Now that you’ve found a cup, let’s go through some common issues and what you can do to combat them before encountering them. The better prepared you are and the more knowledge you have beforehand, may help keep stress and anxieties down to a minimum.
1. Difficult Insertion
You’re welcome to practice using a menstrual cup as soon as you get it, even if you’re not bleeding. However, you may experience some dryness which will make the process difficult. Whether you’re dry to begin with, or you become dry after inserting and removing the cup a couple of times, a water-based personal lubricant will help immensely. It will help the cup slide in and out with ease, and without resistance or tugging on delicate tissues.
One thing to note is that the cervix may move throughout the menstrual cycle. It may be lower or higher during an actual period. Start off with trying a longer cup first, just in case your cervix is high.
Feels Too Wide
There are several different folds that you can try. Some folds make smaller insertion points than others, and may be more comfortable in the beginning stages of cup insertion. If the cup still feels too wide, you can try a smaller/narrower size.
Feels Too Long
If you have inserted the cup correctly and completely, and can still feel it at the vaginal opening, you can trim the stem down a bit and try again. Keep doing this until the cup feels comfortable, and you can still reach it for removal. Some users may need to trim the stem completely off but ALWAYS start off with a full stem first.
2. Pressure/Pain/Cramps During Use
It’s common to be aware that a cup is there when you are new to using menstrual cups, or if the specific cup is new to you. It’s something different and you may tend to focus on it for a while. The feeling or being aware of it, should pass as you go on about your day, but it should never cause you major pressure issues, pain, or excessive cramps.
At first the pressure you experience might just be from being aware of the cup, but if you notice that you have to urinate more frequently, don’t feel like your bladder is emptied completely when urinating, have a slow urine stream, or experience frequent constipation – then the cup might be too firm for you. You can try a softer or slightly smaller cup. Both will ease any excessive pressure off of any sensitive areas.
There should be NO pain at any time while using a menstrual cup. If you are experiencing pain, you may need some lubricant, a different fold, or to remove and reposition the cup. You might also want to try a softer or smaller cup.
When you’re learning how to use a cup, it’s very common to experience some cramping. Just like when you cramp during or after a pelvic exam, pap smear, ultrasound probe, finger insertion, or rough penetration of any kind – the release of prostaglandins (hormones that are created during a chemical reaction where an injury or alternative issue happens) can lead to some uterine contractions. These should subside after a short time.
Alternatively, you can try inserting the cup half way, letting it open, and then push it up into place. This will lessen the chance of the rim hitting the cervix while it opens.
The one thing we all dread is leaking while using any type of menstrual product. It’s no different with a menstrual cup. There are usually some specific reasons that a cup is leaking which have easy fixes, and it’s usually “user error”. It’s truly a learning process! We’ve all been there!
You would think that you just insert the cup and be on your way, but really, a bit of clean-up keeps you dry and spot free. There’s always some excess blood lingering around, even after you insert a cup. Using a wet cloth to clean the stem and cup’s base will eliminate any spots on your underwear, and keep you from wondering if your cup is positioned right.
It happens to the best of us. Menstrual cups are so comfortable that you may forget that you’re even wearing one! This can lead to overflows. Make sure that you schedule your empty sessions accordingly to your flow amount for the day, to avoid any (embarrassing) disasters.
Overflow but the Cup is Half Full
Normally we see this happen in shorter or smaller cups. Cups will move to the area of least resistance which is typically up/in and closer to the cervix, if the cup was placed above the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) as it should be. This will cause the cervix to sit deeper into the cup and compromise some of the capacity space.
As the cervix takes up the space, it also displaces the menstrual flow making it overflow sooner rather than later. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen if you have ever filled a cup with water and then tried to add ice; the water overflows. If you need a higher capacity, you can try using a longer or wider cup.
4. Difficult Removal
Getting the cup in might have been easy, but getting it back out is another thing. Through the whole process of using a cup, not being able to remove it with ease is definitely the scariest!
Can’t Reach It
Again, the cervix can move throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s normally at its lowest position right before, or at the beginning, of our period. However, around the middle to the end of our period it will start its ascent in preparation for ovulation. This is when the cervix can become hard to reach, or out of reach completely.
If you notice that your cup is becoming harder to reach a few days into your period, you might want to switch to a larger/longer cup. If you are already using the larger/longer cup, you can try squatting on the ground, or in the tub to roll your pelvis forward, thus getting a better reach.
You may also need to do a series or pushes with your PFM (pelvic floor muscles) to bring the cup even closer to the vaginal opening. This is the reason you should NOT trim the stem off completely until you’re comfortable and familiar with the process of using a cup.
When you are using a cup, it should create a slight seal so that no menstrual flow will pass the rim. However, once you gently tug down on the cup to remove it, it might start to create a suction. It’s like when you use a toilet plunger and place it in the toilet – it doesn’t create a suction until you pull.
The key to removing a cup without pain, is to break or release this seal before tugging on it. You can pinch the cup’s base to “burp” it which will stop it from creating a suction on the way out. Emptying your cup before it’s completely filled will help keep the mess of “burping” down to a minimum.
Even if you don’t normally have a sensitive urethra, the cup or even just the rim, brushing or rubbing against it can cause some irritation. To avoid this, use your thumb to slightly push down on the cup as it nears the vaginal opening. You don’t have to insert your thumb as most of the cup is already exposed. This will ease any pressure off of your urethra as it exits your body. Again, this is less messy if done before the cup is completely full.
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