Health Hack: 3 Menstrual Cup Tips Our GYN Wants You to Know

August 11, 2020

Health Hack

Like most users, we female Zoom staffers love our economical, eco-friendly, ultra-convenient menstrual cups. But we'll admit they can be frustrating and messy at first. ZoomCare GYN Megan Zaander, MD, has some share-worthy hacks.

Hack #1: When It Won't Go In

There are great YouTube videos explaining how to fold your cup down to a manageable size (push one side of the cup in toward the center, then fold it in half), but they fail to mention an important important step for easy entry: “Move your outer labia out of the way,” says Dr. Zaander. The outer labia — or external vaginal lips— can obstruct the cup. So use the fingers of your non-dominant hand to spread your labia apart, then use your dominant hand to work the folded cup in. Twist it slowly as you push it up and back. “If you’re anxious, vaginal muscles will be tense, so take a break and breathe, if you need to,” says Zaander. “When your muscles are relaxed, insertion is much easier.”

Hack #2: When It Won't Come Out

“Patients will come in because they can’t remove their menstrual cup and we’re happy to help,” says Zaander. "But it’s extremely rare that a menstrual cup can’t be gently and safely removed at home.”When your menstrual cup is being stubborn, send your index finger to the rescue:

  • Squat down and insert your index finger into your vagina, maneuvering it up and alongside the cup.
  • Use that finger to firmly press one side of the cup in toward the center to break the the seal.
  • Pinch the cup between your index finger and thumb, and gently draw it out.

If your cup continues to play hard to get or feels uncomfortable, try a different size or brand. "Menstrual cups are finally starting to come in a variety of shapes to accommodate women with wider or more narrow vaginal canals, higher or lower cervixes, and light or heavy flows," says Amanda Wilson, founder of VOXA Cup, a menstrual cup start-up in Portland, OR. "Like finding the perfect bra, it may take some trial and error."

Hack #3: When You Need to Empty It at Work

“Totally doable,” says Zaander. “Wash your hands before going into the stall, and grab a few extra paper towels to bring with you.” Squatting over the toilet, remove your cup, empty it into the bowl, then use a paper towel to wipe the outside. Reinsert and use another paper towel to wipe off your hands. “When you get home, you can give it a proper cleaning with mild soap and warm water,” says Zaander.

Bonus Hack: When You're Traveling or Camping

“Only use water that’s safe to drink to clean your cup,” says Zaander. “If you don’t have potable water, use sanitizer on your hands first, then wipe your cup as best you can with clean paper towels.” You can also stock up on disposable wipes designed specifically for menstrual cups.Have questions about menstruation, PMS, or anything else vagina-related? Schedule a same-day, no-wait visit for Gynecology.[Photo by Errikaboo, via WikiMedia Commons]

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