Leaks. This just might be the greatest fear that lurks in the mind of the Pixie Cup user wannabe. What if my cup leaks? What can I do then?
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.
Why is my menstrual cup leaking?
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 positioned incorrectly
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.
2. Your cup didn’t open fully
After your cup is inserted, slide your finger around the rim of the cup to make sure that it’s popped open. 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 the cup 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.
3. Your cup is the wrong size
If your cup is too small for you, it might not create a tight seal and instead slide down in your vaginal canal. This could allow fluid to leak around the edge of the cup. Another less common option is sometimes the cup could be too big, and not completely unfolding. We have several different cup sizes to make sure you have options!
4. You aren’t using lubricant
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.
5. You need to insert your cup dry
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 … check it out!
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. It also might help to let your cup sit below your cervix, or to open 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!
Want to learn more about menstrual cups? Our weekly newsletter also offers tons of cup tips. Sign up now and you’ll receive 10% off your first Pixie Cup purchase!
This content was originally written on April 15, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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