Tips on Using your Blossom Cup
If your cups leaks, the reasons could be:
- Your cup is the wrong size
- You did an incorrect insertion (see tips on insertion)
- Your cup overfilled (likely on heavier days)
- You are engaging in exercises or movements that involve the lower part of the body being higher for a portion of the time, such as plank leg lifts, planks with legs on a chair or exercise ball or wall, practicing the downward dog or similar moves, planks with leg raises, etc. Very vigorous exercise on heavier days with the cup not freshly emptied right before beginning the exercises can lead to a full cup and some leaking so it is better to wear a pad or panty liner, in addition to emptying your cup before starting.
In case of bad smell after use:
- first of all, avoid wearing the cup for very long duration, say more than 6 hours without emptying and rinsing out. Your natural blood is actually dead blood and carrying for so long may lead to concentration of odor. Removing the odor is sometimes a hit and miss. Most will go for bleach or boiling but using gentler means works better and allows you to work your way up the scale of how harshly to treat your cup.
We recommend soaking in apple cider vinegar for half a day then rinsing out with plain water. Also, check that the suction holes are clear as you wash and squeeze the holes in a pinching motion with your fingers to get any debris stuck in there out. If you have the stem trimmed, please do the same to it and any other areas with curves, bumps or is raised.
We also recommend soaking in a mixture of baking soda and apple cider vinegar (will bubble and fizz somewhat). Make sure to not add one ingredient to the other until your cup is cleaned out with at least water and soap so it is clean and you are ready to place it in the mixture. Leave it soaking in there for about 1/2 an hour before taking out and rinsing clean with plain water.
We also recommend soaking overnight with hydrogen peroxide solution 3% then use hot soapy water, combined with a lot of squeezing motion like trying to get the cup squeaky clean, then rinsing with water.
Bleach should be diluted before use and mixed with some soap. Let the cup soak for a bit, at least 10 minutes then wash it with the squeezing motions (like trying to rub something off), before rinsing with hot then cool water.
Boiling can also be used but it is mainly for disinfection and may not remove the smell. First clean the cup with hot soapy water, taking care to remove the debris in the suction holes. Then let the cup boil for no more than 5 minutes though 3 minutes should be sufficient. Remove from the hot water and let cool.
Store your cup only when completely dry (let it air dry for a few hours or overnight). Store in the provided baggie or similar to prevent excessive dust and air debris from sticking to it.
In case of difficulty in insertion:
- Recognize that our bodies are not static and in some months, you may find it harder to insert your cup than others because the cervix changes position and it is not always at the optimal position for insertion of the cup. Some months it is too low to allow easy insertion and may also be more fully extended and the length may prevent or make insertion more uncomfortable. This should only be for a few hours to a day at most on either the 1st or 2nd day of your period so keep trying.
- Correct your folding of the cup. There are several ways to fold your cup. The most common fold is the C-fold, which should work most of the time. To C-fold, you pinch the cup in half, placing your index finger to hold the fold intact while inserting, then releasing the cup and rotating it a bit to get the suction going. The less common fold is the 9-fold, which is just really a variation of the C fold with the finger placed slightly lower towards the bottom of the cup to create a fold that looks more like a nine.
- Fiddle with the cup once inserted. This is usually the winning tip though it does take some time and calls for one to be more comfortable with their body. The most commonly heard tip is to insert your finger and run it around the rim of the cup to ensure proper suction. One can also pinch the cup hard to release extra air from the cup before twisting it around to ensure proper suction. It is also a good idea to pinch the cup from the very bottom and pull it out slightly then releasing it to help it 'cup' the cervix entirely.
- Watch your positions. The most common position is to sit on the toilet, tilting your pelvis forward and pushing in your cup before doing any fiddling if necessary. Another position is to squat and insert or bend forward with legs opened to allow for easy insertion. A good one you may not hear about often is to stand with one leg up and bent at a ninety degree angle, propped on a chair or side of the tub, then tilting the pelvis forward and inserting your cup. The cup can also be inserted while laying on your back with hips lifted up/tilted forward and legs wide open. The wider apart the legs and the more forward the pelvis is tilted, the more likely your cup will practically get suctioned inside and become instantly unnoticeable by you until it is time to empty it.
- Work your inner muscles. Not only are your vaginal muscles important to help keep you from peeing yourself while exercising or laughing or sneezing, but they also hold up your uterus and help to keep your internal organs inside of you. Tone them as often as you but at least once a day for as little as a minute or two total for that day. One good way that works fast and ensures you target these muscles is to empty your bladder then stay on that toilet after cleaning yourself (you can put your underwear back on if you wish but go back to sitting on the toilet please) then squeeze the muscles slowly 'up' hold for 10 seconds then release the slowly 'down' and bear down for a second or two then repeat twice to to 10x more (if you have the time and privacy). This single exercise will help you with insertion of the cup, holding the cup inside, bearing down to remove it, and adjusting it in case of slippage (which may happen occasionally)
Struggling with slippage of the cup from your vagina:
Get a larger cup. If you already have a larger cup, see the next tip. Work your kegels. After emptying the bladder and while still seated on the toilet, squeeze and release your muscles several times, alternating between rapid and slow squeezing of the muscles. Also use the zipper method to strengthen these muscles from the bottom to the top and the ladder method where you squeeze them in stages from the bottom to the top and back down again. If done several times in a day, difference should be noted within very few days, however keep up with the exercises because strong kegels are essential to us women for many reasons and especially as we age. And finally, try to have your cup sit higher from insertion and don't let the cup get overly full. So if you need to empty every four hours on a heavy day, empty every 3 hours or less instead.
Possible questions to ask yourself when your cup suddenly starts to leak after a few months of use:
is there a hole or another notable defect in the cup? If not, is it possible you changed your insertion style so there is less of a suction of the cup? Is your cervix lower this month than usual (it can happen a few times a year sometimes). Is your flow heavier this month (this can also happen a few times a year), requiring frequent emptying of the cup? Did you accidentally damage the cup during your last washing (a series of strong chemicals to wash/disinfect followed by boiling can cause severe damage). If the cup's structure is damaged, nothing can be done except to get another one. If it is your body that has experienced changes then just being patient and keeping on trying are the best answers.
Chronic vaginal infection and the cup:
Let the infection clear up and/or follow doctor's orders. Please do not use the cup or insert anything into your vagina unless it is medicine until the infection has been declared cleared (preferably after a re-test at the lab). Once you are cleared, you may reuse the cup as usual.
Cleaning and disinfecting your cup (especially after an infection):
To disinfect the cup, the best method would be to wash it in hot soapy water making sure to get around all the nooks and bends of the cup as well as inside and out. After rinsing it, dip it into boiling water for a minute or two, making sure the cup doesn't touch the sides or bottom for the duration and remove the cup then let it air dry and put it back into its pouch until you are ready to use it again. Another method of cleaning that is much gentler and should be as effective is that after washing with the hot soapy water is to place the cup in a solution of vinegar (white or apple is fine). To this solution, some baking soda to it (it should bubble furiously for a minute or so). Let the cup stay in the solution for another 10 to 30 minutes then remove and you can rinse (distilled water is best) or just let it air dry (rinse with warm water before inserting next time, though the vinegar will evaporate). Store the cup in its pouch till next use. The last method one can use to disinfect is to wash the cup as recommended then place in a solution of bleach (mix 1 T of bleach with 1 C of water (distilled). Let the cup sit overnight or a few hours and then rinse, air dry, and store the cup in its pouch.
Bladder Pressure and the cup:
Because each body is unique, some women may find the cup sits up too high and puts pressure on their bladder. For some women, the pressure is a dull feeling and does not bother them much and after a few hours/days, their body adjusts and they no longer feel bothered by the cup's placement. For other women, the pressure can be severe, causing them the feeling of having to go nearly constantly. For health reasons and the safety of your kidneys, and to prevent a possible infection, we recommend either finding ways to alleviate the pressure or getting a cup that works better with your inner walls, preferably one that is softer or does not sit as high inside your body. We are currently working on a few models to accommodate all of our customers and will be posting these on our website very soon. 178 160
Tips to Remove the 'STUCK' cup:
Try bearing down with your muscles, squeezing and releasing as if you are working the kegels but in the downward motion. This motion should cause the cup to automatically slide down enough for you to grasp the stem or the base. You can also try sitting on the toilet or standing and lifting your leg over the toilet or the side of the tub and bear down and try to catch it with your fingers.
Once you can touch the cup, pinch the stem and pull it out gently. If it seems resistant, reach in and pinch the base gently (so as not to dislodge pooled blood) to disengage the cup's suction then pull out the rest of the cup in its upright position before emptying. The most important tip is not to panic or wiggle or squeeze tighter your vagina because the cup will only slide in further and be harder to reach.
Concerns with TSS and Blossom Cup:
So far, there is only one documented case that meets all the CDC requirements for registering TSS associated with the use of a menstrual cup. The lady in question was a first time user of the menstrual cup, had a history of Hashimoto Thyroiditis (a serious auto immune disease) and menorrhagia (severe blood loss due to menstruation). The article did not mention previous use of tampons so a critical piece of data is missing to make a proper conclusion in her case. Whether it was the cup that actually caused her TSS or presenting factors.
Here is a summary of the detailed analysis our resident scientist did on the case study for the benefit of our customers.
The bacteria that causes TSS is named S. Aureuth, a gram positive facultative anaerobe (grows in the presence of oxygen or carbon dioxide). It is a normal inhabitant of about 1/3 of the human population's skin and mucous membranes of the nose . It often causes mild skin infections (impetigo, folliculitis, etc.), invasive infections (wound infections, osteomyelitis, bacteremia with metastatic complications, etc.) and toxic mediated infections (food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome or TSS, scaled skin syndrome, etc.).
- Aureuth is transmitted by skin contact (and is the number one bacteria picked up at hospitals) and through compromised mucous membrane (our vagina is all mucous membrane!). It particularly affects immune compromised persons such as persons with AIDS, are under cancer treatment, certain types of autoimmune diseases, are taking drugs to suppress their immune system like transplant patients, are undergoing treatment, are under severe stress, etc. The bacteria thrives in high/alkaline pH, blood rich environment (a menstruating vagina is rich in blood, oxygen and carbon dioxide), and easily penetrates compromised mucous tissue to invade the body and cause further damage.
Our menstrual cup is made up of medical grade silicone and dyes and studies done have shown conclusively that it does not raise the pH and in reality, does not affect the internal fauna and flora of our vaginas. As such, the cup should be 100% safe for use for most women. The variable is introduced in human handling and personal body chemistry. Therefore, by following proper cleaning and handling method, you take charge of your variables and reduce their chance to affect you negatively.
My recommendation for using the cup is to ensure proper cleaning of not just the cup but yourself also. Most of us are taught from a very early age to use toilet paper to wipe our private areas of using the toilet. I believe this isn't cleaning enough and water should be used if one wants to be as clean as possible. Imagine taking toilet paper to wipe your cup vs. using water to wash or just rinse it out. The difference in results is evident and significant. Therefore, at least during your period and while using and changing the cup so often in and out of you, use water to rinse your privates. Carry wipes which you can wet and use to clean yourself at the very least. Further, wash your hands before handling your cup to minimize transferring any bacteria on your hands to your privates and after for the same reason in reverse.
Our conclusion says the cup is safe for use by most women, especially if they follow the directions provided such as changing often on heavy days, proper cleaning of the hands and cup and the private areas after using the toilet (we as we don't believe wiping is cleansing enough, especially after #2), and is careful not to cause abrasions and bruises inside with long nails or rough handling. If there had been rough/vigorous sex prior and a bruise occurred or the skin feels tender than use the cup with caution and be extra careful in insertion and removal and keep the area and your hands very clean.