A menstrual cup has the potential to be one of the most comfortable forms of menstrual protection. If you feel your cup after inserting it, it can be one of three things. Either:
- The cup isn’t inserted correctly
- You’re using the wrong size, or
- The stem is too long
Today, we’ll work on troubleshooting number 3.
Menstrual Cup Fit
Correct positioning; stem fully inserted
Cup stem too long
Ideally your menstrual cup should sit low in the vaginal canal as shown on the left. If you have a high cervix, your body may be better suited at accepting a cup with a long stem. The image on the right with the protruding stem is a more common occurrence for women with low-medium cervices.
While it may be tempting to remove the stem completely, there is one important function you need to know about before doing so.
The Stem of Your Menstrual Cup Acts Like An Anchor
Ever heard those horror stories of menstrual cups tipping over onto their sides while inside your body? Well it can and does happen, especially if the cup doesn’t have a stem. While inserted, the stem anchors the cup in place and keeps it upright.
This doesn’t mean you should never entirely remove the stem. It's all up to personal preference and many ladies use stem-less menstrual cups without any problems. But if you do a lot of squatting, bending and lifting consider leaving some of the stem intact. Continue reading to learn how you can safely do so.
How To Trim Menstrual Cup Stem
It’s always best to trim your cup stem a few days before or during your period. Your cervix will be at its lowest position during this time, ensuring a more accurate fit. Before trimming the stem, we need to determine how much of it actually needs to be removed, this is where the tabs on the stem will come in handy.
What you’ll need:
- Hand-held mirror
- Menstrual cup
- Water-based lubricant
- Nail file (optional)
Start by placing lubricant on your vaginal opening, then insert the clean menstrual cup using your fold of choice. Push the cup as high as it can go, then check the rim to make sure there is no ‘empty space’ above it.
Mentally number the stem tabs:
Starting from the base of the cup number the stem tabs 1,2,3…, with 1 being closest to the base of the cup
Now that the cup is inserted, use a hand-held mirror to look at your vaginal opening. Sometimes it may feel like the stem is visible from the outside when it really isn’t. For instance, with my Lunette cup it felt like the entire stem was protruding, but when I checked with the mirror I could only see the very end of the tab.
In this situation you can leave the stem intact and see how it feels after a day or two of your cycle. If it doesn’t cause any irritation as you go about your day, you can leave it intact. However, if it does cause irritation, you can remove one tab at a time until you obtain a comfortable fit.
If the stem of your cup really is protruding, here’s what to do:
Starting at the base of the cup, run your fingers down the stem tabs, counting as you go and pay attention to which tab is the last one still inside your canal. Double check, then remove the cup by pinching the base and slowly pulling down.
If tabs # 3 & 4 were protruding, use your scissors to cut the stem between tab #2 & 3.
Cutting between tabs 2 & 3
Cutting between tabs 1 & 2
Tips: It’s always better to remove too little than too much of the stem. You can always cut more of the stem, but you can’t re-attach it. As a new cup user, only remove what is absolutely necessary until learning how your cup will move with your body.
Although I technically didn’t need to trim my cup stem, I was confident enough in my cup removal skills that I decided to trim it anyway to achieve maximum comfort.
Try to make the cut as clean as possible. If needed use a nail file to smooth down any raised edges of silicone.
Now your cup will be customized to fit your body comfortably. All that's left to do now is wait for your monthly visitor to arrive so you can personally see what all the talk is about. Learn what it will be like to finally see your cup in action.