I’ve come across a fair number of menstrual cup nightmares. Let’s go over the worst things that can happen and solutions to keep in your back pocket in case one day it happens to you! Watch out for these menstrual cup dangers and common missteps and you’ll be one step closer to Period Nirvana.
Nightmare #1 | You dropped your cup in the toilet
First, where your are affects how you address this nightmare of a situation. In public? Well f*ck. This is a tough one. Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone or medical grade TPE so by all means YOU NEED TO FISH OUT THE $25+ CUP! Don’t flush your money down the toilet, that’s what soap and water (for your hands) and boiling water (for the cup) are for. If you’re home the easy solution is to boil the cup for 5-8 minutes and you’re golden.
Once you have fished your cup out of the toilet wipe it down with toilet paper. If you’re in public you can wrap and wrap and wrap in TP, put into your purse, and boil at home.
Your next nightmare scenario is handling your period in the meantime. I always keep an emergency tampon (which is now several years old, do tampons expire?) in my purse. It’s handy not only for this scenario but also if a friend is in need. I’d suggest if you’re reading this to throw one into your purse now if you have it for these reasons. While you’re stocking your purse for future scenarios throw in a few alcohol wipes from your first aid kit in there also. You could use these to wipe and sanitize your cup in the event of dropping it as well.
There is no good strategy for this except pray you have back up, your friend has backup, or… or….. use the hottest GD water you can get from the sink where you are and sanitze as best you can (this is NOT ideal.)
WORST WORST case? Flushing the cup. I’m not qualified to give you plumbing advice but I’d suggest crossing your fingers and toes it doesn’t clog the pipes if the toilet in question is your own.
ALTERNATE WORST CASE? It came out with a bowel movement and is floating in a sea of blood, urine, and feces. Still, it can be rescued with boiling for future use. Just think of the medical instruments that go in your body in all kinds of ways that are re-used after sterilizing. Not retrieving just means you face the plumbing bill at a later date.
Alternate scenario: Dropping your cup on the floor. Advice is the same, minus fishing from the bowl. Just beware of the bounce!
Nightmare #2: Your wore your cup over 12 hours
That cup was so nice and comfy you forgot about being on your period. You wake by sitting straight up because you realize that your cup has been inside you since YESTERDAY morning. You forgot to remove and wash before bed. This is a menstrual cup danger one should always try their best to avoid, but if it happens:
Don’t immediately jump to thoughts of TSS. Toxic Shock Syndrome from menstrual cups is extraordinarily rare and so far the cases are connected to instances where the person wearing had their cup inside far, far longer than 24 hours. And not to promote wearing your cup for longer than you should, but my favorite reddit TIFU (today I f-ed up) is the one about a woman who accidentaly left her cup in for 14 days and lived to tell the tale. The medical grade silicone is non-porous and so the chances of developing those bacteria are low, even at 24 hours.
Calmly remove the cup (which may be, sorry to tell you, a bit extra smelly by now ) and wash it well. If it makes you feel better you can boil before inserting again. Find this happening on the regular? Try setting alarms on your phone to make sure you’re removing your cup every 12 hours at minimum.
Again – do not wear your cup over 12 hours but if you do, don’t panic unless you experience symptoms. If you experience flu like symptoms or fever immediately seek medical attention.
Nightmare #3 | Your cup flips upside down inside you
Yes, yes this CAN happen. It’s happened to me now twice. How? If your menstrual cup is about as wide as it is short and is also more round than bullet shaped the cup can get turned upside down. The physical activity or lack thereof doesn’t seem to matter, it can happen to a couch potato like me or someone doing their Yoga inversions. You may discover this with a gushing leak (worst case) or only when you’re reaching inside for removal and can’t find the cup’s base. I couldn’t find my cup at all because my fingertips were INSIDE of the cup!
You have a decision to make based on where you cup has landed. If it’s totally upside down the easiest way to remove is to grab the rim, usually facing up, and slowly work the cup down. It’s more uncomfortable than a textbook removal because it’s the widest point first.
Your other option is to try and turn the cup from the inside back to normal. This is easier if it’s more “sideways” than upside down. Try manipulating the cup to turn and the remove as usual.
IF YOU CAN’T REACH THE CUP at all you will want to try squatting and then reaching. Usually this gives you a shorter vaginal canal. You can also attempt to bear the cup down with your vaginal muscles until you can reach.
DO NOT PANIC in any scenario. The cup can’t get lost even if you can’t reach it.
Nightmare #4: Your stem breaks during removal
Good news, your cup can work for you even without a stem! First, you should contact the brand of your cup to let them know. It’s likely they will offer a replacement if you’d like one. Many people remove the stem from their cups for comfort reasons but if you need the stem definitely contact the manufacturer.
If your cup is too slippery or hard to remove without the stem you can try adding a square of toilet paper to your finger tips that may aid your grip on removal.
A stem snapping is not good but don’t forget that you should be removing your cup by pinching the base and breaking the seal!
Scenario #5: VAGINA on Fire
You fixed a fantastic meal and spiced things up with diced chili peppers. Later, you removed your cup only to find your VAGINA IS NOW ON FIRE!
This happens far more frequently than you would think. Unfortunately the solutions for a vagina on fire aren’t there for you like your mouth (milk or yogurt) or for topical skin (rubbing alcohol.) If you’re lucky enough to have a bidet you can sit and let that water hit your burning vagina for relief. If no bidet, consider a wet washcloth or a bath. Or just wait it out. Consider this painful scenario the next time you’re chopping chilis on your period (wear gloves.) Word to the wise, people have also experienced vaginal burning after applying topical creams like ICY/HOT then removing their cups.
The lessons learned?
Be sure to keep a good grip on your menstrual cup’s base, always keep a spare liner or tampon in your purse and alcohol wipes, and wash the heck out of your hands if you’re ever chopping spicy foods!