So, you’ve finally got your menstrual cup in… now what? Ahead, find an uplifting yet harrowing tale of friendship in a time of menstruation.
NOTE: I have been granted the blessing of said pal to recount this tale for your education. Fair warning: It’s a little strong at times.
One is not often confronted by the vagina of one’s closest, dearest friends—yet, there I was, phone in hand and pube-deep on Facetime, talking my beloved pal through a menstrual cup demo.
That fine Thursday started off as any would—an uneventful catch-up call between long-distance friends. That is, until news of an upcoming trip to Reykjavik came into the conversation, of course.
“I’m going to be on my period while I’m hiking and swimming in nature all day. What do I do?” she panics. “I’ve bought a menstrual cup, but it doesn’t fit! I’ve tried everything and my vagina hurts. Help me!”
As somewhat of a cup veteran myself, I was happy to offer advice when asked. What I didn’t know was what would happen next…
Act 1: A productive, intimate morning
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For the first two hours of that fine Thursday, I served as a guide to my companion’s reproductive anatomy—a vaginal mentor of sorts. After four different types of cup folds, countless meditative exercises and plenty of lube, we did it. Perfectly in place and completely sealed, the cup sat in her vaginal canal, ready to collect its gory bounty.
Finally! All was well—or so it seemed. Now, the panic did not set in immediately. However, not a few moments later, she realised that, eventually, she’d have to take the cup out. Not only that, but she had to leave in two hours to catch a flight to Iceland.
Cue: The thunder before the storm.
Act 2: Panic on the bathroom floor
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If you’ve ever used a menstrual cup, you’re probably familiar with the panic that strikes once you realise you’ll eventually have to take it out. Needless to say, I was not surprised when I was called upon once again for another round of cup chaos—after all, I’ve been there, and so have countless other women. What I could not have prepared myself for was the ordeal that would ensue.
At this point, my friend was in hysterics, fully convinced that she would have to live with the cup forever. Apparently, she would head back into her bathroom every quarter-hour to try and dislodge the cup (to no avail). Then, once she had tired of her futile efforts, she’d call or text me for another of my tried-and-tested methods.
Act 3: Removing the cup
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Now, when it comes to removing your cup, it’s a pretty straightforward process. All it takes is three steps… in theory.
How to remove a menstrual cup:
- Use your clean finger to locate the cup (I recommend using your index or middle finger)
- Once located, place your finger on the side of the cup and squeeze it against the wall of your vagina to break the vacuum seal
- Once the seal is broken, use that same finger as a hook to drag the cup out of your vagina
Of course, while it sounds easy on paper, it was a little less so in practice. For some, locating the cup in the first place is one challenge. For others, breaking the seal is another. Then, of course, there’s the issue of having a stressed vagina. My pal experienced all three—and then some. As such, I worked out a foolproof set of troubleshoots to help her (and you) with the big excavation.
Troubleshoot 1: Calm down
This may come as a surprise, but a tense vagina puts a chokehold on your cup, making removal exponentially more difficult. So, my first tip is to calm down. I know—easier said than done, but it’s important to remain calm to help your pelvic muscles relax.
Do whatever you need to do. Take deep breaths, go for a walk, and/or do some yoga—just get your heart rate down and your pelvic floor relaxed.
Troubleshoot 2: Be gentle
In the words of my friend: “My vagina hurts, dude. It literally feels like a friction burn or something.”
Spoiler alert: Desperately clawing at your cup every 15 minutes will probably cause a little discomfort. When removing, consider lubing up just the entrance of your vulva to reduce the risk of friction burn (NOTE: Don’t add excess lube to the inside of your vagina as this may make removal significantly more difficult).
Troubleshoot 3: Try to tug on the stem of your cup
If you’re having trouble getting a hold of your cup to break the seal, try using the stem to bring it lower down in your vaginal canal. To do this, insert your thumb and index finger into your vagina until you locate the stem, then gently tug on it. However, do not use the stem to remove the cup entirely as the vacuum seal can cause discomfort during removal. Instead, pull the cup down low enough for you to reach its base, then pinch the base to break the seal before removing the cup.
Troubleshoot 4: Take a warm shower
Oddly enough, this is what worked for my dear pal. In addition to helping her calm down and loosen up her muscles, it also brought the cup closer to her vaginal opening so she could remove it with ease. Plus, removing the cup in the shower helped her avoid a huge mess in her bathroom. All in all, a warm shower is a winner if all else fails.
Troubleshoot 5: Love yourself
Okay, so warm showers and deep breathing is getting you nowhere—your pelvic muscles are holding onto your cup with a vice grip and you’re about to lose it. According to some, what you need to calm down is to… well…have a little fun with yourself. This is not the advice you may be looking for, but it’s the advice you’re getting. Flicking the bean, minding the gap, engaging in a little menage à moi, giving your body a little manual override—I’m running out of euphemisms. It’s masturbating. Just masturbate.
To put it in the simplest terms, arousal will relax the pelvic muscles and add a little lubrication where it’s much needed to make removal easier. Hey, it’s worth a shot!
Troubleshoot 6: Outsource
If none of these tips worked and you’re at your wit’s end, it’s probably time to use a lifeline. Call in a friend, a partner, or a generous acquaintance—or, better yet, put the fate of your cup into a healthcare professional’s knowledgeable hands. That said, I doubt this will be necessary… hopefully.
Act 4: The aftermath
Believe it or not, this ordeal did not scare my friend off the menstrual cup, and it is, in fact, now a staple in her period care routine. It just goes to show that anything is possible with the power of friendship… I guess. Anyway, good luck to all cuppies around—may your experience be much less chaotic.
For more menstrual care, click here.
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