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Menstrual Cups

Topic Overview

What are menstrual cups?

Like tampons or pads, menstrual cups are a way to manage menstrual bleeding.

You insert a menstrual cup in your vagina to collect menstrual flow. And then you remove it from your vagina to empty it.

The cups are usually made of rubber or silicone. Some are disposable. Others can be washed and used again.

How do you use a menstrual cup?

Depending on the brand, menstrual cups can come in different shapes and sizes.

Follow the directions on the package for how to use your cup.

Inserting the cup

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Fold the cup in half. Keep the edges together with your thumb and forefinger.
  3. Keep the curved edge facing away from your palm.
  4. Insert the folded cup into your vagina, with the stem pointed down.
  5. Be sure the stem is no farther than 1.3 cm (0.5 in.) into your vagina. A menstrual cup sits lower in the vagina than a tampon.

With some brands of cups, you may have to rotate the cup in your vagina so it forms a seal to collect your menstrual flow. Others will automatically open when the cup is inside your vagina.

Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours.

Removing the cup

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Gently pull on the stem until you reach the base of the cup.
  3. Pinch the cup to release the seal.
  4. Pull the cup down and out of your vagina.
  5. Empty the contents in the toilet.
  6. Wash the cup with warm water and a mild, unscented, water-based (oil-free) soap.

How do you care for a menstrual cup?

  • During your period, empty and wash your cup at least 2 times a day.
  • After your period, follow the directions for cleaning your cup.
  • Dry and store your cup according to the package directions. But be sure to store it in natural (not airtight) material, such as a cotton bag.

When should you replace your cup?

Depending on the type or brand, a nondisposable silicone menstrual cup can be used for up to 5 years.


Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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