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Dina Clare
As veteran cup users know, there are some things that are said by the cup companies that just aren't true. Maybe they're saying them to cover their butts. Maybe they're saying them to sell more product. Maybe they're just... saying them, and we don't really know why. Whatever the situation is, these myths can be off-putting for some potential users and can even make people think they're using their cups incorrectly when they're working just fine.

Here are some of the myths that I've seen.

Myth: You must replace your cup every year/every five years/every X years.

Reality: You probably don't.

Cups that are made from silicone could last indefinitely. Cups that are made of latex will start degrading before cups that are made of silicone, but they still have a long shelf life. If you've passed whatever magic point your particular cup company says and your cup is still working well for you, I wouldn't worry.

Myth: You must use our branded wash/tablets to clean your cup.

Reality: There are many ways to safely clean your cup.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with using a product like Diva Wash or Lunette Washing Liquid or what have you, they work about as well as any mild soap or "intimate wash" would. There are also other ways to clean your cup. Some people use diluted vinegar, isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. (Please note that there are some concerns about using bases and acids (such as hydrogen peroxide and vinegar) to clean silicone. However, the occasional soak in hydrogen peroxide probably won't make your cup wither away to dust.</a>) You can boil your cup in water - I've seen companies quote anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes for this. And some of the brave among us just use water!

Myth: Your cup must sit at the bottom of your vagina, way below your cervix.

Reality: Your vagina may vary.

Since a cup isn't inserted at the same angle or to the same place as a tampon, most of the cup companies use diagrams like this to show where the cup should be placed:

(brazenly stolen from the Diva Cup website)

In fact, some cervices are right at the entrance of the vagina when their owners are menstruating. In addition, some people's cups "ride up" so that they're right around the cervix even if the cervix is higher up. As long as it's not leaking and you're not experiencing any discomfort, there's no problem if your cup and your cervix are right next to each other.

Myth: There are only one or two ways you can fold your cup when you are inserting it.

Reality: There are at least eight different folds you can use. And probably more, if you use your imagination!

For some reason (probably due to lack of space in the pamphlets and lack of knowledge), the cup companies only ever show one or two folding methods (usualy the C fold and the punchdown fold). While these folds work for many (for example, this poll seems to suggest that the C fold and the punchdown fold are the most commonly used folds), they are wrong, wrong, wrong for others. I suggest using the folding methods tag to find one that works for you if you can't get the cup in or get it to open up properly.

Myth: You have to rotate your cup to make it seal correctly.

Reality: Rotating your cup is only one way to make sure it's sealed.

A couple of the cup companies (and Diva is notorious for this) say that in order to get a proper seal, you have to rotate your cup. While this is an excellent way to ensure you have a seal, it's not the only way. Kegel exercises or swirling your finger around the outside of your cup are both ways to ensure that you have a good seal. Again, if it's not leaking and you're not uncomfortable, you're fine.

Myth: You can't use any lubricant with your cup.

Reality: Water-based lubes are fine, but they must be water based.

What the crap? I was just browsing through the Diva Cup instructions and found this one. And I quote: "Some lubricant ingredients can be damaging to the silicone, so we suggest using only water as a lubricant! Otherwise, the silicone may be compromised and may ruin the cup." Funny, because LadyCup actually SENT lube with my girlfriend's cup!

Water-based lubes are safe for use with cups, but make sure that the lube you are using only contains water-based lubricants. Silicone-based lubricants will degrade silicone, and oil based lubricants probably will. There are also some concerns about glycerin in lubricants as a yeast infection/thrush risk, although your mileage may vary on that one.

And, of course, there's nothing wrong with using water as a lubricant if that's what you're comfortable with!

Myth: The size guidelines are hard and fast.

Reality: Not really.

As was mentioned above about cup position, vaginas do vary. Some women do not have as toned pelvic floor musicles as others. And some women have super-toned muscles, even after vaginal childbirth. In addition, the guidelines vary wildly between companies. (Diva, for example, says that women should buy the larger cup if they are over 30 or have been pregnant. But LadyCup suggests that women over 25 should use their larger size.) There are also other factors to take into account, such as the height of your cervix and the heaviness of your flow.

(As a side note, while researching for this I discovered that Lunette appears to have revised their sizing guidelines to reflect what I'm talking about here. If any Lunette staffers are reading this - kudos!)

Myth: Menstrual cups can only be used when you're on your period.

Reality: As long as you remove and clean every 12 hours or so, you'll probably be fine.

In countries where medical approval (through government bodies like the FDA or TGA) is required, menstrual cups are usually submitted and approved as menstrual collection devices only. As a result, this is the only use that they can endorse. However, there are folks (including some in this community) who use their cups "off-label" to catch discharge during other parts of the month. While we are not medical doctors (well, except for elizabby) and we can't really endorse the safety of doing this, but we can say that people do it and without any obvious ill effects.

This is by far not an exhaustive list, so if you can think of any other myths, please mention them in the comments!
froggie3dsfroggie3ds on May 24th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
Silicone lube actually isn't compatible with silicone cups (or sex toys). Water based lubes are perfectly fine though.

The recommendations on replacing cups after a year, 5 years or any other arbitrary time frame has lapsed just seem to be a way to sell more cups. Grrrrr.
Sleepy Kidsleepykidd on May 24th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
Wow, great list! I can't think of anything else to add, but I'm still a cup newb :) It will definitely be an asset to people who are considering using a cup.
Decemberherdecember on May 24th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
FANTASTIC post. Thanks for writing this!

One thought: You might not want to hotlink to the DivaCup picture, since that's using their bandwidth. I recommend Imageshack.us for fast and easy transloading.
neurotic_orchidneurotic_orchid on May 24th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
Awesome post!
zinodine on May 24th, 2009 06:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! This is an awesome post! I'll let you know if I think of anything else, but I'm rather new at this, so I may not.
Blogging Sarabloggingsara on May 24th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
the one about getting a new cup every year is the most ridiculous claim. the divacup is made of medical grade silicone i.e. the type of silicone they use for transplants. do people who have transplanted medical devices made with medical grade silicone have to replace their device every year? no.
Blogging Sarabloggingsara on May 24th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
btw, this should go in the comm memories.
melissa569melissa569 on May 25th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
This is a GREAT post, very helpful for new users. Thank you!
There must be something theremalomonster on May 25th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
Reality: Rotating your cup is only one way to make sure it's sealed.
Ha! I initially mis-read this as "Rotating your cup IS THE ONLY way"

I can NEVER rotate my cup when it's properly sealed, I know the seal isn't there if I can!
zombiebaitvampireborg on July 20th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yup, this is why you ALWAYS READ THE FAQ. :D I just got a Diva yesterday and was wondering about the turning thing - "I can HEAR it seal, wouldn't that just break it?", and now I know. Thanks.
temperfortwotemperfortwo on August 13th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
This is awesome, Thanks!
atalanta0jessatalanta0jess on November 1st, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
I know this is a old post...but thanks for making it! I hadn't seen the link about cleaning solutions before. I've been using h202 for its excellent stain removal properties...I'll have to rethink that.

One thing I have always thought was ridiculous about the sizing thing is how much it varies between companies. A post-pregnancy woman can't use a small sized divacup, supposedly. But then she should use a large sized ladycup, which is very similar in size to a small diva, if I'm not mistaken. Crazy cup manufactureres.
ジャねこ]: Chemisttheinfamousj on December 11th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
I know this is an old comment, but the chemist in me just had to reply.

H2O2 is a peroxide (neither and acid nor a base) and is an excellent stain remover. Oxyclean is also a peroxide. While laboratory grade hydrogen peroxide is incredibly damaging, the stuff that you buy in the store is a 3 percent solution. While it isn't ideal to drink, it is perfectly fine for contact with a silicone Diva. I wouldn't use it on a latex Keeper.

In layman's terms: Think about it this way ... the bottle the H2O2 is sold in is made of a more reactive material than medical grade silicone, and the bottle has constant exposure to its contents. And yet the bottle is still there, structurally intact.

So fear not the H2O2 use if you have a Diva.
atalanta0jessatalanta0jess on December 11th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
I don't know...My personal experience actually has been that using the h202 made my cup kind of gummy or greasy feeling for some reason.
ジャねこ]theinfamousj on December 11th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
Go with what you know. Aside from there being the possibility of an additive in the silicone (to make it stiffer, for example), it could also be that you have access to a stronger hydrogen peroxide that is more than 3%, or even that something has been added to the hydrogen peroxide to keep it from breaking down.

At any rate, I steer clear of peroxides. Nasty chemicals, those. Great stain removers, though.
quietasamoussequietasamousse on June 4th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Old post but very useful.
I was wondering about cup position, some made it sound like the base had to be at your entrance, and the stem completely out of you... that sounded very uncomfortable. At the same time I doubt I'm going to put it so far in (I have a high cervix) that it's actually at the entrance of the cervix. We'll just see I guess. Glad to know I won't be doing it wrong.

Some of the websites seem to be saying replace your cup every how many years... because it'll be stained and look ugly. I guess that's why I wish there were more coloured options.
ジャねこ]: Chemisttheinfamousj on December 11th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
Just wanted to post a chemistry update for those who care. (I am a chemist.)

Hydrogen peroxide is neither an acid nor a base. It is a peroxide. The engineer who originally provided this information was making a list of three things: acids, bases, and peroxides. He did so with ambiguous punctuation which may lead one to think that hydrogen peroxide was either an acid or a base. 'Tis not, I'm afraid. Peroxides are rather nasty chemicals as chemicals go. And fickle. They lose potency rather quickly.

Also, the pH for vinegar (while it is an acid as it does have a dissociative proton) is more neutral than the natural vaginal environment of some people. I highly doubt that a cup washed in straight vinegar (which is actually only 3 percent acetic acid in 97 percent water to begin with), or even further diluted, will cause any harm to the silicone.
carpevilcarp on October 13th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I know this is late, but I want to add one!

I have heard some people say they think the cup caused yeast infections. I'm pretty sure this isn't true (unless maybe they weren't cleaning it properly). But the cup can definitely irritate yeast infections! I get chronic infections, so I have to pay attention to see if I'm getting signs of an infection when it's time to use the cup. Sometimes, I decide to use it anyway, even though I know it will cause irritation, because it's better than dealing with a pad.