How to Use a Menstrual Cup – a Guide for Beginners


If you’re a woman under 30, chances are you’ve heard about menstrual cups! But whether or not you’ve ever tried one, is another story.

In this article, you’ll find all the essential information you need to know about using a menstrual cup: benefits, how to select one and how to insert and remove a menstrual cup. We will also answer questions such as: how can I change it at school or out and about and can I wear it when I sleep? My goal for this blog post is to get you ready and inspired to try a menstrual cup (perhaps for the first time) and use one for one day, let’s dive in!

How to use a menstrual cup for beginners

Have you ever wondered how a menstrual cup works?

  • It goes in
  • Creates a seal
  • Collects the blood in the cup rather than being absorbed by something
  • Take it out and tip it in the toilet

A menstrual cup is a flexible, bell-shaped device that’s inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect blood. Unlike tampons and pads, it doesn’t absorb or dry out the lining of your vagina (which can cause irritation), and it lasts for up to 12 hours before you need to empty it.

Benefits of Menstrual Cup

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly and economical way to manage your period, it’s time to give a menstrual cup a try.

how does a menstrual cup work

Unlike a tampon, which absorbs moisture, a menstrual cup collects it and creates a seal so that you don’t feel anything. Unlike pads, you don’t have to worry about a wet feeling, chafing or feeling overheated.

They also reduce the risk of leaking because there’s no pad to change—you just empty your cup once or twice a day and wash it with soap and water after each use.

The Benefits of Switching From Tampons or Pads to a Cup

  • Can leave it in all-day
  • Can sleep in it
  • Usually no fear of leaks
  • Comfortable
  • Can put it if you expect your period will start before you know it has
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Much less waste from disposable tampons and pads
  • You can go swimming in a pool or comfortably go to the beach

It can definitely feel a bit weird but the benefits of learning how to use a menstrual cup during your period are actually life-changing!

My Story

I’ve been using a menstrual cup since 2010 and was immediately a huge fan.

I brought my first cup from the US and had it shipped internationally to Australia. I think at the time they weren’t available to buy here. I told all my friends about it at the time and they thought I was weird!

The first period I experienced without my menstrual cup was in March 2022 when I was travelling and I didn’t know where I packed it. That period was so hard! I missed it so much and it gave me a lot of appreciation for how incredible a little tool they are.

I couldn’t swim. I bled through my dress at the beach one day. My partner was so nice, was not judgemental at all and he gave me his towel. I actually didn’t care. But I knew being abroad, where it’s considered ‘dirty’ someone might say something. And I didn’t want to create a scene… because if anyone dared try and shame me for bleeding in public — my inner child may have been timid, but my present 32 year old self would have exploded!  My mind was getting ready with all kinds of lines; “Periods aren’t dirty, they are amazing. With a menstrual cycle, women can create life. You’re mum had a period, that’s the reason why you’re alive today…”  Thankfully, it didn’t get to that.

Anyway, having a period without my cup was so much harder than it needed to be! It’s one of the most important items I own.

How To Select a Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups come in two sizes: small and large. Generally, the small cup is ideal for those under the age of 30 who have never given birth, while the large cup is better suited to those over 30 who have given birth.

The materials used to make the menstrual cup is also important. Most cups are made from medical-grade silicone which is BPA free and contains no chemicals. It’s important to pick a cup that clearly states this so that it won’t cause any irritation or allergic reactions.

Finally, you might like to select a fun color that you like and go for a super soft thickness to be extra kind to yourself during each period.

My favourite is RubiCup avaliable here; they come in a variety of fun colors and the silicone is lovely and comforably soft!

Capacity: Holds 3-4 tampons worth!

Colors: Avaliable in purple, red, blue, frost and black.

Every purchase includes a donation to someone without access to menstrual products and educational workshops to end period poverty. Order your RubiCup online here.

Menstrual Cup Price

Menstrual cup prices range from $10 – $50. Once you’ve bought it, there are no recurring costs, unlike pads or tampons. And they last for a long time. My favourite menstrual cup is the Rubi Cup priced under $30 and includes free shipping avaliable here. 

I had my first menstrual cup for nearly 10 years! It works out to be just a couple of dollars per year. In my experience, it’s one of the best self-care products for women that exist.

If you’re still a teenager, it’s worth talking to your parents and asking them to buy one with you from a pharmacy or amazon together and then they will pay, after all it is an essential item!

Otherwise, they’re very accessible online or on amazon if you’d prefer.

When to Try a Menstrual Cup for the First Time

Choose a day when you know you’re going to be in the comfort of your own home as the day you give it a go. A day when you’re at home anyway and nothing much is happening would be ideal.

You can do it alone, but it’s probably best to tell a parent, sister, or girlfriend that you’ll be trying a menstrual cup for the first time. This is just in case you need emotional support, just so you can talk it out if you need encouragement or some help. Nothing like having someone you trust there in case you do need them!

Don’t pick a day where you actually want to use it because you have a pool party or something! It just creates added pressure that you don’t need.

I remember the first time I tried using a tampon — I was 12 and my mum and I we’re invited to her friend’s house to hang by their amazing pool. I had my period but I really wanted to swim in the pool! My mum asked if I wanted to try a tampon. I remember it being SO HARD, even though it was a tiny little thing, there was just too much pressure because I really did want to go swimming. It didn’t work that day but the next time I tried out of curiosity, I did it!

Practice inserting it, wearing it around the house for an hour or two, then practice removing it.

It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of it. And this is much better trying at home where you’re comfortable. That way, next time you have something on and you would like to wear it out of the house you’ll feel confident in your ability to wear it comfortably and insert it or take it out when the time is right.

How to Insert a Menstrual Cup

how to insert a menstrual cup

Again, if you’re a beginner using a menstrual cup for the first time; give yourself space, patience and compassion as you go!

I didn’t know how to write this off the top of my head, so I thought I’d use a dictation app on my phone and actually talk you through it as I did it…

Here we go with the steps:

  1. Clean the cup first with fresh water in the bathroom basin.
  2. Go into the toilet, sit down and hold the cup in your preferred hand. I’m right-handed so that’s what I like to use.
  3. Fold the menstrual cup before inserting it. You can do this by folding it in half, then in half again.
  4. I use this punch down and I think it’s an easy way for beginners to get started. Put your index finger up to one side of a cup and press until it folds in on itself and creates a point.
  5. Holding both sides of the cup at the base with your thumb and forefinger, slowly insert the menstrual cup a little bit at a time. *If you’re having trouble inserting the menstrual cup, try using a water-based lubricant to make it easier.
  6. Once you’ve nearly got the whole cup into your vagina, give it a little twist and then you feel the cup open up (which is perfect) and this creates the seal, which helps prevent leaks.

The menstrual cup should sit low, but you can push it up at the base a little bit higher if you like. Do what’s comfortable for you.

Don’t be too worried about where the stem is sitting right when you insert it, or if it does go higher later on. Regardless, you’ll be able to find the stem when you’re ready to take it out.

Again, you can remove a menstrual cup for the first time alone, but it’s probably best to tell a parent, sister, or girlfriend that you’ll be trying it for the first time.

Don’t worry — there shouldn’t be any Samantha moments from Sex and The City where Carrie actually has to help her! But still it’s nice to call out to someone you love and know they’re there for emotional support if needed.

Practice removing it, inserting it again, wearing it around the house for a bit then removing it again. This will give you confidence wearing it out and about.

How to Remove a Menstrual Cup

how to remove a menstrual cup

I didn’t know how to write this off the top of my head, so I thought I’d use a dictation app on my phone and actually talk you through it as I did it…

Here we go with the steps:

Wash your hands first in the bathroom. Go into the toilet. Push a couple of times. You may feel like you’re not doing it right, but you will be!

  1. Find the opening of your vagina and see if you can touch the stem of your menstrual cup. If you can’t, push a little bit more until you can (this will wiggle down the menstrual cup lower)
  2. Place your fingers around the stem. Keep pushing until you can get your thumb and forefinger around the base of the menstrual cup. If it’s hard to do, just keep pushing and it will slowly come out. Once you can grip the base of the menstrual cup with your thumb and forefinger you’ll want to push a little but and squeeze your fingers so that you are holding the cup firmly at the base and you just want to pull it out, straight down.
  3. Squeeze the cup and pull and it should come straight out. You can hold it in your hand and turn the cup upside down to release the blood within the cup straight into the toilet.

Next,  if it’s still the day and you’d like to re-insert the cup — if you’re at home you can get up and wash your hands and the cup in the bathroom basin and come back and insert it. But if you are out and about, say in a public toilet, you can simply just reinsert it, and then with the toilet paper you can clean your hands before going out to the bathroom vanity and clearing them thoroughly. Or if it’s nighttime, you may want to keep your cup out and put on some period panties and then clean your cup.

What if it gets stuck!?

First, it’s probably not going to get ‘stuck’ there’s nowhere for it to go except down. If you feel like you can’t remove your menstrual cup, don’t stress. The best thing to do is get up from the toilet, wash your hands and try to relax.

If you’re nervous that the cup is full, put on a pair of period panties. Know that nothing has gone wrong and you don’t need to remove it. You can the cup will be perfectly fine for hours. {This should alleviate some anxiety right there. Stress and pressure can make us tighten our vaginas internally, so relaxing is the best thing to do here}

Distract yourself with something else. Then every now and again, push a little bit here and there. Even a little push will move the cup down. Do this a few times and in half an hour go to the toilet and try again to see if you can touch the step of your menstrual cup.

How to Clean a Menstrual Cup

There are a few simple steps you should take to keep your menstrual cup clean. Firstly, you should empty out the contents of the cup every 8-10 hours, depending on your flow. Before re-inserting the cup, rinse it off with cold or warm water. Using a soap is not necessary, but if you would like to, make sure it’s a mild and fragrance-free soap.

To eliminate bacteria, boil your menstrual cup in hot water for 5 – 10 minutes once a month. They even make special menstrual cup santizers that are dedicated to cleaning your menstrual cup! (My favourite is Ruby Cups Sanitizer avaliabal here) And skip any harsh chemicals when cleaning your menstrual cup, remember this is going back in your body so be kind!

Menstrual Cup Dangers

While there’s a slight risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) with any internal menstrual product, it’s extremely rare. Menstrual cups are safe to use, but it’s important to practice proper cup hygiene, such as cleaning and changing your cup regularly.

Out and About FAQs

Do I need to change a menstrual cup during the day?

Unless you have a heavy flow, you probably may not need to change it during the day. This is great because you can put it in in the morning and take it out later in the day. This limits them from inserting and taking it out in public places. Obviously, a private bathroom is always more comfortable for most women.

Will I need to pee a lot more with a menstrual cup?

Possibly! You may notice you feel like you need to pee more frequently with a menstrual cup inserted.

Do I need to change a menstrual cup after going to the toilet?

No, the cup holds a significant amount and should be fine throughout the day. You only need to change it if you suspect it is full. If you do notice spotting, you can take it out to check if it’s full. Every girl and woman’s period flow is unique so as you start using a menstrual cup, you’ll learn how much you bleed and if you need to change it midday say on day 1 of your period.

Can I do number two with it in?

Yes, you can wear a menstrual cup whilst going to the toilet. I always thought the motion may push the cup out as well, but it usually doesn’t move. If you’re nervous you can check it, but it’s unlikely it will fall out so don’t stress!

Can I wear a menstrual cup while I sleep?

Yes, You can wear it at night!
You may still want to wear some period panties as well, just in case your movement during the night puts blood on your sheets.

Can I have sex with a menstrual cup?

It’s definitely best to remove your menstrual cup first, put a little towel down and then have sex.

I had forgotten I was wearing my menstrual cup before and started having sex with my partner; we both knew something weird was happening! If you forget, no problem, just stop and take it out and then go back to having sex.

How do I change my menstrual cup in school or in a public bathroom?

First I would say, there are no right or wrong rules here — do whatever you’re most comfortable with.

But if you are out and about, say in a public toilet, you can simply just reinsert it, and then with the toilet paper you can clean your hands before going out to the bathroom vanity and clearing them thoroughly.

If you’re in a public toilet, take out your menstrual cup by squeezing the cup and pulling it straight down. You can hold it in your hand and turn the cup upside down to release the blood within the cup straight into the toilet.

I would say, there are no right or wrong rules here — do whatever you’re most comfortable with:

– You can simply just reinsert it, and then with the toilet paper you can clean your hands before going out to the bathroom vanity and clearing them thoroughly.

– If you want to take it out to the vanity and clean it, go ahead. We’re all women and it’s unlikely anyone will stare or say anything.

– You could keep a bottle of water in your bag and quickly wash it in the cubicle then use some baby wipes to wash your hands.

– You could use the disabled bathroom which includes its own private hand basin and then you can wash it in privacy before inserting it again.

It’s really up to you. Do whatever you’re most comfortable with and see what works for you.


I hope this blog post was helpful in preparing you to try a menstrual cup. Maybe it even inspires you to give it a go and try it for 1 day to see if it’s for you.  It’s my hope to remove some of the fear and unknown around these period products and that using a menstrual cup makes that time of the month a bit easier!

Much love,


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Wonderful Within is a blog designed to educate and empower women from within. We talk all things wonderful, including: menstrual cycles, periods, charting, fertility awareness and women’s health and wellness choices.


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