Popping the cherry, swiping the V card — whatever name you call it, Virginity with a capital V is huge in many cultures and people are often judged regarding it. This can cause a lot of pressure, especially for people with a vagina and the moment they get their period.
Why? Because some feel like they might not be able to use the period product they want out of fear of “losing their virginity”. Or fear of being judged as “not being virgins anymore”, simply because of the period product they chose to use.
Here at Ruby Cup, we want to respect everyone’s experiences and desires regarding sex, and for some people, virginity is an important thing to maintain. But nevertheless it is just as important to be able to use the menstrual care product that fits your needs and you feel comfortable with.
That’s why we’ll have a closer look at virginity and using a menstrual cup with some step-by-step tips on how to insert a menstrual cup easily for the first time.
Understanding the concept of virginity
What exactly does virginity mean anyway? It might seem simple, but as we start to dig, this question looks a lot more complicated.
As we start to examine virginity, we can realize that this category is created by our culture, not an absolute. No one can define virginity completely, but we do know that society and the concept of virginity have added much more to it than a membrane in the vagina.
On the surface, a virgin is a person who has never had sex. At least that’s what pop culture says. But: what is sex—is it penetration? What about oral sex? Obviously, the idea of how to lose your virginity doesn’t include everyone’s experience of having sex. Some people have sex and are never penetrate or penetrate another person. What about pleasuring a partner with hands? These are all things that could be defined as sex but are not typically when discussing the concept of virginity.
Your questions about virginity and menstrual cups actually circle much closer to the issue with the broken hymen. So before giving tips, let’s have a look at the hymen first.
Menstrual cups and hymens
The most common understanding of “being a virgin” is an intact hymen. That’s why many menstrual cup first time users are afraid that introducing an internal period product will break their hymen, which is often understood as “losing virginity”. As mentioned above, this concept has a couple of flaws, and so does the idea of “breaking your hymen”. Time to clear up a couple of misconceptions about the hymen:
1) The hymen does not seal the vagina
The hymen is a membrane that sits at the opening of the vagina and partially covers it. It’s important to highlight that it only partially covers it because when the person starts menstruating, the menstrual fluid has to be able to pass through the vagina.
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions that the hymen fully “seals” the opening of the vagina. But if that were the case, then “virgins” couldn’t menstruate, right!?
2) Different people, different hymens
The hymen can look very different from person to person. The membrane can have many different shapes, some covering more of the opening of the vagina than others. Some are born with a small er hymen (meaning it doesn’t cover as much of the vagina), and some are even born without a hymen!
3) The hymen doesn’t have to be broken
As you learned above, the hymen is a membrane that partially covers the vagina. It does not have to be popped, ripped or poked. It’s pretty elastic and if your body feels ready to have sex, the penis should simply be able to slide past the hymen, stretching it, but not ripping it.
Same thing when you insert your period product. When you’re careful enough, you will simply be able to push it past your membrane.
So, when we are asked if a menstrual cup can break the hymen, our answer is normally pretty long due to the amount of virginity myth-busting that has to be done before.
Does using a menstrual cup affect virginity?
No. You only lose your virginity if you have sex. Using a menstrual cup can interfere with the hymen, as can a tampon. The hymen can also “break” ( as you know from above, it would be correct to say stretched) from doing yoga, dancing, riding a bike – simply living a normal life.
If your hymen was stretched or ripped (it only rips when not being gentle), because of anything else than having sex, it does not mean you have lost your virginity in the most common understanding of the concept of virginity. So again, that is why using a menstrual cup will not take away your virginity.
Can virgins use a menstrual cup?
Some people worry that if they are a virgin, they physically can’t use a menstrual cup. That is not true—anyone can use a menstrual cup, or should at least feel like they are able to give it a try and see if it’s their cup of tea. The type of menstrual product that a person uses shouldn’t be dependent on their status of virginity or their age, but rather on their needs.
For example, if you have a heavy flow, that’s an important consideration in choosing your menstrual product. The Ruby Cup Medium, for instance, can hold three times of what a super tampon or a pad can hold. So if you have a very heavy period, you should be able to use the product that is most convenient for you.
And since trying something new is always a little bit scary, we want to make it easier for you. That’s why all of our menstrual cups come with a money back guarantee. If you don’t feel comfortable with your Ruby Cup within 4 months of your purchase you can either change the size or get a full refund.
Tips on how to insert and remove a menstrual cup if you’re a virgin
At Ruby Cup, we want everyone to feel safe and comfortable, whether they define themselves as virgins or not. Menstrual cups are not just for people that have stretched or “broken” a small membrane in their bodies, whether through sex, physical activity or any other. They are for everybody who wants to have a comfortable, worry-free and eco-friendly period.
Like mentioned above, the hymen does not fully cover the opening of the vagina, so the menstrual cup does not have to pierce through anything. That’s why you should make sure that you are gentle and insert the menstrual cup slowly, never by force.
How to insert a menstrual cup for the first time:
1. Make sure you have clean hands
2. Relax. A good time to try a menstrual cup for the first time could be after a hot shower or bath
3. Search for a menstrual cup fold you feel comfortable with. We would recommend the Punchdown fold or the 7-fold. These folds make the cup small at the tip so that you can easily push it past the hymen.
4. Use water-based lube or coconut oil to help insertion. Once you have folded your cup, grip it firm between your fingers and rub some lube on the rim and walls of the menstrual cup.
5. Then squat down or put one foot up on a stool and remember to relax. You can even try inserting it lying down on your bed.
6. Gently pull the labia apart with one hand and introduce the menstrual cup slowly into the vagina. Make sure you insert it in the direction of the rectum, so backwards instead of upwards like a tampon, following the natural shape of your vaginal canal.
7. It might help to wiggle it slowly from side to side while applying light pressure, pushing it in.
Once the menstrual cup is inserted, make sure it has fully opened. More tips on that here.
How to remove a menstrual cup if you’re a virgin:
1. Make sure you have washed your hands.
2. Relax and get into the same position you used during insertion or simply squat in the shower or in the bathroom.
3. Gently separate the labia with one hand, while reaching for the base of the cup with the other.
4. If you can only reach the stem of the cup, use it as a guide to finding the base of the cup. You might have to introduce your index and middle finger and thumb a few centimetres, but that is ok.
5. You can also press the cup down with your stomach/kegel muscles while reaching for the stem or the base of the cup.
6. Never just pull at the stem, it is absolutely important that you release the suction before pulling the cup out.
7. To release the suction pinch the base of the cup firmly or reach one finger high up along the wall of the cup while pressing it against the wall of your vaginal canal, pushing it downwards.
8. Hold the pinch so that the suction does not reform and then pull the cup gently out of your vagina and empty the menstrual fluid in the toilet.
You can start using a menstrual cup as soon as you get your period
To start using a menstrual cup you don’t need to have reached a certain age or status. As well as losing virginity, many first-time menstrual cup users are worried that using a menstrual cup could stretch their vagina. Rest assured, it will not. Vaginas are a pretty awesome, flexible and stretchy organ. They have the capability of squeezing a tiny human being out of them, so they are extremely stretchy and flexible. So using a menstrual cup will not stretch your vagina or change its size.
Discussing Hymens and Virginity in East Africa
For every Ruby Cup purchased, we donate another one to girls and women who don’t have access to safe menstrual care products. During the training session on how to use a menstrual cup, we also discuss virginity in our social impact programs in East Africa.
Because of the cultural importance virginity holds in some communities, prior to getting involved in the community, we investigate whether menstrual cups are accepted because we never want girls to be shamed for using our products.
But once a community understand that the need to address safe and dignified periods for all of their girls and women they welcome the use of Ruby Cups with open arms. Gone are the scepticism and doubt, and together with partners on the ground, we set up workshops with a positive long-term impact in mind. We discussing things like the difference between virginity and a “broken” hymen, and we make sure that our classrooms are safe spaces for girls to ask questions.
Like mentioned above, we think you should be able to use the period product you feel comfortable with. No matter if you have had sex already or not, it is your body and your choice to take care of it however you want to.