7 Things No One Tells You About Menstrual Cups

Switching to a menstrual cup is something we recommend for everyone, but there are a few things we found out after we switched that no one bothered tell us before. We’ve teamed up with Intimina to bring you some menstrual truths, and while none of these are dealbreakers they are things you might be surprised by — and knowing them ahead of time may save you a bit of stress and worry.

1. Menstrual Blood is Thick

Before switching to a cup or disc, most of us didn’t know that menstrual blood is less like wine and more like soup. As appetizing as this sounds we all remember dumping our cups for the first time. It makes surprisingly lava lamp style patterns in the toilet. If you say you weren’t impressed we don’t believe you!

2. There is a Learning Curve & Backup Protection is a Thing

Clickbait is real and most of it is meant to scare you with bloody horror stories … or to convince you that cups are actually vaginal unicorns that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

While we do believe that cups will change your life, the tone of these videos and articles are often glowing and salesy, while glossing over not so glamorous aspects of learning to use a new menstrual product — like leaks. Leaks can happen and knowing this can help you decide if you want to throw caution to the wind or be prepared with backup protection — like pantyliners, pads, or period underwear. If you find that your fit isn’t perfect the first time, experiment with different folds, and possibly even different positions when inserting (squat, leg up, sitting). Find what works for you rather than listening to worst case scenarios played out for YouTube meant only to garner clicks.

3. Your Cervix Moves

You probably never gave your cervix much thought before using a cup but now you can’t escape it. Why? Because it can have everything to do with which cup works best for you. Too long and it won’t fit / too short and you’ll be all hands on deck retrieving it. The quick and dirty version is that it’s best to check your cervix while on your period — at the beginning and at the end — before choosing a menstrual cupmenstrual cup tell all. Knowing where it sits can help you feel more confident in your cup purchase. It’s not common to have an extremely high or low cervix, but it’s important to know before throwing down $25-40 on a cup.

4. Cups Can Make Noise

We like to joke that a cup opens inside you and “pop” it’s sealed but that pop is usually for effect and only a select few can actually hear it open inside them. The real fun discovery is that squelching noise the cup can sometimes make when removing… if you’re not a fan try tilting the cup a tad to avoid it.

5. You Can Have Sex with It…. Maybe

Menstrual discs, like the reusable Ziggy by INTIMINA, are one way you can have sex while still catching your blood. But did you know that some people have penetrative sex with an actual cup in? We aren’t saying you should — and it’s certainly not approved of by any brand — but it has been accidentally discovered by many users, including ourselves. Keep in mind that the cup, your partner, and the sex position can all play a role in how successful (or not) this is. Keep in mind that your vagina lengthens considerably when aroused, so you may need to wait a bit for your cup to come back down to a reachable location. An impromptu game of just the tip may be harmless fun when you don’t own a disc, but we think the Ziggy is a great solution if you want to regularly have what is often called “mess free” period sex.

6. Pooping Might be a Problem

We did a whole video and post about pooping with a menstrual cup, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s something so many people find out from experience. In fact, it’s a subject we even see posted about in our Facebook group. Basically, for some people pooping doesn’t have any effect on wearing a menstrual cup. For others it either means they push their cup lower during bowel movements or that having a cup in makes pooping harder to do. If you find that it bothers you, taking it out before you go is a simple way to work around it.

7. You May Want to Collect Them All

Weirdly enough the thing most people don’t see coming when they switch to a cup is that it will become their new hobby. Making the leap to a cup takes a lot of courage. We aren’t taught about cups in school and most of us don’t know anyone in real life to ask those “TMI” questions. That’s where the internet comes in and you discover there are hundreds of cups in fun colors, soft silicones, and innovative shapes. Even if your first cup works amazingly you may find yourself drawn to a new cup just because it looks cool or has good reviews. If that sounds like you, welcome to what we lovingly refer to as The Cup Cult. You’re going to fit right in!

Put A Cup In It

Menstrual education by menstrual cup experts and advocates Kim Rosas & Amanda Hearn. Thanks for being here!

- Kimanda

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7 Comments

  • I had a epiostimy last year. Quite a big one. Did not heal quickly and well. Inserting and removing the cup hurts a little on the end of the stitched skin. While using the cup I need to massage the scar tissue with vaseline or something alike. I have used the cup only for 1 period, just started. Maybe another fold is doing better. I have tried the smallest, but still the removal is a bit painful.

  • Hello. I have an organicup. It’s the first time I use it, and my vagina actually hurts me, essentially when I’m going to pee. I don’t know if it’s normal, and I don’t want to used when I’m feeling this uncomfortable. Do you know if it’s normal to happen? Should I go see a gynecologist? Thanks, Joana

  • So, I must be incredibly average. I’ve watched a bunch of your videos – and I think they were super helpful, balanced, and straight-forward. But unfortunately, I watched them after I had ordered a generic cup based on low price and the super broad sizing recommendations. On the positive side, I decided to try it anyway, and I love it!! It’s the end of day three (which for me is the worst,) but it worked a charm! Thanks to your videos, I feel like I may have a three-day learning curve !

  • Has anyone else had an issue with the cups not fitting?? I got the smallest one I could find and It won’t open up when I insert it.

  • Kari,
    I just got my first cup a few weeks ago, and tested it before menses, and it opened up just fine, BUT when the time came that I actually needed to use it, my cervix had lowered a LOT. No big deal, I thought, since I’d gotten a brand that’s actually shorter than even the shortest of the popular brands. It’s the Exuby, available at Walmart. Seems like it was around $17, or so, and it actually came with 4 cups. 2 tiny ones and 2 larger ones (the larger ones are more like your standard shorter cup).
    Actually, I’m going to go measure them for you now, just so you have a better idea and can compare with what you’ve got…
    Okay, the little one is about an inch and 3/4 long (not counting the stem) and just under an inch and a half wide at the opening. The larger one is 2″ long (again, not counting the stem, which I’ve trimmed down a bit) with a just over an inch and a half opening.
    Now the important part…
    I magically had no trouble the first time I tried the little one (but used a pad just in case), but my cervix hadn’t entirely lowered yet. After emptying and re-inserting, I _thought_ it was in right, but it wound up leaking (thankful for the pad!). I tried the larger one, and same deal. After a lot of (messy!) trial and error that I won’t go into, I felt around in there with the cup in, and realized that toward the top on one side it was not open. I tried different folds and various methods for trying to get it to pop open, but nothing worked.
    After some further investigation, I realized it was actually being squished. At first I thought maybe the cup was too soft and I’d have to bite the bullet and give up on this one and get a stiffer one. I’m stubborn, though, so I kept trying to figure it out.
    Well, it turns out that pesky cervix had not only dropped, but scooted over to the left! That was what was keeping the cup from opening! It was outside the cup and squishing it in. No wonder it wasn’t working! It took some maneuvering, but I finally figured out how to get the cup around the cervix so the cup would open and actually be able to catch the mess. Worked wonderfully! I gave it an hour or so to test, and all was well, so I went to bed. Woke up with no leaks, no mess. Woohoo!
    I’ve tried this with both cups since, and it works for them both. I don’t know if this is the issue you’re having, but it was something that I hadn’t run across in all the videos and posts and such that I’d looked at before buying one. I don’t know how common it is, but this may be one of those causes of “mystery leaks” that these gals talk about in another one of their videos. They never mention this potential issue.
    Messy as it may be, I suggest poking around and figuring out where your cervix has gotten to. There’s a pretty good chance it’s hugging a wall somewhere down pretty low (now that I know what the deal is, I’ve looked into it, and it seems surprisingly common), and preventing your cup from opening/working. Once you’ve found it, try inserting the cup, then feel around the edge of it. If you feel something squishing it from one side, it may be your cervix. If so, try to get the rim of the cup to slide between the cervix and wall, so it goes inside the cup instead of next to it. You’ll lose a little capacity that way, but these things actually hold quite a bit, and for me, it was well worth it not having to get up 3 times during the night to change a tampon while at my heaviest flow!
    I hope that helps!!!

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