Ask a Menstrual Cup Expert: What to do if your menstrual cup is hard to reach

For some menstrual cup users, the removal process isn’t as simple as “pinch base and pull down.” If you’re finding it difficult to reach your cup, here are a few tips to cycle through until you find your perfect removal routine. 

Keep in mind that these tips are easily read and remembered, but it’s unlikely you’d have any real trouble getting started with your new menstrual cup. Odds are you’ll forget you were ever apprehensive after your first cycle or two. But if there are a few kinks left to work out or you’re naturally curious, we’re here to help!

The first step is to use your internal muscles to pull their weight by “bearing down” as if doing Kegel exercises. This will help to shorten the vaginal canal, bringing your cup lower in the process. It’s a strange thing to compare it to, but bearing down is like pushing to “birth” your cup. (Congratulations! It’s just your flow.)

If you can reach the tip of the stem, try and use that to find the spot where the stem meets the base of the cup. Bear down until you can reach that point because pulling on the stem will not move the cup if the seal hasn’t been broken yet — you may cause an uncomfortable pulling sensation. You can usually wiggle the cup from the base where the stem meets cup which allows air alongside the cup walls, allowing it to be maneuvered lower. 

If you need a bit more help shortening the vaginal canal, it’s as easy as getting into a squatting position. It’s a little difficult to manage while seated on a toilet, so this works really well in the shower. You can also semi-squat by propping a foot up on the side of your tub. This paired with “bearing down” do a great job of shortening the vaginal canal and pushing the cup lower with the internal pelvic muscles. 

Allowing air alongside the cup will also help you to maneuver it lower. Insert a finger along the side of the cup and press in, bending in the side of the cup if you can reach it. Expanding the area between the cup wall and vaginal wall will accomplish the same thing (letting air into the seal they formed), so you can also use this finger to press against the vaginal wall closest to the tailbone. Anatomically, it’s more flexible there without a pelvic bone to get in the way. Then you should be able to wiggle the cup lower using the stem base. When it comes to gripping the cup base to pinch and remove, it’s good to make sure you’ve got dry fingertips to provide enough friction to keep a hold on the slick silicone. Having a bit of TP handy is good for dabbing fingers dry periodically.  

In following these tips, it’s important to remain calm — if you’re tense while removing a menstrual cup, then the pelvic floor will follow suit by squeezing the cup in place which makes everything much more difficult. I find it helps to focus on relaxing another body part (such as your jaw) to put the focus elsewhere and allow the whole body to be less tense. So remember: relax! 

I hope this has been helpful in your journey to menstrual cup mastery! If you still have questions, the GladRags crew is always around to answer. Until next time, happy bleeding, fellow menstruators!