Yes, You Can Use a Menstrual Cup with Your IUD – Your FAQs Answered
So you’ve always used a menstrual cup but you’re thinking about getting an IUD. Or, maybe you already have an IUD but you’d like to try to use a menstrual cup.
Either way, you’ve probably wondered if it’s even possible (or safe) to use both an IUD and menstrual cup together at the same time.
To clear up any confusion, here’s a quick look at how IUDs and menstrual cups work, how they can be used together, and a few explanations for some of the most common concerns.
Can you use a menstrual cup with an IUD?
Yes! You can absolutely use an IUD and a menstrual cup at the same time – as long as both devices are inserted and used correctly.
How can you use a menstrual cup and IUD together?
Before using your menstrual cup and IUD together, it’s important to get comfortable and familiarize yourself with each on its own.
Get comfortable with your IUD
An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic with a string attached that is placed inside of your uterus to prevent pregnancy.
There are two different types of IUDs: hormonal and copper.
- Hormonal IUDs are coated with progestin (a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone) which helps to prevent pregnancy by partially stopping ovulation, thinning the uterine lining, and thickening the cervical mucus.
- Copper IUDs on the other hand are similar in shape, but rather than being coated in progestin, are instead wrapped in a copper wire which is toxic for sperm.
All IUDs must be inserted and taken out by a doctor and can even last up to 10 years inside the body. Most women with IUDs will continue to have their period, although it might be irregular, lighter, or heavier than normal depending on the type. Intermenstrual bleeding can also be common in those with IUDs.
Once inserted, IUDs are painless and generally cannot be “felt”. The only thing that you may be able to “feel” or “touch” is the end of the small string that runs from the device to the vagina.
IUDs are perfectly safe, however, there are some risk factors to familiarize yourself with – especially if you plan to also use a menstrual cup alongside your IUD.
- The chance that your body may naturally reject and expel your IUD within the first 3-6 months.
- Increased cramping and heavier than normal menstrual bleeding.
- The risk of improper insertion by your doctor, which could lead to expulsion.
After your IUD is inserted, you may feel some initial discomfort or cramping. This is normal and should go away within a few hours or days for most women.
Get comfortable with your menstrual cup
A menstrual cup is a cup-shaped device with a stem that is inserted into the vagina to collect fluid during your period. Typically made of either hypo-allergenic rubber or silicone, menstrual cups are perfectly safe, re-usable, and a cost-effective alternative to pads and tampons.
Upon insertion into the lower part of the vagina, the rim of the menstrual cup creates a “seal” around the vaginal wall. This allows blood to be collected into the cup without leaking or spilling everywhere. When it’s ready to be emptied, all you have to do is simply pinch the rim to release the seal and slowly take it out of your vagina to avoid spillage.
When used correctly, menstrual cups feel painless, do not leak, and should not extend beyond the vaginal canal.
Overall, menstrual cups are safe, effective, and harmless. However, like other feminine hygiene products, there are a few risk factors to consider.
- Chance of irritation or discomfort if the cup is the wrong size.
- Potential spills and/or leakage due to the cup being too full or inserted incorrectly.
If you’ve never used a menstrual cup before, experiment with a few insertion methods first in order to find one that you are comfortable with. It’s okay if it takes a bit of practice!
Answers to your IUD and menstrual cup concerns
Now that you’re comfortable with both IUDs and menstrual cups, you can then start using them at the same time. If you’ve never done this before, you will no doubt have some questions.
To help, here are some answers to three of the most common concerns about using a menstrual cup with an IUD.
No, your menstrual cup cannot pull out your IUD
Many women worry that using a menstrual cup could potentially pull out or dislodge their IUD. Specifically, they are afraid of the following scenarios:
- That the string on their IUD could somehow become caught in the menstrual cup’s rim, causing it to be dislodged or disturbed.
- That the menstrual cup’s suction is so strong that it could pull out the IUD.
While these may seem like reasonable concerns, the fact of the matter is that there is little to no evidence of menstrual cups being a risk factor for IUD expulsion.
However, if you do have an IUD, it is still important to make sure that you are using your menstrual cup properly to prevent complications. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Check the positioning of your IUD string. If your IUD string is long enough to be felt, make sure to check its positioning while inserting your menstrual cup. Ideally, it should be resting either slightly above or on the inside of the cup – i.e. not caught in the rim.
- Check the positioning of your menstrual cup. Most menstrual cups are intended to sit lower in the vagina, and may not even touch your IUD strings. To give yourself some peace of mind, make sure that you are comfortable with your menstrual cup and how it is positioned inside of your body. Again – this may take some practice!
- Remove your menstrual cup properly. Whether you have an IUD or not, menstrual cups should always be removed by pinching the rim to release the suction, and then gently taken out without force. Never remove a menstrual cup by pulling it out with its stem – especially if you have an IUD.
No, your menstrual cup cannot impact the effectiveness of your IUD
Another common concern is that a menstrual cup could cause your IUD to be less effective at preventing pregnancy – and this could not be further from the truth!
Remember, your IUD and menstrual cup sit separately inside of your uterus and vagina. Using a menstrual cup will not cause your IUD to stop working, and your IUD will not prevent your menstrual cup from collecting fluid.
The only way that a menstrual cup could potentially impact the effectiveness of your IUD is in the unlikely event that your IUD becomes dislodged due to menstrual cup misuse. However, this is extremely rare and should not happen in cases where the menstrual cup is being inserted and taken out properly.
No, your IUD cannot interfere with your menstrual cup
Even though you may be able to feel your IUD string while inserting your menstrual cup, it’s important to remember that these are two separate devices that, when used properly, should not interfere with each other.
If you are still concerned about using a menstrual cup alongside your IUD, you might find the following tips to be helpful.
- After your IUD is inserted, give your body three months before using a menstrual cup. Everyone with an IUD runs the risk that their body will naturally “expel” or “reject” it. This can happen due to certain factors like age, IUD positioning, and medical history. However, once you’ve had your IUD for three months problem-free, your risk of expulsion is greatly reduced. To avoid complicating this process any further, let your body adjust for three months prior to using your menstrual cup.
- Have your IUD string cut if it feels too long. If you have tried to use your menstrual cup but you feel like your IUD strings are too long, it is possible to have your gynecologist give them a trim. Simply let them know ahead of your next check-up and they can shorten them for you.
- Let your doctor know that you plan to use a menstrual cup. When you are having your IUD inserted, it’s always a good idea to give your doctor a heads up that you plan to use a menstrual cup while on your period. Your doctor will then be able to give you more personalized information about when the best time to use your menstrual cup will be and how to use it with your specific brand of IUD.