What You Need To Know Before Using A Menstrual Cup

The newest, most eco-friendly addition to the feminine hygiene market, menstrual cups tout benefits like being able to wear them safely for nearly 12 hours. Many women swear by them and their seemingly easy-to-use benefits, but others have a long list of questions to ask. Before you ditch your tampons, there are a few things you'll want to consider.

Start by selecting a size that works for you. The brand you're choosing from should have a size chart on the side of the box and will likely offer two options to pick from, SELF explains. Sherry Ross, MD, tells the outlet, "The smaller sizes are ideal for teens, beginners, and those with strong vaginal muscles or a low-sitting cervix. The larger sizes are typically designed for anyone who has a heavy flow or has ever delivered a baby vaginally." When buying your first cup, keep this in mind.

Similar to a tampon, menstrual cups are likely only uncomfortable when inserted or fitted incorrectly. Another similarity with a tampon, there's a learning curve to getting your cup settled, SELF notes. These cups are designed to comfortably suction to the vaginal wall—if that sounds impossible to you, know you're not alone in that sentiment. Nonetheless, the cup is designed to sit below your cervix and provide incredibly reliable coverage. Read the instructions from the box and take your time as you adjust.

When using your menstrual cup, know your folds

Just like with pads and tampons, the insertion and removal process isn't foolproof. Bustle notes that you'll likely get period blood on your hands at some point, especially as you learn how to use one. Just be prepared for the first time you use your menstrual cup. For this reason, it's best to try it out in your own bathroom the first few times rather than in a public restroom or at a friend's.

Perhaps the most technical part of the operation, folding your cup for insertion, is where many struggle. The "U" shape involves folding the cup in half from the rim, then folding it over again before insertion. The other option, dubbed "the push down" starts with the same half-fold, but then adds another half fold again to form a triangular shape, Bustle explains. When you're just starting out and learning how to use your cup, you can try various folds to see which one works for you. The idea is that the cup opens up once you've inserted it and can situate itself underneath your cervix.

To remove, sit or squat to reach the stem, then pinch the base and angle backwards to minimize spilling, WebMD explains. Remember, you're going to have to rinse the cup out in the sink, so doing this in a public place may not be your best bet. Keep these factors in mind when you're looking to add a menstrual cup to your routine.