The focus is usually put on the insertion of the menstrual cup but what goes in has to go out so let’s talk about how to use the stem during the removal. Many women think the stem is there to pull the cup entirely out. It’s not exactly true.
Let’s make things clear; you shouldn’t remove the cup by pulling on the stem alone. The purpose of the stem is to help you reach the cup’s bottom until you can and pinch it to break the seal. The stem helps but it is usually a bit soft or stretchy, it is not there for being pulled on and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Because pulling the stem doesn’t remove the seal that holds the cup is in place. Pinching on the bottom of the cup is what releases the seal making it much easier to pull the menstrual cup out. On the other hand, pulling on the stem only will make it harder, possibly uncomfortable. The stem might strech, possibly snap if you over do it and if the cup suddenly comes out you’ll spill its content.
The stem helps you locate the bottom of the cup with your finger. You can pull lightly on it to help you grab the bottom of the cup, pinch the bottom of the cup betwen your thumb and index and gently pull the cup out. There are almost always little circular lines on the silicone helping you to get a better grip.
If you feel the stem is too long when the menstrual cup is inserted you can cut it (obviously making sure not to pierce the cup bottom). See this video on how to do it properly.
“I managed to get the cup in, but now I can’t get it out!”
If you have problems removing your menstrual cup, the first thing to do is relax, breathe deeply and focus on your vaginal muscles. If the menstrual cup has worked its way higher inside the vagina, relax the muscles and try to grasp its bottom or stem with your fingers. Squatting also eases the cup down. The cup can’t get lost in the vagina; the only way it can go is out.
Find a comfortable position that will allow you to remove the cup more easily: many ladies remove the cup while straddling the toilet bowl with the vagina open and legs relaxed. The vagina has a natural curve and the cup is usually above the pubic bone when sitting. Grasp the bottom of the cup tightly with your forefinger and thumb and pinch to release the suction, rock it back and forth, and gently ease it out.
“I feel my cup went up too high and I can’t take it out!”
Sometimes women have trouble removing the cup because it is so far inside the vagina that they can’t get a hold of the bottom or stem (sometimes this happens during the night). In this case, after waking, wait at least half an hour to allow it to settle and then remove.
Menstrual cups with ball or ring stems
OPTION 1: Get down
Squatting (with your legs spread and bent and your heels beneath your bottom).
In the shower, for example — helps open the vagina and bring the cup down to the opening. At this point, you can grasp the lower part of the cup with your fingers, sit down in the bathtub (if you prefer) relax and remove the cup as explained above.
OPTION 2: Push!
Another removal option is to push downward, using the same muscles as when making a bowel movement (but stop pushing as soon as you have a hold of the cup bottom). Relax, remove and reuse.
OPTION 3: Grab it
If you still have trouble with removal, insert your forefinger parallel to the cup and find the upper part of the cup edge. At this point, your thumb will naturally be positioned at the cup bottom, then gently press the cup together and grasp the cup with your thumb and gently pull. You may hear a small noise when the suction is released, but keep pulling the cup down and don’t let go. When the cup is positioned at the opening of your vagina, press the cup together just like when inserting it, so that no pressure is applied to the mucous membrane — it’s all about technique as opposed to force.
The conclusion is basically each to their own to use whatever makes them feel comfortable. The bottom line is do not pull on the stem if you want to have mess free experience. Most cups are a flat tab or round tab of some sort. A few offer a ring stem that can be pratical, you can even attach a little coton cord to it, some find it reassuring to use for the first cycle. To prove you than the stem is not essential to a cup, some menstrual cup brands that have no stem, just a smooth bottom with some gripping rings (Basic Me Luna).