What is a menstrual cup?
If you aren’t yet familiar with a menstrual cup, it’s one of those period inventions that will make you go - wow! Even though they are nothing new, it’s only recently that cups have started gaining such traction and becoming popular in many households.
To simply put it, a menstrual cup is made from medical-grade silicone and is designed in the shape of a bell or cup. It is to be folded and inserted into the vagina, where it sits below the cervix and collects menstrual fluid before it can exit the body.
A menstrual cup comes in different sizes to cater to different vaginas and unlike a tampon, it does not absorb the blood or react with the vaginal environment. This is one of the reasons why TSS is rarely associated with a menstrual cup.
Is it supposed to be leaking?
For most people, if you’ve done everything correctly, your cup isn’t supposed to be leaking. It’s designed to form a vacuum seal in your vagina and collect your period blood. Technically, there shouldn’t be any room on the side from which the blood can trickle out.
But, like most new things, menstrual cups can be a learning curve and if you’re new to it, you will probably need some time to adjust to it. But, if you find your cup leaking, there are high chances that you’ve done something wrong.
What happens when you experience a cup leak?
It’s quite simple to understand if your cup is leaking - if there’s blood on your pants, there’s a leak. You can probably feel it even before having to look at it. The slow, warm, trickling sensation of blood flowing out of your vagina is a familiar one that every menstruator can relate to.
The real question is - why it’s leaking in the first place! Unless you know the proper reason, you can’t really go about correcting it.
What are the probable reasons why your cup can be leaking?
If you’re experiencing a cup leak, there can be many reasons that you will probably find in the list below:
- You’re new to the concept of menstrual cups - If you're new to menstrual cups and are experiencing leakage, it's possible that it's just part of the learning process. Using a menstrual cup is not the same as using a tampon, despite the fact that they are both internal period items. When using a menstrual cup for the first time, many people encounter a learning curve and will almost certainly leak at least once
- It’s overflowing - It's conceivable that your cup is overflowing and leaking. It is safe to use for up to 12 hours, but you may need to empty it more frequently if you're having a larger period or if you're on your heavier days. This is totally normal since, like tampons, a menstrual cup can last without leaking for varying amounts of time depending on the individual.
- You’ve probably got the wrong size - When it comes to picking a menstrual cup, it's crucial to do your homework and figure out what size is best for you. If you think you've placed the cup correctly but it's still leaking, you could be using an incorrect size.
- The cup hasn’t opened inside - Learning to pop your cup open, like learning to do anything new, takes some practice. If you feel a fold or dip in the cup after you've inserted it, it hasn't fully opened. The cup should pop open by simply twisting it clockwise or counterclockwise, but If it doesn't work, try moving the cup up and down or using a different fold.
- The cup hasn’t been inserted properly - Because a menstrual cup is supposed to be worn horizontally, toward the tailbone and at the base of the vaginal canal, the most likely reason for leakage is incorrect insertion. You should feel the cup glide into position at the base of the vaginal canal and open when you enter it horizontally. If the cup appears to be travelling up the canal, it is probably not entirely open.
- The air holes are clogged - The pressure cannot be released if the pores are clogged, and the blood rushes around the cup, causing a leak. To avoid this, empty it more frequently during your period's first few days/when your flow is thicker, and make sure the holes are clear before insertion. You may clean the holes with a sterilised pin or toothpick, or you can fill the cup halfway with water, lay your palm on the rim, and squeeze the cup, which will likely cause the water to gush out and clean the holes.
- The position is just not right - Although the cup is lower than tampons, it's conceivable that your cup is too low in your vaginal canal, reducing its capacity to suction correctly. Try inserting it while leaning forwards, and consider inserting it such that it points forwards instead of upwards to get it a little higher.
- You have a tilted cervix - The cervix is normally centrally located in most women, allowing all fluid to flow directly into the cup. During menstruation, however, your cervix moves, and if your cervix is tilted or positioned against the vaginal wall, the fluid may trickle down your wall. Take your cup out and reinsert it if you suspect your cervix isn't lined up with the cup or is contacting the rim after inserting it. To capture the additional flow, try putting the cup below your cervix or opening the cup lower in the vagina.
How do you properly insert a menstrual cup?
Inserting a menstrual cup can seem daunting at first, but the process gets easier over time as you become more comfortable with it. Try the Carmesi Menstrual Cup, which is very easy to use and is designed to give you a leak-free period.
Try our guide here to learn more about the best ways to insert a menstrual cup. Keep in mind that folding it correctly is essential for a comfortable cup experience and choosing the right fold that works best for you is also crucial to a leak-free experience. Find out the best folds for your menstrual cup here.