When it’s that special time of the month (yeah, you know the one), you now have myriad options at your disposal: You could go for non-toxic tampons, stick on a pad (yep, women are wearing pads again), let it all flow while wearing a pair of period-proof undies, or go for the most mysterious feminine hygiene product of all. Yep, I’m talking about the menstrual cup.
In theory, using the cup should be a no-brainer. You only have to empty it once every 12 hours, it’s the greenest pick on the market, and with one $15-$40 cup lasting 10 years, it’s definitely the most budget-friendly option. But while many wellness babes are on board (Lee From America’s Lee Tilghman is a period cup evangelist), even more are still intimidated by the device. For starters, how the heck do you actually use one?
Below, Amandine Pranlas-Descours, global brand manager of feminine care company Intimina shares the step-by-step process of using a menstrual cup (along with some killer intel to make your experience run smoothly).
Scroll down for a much-needed demystification of the menstrual cup.
Step 1: Hit up your local pharmacy or Amazon to choose your cup.
They come in a full range of shapes and sizes (and colors!), but most kinda look like flowers—that’s fun, right?
Step 2: Experiment with how to put it in (I know, I know: “That’s what she said…”)
There are a few different ways you can fold the cup in order to get it to fit easily in your vagina. But figuring out which way is best for you will likely take a bit of trial and error. “Personally, I recommend using the ‘half–v’ fold,” says Pranlas-Descours. “It makes the cup smaller and more rigid, and the pointed tip makes it easier to insert.” To use her go-to method, hold the cup in one hand, pushing one side of the rim down towards the base with a your pointer finger. Next, switch your grip so you’re holding the body of the cup (it should be folded on one side now). Need a visual? Watch this video.
Step 3: Insert the cup into your vagina.
You can insert your cup while standing up, sitting, or lying down. Pranlas-Descours says that inserting it while in the shower, with one foot on the tub, can be an easy way to do it because the water makes things a bit more slippery. Once you’ve found a comfortable position and a solid fold, go ahead and stick it up there like you would a tampon. “My biggest tip is to try inserting the cup a bit higher than it needs to be at first; you can use your finger on the rim of the cup to push it further into your vagina,” says Pranlas-Descours. “Then squeeze or press the body of the cup a few times—as high on the body as you can reach—to try and get the rim to pop open and form a seal.”
If the cup still doesn’t open up after that, this pro suggests sticking your fingers up your vagina until you feel the rim of the cup. Then press inwards. “To make sure your cup is fully open, simply run your finger around the body of the cup to check for any folds or bulges,” she adds.
Step 4: Leave it in for up to 12 hours (or two tampons-worth of time).
Get your sweat-sesh in, go about your boss babe business, and don’t think about your period. Oh, and if you’re using a Ziggy cup, you can actually have sex while wearing it, too. According to Pranlas-Descours, once you start using a cup regularly you’ll start to feel so in sync with your flow, you’ll know exactly when it’s time to take take your cup out.
Step 5: Take it out.
“To remove your cup, simply grip the stem and wiggle the cup down until you can reach the base of the cup, squeeze the body of the cup to release the seal, and then gently slide the cup out,” Pranlas-Descours says. Be extra careful when you pull it out to avoid spillage.
Step 6: Clean and repeat.
Once you’ve removed your cup, Pranlas-Descours recommends running it under some water for a quick refresh before reinserting. In between periods, you can place it in boiling water for five minutes for full sterilization before popping it back in its carrying case.
And that’s it. Pretty drama-free, right?
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