Most of the manufacturers and retailers deliver the cup along with :
- a cardbox package
- a cotton pouch
- an utilization notice, sometimes in several languages, depending on the selected cup
- sometimes, a box that can be used as a sterilizer
You can also find sometimes, depending on retailers, a special and stiffer package (Yuuki, CupLee…)
Before using it the first time, we advise you not to customize your cup (especially trimming the rim)
All the manufacturers advise to sterilize the cup for 3 to 5 minutes into boiling water, or in a large water quantity with sterilization tablets ; or in a baby bottle or nipple sterilizer. It may be useful to wash the pouch with washing powder (being careful the pouch cord do not go away).
Most pouches can be machine-washed at a normal temperature.
It is possible to train folding the cup with all the folding methods to feel how soft it is (but be careful not to fold the cups if it has just been sterilized – the silicon is too fragile and can split).
It is also highly not recommended to try the cup outside of menstruation
All this because the vagina and the cervix behave differently during the whole menstrual cycle, and aren't prepared to welcome a device when there is no blood to collect. No-bleeding insertion often end up badly and can disheart starters. The vagina may not be lubricated enough and there is no blood, which makes the suction effect much bigger and makes all the manipulation much more painful.
Absolute contraindications for using a cup :
A cup must not be used to collect post partum bleeding, nor after a miscarriage or any kind of abortion.
When it comes to wearing the menstrual cup as a virgin, opinions diverge (as well as for first menstruation). The hymen is closed and the vagina, super tonic, can be a problem when trying to insert a cup and disheart young girls. It is mostly preferable to be used to having a period and knowing one's body.
Menstrual cups must not be used either to collect vaginal discharge (leuccorhea) that is no blood, especially if they're due to a pregnancy or an IUD. May your vaginal discharge be too important and uncomfortable, just see your physician.
Temporary or Incomplete contraindications for using a cup :
When having a vaginal infection (or suspecting an infection), it is better to stop using the cup or any other internal protection (tampon or menstrual sponge). This can cause burning and pain.
In case of using internal treatment for an infection, it is not recommended to use a menstrual cup. Washable or disposable pads are a solution.
After having given birth of had a miscarriage or a termination, it is necessary to wait until the vagina is ready again, as well as the cervix, before using a cup. After a miscarriage, using the cup again will be quicker if it has been a natural one (vs done by surgery)
After the birth, in case of episiotomy, the scar must have gone completely and the perinea must be muscly enough to be able to retain the cup.
IUD (copper or hormonal one) is not a contraindication to use a cup. It is however necessary to apply with application all the pieces of advice regarding the removal of the cup (see below).
INSERTION : METHODS AND HINTS TO SUCCEED
There are 4 main insertion methods, and lots of other ways to do it
- La C-fold : the older, the most classical, and possibly the most popular
- La Punch Down : which allows to insert wider cups but that must be used with stiffer cups that pop open more easily
- La 7-fold : for a smaller cup. Not the most popular
- La E-fold : for a larger cup, this makes a wide cup narrower. This folding method isn't very popular either.
Hints to succeed in insertion :
Whatever folding method you pick, it is necessary to check some features to make sure your cup is doing its job correctly.
Finding one's cervix is always a advantage, but it is not always easy, especially when one doesn't know her body very well.
The cervix is located at the far end of the vagina, far or close depending on the moment of the menstruation cycle. It is recognizable to its round and firm shape. Touching it could be similar to touching your nose's end : stiff but « round » and irregular.
Oddly, pushing downwards at the same time you're inserting the cup and pushing it upwards can be useful and help it to find its place, especially for cups that pop open immediately as soon as they're inserting in the vagina.
WEARING THE CUP DAY AND NIGHT
As much as a tampon as unlike smart-balls (Ben Wa balls), the user must not feel the cup is inside when she's wearing it.
Once inserted with one of the methods seen above, the cup has to stay motionless until :
- It's full until the holes (it no longer stands still anymore and can flow or no longer have its suction effect)
- The cup has been inserted for 12 hours and even though it is almost empty, it needs to be removed and rinsed.
It is theoretically unnecessary to remove the cup to use the bathroom (for liquid or solid waste) but some users may prefer to remove their cup to be able to execute bowel movements, without fearing the cup to slip and fall (some can be slippy, such as the smooth ones).
Some large and stiff cups can execute an unpleasant pressure on the bladder or the urethra and make peeing more difficult and bladder emptying more difficult. This can cause an urinary disorder for people who are sensible.
If this is your case :
- It's better to select a soft cup and when it is possible, to select a less wide cup : Si-bell, CupLee, Inciclo, LadyCup, MeLuna… Stiffer cups are not recommended (Lunette, Yuuki classic, MonthlyCup, Keeper). Mediumly stiff cups are also an option (FleurCup, RubyCup, NaturCup…)
- It can also be a solution to remove the cup before the first bladder emptying of the day, so as to allow the bladder to get emptied completely.
Menstrual cups can be worn for everyday activities : sports, art, professional occupation… Without having to restrain anything. The cup can be worn in case of limited moving, hospital stay, airplane journey, trip in a desert or wild area…
Before doing sports, it is recommended to empty the cup and be sure it stands at its right place (checking the cervix is well included into the cup) so as to feel comfortable during the sport session (for example, sudden movements due to martial arts, dancing, skiing, horse-riding, climbing, ball playing…) or water sports (every water sport is authorized with the cup, even diving).
It is possible to feel some kind of water bubble inside the cup, without meaning the cup is flowing.
It is also a possibility to feel the actual bleeding without the cup being leaking. In almost all the cases, the user completely forgets she is wearing a cup, especially if she enjoys a light or medium flow.
How can I know my cup is full ?
Generally, when the cup is full (the blood reached the holes), you can feel the cup unsticking the vaginal walls as the suction effect is beginning to wear off. This is often followed by an important leaking because the cup doesn't hold anymore to the vaginal walls : it is necessary to run to the bathroom to empty it, rinse it and insert it again. After a few months, each user will be aware of the moment the cup needs to be emptied before starting to leak.
How can I feel the cup is leaking ?
Sometimes, you can't. You can somehow see it on your underwear or on toilet paper after you've been to the toilet. A light trace of blood (light red) doesn't necessarily mean the cup is leaking, it can come from the blood that remained outside of the cup. But if those traces are bigger and bright red, then it means you're leaking.
When the cup isn't full, leaking is always due to an inadequate position :
The best way to prevent leaking is to check, once the cup has been inserted, that the cervix is no longer reachable with a finger.
More rarely, a narrow cup in a vagina that is not muscly enough can be the cause for bleeding, for the suction effect not being efficient enough. In this case :
- Try to exercise to as to tighten your vagina (along with a gynecologist or a physiotherapist)
- Choose a wider, stiffer and large cup : Yuuki, LadyCup, FemmyCycle…