How to insert and use a menstrual cup

learn more about how to insert and remove a menstrual cup, how to clean it, and more.


4/18/20233 min read

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a type of reusable feminine hygiene product. It’s a small, flexible funnel-shaped cup made of rubber or silicone that you insert into your vagina to catch and collect period fluid.

Cups can hold more blood than other methods, leading many women to use them as an eco-friendly alternative to tampons. And depending on your flow, you can wear a cup for up to 12 hours.

Keep reading to learn more about how to insert and remove a menstrual cup, how to clean it, and more.

How to use a menstrual cup?

If you’re interested in using a menstrual cup, talk with your gynecologist. Although you can buy any of the brands online or in most stores, you’ll first have to find out what size you need. Most menstrual cup brands sell small and large versions.

To figure out the right menstrual cup size for you, you and your doctor should consider:

  • your age

  • length of your cervix

  • whether or not you have a heavy flow

  • firmness and flexibility of the cup

  • cup capacity

  • strength of your pelvic floor muscles

  • if you’ve given birth vaginally.

Smaller menstrual cups are usually recommended for women younger than 30 years old who haven’t delivered vaginally. Larger sizes are often recommended for women who are over 30 years old, have given birth vaginally, or have a heavier period.

Before you put in your menstrual cup

When you use a menstrual cup for the first time, it may feel uncomfortable. But “greasing” your cup can help make the process smooth. Before you put in your cup, lubricate the rim with water or a water-based lube (lubricant). A wet menstrual cup is much easier to insert.

How to put in your menstrual cup?

If you can put in a tampon, you should find it relatively easy to insert a menstrual cup.

Just follow these steps to use a cup:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.

  2. Apply water or a water-based lube to the rim of the cup.

  3. Tightly fold the menstrual cup in half, holding it in one hand with the rim facing up.

  4. Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina like you would a tampon without an applicator. 

  5. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.

  6. Once the cup is in your vagina, rotate it. 

  7. It will spring open to create an airtight seal that stops leaks.

You shouldn’t feel your menstrual cup if you’ve inserted the cup correctly. You should also be able to move, jump, sit, stand, and do other everyday activities without your cup falling out. If you’re having trouble putting in your cup, speak with your doctor.

When to take your menstrual cup out

You can wear a menstrual cup for 6 to 12 hours, depending on whether or not you have a heavy flow. This means you can use a cup for overnight protection.

You should always remove your menstrual cup by the 12-hour mark. If it becomes full before then, you’ll have to empty it ahead of schedule to avoid leaks.

How to take your menstrual cup out

To take out a menstrual cup, just follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.

  2. Place your index finger and thumb into your vagina.

  3. Pull the stem of the cup gently until you can reach the base.

  4. Pinch the base to release the seal and pull down to remove the cup.

  5. Once it’s out, empty the cup into the sink or toilet.

Cup aftercare

Reusable menstrual cups should be washed and wiped clean before being reinserted into your vagina.

Your cup should be emptied at least twice a day.

Reusable menstrual cups are durable and can last for 6 months to 10 years with proper care.

Throw away disposable cups after removal.

How to choose the right feminine hygiene product for you

For many women, using a menstrual cup is a no-brainer. Before you make the switch, make sure you know what you need in a feminine hygiene product:

Will a cup cost you less?

Is it easier to use?

Is it eco-friendly?

If you answered yes to these questions, then the menstrual cup is right for you. But if you’re still unsure, talk with your gynecologist about your options and what menstrual product may work best for you.