Looking back at it now, I’m glad my first run with a menstrual cup didn’t go perfectly. We learn the most when things go wrong or need fixing. We’d never know how to change a light bulb if they never blew, never know how to unclog a drain if it never backed up. So think of your cup leaking as a new lesson to be learned.
Top 3 Reasons Why Your Cup May Be Leaking
1.) Cup not inserted correctly
My first mistake was ONLY following the manufacturer's instructions. The basic instructions are to sit the cup low in the vaginal canal and that’s what I did. The cup seemed fully opened and well suctioned, so I was lost as to why it still leaked. After desperately searching for a solution online, I finally discovered the answer.
The manufacturer’s instructions for positioning the cup do work, but only if you have a HIGH cervix.
Cup sitting low with cervix above it
If you have a stubborn cervix, that likes to test your patience and get in the way the instructions below are what you really need.
#1 Mistake To Avoid If You Have A Low-Medium Cervix
Don’t push the cup past your cervix.
The cervix is often compared to feeling like the tip of your nose, but a key part is missing from this description. The body of the cervix is cylindrical; similar to your neck, and it projects into the top of the vaginal canal. The space to the left and right of the cervix is called the fornix.
It’s very easy to push the rim of your cup into this space if you have a low cervix. Sometimes you may feel a twinge of pain as the cup unfolds and presses against the cervix.
If you remove your cup and notice a line of blood on the outside, predominantly on one side of the cup, you may have pushed the cup past your cervix.
How To Correctly Position Your Menstrual Cup:
Use your finger to check the position of your cervix, then angle the cup in that direction while inserting it.
With a medium cervix, the aim is to have the rim of the cup sit just below your cervix.
Based on the length of your cup, if your cervix is very low it can partially sit inside the cup.
Always run your finger around the rim of the cup, with experience you’ll be able to tell if you’ve missed your cervix. If you can feel your cervix outside the cup rim here's what to do:
- Pinch the base of the cup and gently pull it down until it's below your cervix
- Still pinching the base, angle the cup towards your cervix and push it up so the rim of the cup covers your cervix
- Run a finger around the cup rim once again to see if your cervix felt like cooperating this time around
If you can feel you cup after insertion, either your cervix is still in the way or…
2.) The Cup Is The Wrong Size
Menstrual cups come in different shapes and sizes, and what works for one woman may not necessarily work for you. As a general guideline, the cup should sit comfortably in the vaginal canal while being held in place by the surrounding walls and PC muscle.
If the cup is too big, your vaginal wall may compress the sides of the cup, break the seal and cause it to leak. Wider cups are recommended for women who have given birth, as the vaginal walls may have lost some of their elasticity. The wider cup makes it easier for the walls to hold onto the cup.
Some bodies ‘bounce back’ better than others, and if you’re keeping up with those kegels, a smaller cup may still work after childbirth.
On the flipside, if the cup is too small, the vaginal wall may not have sufficient contact with the cup. It may slip, lose it’s seal and leak.
The last and most obvious reason why your cup may be be leaking is that…
3.) The cup is full
We go into this hoping to experience 10-12 hours of protection, but the holding capacity of your cup is dependent on your flow and cervix height. My first few cycles with a cup were a bit disappointing, I only made it for 8 hours at a time. Although there was minor spotting, upon removing the cup it was only ½ full.
A cup can be ‘full’ even if it’s not full
If your cervix partially sits inside the cup, it’s holding capacity will be reduced and it will need emptying more frequently. In this scenario, a bell-shaped cupped is the better option since the base of the cup will have a higher holding capacity than a v-shaped base.