Why Does My Menstrual Cup Hurt?
Yay, so you’ve committed to a menstrual cup, and made the switch! You’ve read the instructions, watched the videos, inserted the menstrual cup into your body. But ouch, suddenly there is pain! Now you are wondering why does my menstrual cup hurt? Is this normal? Is this the pain of being an eco-friendly goddess? No way! Using a menstrual cup should not be uncomfortable, and certainly, not painful. Below we will look at why your cup might be hurting and how we can fix these problems!
Menstrual cups are a great option for managing your monthly period. In the last few years, more and more women are choosing to use cups instead of typical tampons and pads. By now, you may have realized that these old school products are wasteful, expensive, and made of harmful bleaches, and material that are not great for your body. But switching to a menstrual cup for the first time will involve a learning curve. Some women find it works for them straight away (lucky for them!), but for most women it will take a bit of time to figure out how to use their cup comfortably and without making a mess.
Do not get discouraged if it takes you a few cycles to get the hang of it.
It will be worth it!
If a menstrual cup is worn properly, you should not feel any pain or be uncomfortable. In fact, it should be so unobtrusive, that you completely forget about it. Check out this story of how a woman forgot about her menstrual cup for 2 weeks. Not advisable, but definitely proof of how comfortable the thing can be! Not Safe For Work (NSFW) link if you dare!
Unlike the wad of cotton from a tampon, a menstrual cup is usually made out of flexible silicone or rubber, that will then warm up thanks for your body temperature, and mould to your body. This makes the cup very comfortable and inconspicuous. The shape and design of a cup varies, but all of them have been designed to replicate an upside down bell that is wider at the top, and narrower at the bottom. This makes it easier to insert and remove.
So you’ve made your decision and picked the best menstrual cup based on your body and needs.
But what if the cup hurts when you are using it?
Before you throw away your menstrual cup, here are some common problems and some simple solutions that you can try!
1. I CAN FEEL THE CUP ON THE OUTSIDE OF MY BODY.
If you can feel the cup on the outside, you may not have inserted the cup fully in. Remember, to fold the cup, and only release it when at least half of the cup is in. Then you can use your finger to slowly and carefully push the cup further in. You can also use your pelvic muscles and ‘kegel’ and suck the cup up further. Graphic, but it works! When the cup is used properly, you should not be able to see the cup, or the stem. If the stem is still poking out, and the cup can't go further in, you may need to slightly trim the stem.
2. MY VAGINA AND VULVA HURTS.
You may have accidentally bruised yourself when trying to insert the menstrual cup. Be very gentle and make sure you push your labia out of the way when inserting. Instead of just playing bumper cars and trying to force it in!
Remember that the vagina is not a straight tunnel. It has lots of bumps and curves along the way. When inserting the cup don’t just push it up and in. Aim for the tailbone, slightly horizontally, and then slightly twist it up vertically.
3. THE CUP DID NOT OPEN ALL THE WAY.
You may need to try a different fold in order to properly fit your menstrual cup in. Some folds may be more difficult or easier depending on the firmness of your cup. Finding the right fold for you may take some time. Try different folds to find the one that works for you. If you have an half open cup inside, you may find something pushing against your vaginal wall will can cause discomfort and leaking.
When the cup is fully open inside, the rim should create a seal against your vagina wall. You can double check the rim is open by running a finger alongside it, or twisting the cup slightly for it to open up.
4. THE STEM IS POKING ME.
The stem should be completely in the body in order for the cup to work efficiently. If you can feel the stem poking your body, or if you can see it protruding out of your labia, then the stem may be too long. Most menstrual cups allow you to ‘trim’ the stem to suit your body. Remember, to trim it down very carefully, and only a bit at a time. Also, remember that menstrual cups can move further up once inserted, so give it a few days before you decide to trim the stem!
You may want to look at this MeLuna Classic with no stem, but a ball on the base to grip.
5. THE MENSTRUAL CUP IS CAUSING BAD CRAMPS.
Period cramps are fairly common, with some days being worse than others. It can also differ from cycle to cycle. Cramping is caused by your muscles tightening and relaxing. Some women (luckily!) feel that wearing a cup actually lessens their cramps during their periods. Not sure if it's a placebo or not, but I personally feel my cramps aren't as bad since making the switch.
Regardless, menstrual cups should not be causing worse cramps during your period. If you find you are cramping more than usual, give your body a few days to adjust to using a cup. This can help.
Alternatively, the pain could be coming from other factors such as; the cup being too firm, too wide, incorrectly inserted, etc.
6. I HAVE ABDOMINAL PAIN WITH A MENSTRUAL CUP.
If you still feel abdominal pain (and you know it is not your normal period cramps), then this could be an indication of underlying problems.
If you feel significant pain with or without a menstrual cup, you should go and see your doctor. Our bodies are very smart, and any pain or discomfort in the ovaries or lower abdomen should not be ignored. IBD (Inflammatory bowel diseases), endometriosis and more, can cause significant pain in the abdominal muscles.
7. THE MENSTRUAL CUP IS CAUSING ME CERVIX PAIN.
The cup ideally should be below the cervix or in some cases the cervix can be inside the cup slightly. But if the cup is pushing against the cervix, it can be painful. Check your cervix height when choosing a cup.
During your period, you might find one day the cup is comfortable, and the next day it is painful. This may be because your cervix moves during your period. Some days your cervix may be higher and other days it may dip down. If one day, the cup is giving you grief, then try flipping it and using it inside out. This will shorten the cup (though the stem will now be on the inside).
8. I GET A HEADACHE WHEN THE CUP IS IN.
Some women report that they get a tension headache when the cup is in. This may be caused by a too strong suction on your cervix. You may need to look for a shorter cup.
Or, if the cup fits well but creates too strong of a suction, you may want to make the air holes slightly larger. You can use a safety pin or needle to slightly widen the holes.
9. THE CUP IS PUSHING ON MY BLADDER.
We can pee normally when using a menstrual cup as these are two separate holes (check a biology book! 😉 ) that don't connect.
However, when using a menstrual cup, you may find that it puts a slight pressure on your bladder. This may cause you to feel like you need to pee more often, or slow down your pee stream. This is fine, but can be a bit annoying!
You can try changing the position of your cup, perhaps slightly higher or lower in the vagina canal. Alternatively, if it is a big bother, you might want to consider a softer cup with a less protruding rim!
10. THE CUP IS TOO HARD AND TOO STIFF.
If you currently find the cup too difficult to fold properly, then try running it under some warm water. This will soften the cup to make it easier to insert. You can also try using some water-based lubricant on yourself to make the cup slide in.
However, if you are sensitive inside, you may need to look at softer menstrual cups. Too firm cups can cause constant pain as it is pushing against your vagina walls. Check out our soft vs hard menstrual cup comparison to find a softer cup for yourself.
11. THE MENSTRUAL CUP HURTS TO TAKE OUT.
You may have pulled the cup out too hard, without first breaking the suction. One online user tried ‘yanking’ her cup out in one motion, and ending up in a lot of pain. Do not be this girl!
Make sure you break the suction seal before slowly, and carefully remove your cup. You can break the seal by pinching the base of the cup to squeeze it, or by sliding a finger up and pushing the rim into the middle.
12. I AM SO WORRIED. WHAT IF IT LEAKS?
Sometimes we worry about things more when we think about it too much. Once you have inserted the cup, and you think it is in properly, go and do something else. Try to get your mind off it.
If you are worried about leaking, then try to do things around the house or garden where you don’t have to worry about other people noticing if you did accidentally have a leak. See it as a 'test run.' If you do need to leave the house, then maybe wear some dark underwear or absorbent period underwear like these.
EvaWear Period Underwear
The Bottom Line
Switching to a menstrual cup is so great for the environment, your wallet, and of course, your body! But finding the right cup and learning how to use it properly can be a big learning curve. Like with anything new, it will take a bit of time to adjust. You might find the cup is slightly uncomfortable, or still leaking a bit. This is normal! Regardless, you should never feel significant pain. If a cup is the incorrect size for you it may push against your vagina, cervix, or bladder causing discomfort. Try the above troubleshooting tips. We hope this article helped you answer "why does my menstrual cup hurt?"
If not, let us know in the comments.
And remember, if you feel severe pain with or without a cup, always go and see your doctor!