Can you wear them if you are a Virgin?
Yes, just as you can with tampons… I have seen some people comment that they have had problems and may need to break the hymen first if its not already. You might also want to try the smaller sized cups too.
They look very large and I have a small vagina – it’s not going to fit is it?
The vagina is made to stretch… the cups are a lot smaller than a babies head, which the vagina can stretch to fit. Penises, vibrators etc. are all around the same size as a cup… which also fit into a vagina…. When people have problems with “being too tight”, its probably because they aren’t relaxed. It almost seems to me that some women want to think that they are so”tight” that its not going to fit.
There are 2 sizes in most of the cup brands.. although the difference is only very small. They all come with age recommendations… If you feel that you are better off with the smallest cups, then look into the smaller sized cups like Lunette, Lina and Lady Cup.
Can you wear them for swimming?
Yes…. some people are concerned they might leak, but I have not heard of anyone having this problem, and it has not happened to me. If you were to have any leaking it would be not much different to having a slight leak with tampons (but unlike tampons, the pool/sea water won’t waterlog your cup)
Are they easy to use?
Ok…yes and no. It depends on how you define “easy” really :) It can take a few goes (for some people, lots of goes) to find the correct and comfortable fit…. some get it fine the first go. Being relaxed and familiar with your body helps. After you’ve found that right spot however, it should be easy then to use it each month. Apart from the insertion/removal – which can be the tricky bit, it’s simply a case of tipping the contents out, giving it a rinse/wipe and putting it back in. You can sterilise it daily or at the end of your period (or not at all – some people just wash them with soap…… but make sure you rinse it well before putting it back in as soap and vaginas do not a happy pair make!…..)
Are they safe?
By “Safe” I assume most people are concerned with TSS, the cup being “sanitary” and health issues with the material the cup is made of. The chance of TSS is significantly lower with menstrual cups than with tampons. If you are allergic to latex then you’ll want to avoid the keeper (it’s made of latex rubber), and there is apparently a risk of constant exposure to latex causing a latex allergy (however many people use the rubber Keeper for years without problem). Most of the cups are made from medical grade silicone – which is the kind of silicone used in baby bottle teats and medical tubings. The silicone breast implants that we all heard about causing problems for women were (or so I believe) an issue because they use a liquid silicone which was leeching out into the body. The type of silicone the cups are made from doesn’t have this issue – as it’s not liquid.
If you are having problems getting it in/out you might feel sore, and I suppose you could have problems if you did something like drop it into the toilet and then put it back in without washing it (bacteria and other nasties where they shouldn’t be). Nothing in life is ever 100% safe, but menstrual cups have been around long enough that if there were any major problems with their use, something would have been reported. Several people have had their Gynos do a swab of their cups and found nothing nasty growing on them. It’s also worth noting that while we tend to think of things that aren’t sterilised as being dangerous, other things that might go in the vagina (fingers, penises, vibrators etc.) aren’t generally sterilised beforehand (sometimes not even washed) and generally pose no health problems… But if you feel more comfortable sterilising your cup each time you use it, then by all means do so.
Can you feel them when they are in?
I believe it would be up to the individual. Some people can (as they can feel tampons) and some can’t. Usually if you can feel it, it’s not a painful feeling, just an “I’m aware it’s there” feeling. If it is causing discomfort its probably inserted too high or not correctly somehow. Some people have to cut the stem off to stop feeling that, others can leave it whole. The feeling of the stem is an obvious poking sensation. I am aware of the cup but usually only when I think about it. I’ve tried several of the cups and I can feel the stem in most of them – some uncomfortably so, others just a feeling off being aware of it, but not uncomfortable in any way. The stems can be trimmed if they are causing problems. If the cup is allowed to pop open too quickly it can sometimes cause cramps (taking the cup out and trying again can stop them, and often they will just stop eventually on their own).
Do they leak?
The reusable cups all have air holes, so if you left it in place too long you may find it fills past the air holes and that could cause leaks. I’ve had the cup fill beyond the airholes without problems though. Not having it positioned in the right spot could cause it to not create a seal and that could leak. As could having a cup that is either too large, too small or not the right shape. There may be some who would find none of the cups fit well enough to stop leaks completely, but I’m sure most leak problems would be due to the position of the cup, which may take a few cycles to perfect. Some people find one cup brand will offer a better fit over another.
It is always a good idea to wear a pantyliner as extra protection, because as you empty your cup the blood continues to flow, any blood that had made its way down the vagina before you put the cup in, could stain your underpants… some people confuse this with leaking. Several people have described a sort of “bubbling” feeling when their cup is too full and/or breaks suction, which is usually a sign that the cup is going to leak if not emptied straight away. Even if it does leak, there should not be a catastrophic failure with the entire cup contents flooding out… it should be a little trickle that can be caught by a pantyliner or wiping with toilet paper.
Can you wear them during sex?
You are not supposed to wear the reusable ones during penetration sex, however I have seen comments that people have. How this is possible I don’t know, since they sit down low and have stem that couldn’t be comfortable to your partner. So the short answer is No, but it apparently has been done. The softcups (Rebranded to “Flex”) are more like a contraceptive diaphragm and can be worn during penetration sex as they are worn higher. You can use the cups during oral sex however, or simply take it out prior to penetration.
Can you wear them while doing yoga or anything where you go upside down (will the blood flow back up and cause problems)?
Yes you can wear them when you would be upside down. If you think about it, its not that much different to when you are laying down. I haven’t heard of any medical advice to say this can be dangerous (unless you have problems with that would contraindicate it), but I have seen Yoga websites that suggests it is not a good idea to do inversions while menstruating – though it also says its not a good idea for menstruating women to do certain positions regardless of their chosen method of blood catchment (it was more to do with the energy flow going backwards and using up energy while the body is detoxing, than problems with actual blood flow going backwards).
How can I make it easier to put in?
That depends on you really… some people seem to prefer using a lubricant (Waterbased only), some simply wet it with water. Some like it cold, some like it warm. Some say running it under cold water helps it pop open easily, some find a cold cup makes them clench their muscles more. I think the key thing is to relax. It’s not a race, take your time and if you don’t get it right simply try again or leave it for another go later. Don’t think of it as something you *have to do*, think of it as something you *want* to do (which might take the pressure off and relax you). It could take several cycles to get familiar enough with your body and the cup to get the insertion and removal all settled. Certain positions can be easier than others… I find lying down on my side to be easiest for insertion (not something you’d be able to do while out!), after practice you should get the hang of it.
How do I cope in public toilets?
That again depends on your personal preferences. You might like to take a small bottle of water or a moistened cloth with you so that you can clean up in the stall. NEVER EVER (I really can’t stress that enough!) use the water in the toilet bowl to clean your cup!!!!!!! (I can’t imagine why anyone would want to, but I’ve seen someone suggest it). One website claims you can even urinate on the cup to clean it. You can wipe it with toilet paper, a baby wipe or cloth before putting it back in, or you can use a water bottle to rinse it off. Brands like Lunette also sell special sachet wipes to use for cleaning the cups in public. Some people don’t clean it at all and just put it back as is. Your hands might get a little blood on them, so if you are not happy washing them in the sinks in public, you might like to take a cloth to wipe them. You could carry a small zip-lock bag in your pocket/bag to hold a cloth for this purpose. Remember though that apart from the blood, if someone saw your cup they would probably only know what it was if they had seen them before. So if they know what it is they are probably either a fellow cup user or have looked into it. It could be an opportunity to show other women the Menstrual cups too. Though rinsing out a very bloody cup in a public sink could certainly raise some eyebrows!
Do they hurt to remove?
Some people might feel a little discomfort. The main thing to remember is to break the seal first, don’t just yank it out. (You stick your finger up to the rim of the cup, press it in and you might hear a lovely “schloop” sound as the suction breaks), then you can use the stem/bottom of the cup to gently pull it down. The stem isn’t like a tampon string – generally you don’t pull it out by the stem….. some people can apparently fold the cup slightly while inside you and that helps to get it out – but to be honest I’ve never been able to do that, so I just pull it down the the vaginal opening, then tip it on it’s side to allow part of the rim to come out first, then pull the rest out. Some people find it easier to hold the base of the cup for removal than the stem (particularly if you have a cup with a small or flimsy stem). Your cup should come with instructions on how to use it.
Since tampons absorb liquid leaving the vagina dry and the tampon is usually larger than it was when you inserted it, many people find those are uncomfortable to remove. However with a cup they don’t absorb anything and don’t get bigger, so your vagina’s natural lubrication should be enough to help it slide out easier than a tampon would – particularly when your flow is light. Given the shape of the cup, removal should be easier than insertion, because the smallest end is coming out first! The rim can be a little uncomfortable coming out… but that will get easier over time as you find the most comfortable way for you to do it.
Where can I buy one?
Some Pharmacies stock them, but you may get better pricing if you buy online. Doing a “Google” search brings up thousands of results that should help you. You can also check the official websites, which you’ll find on http://menstrualcups.wordpress.com. You might be tempted to go for the cheapest cup you can find, or maybe the one made in your country, or the one you’ve seen most about or that your friend uses – but do some research to see which one might suit you best. For example if you have a low cervix, then you may need a shorter cup.
What if it gets lost up there?
Your vagina is not a never-ending tunnel! :) …it’s not going to be lost forever, your cervix will stop it going anywhere. But it can feel that way when you find you can’t immediately feel the stem and start to panic – with visions of it working its way up through your body to lodge into your brain or something :) – But I promise you, it’s there… it just might be a little out of reach. If you can’t find it, bear down (almost like you are trying to do a poo), and at the same time, feel up as far as you can, and you should find it. Don’t just yank it out, you’ll have to try and break the suction, by poking your finger into the rim to poke it in, which releases the suction.
If it really has traveled up higher than you can reach, and bearing down doesn’t get it any closer, then as embarrassing as it might be, go to your Doctor, and they can remove it for you. I believe you’ll find Doctors have seen all sorts of things, so don’t be too embarrassed! I don’t want to alarm anyone by telling them it can happen, but I’m wanting to say that in the VERY uncommon event it should happen, you’re not alone – I’ve seen a couple of stories where people have had to have a partner or Dr assist them in removing it – so at least you can be happy in the knowledge that if that happens to you, you’re not the only one it’s ever happened to :D