May 19, 2020

Everything You Need to Know about Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups can be a great fit if you want to save some money, reduce your impact on the environment and are ok with menstrual blood. With a little bit of trial and error and persistence, menstrual cups can be a great choice!

I have used a menstrual cup for the last 4 years. I found them after my son was born and I was instantly intrigued. I prefer to use earth friendly products and had been using cloth pads prior to finding menstrual cups. My cup has been so much more convenient than my pads or tampons. Once you get the hang of it, they are easy to use and not messy at all. I love that I only have to worry about 2 times a day. I never have leaks and I can do anything that I want with it in, including swimming, running and having sex. Read on for all the info!

What are menstrual cups?

Menstrual cups are usually reusable (though sometimes disposable) feminine hygiene products. It is a small, flexible cup that is made of silicone or rubber that you insert into your vaginal to collect menstrual blood. They can last up to 10 years depending on the cups’ recommendations.


Many people choose to use menstrual cups because they are affordable, more environmentally friendly, usually aren’t felt during sex and can be worn with an IUD. Menstrual cups also hold more than pads or tampons, so you don’t have to change them as often. You also don’t have to worry about toxic shock syndrome with a menstrual cup.


Menstrual cups have a steep learning curve and can be very messy until you get the hang of it. I found it helpful to practice inserting and removing it in the shower a few times while I was learning how to use my cup. It can also take some trial and error to find the best cup for you. I purchased three cups before I landed on one that was comfortable and easy to use.

Looking to learn more about managing menstrual health?

Check out our 90-minute online course

How to find one that works for you

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding on the right menstrual cup:

  • Your age

  • The heaviness of your flow

  • The length of your cervix

  • How much the cup can hold

  • If you have had sex

  • If you have given birth vaginally 

Smaller cups are usually recommended for people under 30 years old who have not had a vaginal birth. Larger cups often work best for people who are over 30 years old, who have given birth vaginally and/or if they have a heavier period. We love this “cup quiz” that will help you narrow down your choices!

How do you insert a menstrual cup?

You have to fold the cup in order to put it inside the vagina and there are quite a few techniques to choose from. I find the classic C fold easiest. I prefer to wet the cup or put the tiniest amount of lubricant (see our faves HERE) on the rim of the cup before inserting. Many people insert their cups while on the toilet, while others stand with one leg propped up on the toilet or side of the tub. I find it easiest to sit on the closed toilet at the very edge to insert. My pelvic floor is most relaxed in that position and the cup is easily inserted.

How to clean it

The first thing you should do is read the instruction manual that comes with your specific cup as they all have slightly different instructions. It is recommended to empty your menstrual cup at least every 12 hours. I empty mine right into the toilet. You should wash it with soap and water before re-inserting. However, if you are at work or another place where it is inconvenient to wash your cup, you may wipe it clean with a wipe before re-inserting.

In between cycles, some people prefer to sterilize their cups by boiling them, but again, make sure to see if that is recommended for your specific cup. Store your menstrual cup in the pouch it comes in. It is important to keep the air flowing around your cup to prevent moisture build-up, so don’t store it in an airtight container.

The bottom line

Menstrual cups can be a great fit for you if you want to save some money, reduce your impact on the environment and are ok with menstrual blood. With a little bit of trial and error and persistence, menstrual cups can be a great choice!

Looking for more great resources for additional information? Check out this review and this website. More Pelvic Health questions? Schedule a session with our pelvic health PT team!

Janelle Trippany PT, DPT, PRPC, CLT is pelvic floor physical therapist in Seattle, WA where she lives and works with her husband and little boy. She is passionate about providing personalized care through every stage of a woman’s life, whether that’s during pregnancy or the postpartum period and beyond. She aims to make every treatment session friendly and comfortable and works to empower women in their healthcare journey. When not working, she loves hiking, camping and exploring the beautiful beaches of the PNW.

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