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How to Put in, Remove, and Clean a Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup is a reusable period product that catches the uterine lining as it is being shed, but before it leaves the body. It is literally a little cup that sits in the vaginal canal to capture blood. Here’s how to put one in:

  1. Wash your hands. 
  2. Some people like to wet the rim of the menstrual cup before inserting. Others use a water-based lubricant to help it slide in more easily. Some women just insert the cup without either water or lubricant since period blood can help it slide in.
  3. With the rim of the circle facing up, fold the cup in half - you’ll need to fold it tightly in one hand. It should look like a "C" shape. Use the other hand to spread your labia.
  4. Pointing the rim up, the cup goes inside your vagina the same way a tampon gets inserted.
  5. As you loosen your grip, the cup will open from its folded position. You may need to rotate it a little when it is inside. Just like with a tampon, it shouldn’t hurt or even be very noticeable when you stand up. If your cup feels uncomfortable, it’s in wrong.

You may be able to leave a menstrual cup in for up to 12 hours depending on how heavy your flow is. Once the cup is full you may notice some leaking or a heavy feeling, which are signs it's time to remove:

  1. Get into a comfortable position such as sitting on the toilet. With clean hands, gently reach into the vagina until you feel the base of the menstrual cup. Gently pull the stem (the little excess tail) until it comes out. Try to do this slowly so nothing spills out!
  2. If the menstrual cup is not coming out easily, you may need to "break the seal" by gently pinching the base of the cup to release the suction that was keeping the cup in place.
  3. You can empty the cup into the toilet and then clean it with warm water and gentle soap (fragrance free to avoid irritating the sensitive female system!). If you're in a public place and can't do this, just wipe it with some toilet paper before reinserting. 

At the end of your period, it's a good idea to thoroughly sanitize your menstrual cup before storing it away (also make sure to do this before you use it for the first time). Wash the cup with some soap and water, then boil it in a hot pot of water for a few minutes to kill any bacteria. Make sure it completely cools off and dries before storing it in a cool, dry place. 

Reading next

What Are the Parts of the Female Reproductive System?
How Can I Discreetly Carry Tampons or Pads?

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