When it’s that time of the month, the traditional scenario is stocking up on sanitary pads or tampons. But those aren’t the only options for menstrual hygiene. In an attempt to decrease bathroom breaks and reduce waste, many women are now relying on a third option: menstrual cups.

WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP?

Essentially, a menstrual cup is a small cup that you insert to catch your menses. Since it’s often made of silicone or rubber, the cup is soft and flexible. Many women claim it fits so nicely, in fact, they forget it’s there! But unlike napkins or tampons, you can leave the average cup inside for 12 hours without risk. What’s more, it’s environmentally friendly. With proper care, one cup can last you for several years—yes, years.

Although the concept is pretty simple, menstrual cups still retain an air of mystery. Sure, the overall process of inserting it, pulling it out after a while, and cleaning it regularly is straightforward. But it’s the details that need double-checking, and getting used to your cup can take some practice.

HOW TO USE A MENSTRUAL CUP?

One question that’s guaranteed to come up is: what’s the best way to insert your menstrual cup? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, given the variety of creative ways have been concocted over the years. That said, here are 5 different ways to insert your menstrual cup—good for both newbies and pros alike. With enough experimentation, inserting (and wearing) your cup will feel like next to nothing. We swear!

5 WAYS TO INSERT YOUR MENSTRUAL CUP


THE “C” FOLD
This is the classic fold that women turn to when they first start using a menstrual cup. Chances are, you’ll find it mentioned in the instructions that come with your cup. It’s a favorite among beginners because it’s incredibly simple—it’ll only take you a couple of seconds, and it’s practically impossible to get wrong! However, many have commented that it can be difficult to insert because of the cup’s width, so we’d primarily recommend it for older women or those who’ve already given birth.
PROCEDURE:
STEP 1: Hold your cup with both hands near the rim.
STEP 2: Pinch the cup so that it flattens out and the rim presses together.
STEP 3: Fold the cup in half lengthwise. The rim should resemble a “C” or “U” shape.

THE PUNCH DOWN FOLD
The punchdown fold is right up there with the “C” fold in terms of popularity. They’re both great for first-time users, but the punchdown fold’s strength is the “C” fold’s weakness, and vice-versa. This fold results in a cup that’s small and pointy, so insertion is a cinch. On the other hand, sometimes it takes a while to get in the right place!
PROCEDURE:
STEP 1: While holding the cup, place your thumb near the front side of the rim.
STEP 2: Push down so that the front side of the rim sinks to the base of the cup.
STEP 3: Squeeze the sides of the cup towards the center to hold the shape together. The folded cup should have a tiny, narrow top and wider base.

THE 7 FOLD
You can think of the 7 fold as a compromise between the “C” fold and the punch down fold. It’s a lot narrower than the “C” fold, and it inserts more easily than the punch down fold. Out of all the folds, it’s unique for having the most uniform shape from top to bottom. If you’re struggling with inserting your cup, then this might be the fold for you.
PROCEDURE:
STEP 1: Hold your cup with both hands and pinch the rim together so that it flattens out.
STEP 2: Take the righthand corner and pull it down until it reaches the opposite side. The rim should then be shaped like the number “7.” Yes, it’s that simple!

The basic folds above usually do the trick. But once you’ve gotten the hang of it and still find yourself searching for a better fit, you can branch out to these a couple of other folds that are slightly more complex:

THE HALF-DIAMOND FOLD
Although not as well-known, the half-diamond fold can be the solution for those who want to be more comfortable when inserting their menstrual cups. It’s the smallest of all the folds, and you can take hold of the rim during insertion for easy adjustment. Fans of this fold also say that it releases consistently. There’s a variant called the diamond fold that’s wider and bulkier, but we still prefer the half-diamond for practical purposes.
PROCEDURE:
STEP 1: Pull down the front side of the rim to the base so that the rim forms an oblong.
STEP 2: Bring the left side to the center, and do the same with the right side, forming a diamond.
STEP 3: Fold the diamond in half lengthwise so that it becomes a triangle (or a half-diamond).

THE ORIGAMI FOLD
For those who like the 7 fold but still struggle with it from time to time, consider this as Plan B. Although this fold is nowhere near as challenging as making delicate paper cranes, it does require a little bit more effort than usual. On the flip side, it comes with benefits such as a small insertion point and an easy fit.
PROCEDURE:
STEP 1: Pull down the front side of the rim halfway.
STEP 2: Keep the rim there by holding it down with your left hand.
STEP 3: Use your right hand to grab the right corner and fold it all the way to the bottom, across the cup. The end result should resemble a tulip.

Although what we’ve listed here are the most tried-and-tested, there are even more menstrual cup folds out there. This loose set of guidelines is meant to help you choose, but ultimately, the decision lies with you. Every woman is unique, and you’d need to experiment with different folds and go with what feels right for your body.

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