Sponsored by Tampax. All opinions my own.
After almost 3 years of using menstrual cups, I’ve become the resident expert amongst my friends on the topic… as well as a resource for many online users who stumble upon my menstrual cup videos online while exploring the world of cups. I’m always extremely happy to share any and all information that I’ve learned through my own experiences, especially when it inspires someone to try a cup for the very first time or help them stick with it after beginner struggles.
I do, however, tend to get the same questions over and over again in the comments of my videos and in my DMs. I thought it’d be super helpful to put my answers to the menstrual cup FAQs I get most all in one place– right here! Whether you have a specific question you’re looking to have answered, or you’re just doing some general research before taking the plunge into your first cup, I hope this helps you feel more comfortable and confident! It took me a full year from the first time I heard about menstrual cups to actually try one after my own research. If there’s a question I didn’t answer, please leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to reply!
1. Can you pee with a menstrual cup in?
Yes, you can pee with a menstrual cup in! In fact, you can do all of your bathroom duties while it’s inside. Women have three holes down there– blood, urine and feces come out of different openings. The menstrual cup is inserted into the vagina, and your pee can still be expelled from the urethra freely.
With that said, different shapes of cups may put pressure on the bladder, causing the need to pee more. If this is an issue for you, check out the Tampax Cup. It was designed with this concern in mind, with a SoftCurve base that is more tapered in shape to reduce that pressure.
2. Can you use a menstrual cup if you’ve never used a tampon and/or had sex?
You can absolutely use a menstrual cup even if you’ve never used a tampon or had sex before. It may feel a little more intimidating, but it’s all about getting to know your body and getting to a point where you’re comfortable with what you’re doing. It can take a little getting used to, but it’ll be so worth it!
3. How do you insert a menstrual cup?
I’ll admit, the first time I saw a menstrual cup I was shocked at how much larger it seemed compared to a tampon. Thinking about the insertion process made me queasy! Again, it’s all about getting to know your body and what feels best. Inserting a menstrual cup involves folding the cup into a shape that feels comfortable for you and that works well with the material of the cup so that it opens up easily once inside. The two most common folds are the “C” fold and the “punch-down” fold.
The C fold: Take an open menstrual cup, and flatten it out by pressing the sides together. Fold in half so that it’s in the shape of the letter C (or U) when looking at it from the top. Insert the cup with the curved side pointing toward you.
The Punch-Down fold: Take an open menstrual cup, and press down and inward on one side of the rim. Pinch the sides to hold the rim in place. Insert with the pointed rim facing toward you.
Once the cup is inside, pinch on the base and wiggle it back and forth so that the cup opens inside. I like to do a quick tug to make sure I feel the suction, which indicates that the rim has sealed in place. You can also slide your finger around the edge of the cup to make sure it is completely opened. Push into position so that you do not feel the cup near the opening of your vagina.
4. How do you remove a menstrual cup?
This is probably what makes people the most nervous. Trust me: your cup will not get lost inside you, it has nowhere to go! When you’re ready to take out your cup, you’ll want to “bear down.” This is basically pushing… as if you were about to poop. This will push your cup down, but you can also use the stem to help wiggle it further. Once you’re able to, pinch the base of the cup, and squeeze to help break the seal. With your fingers still on the base of the cup, pull it out slowly. The Tampax Cup has one of my favorite bases, with grips to give something for your fingers to grab hold of.
5. How do you clean a menstrual cup?
During your cycle, you don’t need to cleanse your cup every time you take it out. You can just rinse it under water, or wipe with toilet paper. Once you’re done with your period, and before your next one, place your cup in boiling water for 7 minutes for a thorough cleanse. If you experience any staining on your cup over time, you can soak it in diluted hydrogen peroxide (half water, half hydrogen peroxide) for 10 minutes.
6. What size menstrual cup should I use?
Brands use different criteria when it comes to choosing a cup: some refer to whether or not you’ve given birth, some go by age, some by flow! Again, this can be a trial-and-error discovery once you get to know your body and flow more intimately throughout your cup experiences. The Tampax Cups are labelled as “Regular Flow” and “Heavy Flow”. The “Regular Flow” cup would work for people who have used light, regular or super tampons in the past. The “Heavy Flow” cup is a better choice for those who needed Super+ to Ultra tampons. Both can be inserted for up to 12 hours based on flow, but if you can only buy one, I usually recommend people to start on a Regular. However, it’s super smart to buy a starter kit so that you have all your options available to you.
7. Can you exercise with a menstrual cup in?
You can totally exercise with a menstrual cup in! In fact, I recommend it! It’s pretty well known that staying active on your period can help with symptoms like cramps and moodiness, and menstrual cups make it so much easier to move around. They stay in place, won’t leak when sealed correctly and you don’t have to worry about anything moving out of place like with a pad. Menstrual cups also make activewear easier to wear on your period, as you won’t have to worry about any bulges.
8. Can you swim with a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are perfect for swimming! Again, it keeps everything secure without worrying about leaks, and it won’t absorb the pool water like a tampon can. I’ve worn mine swimming both in the pool and at the beach successfully.
9. Do you still use pads with a menstrual cup?
It’s not uncommon for people to use pads or panty liners while wearing tampons, so what about with menstrual cups? For the first four periods I used a menstrual cup, I also used pads as “backup” because I was getting used to inserting and sometimes still had leaks. I’d definitely suggest wearing a pad or panty liners while you’re getting started so that you don’t have any accidents during the learning curve stage. When you buy the Tampax Cup Starter Kit on Amazon, it comes with a free trial of the Always Thin Daily Liners– my fave because you can barely feel them. Now, I’m pretty comfortable just wearing the cup with nothing else, though sometimes I’ll wear a panty liner just for peace of mind.
10. Are menstrual cups messy?
While you’re getting used to the insertion and removal process, you might get a little blood on your hands. But once you get the hang of it, menstrual cups aren’t all that messy. Even when I’ve filled a cup to the top, I’ve never spilled blood when removing. Just make sure that if you’re using a cup with a flexible stem like the Tampax Cup, you’ve got a good grip on the base. Don’t hold it while it’s full from the stem, as the cup will tip over easily.
11. What happens if you have to empty it in public?
This is a fear a lot of menstrual cup beginners have, since removal and re-insertion of a menstrual cup does take a bit of time, and is best done with access to a sink if you want to rinse it off. But here’s the thing: menstrual cups can be used up to twelve hours, and if you time it out, you’ll probably very rarely be emptying it in public. I, myself, have only had to do it a handful of times over the past three years– mostly while traveling or just extremely long days out. To avoid emptying in public, I make sure I empty it right before I leave the house. Then, I’m usually home in time to use my own bathroom. However, if you do find yourself in the rare situation of having to empty in a bathroom, don’t worry! Definitely try to seek out a “ones-ie” bathroom first– where it’s just one room with a toilet and sink. If you’re confined to a stall, it’s not a big deal. Empty the blood into the toilet, wipe off the cup using toilet paper, and re-insert.
Hopefully I’ve answered one or more questions you’ve had about menstrual cups! Switching to cups three years ago seriously changed my life and made my period so much easier to manage. Not only is it nice not having to think about managing feminine care products all day, but I’m saving money and reducing waste, too! Throughout this post, I’ve been using the Tampax Cup as an example– check out their website for more info on this awesome cup.
Do you have any other menstrual cup questions for me? Leave them in the comments!
Thank you so much for being so open about the menstrual cup! I’ve been thinking about trying it because I can’t use tampons anymore. I’ve developed what seems to be an allergic reaction to them (I’ve even tried organic ones). I hope to be able to try a cup and have it be my saving grace for that time of the month!
I am so glad that you are educating women about menstrual cups! I love your first video on the Lily Cup on YouTube and have recommended it to friends and on my FB group page which also strives to provide info on cups. It appears that Tampax sent you a sample, which they would not do for me to use in a local workshop, so if I sound a bit bitter towards Tampax, I am. But to generally get the word out about cups is such an important thing! Even if “cup advocacy” is not the main purpose of your page, I’m glad you take the time to do it!
Thanks Kristie! Your comments mean so much! I’m so preachy about the cup because I love it and I know so many women would have better periods because of it!
Such a brilliantly informative post. Thanks for sharing.. I have been planning to shift to menstrual cup since long.. hopefully I’ll try it out soon
Thank you for all the information – no one really talks about HOW it works in my social circles and my Mom (who passed away) wasn’t even one for tampons, so I didn’t have much information or options when I was younger. I still want to try the menstrual cup one day especially when I’m having to teach classes so I’ll bookmark this post for later!
So many great tips! These are not only better for us, but the environment over all. I love it!
Thank you for answering all the questions. I wondered how it worked! So helpful!
I never knew about these until you posted about them, great FAQ here and informative answers!
I’m sure it works great for many!
I love the idea of the cup….hopefully I will get comfortable trying it out one day.
This would have been perfect when I was teaching. I was always afraid of bleeding through my Tampax. You can’t just walk out of a classroom of 26 kids to check. Great explanations.
Very informative post. I’ve never even thought about trying a cup, it just seems like it would be messy.
Never Say Die Beauty
Back in the day, I used to use my diaphragm as a “menstrual cup” sometimes before these existed. I think they’re an interesting alternative. It’s great that you are answering commonly asked questions that potential users may have.
Good for you, girl! Three years is a long time. You were ahead of the curve.