Before using my cup on my actual cycle, I went through a couple dry runs, and I found that it was a lot easier to do the dry runs a week or two before my period (around when ovulation is supposed to take place). I originally started by using the punch-down fold, but I found that it was difficult to get it to pop open. I thought it had popped open, so I walked around the house to get a feel for it, and then ten minutes later it violently popped open. It didn't hurt, but it was a very strange, unexpected sensation that made me jump a few feet in the air in surprise (try explaining that to your brother, lol). After that, I had a difficult time trying to get it out (mainly because I forgot to do just about everything I learned from here, lol, but also because there was a lot of friction), so I decided to wait a bit before trying again. The second time was much easier because there was less friction. I tried the punch-down with similar results as before, so I looked up more folds and tried the 7-fold, which worked much better. I'm still using it. I find that it opens right away and much more gently than the punch-down. Taking it out was a bit difficult again, but I could tell I was getting better at it.
To clean, I just use a natural soap (Trader Joe's Tea Tree Oil Bar Soap) and warm water, rinsing well. I do this before I hop in this shower, and then let it sit out while I'm in the shower. That way it's all clean and (mostly) dry by the time I'm out of the shower. I tried using a couple drops of Dr. Bronner's soap, but I only had the peppermint scented one at the time, and I found that even after a day of use and a few washings, it still smelled a bit like peppermint on the inside of the cup. O.o It eventually went away after a couple days, but it was very strange. Has anyone had that happen before? I rinsed well and even scrubbed with baking soda, and it only faded a bit. It didn't seem to harm anything, and it didn't happen with the lavender scented Dr. Bronner's I'd used before.
After my second cycle it was getting very stained, though, probably because I was using hot water to rinse. Oops. Didn't think about that one, lol. I'm also definitely seeing the design flaw in having a hollow stem on something that collects blood. The stem especially was looking rather gross. I tried scrubbing with baking soda, but it only worked to a point. I would have let it sit in the window for a week like others had suggested, but the only sunny window is in the kitchen or living room, and I'm pretty sure my boyfriend wouldn't have been cool with that. (He's squeamish when it comes to blood.) Instead, I soaked it overnight in half water/half 3% hydrogen peroxide, and it worked perfectly.
I find that after wearing my cup for two or three days, I need to give my vagina a break for an evening. I just start feeling a bit sore, but after an evening of not using it, I'm fine to use it again. Anyone else have this? Is this a beginners thing where my body just has to get used to it, or will I probably have to do this each period? I don't mind doing it, though. I actually kind of like it because I get to use my new cloth pads to their full potential, lol.