Menstrual cups are environmentally friendly and cost-effective, but while you may be happy to bid tampons farewell forever, using a cup often comes with a bit of a learning curve. If you find yourself panicked or worried that you may never get that thing out, take a deep breath and keep reading.
How to Remove a Menstrual Cup
First, know this: Menstrual cups come with a stem that seems very similar to the string of a tampon, but the stem isn't meant for pulling. Instead, you should use it to find the base of the cup.
Most manufacturers suggest that you wash your hands, then find the stem and move your thumb and forefinger up to grasp the bottom of the cup. At that point, you can pinch the cup to release the suction and break the seal. (Some brands suggest doing this while sitting on the toilet or standing with one foot up on the bathtub, which may be more comfortable.) Gently move the cup from side to side while easing it down and out.
That seal helps prevent leaks — one of the benefits of switching from tampons to a menstrual cup — but breaking it is essential to removing the cup, and getting that down can take practice. Don't worry: you'll get the hang of it.
What to Do If Your Menstrual Cup Gets Stuck
Relax — that's the first step. Stress can cause the vaginal muscles to tighten, making it even harder to remove the cup, Mitchell S. Kramer, MD, FACOG, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in New York, told POPSUGAR. Take a few deep breaths and remember that the vagina is a narrow opening with a clear dead-end called your cervix. The cup has nowhere to go except out. "A menstrual cup can shift in position, making it a little more challenging to remove, but unlikely to get stuck requiring professional intervention," Dr. Kramer explained. "They are made of soft, flexible, collapsible material that shouldn't pose a problem for removal."
If you're having trouble getting the cup out, he recommends using a small amount of lubricant on your fingers. "This will make insertion and removal easier and more comfortable and decrease the likelihood of difficulties with both procedures," Dr. Kramer said. Still struggling? Squat low with your knees apart or stand with one leg up, which can help open the vagina and bring the cup down, he explained. You can also try pushing as though you're trying to use the bathroom. Worst case scenario, there's nothing wrong with making a quick visit to your ob-gyn to have the cup removed.
Remember too that menstrual cups come in different sizes — if this is an ongoing issue, make sure you've landed on the right one for you.