“They're great for our pelvic health,” Keri says. As a clinic owner, podcaster, lecturer and teacher of pelvic health, we went to her to get the medically accurate answers to all your FAQs about menstrual cup safety and pelvic health.
DIVA: Are menstrual cups safe?Keri Martin Vrbanac: Menstrual cups are incredibly safe. I have no concerns ever about the safety of a menstrual cup. I know with the use of a menstrual cup there sometimes comes the fear of removal and the potential for loss of the cup. There truly is nowhere for the cup to go, so the cup will never be lost.
D: Does it hurt to insert or remove a menstrual cup?KMV: Typically, with the insertion and the removal, one of the biggest reasons why people will experience pain is because of the stress associated with what they're doing. There's a direct correlation between stress and the pelvic floor.
So, when we are nervous and usually when we're using the cup, especially initially, that stress translates into the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor becomes tight and it's harder to get the cup in or out, so that is usually what is behind the feelings of pain.
I’m always encouraging menstrual cup users to work on inhaling and letting the pelvic floor muscles relax. We call this a “reverse Kegel” and when I'm teaching it to clients, I describe it as an inhale and an expansion of the vaginal opening.
For example, imagine that you have a rosebud at the opening of the vagina and as you inhale, you open that rosebud. If you can relax while you’re inserting or removing the cup, it's going to be much easier instead of fighting with a tight pelvic floor. And then practice—I'm huge on practicing! It’s totally acceptable to practice when you’re not on your period. Because the DIVA Cup is made from 100% medical grade silicone, it won’t leave anything behind like a dry tampon might.
And if there is pain once the cup is inserted, I typically suggest looking for a different size of cup.
D: What can make menstrual cup use easier for beginners?KMV: Learning things like, what is the length of the vagina? Where are my organs sitting? To have people be able to look at a drawing and say, this is where the cup is sitting, this is where my uterus is sitting, and these are my pelvic floor muscles. And what is their function? It opens a whole new world of understanding and then reaping the benefits of using menstrual products like the DIVA Cup or DIVA Disc.
D: Why is it important for our vaginal health that menstrual cups be made of 100% medical grade silicone?KMV: We don't want anything leaching into the vagina. With menstrual cups, we have a great silicone product that can be worn in direct bodily contact for up to 12 hours. They're not like the Tupperware that you put in the dishwasher. We want to keep everything inside of the vagina safe. We don't want to mess with the pH of the vagina. We don't want to mess with what's happening in the vagina. So, you need to have a product that is not going to leave any signs that it's been there and/or cause any damage to the tissue.
D: What are your top tips for menstrual health?KMV: I am a big fan of recognizing that the vagina is a self-cleaning oven. It's going to clean itself. So, I do not recommend any type of product to clean the vagina. Absolutely no douching. I highly recommend that people stay away from any soaps.
I have had clients come in and say, I want to follow what you're saying, but I feel like there's a bit of an odor. It's your vagina—it's supposed to have a little bit of an odor or a slight metallic scent during your menstrual cycle when menstrual blood is present. Now, I'm not speaking about foul odor. Those types of things need to be investigated. But if you want to feel fresh and clean, warm water is going to do that. We don’t want to be generating problems for pH or the natural flora that we find inside of the vagina. Always start by washing your hands, then empty the cup, wash the cup with an approved cleanser like DIVA Wash and rinse the cup between uses. You want to let these things work the way that they were made to work.
Along with that, what about the outside? I always recommend natural products. We don't want anything disruptive inside of the products. You want to use the most basic natural product that you can when you're cleaning externally.
If you ever have additional questions about menstrual cup safety and pelvic health, don’t hesitate to reach out to our TMI-friendly Consumer Experience Team!