How are you *down there* after your period ends? Does your body snap back to normal quickly? Do you find that if you are an avid tampon user you tend to be dry? Some studies suggest that tampons can cause vaginal dryness.
How do tampons cause vaginal dryness?
Chronic vaginal dryness usually is a deeper issue. It can be related to hormones, hydration, and your general pH + flora being in (or out of) line. However, tampons can exacerbate the issue. Tampons, in general, are an extremely absorbent material made to do just that… absorb. In turn, it absorbs everything… and we mean everything. The good, the bad + the ugly!
Here are a few ways tampons can cause vaginal dryness:
You use a tampon the day after your period… just in case!Your body is at a crucial point the few days after your period. It’s working hard to restore the pH to normal and put everything in balance. By inserting a tampon at this time, you’re basically only absorbing the good stuff. Reach for a panty liner or a reusable pad instead if you’re worried!
You only use one level of absorbency through your entire menstruation. While it’s tempting to buy the value pack loaded with supers or super plus tampons, there are different absorbency levels for a reason. Once your menstruation lightens, there is less to soak up, so a super tampon is absorbing more than your menses and is going to capture the normal vaginal fluids. By soaking up the good bacteria as well, you’re leaving your vagina susceptible to an imbalance, which can lead to multiple types of infections.
You use scented tampons. It’s mighty tempting to use a scented menstrual product to help mask the smell during that time of the month, we get it! Added scents, fragrances, and perfumes are harsh on the vagina and can throw off the pH.
Does a menstrual cup cause vaginal dryness?
The quick answer to this is a resounding no! Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone and do not absorb any fluid at all. They are goblet-shaped and the concept is to be inserted in the vagina to collect (rather than absorb) period blood. Because they are made of materials like silicone and create airtight seals inside the vagina, menstrual cups don’t encourage bacterial growth, so concerns of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) are diminished greatly. Especially when you’re sterilizing your cup or washing it with soap as you should.
Unlike tampons, menstrual cups can be worn worry-free for up to 12 hours! During the heavier days of your cycle, they will become fuller faster and may need to be emptied more often. Women are switching to menstrual cups for the freedom they offer, the protection they have + the comfort they give! But don’t take our word for it; here are stories from 17 women who made the switch.
How can tampons cause infection?
While we’ve mentioned Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), tampons can lead to other infections such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Unfortunately, both are caused by either an overgrowth or undergrowth of bacteria already present in the vagina.
Here are some common ways a tampon can cause infection:
You only wash your hands after insertion. Cleaning your hands after insertion only makes sense… you might get a little messy. However, being aware of what could potentially be on your hands before you insert is a big one too.
You don’t change your tampon every time you relieve yourself. Your tampon absorbs urine very quickly after going to the bathroom. At this point your tampon isn’t effective and is just hanging onto urine in your vagina. During a bowel movement, the muscles cause your tampon to shift or even come out partially. If the tampon catches any fecal matter, you could be headed for an infection.
You forget to take it out.The last day of our cycle can tend to be light. Life gets busy and you realize a couple of days later you still haven’t taken it out! Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a serious condition related to bacteria overgrowth when a substance is left in your body for too long.
You don’t change it after swimming. Like with urinating, your tampon has now absorbed all that excess fluid. This time, it’s bleach water from swimming in a pool or salt water from the ocean.
How do I encourage vaginal health?
You’ve probably heard of pH levels in your body and having them run acidic or alkaline. Most everything in your body runs super-friendly while this is in balance. Your vagina is no exception!
Drink lots of water. Being hydrated keeps your vagina happy. You experience a dry mouth as an indicator of dehydration and a dry vagina can mean that too. It’s recommended that you drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day — more if you’re an athlete!
Take a probiotic. Probiotics and gut health awareness have come a long way in recent years. There are many different types of probiotics and many levels of potencies. Grab one from your local health food store that is geared toward “women’s health.” It will contain the unique strains that live in the vagina!
Avoid refined sugars. Yeast feeds on sugar, and an easy way to keep a yeast infection at bay is by minimizing refined sugars in your diet.
Avoid synthetic or tight clothing. We all own leggings. It’s hard not to! And yoga pants are a must! If you use these items for working out, be sure to change out of them as soon as you possibly can to rid your lady region of sweat + moisture, which would encourage bacteria growth.
While we do not claim to be medical experts, we are here to help in any way we can! If you experience chronic vaginal dryness, it may be time to make an appointment with your gynecologist so they can run some tests and see what’s going on down there.
Have you thought about trying out a menstrual cup? We have a 100% Happiness Guarantee so if you don’t absolutely love your menstrual cup, we will refund you! What do you have to lose?
PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.
The first key to menstrual cup success is making sure it’s cleaned properly. Sterilizing your menstrual cup before the first use in your cycle and right before you store it for the month is crucial. However, quickly washing your menstrual cup with soap before reinserting is perfect.
How do I wash my menstrual cup?
Ideally, washing your menstrual cup with a synthetic oil-free, unscented, gentle soap is best. Silicone is a substance that withstands tremendous levels of heat, but chemically we have to be mindful of what we use on it. Secondly, we have to be careful of anything that residually could be put into our vagina. Our lady region has a perfect balance — soaps, perfumes and synthetics can severely throw off our pH level, which could result in an infection of its own!
Our Pixie Cup Wash is formulated with your menstrual cup and our va-jay-jay in mind! We have 13 all-natural ingredients that make up our Pixie Cup Wash. No crazy ingredients here — only things that are safe, work and that you can pronounce 😉
Here are our super-safe Pixie Cup Wash ingredients:
Distilled water is water that has been filtered to remove minerals.
Phellodendron (amur cork tree) extract
Fructus Cnidii extract
Radix Stemonae Extract
So now that we’ve talked about ideal soaps and ingredients, let’s talk about what NOT to use when cleaning your menstrual cup!
As tempting as it is to grab your mainstream lady wash from the shower, it’s definitely not a good idea. Just don’t do it. Believe it or not, they are designed to only stay on the outside of your body! (Doctors are starting to speak against them too) Where a menstrual cup is an internal object, it’s best to make sure there is no perfume or residue that could be deposited and cause irritation or infection.
What about Toxic Shock Syndrome? (TSS)
Leaving your menstrual cup uncleaned could lead to infection, which is a rabbit hole that’s not fun. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is something that is typically associated with tampons. That being said, if a menstrual cup isn’t cleaned completely, it can carry bacteria as well! Meg does a fantastic job of describing what exactly TSS is and how it pertains to you, a tampon and a menstrual cup.
How should I store my menstrual cup?
Be sure to boil or steam your menstrual cup to sterilize it after your cycle as finished before you put it away for the month. Make sure that you are keeping it in a breathable bag so it doesn’t keep moisture and aid bacteria growth — Steer clear of plastic or airtight containers!
Now… how about keeping a bottle of our Pixie Cup Wash on hand so you’re never without a perfect + safe option?
Sterilizing your menstrual cup is key to extending the life of your cup as well as making it safe to use. One of the best features of a menstrual cup is that it can safely be worn for up to 12 hours (this does depend on your flow as well.) With this in mind, a quick wash during the day is just fine… remember, we’re shooting for a low-stress, low maintenance period!
With all the buzz about BPA and the rise of different reusable materials, it’s important to know what touches your body and what you put in it. Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone. This has taken the worry out of using it inside our bodies and is super easy to keep clean! Here are all the how-to’s!
How do I clean my menstrual cup for the first time?
Yay! Your new menstrual cup arrives. You’re nervous and excited. It’s like a blind date. But messier. You’ve opened it, now what? Boil it! Boiling for approximately 5 minutes is a simple way to ensure your cup is completely clean and ready for use! Make sure your pot has enough water so the menstrual cup is able to float around.
Life hack: squeeze your cup into a whisk and submerge in the water. This protects your cup from harsh contact with the bottom of the pan, which could damage it.
Picking a wash that’s formulated both for the safety of your cup and for you is best. Check out our Pixie Cup Wash for a gentle option! The foamy soap is made from plant-based ingredients and is designed to not harm the vagina or pH levels. If our Pixie Cup Wash isn’t available to you at the moment, make sure you pick something that doesn’t contain dye, oils or harsh chemicals. Fragrances are also a no-no for our lady region!
Rinse with warm water and apply cleanser. Rub around between fingers until yucky residue is gone.
Fill the cup with water and cleanser, place your palm over the top to create a seal and SQUEEZE! This forces water and soap to exit through the suction holes around the top. If stubborn stuff is still in the holes, dip a toothpick in rubbing alcohol and gently poke.
Keep your Pixie Cup Wash in the shower! Empty and clean your cup in there to keep the mess contained!
Cleaning your menstrual cup with soap and water every time you empty your cup is just fine. However, when you’re wanting to put it away for the month or pulling it out to use, you need to sterilize. When done properly, sterilizing eliminates all bacteria so nothing continues to grow.
Medical-grade silicone is quite cool. It’s gentle on us, yet rugged enough to have little staining and is heat resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Boiling your cup is the most common way of sterilizing. If you don’t have a stovetop available to you, our Pixie Cup Sterilizing Container makes microwaving your menstrual cup super easy! Fill ¾ with water, place your menstrual cup inside and place the lid on top, but don’t snap it on completely. Leave a space so air can vent through safely.
Do you have roommates? Are you going to visit relatives soon? Or maybe you’re not keen on using the same kitchen items to boil the menstrual cup that you use to cook with! We hear you! The Pixie Cup Steamer is a quick 3-minute fix for sterilizing and can be done while you’re finishing getting ready or pouring yourself a coffee. It only takes a few inches of space on your bathroom counter or bedroom dresser. Be sure to follow the included directions to safely steam your cup. This is a great way to sterilize your menstrual cup without boiling.
How do I clean my menstrual cup in public?
Keep in mind, your Pixie Cup is designed to stay put for up to 12 hours, but life happens and we all find ourselves in less-than-desirable circumstances! Our favorite option for this is our Pixie Cup Wipes. Don’t carry a purse? These packets are slim so you can slip one in your wallet or clutch no problem! Our wipes are biodegradable and flushable so you can flush and go.
What about menstrual cup stains and odor?
Sometimes no matter what we do, there is a lingering odor. Makes sense, right? Your menstrual cup has a dirty job! Making a quick odor-eliminating rinse with items you typically have in the house is an easy fix.
Stains happen everywhere — on our favorite shirts, shoes, bags and you guessed it: our menstrual cups. Getting rid of stains is possible! We also shouldn’t underestimate the power of the sun that we have every day. Set your cup directly in the sun for the day and give it a good sun-soaking before you put it away in the dark for a month!
When do I need to replace my menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is safe to use for up to 5+ years… technically. That being said, the care and keeping of your cup plays a heavy role. Make sure you’re sterilizing regularly and using the correct type of soap on your cup to prevent drying and cracking. If you notice any sort of cracking in your cup or the outside has become tacky to the touch, discard immediately. At this point, the silicone has been damaged and shouldn’t be used any longer. The most eco-friendly way of disposing of your menstrual cup is to burn it, believe it or not! Toss it into the woodstove or the next bonfire. It doesn’t produce toxic fumes and burns to a simple ash!
Our Pixie Cup Steamer takes the worry and work out of sterilizing your menstrual cup! Add water, place your cup, put on the lid + click the button. Now, put on some mascara and throw your hair in a top knot — go rock your day!
Bullet journaling has become a super common way of using a planner. Some could say it’s a fad due to its rapid increase in popularity but actually it’s been around for decades! It’s a wonderful method that keeps a record of everything you could ever want to toss at it including tracking your period. It captures the eye of both the methodical record keepers and planners as well as that of the creative, whimsical crowd too. It’s so easily tailored to your personality, so many people have fallen in love with it! Bullet journal period tracking is a great way to keep track of important data related to your flow so that you can spot trends and gain a better understanding of your cycle.
Logging your period is as common as it is important; whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy or monitoring what your hormones are up to. The data collected provides incredible information on what’s actually happening in your body. Maybe you’re already marking a small ‘x’ or asterisk next to the date on your calendar when your period starts so you sort of know when you can expect Aunt Flo next. A true period bullet journal, though, is a bit more detailed that logs all your period-related symptoms for several months. What’s the first thing your gynecologist asks you when they first walk in the appointment room? 😉
“What’s the first day of your last period?”
Bullet journal tracking allows for more detail
There are many apps you can download from your phone’s app store that can keep this data at your fingertips. However, sometimes apps are limited in what they’re able to track or can tend to fit us into a box… and you, girlfriend, are anything but cookie-cutter! With bullet journaling your period, you’re able to customize it to fit you, through and through. You’re able to document symptoms that are important to you: are you prone to migraines? Need more deodorant? Are you extra fatigued? You can track anything from your mood, to how you’re physically feeling, what foods you’re craving… or really just when you bleed and when you don’t.
Apart from the obvious, here are some bullet journal period tracking ideas:
Your mood or mental health
Times you’ve had sex
Track enough menstrual cycles to capture important patterns
Our periods are there for a reason! They communicate so many things that are actually happening in our bodies. If something is off within us (physical, emotional or mental!) our period is a place where it could show. Hormones have their hand in just about everything and where our period is hormone-driven, the slightest hitch will be shown there!
If you and your physician are trying to get to the bottom of a potential health issue, tracking your period and as many details as you can is important. After a few months, a pattern will be noticeable!
Does your period leave you frustrated? Is it inconsistent? The Period Repair Manual is an awesome resource when questions circle your mind or if you’d just like to know more about the role your cycle plays in your life. This book is a must for any menstruating women’s library!
Keep notes on how you handled your period
We all have period products we know and love. Then there are some of us that haven’t really questioned it, we’ve just always used them because our mom or role model told us to. Trying something different might be a little scary, but it could be well worth it!
Do you use a tampon + a pad during the heavy first few days of your cycle?Does it taper off and you’re able to just use a tampon? Do you find you may be more crampy on the days you use a tampon?
Maybe you should try a menstrual cup! A menstrual cup is a reusable silicone product that holds menses in the vagina and can be worn for up to 12 hours. Most women report that they have less cramping and pain when using a menstrual cup and can even forget they are on their period! Imagine that. These 10 women shared how switching to a cup made their lives better.
How do you track your period? What are some game-changers you’ve learned along the way? We created this handy tracker for each month if you’re looking for something quick, easy and hassle-free!
Leaks. This just might be the greatest fear that keeps people from trying a menstrual cup. What if my cup leaks?
Menstrual cups offer countless benefits over disposable menstrual products. Not only can they be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins, they also save you money and reduce waste. Many cup users also report positive side effects such as shorter periods and less cramping. But menstrual cups can take some getting used to, and if you’re a new user, it’s not uncommon to experience some menstrual cup leaking.
We hear from many women who are frustrated that their menstrual cup is leaking, even if it’s only been in for a few hours. They often think this means that menstrual cups just don’t work for them or won’t provide the hassle-free, leak-proof solution they’re looking for. But don’t give up yet! The solution to a leaking cup is often very simple.
Before you read any further, we want you to know one thing: It may take a little time to get used to your cup and learn how to use it. Sometimes leaks will happen during that adjustment time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the wrong cup or that you can’t use cups. It’s simply a learning period.
Factors such as how you fold or insert your cup, the position of your cervix, and where your cup sits in the vaginal canal can all affect how well it works. So, give yourself and your cup a little grace and keep trying until you find a leak-free system that works for you! We can promise that it will be 100% worth it.
That said, there are sometimes specific factors that may contribute to menstrual cup leaking. Take a look at these 10 reasons for menstrual cup leaks and learn how to fix them.
10 reasons for menstrual cup leaks
1. Your cup is too big
Yes, you read that right. Using a cup that is too big is the number-one cause of leaks among our customers. New cup users or people with a heavy flow often want to use the largest cup they can get. But a bigger cup isn’t always the answer. You also have to consider the diameter of the cup rim. If the cup is too big, it won’t fully open after it’s inserted. When that happens, you’ll have small indentations around the rim that can let leaks through. If leaks are a problem for you and you’re using a large or extra-large cup, trying going down in size. Another indication that your cup is too big is if it’s uncomfortable and feels like it’s putting too much pressure on your pelvic area (which can also make you feel like you have to pee).
2. Your cup is positioned incorrectly
Improper insertion is another common cause of menstrual cup leaking. The vaginal canal isn’t straight up and down; it’s angled toward the back. So as you insert your cup, make sure you direct it back toward the rear instead of straight up. It may also help to change your position while you insert the cup. Some women find it easier to squat, or stand with one leg on the toilet seat. Whichever position you choose, make sure your muscles are as relaxed, because tense muscles will make inserting your cup much harder.
3. Your cup didn’t open fully
Learning how to make your cup pop open can take a little practice. After your cup is inserted, run your finger around the rim. If you feel a fold or dip in the cup, this means it didn’t fully open. Simply twist the cup clockwise or counterclockwise and it should pop open. If that doesn’t work, you can try sliding the cup up and down a little bit as well, or use a different fold. Sometimes the the punch down fold doesn’t work as well as the C fold or 7 fold. Learn more about folds.
If you’re having trouble with leaks, a little water-based lubricant could go a long way! A smooth insertion will help your cup open easier. We created a Pixie Cup Lubricant that is perfect for your cup! It’s hypoallergenic, made with simple ingredients, and specifically formulated so it won’t cause any damage to your silicone cup.
If lubrication doesn’t help, maybe you have the opposite problem! Some women find that inserting their cup dry creates a more secure seal. Make sure your cup is nice and dry before inserting, and see if that takes care of leaks.
6. You’re not emptying your cup enough
We often hear from women who say their menstrual cup is leaking after only a few hours. You might be thinking, It hasn’t been 12 hours yet, and my cup is overflowing! Is something wrong?
Not at all! Your cup is safe for use for up to 12 hours, but sometimes — on your heavier days or if you have a heavier period — it might be necessary to empty it more often. This is completely normal. Just like tampons, a menstrual cup can last for different periods of time for different people. If you find that you’re having to empty your menstrual cup often, try a larger size, like our Pixie Cup XL.
7. You have strong pelvic floor muscles
While strong pelvic floor muscles offer many health benefits, they can also squeeze your cup, causing a half-full cup to overflow. If this is you, just change your cup just a little more often on your heavy flow days.
8. The air holes are blocked
The air holes around the rim of your cup are there to create a good seal, so if these are blocked, it’s possible that you could experience some leaks. If your cup is leaking, check and make sure the air holes are clean before inserting your cup. Our post about getting rid of the menstrual cup smell contains some tips for removing the buildup from air holes.
9. You have residual fluid on your vaginal walls
Sometimes you might think your cup is leaking, but it’s really just a bit of residual fluid from your vaginal walls. This is more likely to happen on the heavier days of your period. Just grab a wipe and clean out the extra residue so that it doesn’t leak out after you insert your cup.
10. Your cervix is tilted
For most people, the cervix is usually positioned centrally, which allows all fluid to flow directly into the cup. Your cervix does move during menstruation, however, and if your cervix is tilted or positioned against the wall of your vagina, this could cause the fluid to run down the vaginal wall. The same thing can happen if you have a tilted or retroverted uterus.
If you think your cervix isn’t lined up with the cup or it’s touching the rim after inserting, take your cup out and reinsert it. Try positioning the cup so it sits below your cervix, or opening the cup lower in the vagina to catch the extra flow.
Clearly, there are a lot of factors that affect how well your menstrual cup works. This may all seem overwhelming, but don’t get discouraged! After a few cycles with your menstrual cup, it will all become second nature, and you’ll never want to go back to pads and tampons! We’ve helped many cup users find the perfect fit, so if you’ve tried these suggestions and you’re still experiencing leaks, get in touch!
The way you fold your menstrual cup before inserting it can affect how it feels and sits inside your vaginal canal. You may also find certain folds easier to insert, especially when using a softer cup, such as our Pixie Cup Slim.
Different types of menstrual cup folds
When you first get that brand-new Pixie Cup in your hands, your first thought might be something like, “How in the world is this supposed to fit in there?!” We’re going to share with you the three most popular menstrual cup folding techniques.
If these don’t work out for you, our favorite menstrual cup gurus over at Put A Cup in It have an awesome page (with videos!) on 9 Great Menstrual Cup Folds.
Menstrual cup folding technique #1: The C fold
The C fold is the most common fold and often a favorite with our #PixieFamily. This is a popular fold because you can do it with one hand, and you can do it very quickly. However, this fold can easily pop open before you want it to, so it may not be the best fold for beginners. It also results in a larger point of insertion than the folds discussed below.
To create this fold, start with the cup pinched flat and then fold it in half so that it makes a “C” or “U” shape.
Menstrual cup folding technique #2: The 7 fold
Use both of your hands to pinch the rim of your Pixie Cup flat. Then, take one side and fold it diagonally towards the base of the cup so the rim looks like a 7.
This cup creates a fairly small point of insertion and also gives you more control over when you want the cup to pop open.
Menstrual cup folding technique #3: The punch-down fold
For this fold, start by holding the body of your cup in one hand. With your free hand, place your finger on the rim of the cup, then push it down and pinch it to hold the position. This fold might be the most comfortable because it has a small insertion point, which makes it great for beginners. It also tends to work well with softer cups.
Once the cup is inserted, give it a push at the base to make the rim pop open.
Inserting your menstrual cup
First of all, know that everyone is different. Inserting your Pixie Cup might be a bit awkward at first. Give yourself time to get familiar with your vaginal canal and figure out what works best for you.
Pick a fold and practice it a few times to get a good idea of how the cup will unfold once it’s inside you.
We recommend that you grab 2-3 pumps of Pixie Cup Lube (designed specifically for silicone cups) or another water-based lubricant and generously coat the rim and upper body of the cup.
Get into position
Now get into a comfortable position (you might find it easier to squat with your knees open the first few times) and insert the cup with one hand. Keep in mind that you aren’t inserting your cup straight up in a vertical line. Your vaginal canal slopes at an angle back towards your bum (try aiming for your tailbone).
Pop your cup open
Release the fold once the rim of the cup is securely inside the vaginal canal. After you release it, make sure the cup fully opens and seals around your vaginal canal to avoid leaks. You may feel a “pop” when the cup opens. Learn more about getting your menstrual cup to pop open.
Check the seal
Slide your finger all the way around the rim of the cup after it’s completely inserted. If you feel any dips, it means that you cup isn’t open, and might leak. Wiggling or twisting your cup should make the dip or fold fully open.
You’ll know that the cup is in the right position if you can’t feel it, it’s not leaking, and no part of the cup is sticking outside of you.
It might take a bit of trial and error to find the best insertion method for your body. But once you get it down, inserting your cup will be a piece of cake!
Watch Meg demonstrate the punch-down fold and the C-fold: