5 reasons your menstrual cup is leaking and what to do about it

- min read

A leaking menstrual cup is probably among the top three of the biggest menstrual cup worries. That and the concern that a menstrual cup may get stuck inside the vagina, it can't.  Some may be apprehensive about having to empty their menstrual cup in a public bathroom (also, not as bad as you imagine it to be).  In reality, leakage is similar or lower for menstrual cups than for disposable pads or tampons.1 

First of all, it is important to say that very occasional menstrual cup leaks have happened to the best of us. In most cases, it’s not the cup’s fault.  It just takes a few tips to know how to insert your Ruby Cup correctly. Not using the right menstrual cup size is a common reason for a menstrual cup to leak, but with our money back guarantee, you can simply switch size or even get a full refund if you feel like you’re not using the right size or the right cup brand.

5 common reasons your menstrual cup is leaking and what to do about it

1. Your menstrual cup didn’t open properly and so didn’t create a full seal 

This is one of the main reasons for leaking. The menstrual cup will only work if it is able to “pop” open fully after insertion. This is when the suction is formed so that the menstrual fluid stays inside the cup. 

   

How to get your menstrual cup to pop open:

A good trick to get the period cup to pop open is to rotate it after insertion and move it slightly from left to right, or push one side of the cup with your index finger. 

Then test it! Once it is in place, carefully try to pull the Ruby Cup downward. If the vacuum has been created, you will literally feel it. It will only move a little before you’ll feel the pressure of the suction. It will be very hard to remove without breaking the seal first. 

Tip 1: You can run your finger around the edge to see if you can feel a crease which is preventing the cup from opening fully and creating a vacuum. 

Tip 2: Try a different fold. If the C-fold doesn’t work for you, try the Punch-down or 7 Fold.

Tip 3: Don't insert your Ruby Cup as high as a tampon. It may be a habit from the good old tampon days, so no judgment here if this is what you've been doing, but your cup will work best if it's inserted lower in the vagina. It will open up below the cervix, avoiding leaks, your cup will have more space to do the famous “pop” and open up, creating the seal that is the key to a successful menstrual cup life.⠀Though placed lower in the vagina, your Ruby Cup should still be fully inserted in the vagina. And if the stem is peeking out, simply trim it.

Tip 4: If you're using an IUD with your menstrual cup, ask your gynaecologist to clip the strings shorter. This means that they will hang directly into your menstrual cup. Sometimes if they sit on the rim, they prevent the suction from being created.

2. Your Ruby Cup is leaking because it’s overflowing

If you have a very heavy period, your Ruby Cup might be overflowing. On heavy days, you might not be able to go for the full 12 hours without having to empty it. Even though the Ruby Cup Medium has three times the capacity of a super tampon (34ml vs. 10ml), your flow may be more than that. If you have a very heavy period, be sure to check if your Ruby Cup needs changing every 4-6 hours.

Solution: If you’re not already using a Ruby Cup Medium, consider switching to this larger size. If you already use a Ruby Cup Medium, look into a menstrual cup with an even larger capacity, or empty it more frequently if possible.

3. Your menstrual cup is not correctly positioned

During menstruation, your estrogen levels drop which may lead your cervix to change position. Your cervix also opens slightly and swells so that the uterus lining and mucus are able to flow out more easily. The vagina may also tilt a little to one side or move downwards.

The cervix sits in the vaginal canal, leaving a little space to both sides. So when you insert your menstrual cup, make sure that you don’t push it up too high. In that case, it would pop open next to the cervix instead of under it.

If this happens, the menstrual fluid can flow past the cup instead of collecting inside it. This will lead to you having leaks even when your menstrual cup is not full.

Solution: Run your finger around your cup and try to feel if the cervix is outside of it. If so, take the cup out and re-insert it. Letting your Ruby Cup pop open further down in the vaginal canal can also reduce the risk of the cup opening next to the cervix instead of below.

4. Bowel movements can cause short leaks

Another common leaking situation is when opening your bowels to defecate or poo. Being constipated or having diarrhea during the first few days of your period are common symptoms, so it is important to know that your bowel movements can also move your menstrual cup a little. But don’t worry, the Ruby Cup won’t pop out as tampons can. What might happen, especially if the cup is already pretty full, is that it overflows. So when you wipe, you will see menstrual fluid. This is from the pressure of the bowel movement and not a “real” leak.

5. You have strong pelvic floor muscles

Strong pelvic floor muscles are important and have a lot of positive health benefits. However, if they’re too strong, they can also squeeze the walls of the menstrual cup which is the equivalent to you pinching it just before removing it. This can cause the seal to break, and the period cup to overflow if it is already fairly full.

Solution: Try a menstrual cup that is a bit firmer. In terms of firmness, Ruby Cup is in the medium range, making it an all-rounder for most vaginas and an easy menstrual cup for first-time users. But if you have very strong pelvic floor muscles you might be better off with a firmer menstrual cup. Check out some menstrual cup groups online to get more information on other, firmer menstrual cups. 

Do you have leaks just after emptying your menstrual cup?  Maybe it’s a fake leak.

If you notice a leak just after emptying your menstrual cup it may be a fake or wiping leak. If you do get fake leaks these are likely to happen during the heavier days of your period just after emptying, rinsing and re-inserting your menstrual cup. There may be leftover drops of water on the outside of your cup that mix with some menstrual fluid from the walls of your vagina. The next time you sit down or walk, it can smudge your underwear. It can look like a leaking stain, but actually it’s just the left-over water drops from the rinsed menstrual cup. Just make sure you dab yourself dry properly after you’ve inserted a freshly rinsed menstrual cup. 

Most people with periods have experienced leakages at some point no matter which menstrual product they use. But as we said at the beginning of this article, statistically you are less likely to have a leak using a menstrual cup than with other products. Plus the increased capacity means that you can go up to 12h without having to empty your Ruby Cup.

 

Date last reviewed: March 2020

_________________________________

Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab
 Written by Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab

Dr Alice Byram was born in England to a French-British family. Following on from a degree in Spanish from the University of Cambridge, she went to Spain to study medicine. On her return to the UK, she worked in Emergency Medicine for several years before recently returning to Barcelona. 

 

1Van Eijk AM, Zulaika G, Lenchner M, et al. Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health. 2019;4(8):e376–e393. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30111-2

 


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