There are so many components that factor into that time of the month that it can sometimes be enough to make your head spin. First, there’s dealing with the fact that you’re literally bleeding out of your uterus, not to mention figuring out how to properly cope with symptoms like cramping, back pain, and bloating, among the dozens of others that might ensue. Then there’s choosing the right feminine product: are you team tampon or team pad? What about a menstrual cup? I personally have so many questions about that thingamajig, like how do you remove a menstrual cup without making a total mess, or poking around and accidentally scraping yourself with your nails?
IMO, inserting a menstrual cup is pretty self explanatory for the most part, but what goes in must come out, and those details are just a little fuzzy from where I’m standing. And, apparently, I’m not the only one who’s unsure about the exiting process. During a recent episode of Busy Philipps’ talk show, Busy Tonight, Bad Moms actress Kristen Bell opened up to the comedic hostess about her experience with maneuvering a menstrual cup, and TBH, while the anecdote is pretty funny, it's also kind of not in some ways. In fact, it’s actually a little terrifying for anyone who isn’t familiar or comfortable with sticking something all up in that general area.
The conversation took a turn for the intriguing when Philipps told the audience all about her favorite feminine products, and among the list was a menstrual cup. Bell eventually joined Philipps on the couch and mentioned that, though she agreed with Philipps on her love for things like period underwear, she wasn’t on board with menstrual cups. The actress described her experience in trying the product as “very weird,” which obviously piqued the hostess’ interest.
“I once got [a menstrual cup] stuck,” Bell explained. “I was like ‘OK, time for a change,’ and I went to grab it, and there was something that was suctioned to the wrong part of me,” she said. Long story short, Bell said she did her best to pull the menstrual cup out of her uterus, but instead, ended up passing out on the toilet — cue my entire face going blank in a stark panic. But leave it to Philipps to put down some wisdom that I think any one of us can benefit from picking up: “A menstrual cup is tricky, and takes some trial and error,” The Dawson’s Creek alum told her audience. “You have to be willing to figure it out.” Or finger it out, as Bell cleverly added.
Just in case you’re wondering whether or not Bell ever succeeded in removing the menstrual cup once she came to, she told the audience she did, but not without some serious force on her part — which, at least to me, sounds very painful, probably wrong, and potentially dangerous.
Look, menstrual cups are awesome for a lot of different reasons. For instance, a lot of them are reusable, so you save money and generate less waste, which is great for your bank account and the environment. However, if you're most comfortable using tampons, pads, period underwear, or even free bleeding, by all means, girl, do you. Menstrual cups just aren’t for anyone, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those of you who are curious about trying one out, I reached out to a few experts in the space for some tips on how to remove a menstrual cup the right way — you know, without passing out or otherwise hurting yourself.
For the record, it’s not Bell’s fault that she didn’t know the best way to remove a menstrual cup, considering this was only her first try doing so. But according to Jane van Dis, M.D., a board certified OB/GYN and medical advisor to the FLEX Company, the first and most important step to taking out a menstrual cup is to relax. “The vaginal canal is essentially a tube of muscles, so if you are anxious about removal, you may be inadvertently contracting your muscles,” making it “harder to remove,” she tells Elite Daily. To bring the body to its most relaxed state, van Dis suggests, some women lie on their backs with a towel underneath them, while others prefer to remove the product over a toilet to limit mess from potential spilling.
Once your muscles are relaxed, and you feel ready to try and remove your menstrual cup, van Dis says the actual removal process is all about figuring out a technique that’s both effective, and something you feel comfortable doing. For some, that could mean using your fingers to press on the side of the cup in order to break the suction seal against the vaginal wall. For others, van Dis says, pinching the bottom of the cup to release the compression might feel easier. If you struggle, the OB/GYN adds, pulling on the stem of most menstrual cups will not remove them, “but you may be able to walk your fingers up from there to reach the bottom of the cup,” she explains. So, when in doubt, use the cup's stem as your guide.
As for how to remove a menstrual cup without spilling what's inside, that, my friends, is going to take some practice. However, according to the creators of the Saalt Cup, Cherie and Amber, you can work on achieving this by keeping the cup upright by "pulling until the grip rings are past the vaginal opening." From there, the co-founders tell Elite Daily, "tilt the cup forward to remove the front of the rim first, followed by the rest of the cup in a vertical position."
Worst case scenario, if you really are having a hard time wiggling the cup out of your uterus, and you’ve tried everything from hopping in the tub to squatting over the toilet, please don't hesitate to call your doctor ASAP. “Usually there is no need to worry or to see a doctor, as the cup cannot disappear inside of the vagina,” Dr. Hedieh Asadi, co-founder of DeoDoc Intimate Skincare, tells Elite Daily over email. However, “if these techniques don’t work and you are really in pain,” she adds, “you should contact your doctor.”