I hope you’re doing well? Over on my Instagram, I asked if you would like my review and experience of using a menstrual cup and a surprising amount of my followers said yes! Obviously, this topic is going to be very personal and for some a little TMI but I’m comfortable talking about this and don’t want to leave out details so if you aren’t into this kind of topic (or are my brother) then don’t keep reading. However, if you are curious to know more about a menstrual cup, already use one and would like to know my experience or just looking for some period related content then keep on reading.
I’ve included a FAQ, Top Tips and a Pros/Cons breakdown at the end so feel free to scroll down to that if you would rather skip my monologue!
As a little bit of back story, I’m a pad user and am only ever a tampon girl when I’m competing with my cheer team or going swimming. Tampons actually make me a feel a little weird and all the negatives of them (https://betches.com/4-dangers-of-using-tampons-you-may-not-know-about/) are super off-putting hence my preference for pads. I have a very average flow, heavy on days the first and second day but them much more average-light towards the end.
To begin with, I tried the OrganiCup as it was recommended to me personally, has great reviews on Amazon and is one of the more affordable cups at around £15 – if you order directly you can use the code SAVE20 to get money off (this is not an affiliate code, just one that I have seen advertised). The cups also come with a nice carry pouch so you can discreetly store it in a sanitary way.
When that cup first arrived I was so anxious and intimidated by the size. Even when practicing the folds I was still thinking ‘wow this is not going to fit’. I wanted to feel prepared when my period arrived so decided to practice even though my flow hadn’t started yet. Unlike tampons, a cup won’t absorb your natural liquids your vagina is supposed to create and because the cup is made from silicon it’s safe to practice getting the cup in and out whilst not actually on your period. Because the size was a little intimidating, I decided to buy some lube to use with it. To my surprise it went in well the first time – the lube definitely helped so I recommend trying that if you are anxious or struggling with it. After I’d put it in successfully once I decided to practice a few more times. Getting it out was a little more awkward because you can’t just yank on the stem-like a tampon string but instead get your fingers around the base and squeeze to break the suction seal (this suction is what holds the cup in place so you don’t leak and is why you need to ensure the cup is popped out properly when you put it in. When you first start learning I recommend having shorter nails as my long thumbnail caught my insides a little bit and that was uncomfortable – once you know what you’re doing you’d probably be fine with long nails though.
One thing I did notice when practicing with my Organicup was that the stem was a little uncomfortable so I decided to trim the majority of it which is perfectly fine to do (However, I would later learn this was a mistake for me personally). Once my period was about to start, I always get my period in the morning and just know it’s going to be that day when I wake up, I put the cup in using the Punch Down Fold. I used the cup for a few hours and then went to check on it as wasn’t feeling confident enough to leave it in for longer periods of time. Removing it this time was a little more tricky especially because I wasn’t relaxed and had now removed the stem – after trying several different positions and becoming a little panicked I finally got the cup out by squatting down in front of the toilet. Because of all the fiddling and stress, it was a quite a messy experience and I was glad to have my sink right next to the toilet to help me clean up after – the blood did just get on my hands and the cup though not like a crime scene around the entire bathroom… Because of the struggle getting it out I was apprehensive about putting it back in but wanted to preserve so back in the cup went.
The experience on the first day and a half continued to be the same, easy to put it in, great to wear but then absolute dread when it came to taking out. It was uncomfortable to break the seal and I felt as though I couldn’t get a good enough grip on the base of the cup to pull it out smoothly. I still knew I was preferring it to tampons but it wasn’t the revolutionary experience I was hoping for. Using a tampon always gave me worse cramps and I’ve been finding similar with the cup, although, they haven’t been bad enough to stop me from doing anything and I haven’t needed to take any paracetamol to help ease them.
On the second day of my period I had another cup delivered this time the Saalt Soft which I ordered on Amazon the day before as online channels such as Put A Cup In It had suggested this was good for beginners and lots of people like the more flexible soft stem.
I put my Saalt cup in around 11am on the second day of my period (which is also my heaviest day) and just continued to use it throughout the rest of my period. It’s comfortable and the stem is so much more comfortable, so I haven’t had to trim it which makes removing the cup so much easier.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to wear the cup in bed because despite being comfortable during the day at night it just isn’t, still, I’m really impressed with how this experience has gone and as a result of switching have used way fewer pads than I usually would!
For the rest of my period, I’ve continued to have a great experience during the day but not been successful at using it overnight. Most days I get up, put the cup in and then only take it out at the end of the day or if I need to go for a number 2 because the pressure can make the cup move around or make you unable to go so it’s easier to just remove it. I’ve also found that there are no bad odours at all when using a cup – even when removing it – which we all know is something you have to deal with when using cotton products. The longest I’ve kept it in is around 9 hours and that was completely leak-free which was impressive.
To clean my cup I’ve been using cold water first so it doesn’t stain, wiping it with toilet tissue or using a little bit of menstrual cup soap from Lunette (you can use mild soap but I’m currently using bar soaps to cut down on plastics in my bathroom so didn’t have any available) and then rinsing again with warm water before shaking dry and putting back in.
I’m fully converted to a cup user during the day but am just not there yet during the night yet which is a little disappointing but I will try again on my next period. I haven’t had any leaks, changing is super easy now I have the hang of it and the freedom of just changing it once a day even on my heaviest day is liberating. I really have just had a completely different experience whilst being on my period this time than ever before. Things felt much cleaner and more manageable.
These questions are a combination of questions I wrote down before using the cup for the first time and questions I’ve been asked over on Instagram. I’m no cup expert but after using a cup and feeling very comfortable with it I feel confident about answering these questions.
Q: Does it hurt to put in/is it easy to insert?
Surprisingly it doesn’t hurt at all even though it looks intimidating and like it won’t even fit. The first few used I put lube around the top to help but now I’m not needing to do that most of the time. I use the punch down fold which gives you a nice point of insertion and a lot of control about where to put it and when to pop it out. At most, it can be a little uncomfortable to remove but it doesn’t hurt and isn’t uncomfortable the entire time you’re using it.
Q: Does it hurt to take out/is it easy to remove?
It is a little uncomfortable to get out when you first learn how. I just struggle breaking the seal and then pulling it out in a nice clean motion instead it felt a little jagged. It can sometimes be a little difficult to remove if it’s moved higher up but it can’t get lost or permanently stuck, squatting down on the floor helped me but if that doesn’t work you can bear down and push it down until you can reach. Once I switched to a cup with a soft stem I didn’t struggle at all to get it out again. If you are using a cup that is to short it might move further up and then be difficult to reach, this just means you have a higher cervix and should try a longer cup.
Q: How far up does it have to sit and will it get stuck?
You need to get it at the right height to catch the blood, pushing it too far could cause leaks and not far enough is uncomfortable. In general, it has to sit a lot lower than a tampon and for me getting into the right position was easy and not something I struggled with even in the beginning.
Q: Can I do intensive exercise with it in? (I do competitive cheerleading so this was important to me)
I can’t believe how amazing this worked during exercise, I had this in for a couple of hours whilst doing intense exercise including dance, jumps, tumbling and cardio, and to my surprise, there were no leaks. The cup was a little harder to get our afterwards, I’m not sure if this was because I had been moving around so much or if it was because I had it in for longer than I had done before around 9 hours.
Q: How messy do things get?
It’s hard to spill the actual contents of the cup whilst removing but since you’re putting your hand up there blood sometimes gets on your hands and when you wash the cup that obviously requires you to hold it. But as I’ve gotten better at removing it the experience has gotten much cleaner
Q: Can you change it in public?
When I first started using the cup I had no idea how people would ever be able to change it in public. But now that getting it out is much easier and I don’t get blood on my hand anymore then I do think it could be possible. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t feel confident about doing yet but eventually, I think I will. If I ever do I would probably try to find a bathroom that had a sink in there with it or take a bottle of water so I can rinse it out nicely rather than just using a tissue.
Q: What does it feel like when its inside?
It’s not as obtrusive as a tampon and personally, I can’t feel the actual cup – with the first cup I tried I could feel the stem but you can find cups with more flexible stems like the Saslt Soft or trim them. However, on the first few days of my period it did make me cramp a little more so because of that I am aware it’s in there, but there’s a good chance you won’t even notice it and at times I’ve forgotten I’m even wearing it.
Q: How does it work with a heavy flow?
Incredibly well! Even on my heaviest day I didn’t leak. I was able to leave it hours longer than I would with a pad and that felt great. Plus when the blood is collected in a cup it doesn’t feel like you are as heavy as when using a pad or tampon because the juxtaposition of having red on white cotton makes it look like a crime scene had gone down but neatly in a cup it’s not like that.
Q: Can you go to the toilet with it in?
In short, number 1 yes number 2 no. The pressure of doing a poo could displace the cup so it’s better to just remove it. But for a wee it’s completely fine and something that I have done multiple times.
Q: I’ve heard it can sometimes be tricky to remove and can suction in – has this happened to you?
The cup has to create a suction in order to stay in place and not leak – this can be easily broken but squeezing the base of the cup. The issues I’ve had with removing have been when I couldn’t get a good enough grip on the base to do this but with the Saalt Soft cup, I’ve not had any struggles getting out even after leaving it in for around 8 hours.
Q: Does it leak?
If you’ve not positioned the cup properly around/below your cervix, it’s not suctioned in properly or gets full it can leak however I’ve not had this happen to me and I’ve worn it for as long as 9 hours before.
Here are my top tips for new cup users to help you adapt quicker and have the best experience:
- The cup doesn’t need to be a perfect circle once inside, as long as it’s popped out and suctioned, you’re good to go. I spent ages trying to push mine into a perfect circle but that part of the body isn’t a perfect circle so unless you’re using a harder cup it’s unlikely not to be a perfect shape. Mine is more of an oval.
- It’s intimidating at first but consider how much a tampon expands inside you and the fact that a cup has a tapered end to help you remove it easily and it won’t seem quite as bad. If you’re scared about getting it in try using a little but of lube around the top and that will help it slide right into place. I used lube for the first few times but now I’m confident without.
- When emptying pour the contents directly into toilet water not just in front of where you are sat. Sometimes it gets stuck and leaves a little mark on the side of the toilet otherwise.
- Try a couple of cups before giving up. With the Organicup I had to cut the stem because it was uncomfortable but that then made it difficult to get out which was super frustrating. It would have been easy to give up at that point but I tried the Saalt soft cup which has a much softer more flexible stem and had a completely different experience.
- Don’t be afraid to take it out and try reinserting as one of the benefits to using a menstrual is that they are reusable. Unlike a tampon if it’s not sitting quite right and you want to remove it you haven’t wasted it! Plus it’s not absorbing your natural lubricants or made of harmful chemicals.
Pros and Cons
- If you need to poop you’ll probably have to take the cup out which means going through the process of putting it back in properly again. At first this is a little annoying but once you are comfortable putting it in and out this isn’t as much of an issue.
- As someone who previously used pads this is a much harder transition for several reasons, its more of a faff, especially as you’re learning how to use it. It also made my cramps worse (better in comparison to a tampon but worse in comparison to a pad).
- You’ll likely have an experience where you think it’s stuck and this is incredibly stressful however it’s important to remember that the cup can’t move up your body infinitely and eventually you will get it out.
- Sometimes when wearing a pad a feel like im in a nappy, with a cup you just dont have that feeling.
- No bad smells, I thought the odour of emptying a cup would be awful but because the blue isn’t interacting with air and cotton it just doesn’t smell.
- Whilst actually taking the cup out is at first a little messy, overall using a cup makes me feel cleaner and after a couple of days I knew the best way to get it out.
- You can leave it in for up to 12 hours and still be leak free! This is awesome for overnight wear as means you can go to bed, get a good nights sleep and just feel all fresh in the morning.
- It doesn’t feel like I’ve had a period, as there was nothing I didn’t feel like could do. Even on my heaviest day this worked amazingly!
I think that covers just about everything when it comes to my thoughts and opinion on menstrual cups. I’ll definitely continue to use my cup and highly recommend you give them a try too! Worst case you’ve spent around £20 which isn’t a big investment or best case you find new, more eco friendly and cost effective way of managing your periods.
If you do have anymore questions feel free to leave them in the comments or send me a message on Instagram!