At first, trying to put in a menstrual cup is sort of like putting a square peg into a round hole, only the hole is your bleeding vagina and the peg is a flimsy silicone cup. Sure, the cup usually comes with easy-to-follow directions, but it can be tricky to tell if you're doing it right.
"There is a learning curve to using a menstrual cup," says Nicole Bullock, DO, FACOG, an Ob/Gyn in Abilene, Texas. While it takes practice, the more you use your cup, the easier it will be to insert and remove, she says. According to Dr. Bullock, it's sort of like learning to put in contact lenses. It's normal to have questions at first, especially if you're not sure exactly what's going on in there.
Inserting and removing a menstrual cup is a great way to get to know your own anatomy, Dr. Bullock says. "It's definitely an up-close-and-personal experience, but don't be afraid of your own vagina," she says. It might take some patience, so it's important to relax, says Keri Martin Vrbanac, a physical therapist in Ontario who specializes in the pelvic floor. The vaginal canal is made up of a series of muscles that are meant to contract and relax. "It's much easier to insert and remove when the pelvic floor muscles are relaxed," she says. And your menstrual cup isn't going to get lost inside of you, because there's technically nowhere for it to go.
Once you figure out how to use a menstrual cup, you might find you prefer it to regular old tampons and pads, but it's a personal choice. Menstrual cups are just as leakproof as tampons and pads, according to the first large scientific review of sanitary products published in the Lancet Public Health journal, which looked at 43 studies involving 3,300 women and girls around the world.
Whether you're a first-timer or are troubleshooting an issue you have with your menstrual cup, the expert tips ahead will ensure you're using it right.