • Will I need a back-up?  
    Until you get comfortable using the cup, you may have some leakage.  Once you get the seal right, you likely won’t need a back-up liner or pad unless you have a heavy flow.  And again, I don’t wear the cup at night because I have practically no flow at night, but you can wear it overnight.
  • Can I wear the cup on light days?
    Yes!  You can wear the cup on light or heavy days and you don’t need a ‘light flow’ or ‘heavy flow’ cup.  One cup will do it all.
  • Is it true that the cup helps alleviate cramps?
    For me, yes.  Chemicals in disposable tampons and pads can greatly contribute to menstrual cramps and a heavier flow.  I have almost no cramping since switching to cloth pads and the cup.  The only time I had cramping with the cup was when I had it inserted too high.  Once I adjusted it, the cramps were instantly gone.
  • How do I find the right cup for me?
    There are a few different cups on the market and they typically come in two different sizes.  Lunette and Diva Cup being the two brands I hear about most.  Every woman’s anatomy is different so I would recommend checking out the manufacturer’s websites and comparing the different brands.  After my research, Lunette was my choice and it has been a good fit for me.

Where To Buy

If you want more information on cloth pads, please stop by our article on Mama Cloth.

I hope this has provided you with some useful information on menstrual cups.  I have to say that I am very glad I finally decided to try one.  I love mama cloth, but the cup is a whole new freedom.  Only having to empty it once or twice a day is fantastic and lets me forget that I have my period.

If you have other questions, feel free to email me or comment below.

*This post contains some affiliate links.  

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5 thoughts on “Menstrual Cups: A Newbie’s Perspective

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