You may have your doubts about being able to use a menstrual cup, and if those doubts stem from feeling nervous and unprepared, we totally understand! We recommend checking out our intro to menstrual cups and FAQ, as well as our advice for staying calm and gaining cup confidence. That being said, your uncertainty may be based less on your headspace and more on your actual anatomy. While we’re no doctors (and highly recommend that you talk to one if you have any concerns!), we do have some knowledge we can share. Here’s what you should know if you’re wondering: “Can I use a menstrual cup if…”
Many people with IUDs are able to use a menstrual cup. In fact, a 2011 study carried out in Canada came to the conclusion that menstrual cups do not increase the risk of early expulsion of an IUD. That being said, if you have any concerns about using a menstrual cup with an IUD, you should definitely consult your gynecologist or primary care provider.
A quick search for “menstrual cup with tilted uterus” can easily lead you on a neverending journey through message boards, blogs, and articles where people talk about their own experiences. Anecdotal evidence runs the gamut from “Don’t even try!” to “I have a retroverted uterus and have been successfully using my cup for 10 years.” To definitively answer this one, you may just have to try for yourself. A piece of advice? Find your cervix! (We recommend this to all beginners, no matter which way their uterus leans!)
From a physical standpoint, vaginal sex does not “prepare” the vagina to accommodate a menstrual cup. The vagina is very elastic by nature, but at rest, it is closed (the vaginal walls are touching). This means that the vagina will stretch to accommodate something that is being inserted, but will go back to its original closed state when that thing is removed. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether fingers, a sex toy, or a penis have been in your vagina or not, since they won’t change its capacity to expand and contract.
Vaginal sex also does not solely determine the state or existence of your hymen. The hymen is a membrane that’s located at the vaginal entrance, but contrary to popular belief, it does not usually cover the entire opening. Many people’s hymens have a hole to begin with, and while for some people the hole is small enough that it can get stretched in a way that’s noticeable to them (for example, feeling pain when it happens), for others there will never be a moment where they can conclusively say “Aha! My hymen was just stretched open.” Inserting a menstrual cup as someone who has not had vaginal sex can mean you’ll encounter your hymen, but there’s also the chance that it was stretched in the past by biking, doing sports, inserting fingers or a tampon, etc and won’t even make its presence known.
This will partly depend on why you dislike tampons. If you are uncomfortable with the act of inserting something into your vagina, or the feeling (or simply awareness) of having something inside of you for a prolonged period of time, then a menstrual cup may not be for you. However, if you find tampons uncomfortable because they tend to cause dryness, then a menstrual cup can be a great solution! Cups are designed to collect your flow rather than absorb it, which means they aren’t absorbing any moisture from the vaginal canal. Removing your menstrual cup on a light flow day thankfully does not feel the same as pulling out a barely-soaked tampon!