The Menstrual Cup Air Bubble Phenomenon

The Menstrual Cup Air Bubble Phenomenon

Menstrual cups are quirky. Some find that using a reusable menstrual cup for the first time goes smoothly and for others, like myself, there is a learning curve with each new cup you try.

Even after you become a pro at inserting your reusable menstrual cup, there still can be surprises and new experiences with the process. One phenomenon is the menstrual cup air bubble!

What’s the menstrual cup air bubble phenomenon? You’ll know for certain if you’ve experienced it!

menstrual cup air bubble

Over time I know I’ve had a menstrual cup air bubble more than once. With some cups, I have air bubbles all the time! What’s a menstrual cup air bubble? While I don’t have an inside look into the vagina to see exactly how this works, I can imagine in my mind and I can certainly feel the air bubble!

When a menstrual cup is inserted, it is folded one of many ways to get it through the vaginal opening smoothly. As the cup travels up the vagina it opens. Some cups, often more firm cups, pop open right away and others need to be turned and moved a bit to get it to fully open.

I’ve tried to notice a pattern and I believe a few factors come into play. I develop a menstrual cup air bubble when I allow the cup to open too soon and then slide the fully opened cup into position. Sometimes even 20-30 minutes later I get an uncomfortable and often painful sensation that I know is an air bubble leaving the menstrual cup and allowing for a proper seal.

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How do you know if you have a menstrual cup air bubble?

For me, there is a definite sensation once the air bubble has left the cup. It’s typically sharp and doesn’t last long. I don’t get another one unless I take the cup out and reinsert it. The air bubble seems to develop if I allow the cup to open too soon with many different cups and I try to hold onto the fold for as long as I can for this reason. However, I do have a cup or two that always get an air bubble. The main difference I notice between these cups and other brands is the number of air holes, size of air holes and how clean they are.

Menstrual cups that have less air holes develop bubbles more often for me such as a cup with 2 holes vs 3 or 4. These holes play an important role in allowing air to leave the cup and creating a seal with your vaginal walls. I believe without proper venting the air has no way to leave but in an uncomfortable pop that makes me stop walking or causes me to pause until the feeling goes away.

What does a menstrual cup air bubble mean about fit?

If you have the single bubble experience like I do, I believe this means that the fit is okay and that something else is causing it. I’ve noticed they happen more often when I allow the cup to pop open early and slide it up awkwardly popped open, a low amount of vent holes and possibly even clogged holes.

If the cup develops bubbles throughout wear or feels bubbly in general fit may be an issue. Once the cup seals, it should remain that way until you break the seal to remove the menstrual cup. If you tug on the cup without breaking the seal you may even feel like the cup is stuck. The seal is that good!

Air bubbles with a full cup?

Another reason the cup may feel bubbly, but not have the big bubble I get here and there when I first put the cup in is because it’s full. As the cup fills, air should leave the vent holes but if it starts to overflow and leak a bit it can feel bubbly from menstrual fluids. Emptying more frequently on heavier flow days can help or you can use a high flow cup for heavy days and have a larger capacity cup on hand.

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Tips for preventing menstrual cup air bubbles

  • Allow the cup to insert as far as you can before allowing it to pop open
    • Try a different fold if it causes a bubble often
  • Clean your menstrual cup holes
  • Look for a cup with a good number of vent holes
  • Empty your cup before it gets too full

What has your experience been with menstrual cup air bubbles? 

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