Why Does my Menstrual Cup Hurt? Troubleshooting Menstrual Cup Pain
Menstrual cups can be amazing. However, there is a learning curve that can be easier or more difficult for some cup users. I’m often asked, “Why does my menstrual cup hurt?”
Menstrual cup pain can make or break your relationship with a cup. Luckily, troubleshooting menstrual cup pain can be an easy fix for most cup users. For some, it may mean that you need a completely different cup.
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I feel very fortunate to have good luck with my reusable menstrual cup on the first try. However, for most users this is not the case and it has not been the case with me for every cup I’ve tested. Many menstruators need 3 cycles or so to really troubleshoot their cup, get the fold down right and learn how to fold, insert and get their cup in place reliably.
Part of troubleshooting reusable menstrual cup use may include menstrual cup leaks and menstrual cup pain. It’s a common question asked both to other users and professionals. “Why does my menstrual cup hurt?” There are often several things to consider:
1. The menstrual cup hurts because it did not pop open all the way
When you first insert the cup you get it through your vaginal opening by using a fold. Some folds work better for others and finding the right fold may take time. For me, I find that the punch down fold pops open the easiest, even with soft cups. Having a partially folded cup can mean that something is pushing into your vaginal wall or it’s turned at an awkward angle.
When a cup is properly open it should create a seal with your vaginal walls or up around your cervix in a ring shape. You can check to see if it’s open by running your finger around the cup, giving a gentle turn or perhaps just by feel.
If it’s not open, you will feel a dent in the side of the cup or a fold around the rim.
2. You have a menstrual cup air bubble
An air bubble can occur when you have air in your cup that does not go out on it’s own through the vent holes. I notice that this happens if I allow the cup to open early, especially a softer cup, and push it into place. A few minutes later, sometimes longer, I get a painful sensation that goes away after the air bubble is released. Read more about menstrual cup air bubbles. This is often a one-time sensation and isn’t long lasting like some of the other causes for menstrual cup pain.
3. The cup is too firm
If you have a sensitive interior, the firmness of your cup may be the reason your menstrual cup hurts. For me, a cup that’s too firm can cause cervix pain that shoots up into my stomach and some pretty terrible cramping. While some cups are more firm than others, like the very firm Selena Cup and the Lunette Cup size 2, there are many softer versions made for sensitive interiors like the LouLou cup. The downside to soft menstrual cups? They can be harder to get open to begin with and stay open during physical activity like running or swimming.
4. The cup is touching your cervix
Your vagina begins where you can see the opening at your vulva and ends at your cervix. Your cup lives somewhere in-between.
After having my first baby I became completely unable to use tampons. Those super hard little cotton chemical sticks are not easy on a soft cervix! Because of this sensitivity, if my menstrual cup is on the firm side and makes contact…I know! It can cause cramping and a general unpleasant sensation.
A reusable menstrual cup often sits in the vagina below your cervix and seals with the walls. However, some cups like the merula cup sneak up or are designed to have your cervix seated within the cup. Making a finger pass to make sure it’s evenly placed around your cervix is a good way to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible or trying a softer cup like the Lena sensitive may be up your alley.
5. The cup has turned upside down or sideways
This is a real thing! I have a good friend who has turned her cup sideways and upside down while exercising. A few months later I was testing a lower quality cup and the damn thing nearly turned sideways. My vagina hurt for a few days!
How does this happen? Some athletic persons with a strong pelvic floor can flex their vagina and pelvic floor without knowing it during physical activity. Since the cup sits in your vagina it can be moved around as a result. Or, in my case, it was just a poor quality cup without a great overall well…quality.
This one is pretty easy to figure out. If you go looking for your cup you may feel the rim instead of the base of the cup and the stem or can feel the base of the cup angled hard to one side. If the cup continues to twist and turn a different cup may be the best option.
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It’s just not the cup for you
Generally, remember that your menstrual cup should conform to your vagina. A menstrual cup is not designed to widen or make your vagina larger, the cup fits you and many users can wear different sizes and shapes.
Most cups have general guidelines like the smaller cup is for persons under 30 with a stronger pelvic floor who have not given birth and the larger is for people over 30 or those who have given birth and/or have a weaker pelvic floor. However, these rules are general and may not apply to you. For example, I’m over 30 and have had 4 babies. I can wear small and large cups also soft and firm cups depending on my activity. I switch to my firmer Lunette size 2 if I’m going to exercise and to my Yuuki rainbow size 2 on heavy days. I use a size 1 on light days. If I’m having a sensitive day I’ll use something soft like my Loulou cups or simply wear cloth pads.
Remember, menstrual cup guidelines aren’t set in stone. Maybe you have awesome pelvic floor strength and the firm cup you have is just irritating so something softer would work. Everyone starts somewhere and I firmly believe that you need to try one cup to get moving and see if it’s the right match for your anatomy and needs.
Looking for your first cup? Checking your cervix height is a great place to start!