Do Menstrual Cups Hurt? Common Questions Answered (By Somebody Who's Actually Used One)
I passed out the first time I tried putting a tampon in. That’s right—I full-on fainted with my bare ass sitting on the toilet seat. I was in 7th grade and up until that point, had only ever used pads. I was terrified of tampons. First, I was afraid it would hurt to put one in. Second, I had no earthly idea where my vagina was (yes, I knew it was down there somewhere, but its exact location was still a mystery to me). But when you’re on vacation and you’ve got your period while you’re staying at a hotel WITH A SWIMMING POOL (and all of your friends are having fun without you), you’re willing to try just about anything.
So I gave it a go. I sat on the toilet, poking the tampon around in search of this illusive hole that I (apparently) had. On every instructional tampon guide, they tell you to insert it at an angle. But I wasn’t quite sure what angle. So between my anxiety over locating my vagina and trying to figure out the correct angle to insert the tampon, I got flustered and stressed AF and next thing you know, I blacked out.
Why am I telling you this horribly embarrassing (and slightly traumatizing) true story? Because I know what it’s like to feel apprehensive about using any method other than pads during your period. Pads were easy. Pads were my safety zone. But pads restricted me from certain experiences (like enjoying a pool day) while I was on my period. And I am a firm believer that your period should never get in the way of you living your best life.
I eventually got the hang of tampons (phew!) but the real game-changer for me was the menstrual cup. Yes, you read that right—the gal who fainted the first time she put in a tampon now successfully uses a menstrual cup. So if you’re anything like me and even the thought of trying a menstrual cup makes you squirmy and afraid, read on.*
Why should I use a menstrual cup?
It will save you lots of money over time vs. disposable methods (like pads and tampons)
Menstrual cups are better for our planet because you’re not sending disposables to the landfill every month.
If you want to be lazy AF on your period, the menstrual cup will be your new best friend because you can leave it in up to 12 hours!
How do you insert a menstrual cup?
There are a couple different ways: the “C” fold, the “7 fold”, or the “push down” method. If you’re a visual learner, I found it very helpful to watch YouTube videos like this one. I personally like to use the “push down” method.
Does it hurt to put a menstrual cup in?
If you’re inserting it correctly, it should not hurt. The first few times I used tampons, I thought they “hurt”. But in hindsight, it wasn’t pain I was feeling—I just wasn’t used to putting a foreign object in my vagina. Once I got used to it, I was more relaxed when inserting and removing tampons, which helped a great deal. The same goes for a menstrual cup. If you’re tense and afraid, you’ll probably be more sensitive to it. But remember this: your vagina is made of highly elastic tissue. It is not rigid and stiff—it has the capability to expand. If you use tampons and/or have sex regularly with no issues, using a menstrual cup should be a breeze (as in, no pain). If you’ve never used tampons, it may help to start with those before you switch to a menstrual cup.
Can you feel the menstrual cup once it’s in?
Nope! So long as you put it in correctly (and are using the correct size for your body) you should not be able to feel the menstrual cup. If you do feel it, it is probably not pushed in far enough.
What size should I get?
If you’re younger and have a relatively light period, you should be able to use the regular (smaller) size. If you have given birth and/or have a heavier flow, you’ll want to go with the larger size. The first menstrual cup I used was the model 1 DivaCup. After I got the Paragard copper IUD inserted, my periods were a lot heavier and I had to switch to the model 2 DivaCup. You can read about my experience getting the copper IUD here.
Does it leak?
If you bought the correct size and inserted it properly, your menstrual cup should be leak free. I like to joke that I can wear white pants while I’m on my period thanks to my menstrual cup! If you are new to using menstrual cups, I would recommend wearing a pantyliner, period underwear, or cloth pads the first few times just in case you insert it incorrectly. If your menstrual cup is producing any leakage, try holding the base of the cup after you’ve inserted it and rotate it 360 degrees. You can also try sliding a finger in between the menstrual cup and your vaginal wall to make sure that the cup actually opened up once you inserted it. If you’re still experiencing leakage, you may not be emptying your menstrual cup often enough.
How often to you have to empty it?
This is one of my favorite features of the menstrual cup vs. tampons. You can keep your menstrual cup in up to 12 hours! If your period is super heavy, you will want to empty yours more regularly than every 12 hours. For the most part, I am able to empty mine when I wake up and also right before I go to bed. No more having to constantly change tampons in public restrooms throughout the day. Lazy gals, rejoice!
How do you clean it?
Your menstrual cup should come with cleaning instructions. I simply use hot water and a mild (fragrance and oil free) soap to clean mine. If you’re unsure about the type of soap to use, Google search “menstrual cup cleaner” and several options should pop up. You can also boil your menstrual cup for 20 minutes in a pot (I would recommend buying a separate pot that you use only for this purpose for sanitary reasons).
What brand of menstrual cup should I purchase?
The only menstrual cup I have tried is the DivaCup (model 1 and 2) and it has worked well for me. I discovered Saalt Cup the other day while I was shopping and they have much cuter carry bags (for when you need to travel with your menstrual cup)! Not gonna lie…kind of wish I had a Saalt cup instead just for the carry bag.
Where can I purchase a menstrual cup?
I bought my most recent DivaCup at Walmart. Menstrual cups are also available at Target, on Amazon.com, and other online retailers.
A menstrual cup isn’t right for everyone, but I would highly recommend giving it a try at least once! Remember: practice makes perfect. Insertion gets easier over time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the menstrual cup in perfectly on the first go.
Any burning questions about menstrual cups that I missed? Leave a comment below!
*I am not a medical professional. These are simply my own personal experiences and opinions. Please read the official instructions that come with the menstrual cup that you purchase.