Are you asking yourself “How do I transition to a menstrual cup?”
Firstly, congratulations! You have already taken the first-step towards safe, sustainable and worry-free periods.
There are incredible menstrual cup benefits for your health as well as for the planet. That said, they definitely take some getting used to, especially the process of inserting, removing and cleaning a cup.
In this blog, we will break down every step involved in using a menstrual cup for the first time. By the end, we hope you’ll feel confident in your decision, and ready to begin your menstrual cup journey!
step 1: choosing a menstrual cup
Although cups are a relatively new concept, there seem to be dozens of menstrual cup brands on the internet!
When choosing a menstrual cup, it’s really important to do your research and select a high quality brand. While there are plenty of cups on Amazon, you need to make sure you’re choosing a cup made from good quality materials.
When choosing a cup, you should keep in mind:
The brand - Did they design their own cup, or are they just re-selling a generic design? Do they have a credible website with detailed information?
The design - Go for a cup with a well thought out design, for example, at Asan we have added a ring for easy removal (and we have a patent for the design!)
The material - It’s important to choose a cup made from 100% medical grade silicone
Quality and safety standards - What quality standards does the brand follow? Is the brand testing for menstrual cup safety and biocompatibility? You should check the website and ensure that they have a credible quality page.
Reviews and recommendations - read through as many menstrual cup reviews as you can to get a genuine idea of the quality and design.
Check out our beginner’s guide to menstrual cups to learn more about choosing a cup for the first time.
step 2: deciding your size
Now that you’ve chosen a brand, you need to determine your menstrual cup size.
Some brands include age, cervix height and whether you’ve given birth in their menstrual cup sizing guide.
At Asan, we have worked with gynaecologists to design our menstrual cup size guide, and we focus primarily on your period flow. This is why we designed a specific menstrual cup for light flow and as well as a menstrual cup for heavy flow.
If you can wear a pad or tampon for up to 6 hours without leaking (on a heavy day!), then go for our light/medium flow cup.
If you leak through pads/tampons within 5 hours, go for our heavy flow cup.
Teens may want to start with the light flow cup as it is slightly softer and smaller, making it the best menstrual cup for beginners.
step 3: learning about the process
You’ve chosen your menstrual cup and even determined the size. That’s wonderful!
Now, it’s time to get familiar with how to use a menstrual cup, which means you should understand in detail the entire process of insertion, removal and cleaning. There are many menstrual cup myths out there—so make sure you are consuming information from a credible source, such as a gynaecologist or established brand.
The more you can read or watch in advance of trying a cup, the better. Most brands provide a user guide along with the cup, as well as youtube tutorials. Check out our video below on how to use an Asan cup in six simple steps.
Below is a summary of the steps involved in using your cup -
Before using your cup for the first time (and then in-between periods), boil your cup in a pan of water for 5-10 minutes. This process will sterilise your cup. Make sure the pan is quite full, as your cup can get burnt if the water evaporates!
To insert your cup, you need to fold it. This will make your cup into a tiny shape that can easily glide into your vagina. Check out these menstrual cup folding techniques and practise a few folds before you try your cup. The punch-down fold is great for beginners!
When it comes to menstrual cup insertion, remember to stay calm! Take a few deep breaths. Squat or sit with your legs apart on the toilet. Gently guide your folded cup into your vagina, angling it towards your tailbone (not upwards!). Once it is completely inside you, let go - it will pop open and make a seal.
Before using a cup, it’s important to become familiar with the correct position of a cup. It needs to sit low in your vaginal canal - don’t push it all the way up towards your cervix. The diagram below shows the correct position of your cup.
After insertion, gently prod your cup with a finger - if it shows some resistance, it has opened up correctly. If it is still folded, you may need to reinsert it.
When you’re first getting used to the cup, take it out every 6 hours just in case. The Asan cup has a handy removal loop to help you with menstrual cup removal. Simply guide two fingers into your vagina to locate your cup, and with the help of the ring, gently pull it lower. When you can reach the base, squeeze to break the suction, and wiggle your cup out.
During your period, you just need to wash the cup with clean running water each time you remove it. You can also use Asan’s OneDrop Cleanser for daily menstrual cup cleaning - please don’t use soap as this can damage the cup.
step 4: trying out the cup!
So you’ve done all the reading, watched all the videos… and you’re ready to give your cup a try!
While some users like to practise inserting their cup before they begin their period, please note that you will be quite dry, which makes insertion more difficult.
Menstrual fluid acts as a natural lubricant when inserting your cup, making it much easier to insert during your period. But you can still practise the folds before-hand!
When the time comes to use the cup, we suggest trying it out in a very relaxed environment - for example, on the weekend or when you are working from home. Play some relaxing music and take your time getting comfortable.
If you rush the process (for example, before work or on a trip), you may struggle to insert the cup correctly and may end up having menstrual cup leakage.
step 5: becoming comfortable
Trying out your cup for the first time is both exciting and daunting. It's normal to have some menstrual cup discomfort during your first few tries.
It’s important to know that it will take up to 3 period cycles to become completely comfortable using your cup. This is why you need to persevere, even if you have difficulty or leaks initially. If you use it consistently for 3 cycles, you’ll be amazed at how easy the process becomes!
During your first few periods with the cup, you might want to use pads as a back-up in case of unexpected accidents.
step 6: giving up pads and tampons - for life!
And now we come to the best part!
Having used your cup for a few cycles, you have overcome your menstrual cup challenges and are comfortable with insertion, removal and cleaning. You’ll probably be advising friends and family at this stage on how they can make the switch to a menstrual cup!
Once you’re comfortable, you likely will never need to use menstrual cup alternatives like pads or tampons again. You’ll be saving money and will be saving thousands of kilograms of landfill waste (and carbon emissions) from disposable pads and tampons.
How do I switch from sanitary pads to menstrual cups?
When making the menstrual cup switch from pads, you need to get used to the process of insertion. This is because pads are worn externally, while cups are worn inside the vagina. Inserting a cup gets easy with practice, but it’s important to watch some videos and tutorials before trying it out.
How do I switch from tampons to menstrual cups?
If you use tampons, you’re already used to insertion - which is great! Just remember not to push your cup all the way up to your cervix, like you would with a tampon. It needs to be as low as it will comfortably sit in your vagina.
Menstrual cups vs tampons - which is better?
Menstrual cups - for sure! Cups have three amazing benefits compared to tampons. Cups are more cost-effective, they are more eco-friendly, and they are better for your health. Most tampons contain plastic and pesticides, while menstrual cups are 100% plastic and toxin free!
What to expect when using a menstrual cup for the first-time?
Expect it to take a few tries to get comfortable. However, one amazing feeling when you try a cup for the first time is that once you insert the cup - you don’t feel it inside you at all!
What menstrual cup tips and tricks will make the switch easier?
Great question! Here are Asan’s top 3 tips for making the switch to a cup:
- Stay calm – The calmer you are, the easier it will be. Take a few deep breaths and relax each time you try to insert or remove your cup.
- Lubricant with water – Lubricating your cup with clean water is a great way to make it a bit more slippery, so it glides into your vaginal easily.
- Try a smaller cup first – If you’re very nervous about insertion, using a smaller cup (such as our light/medium flow size) will help you get used to the process. Once you find it easy, you can start using a larger cup designed for heavy flow