How to Start Your Daughter Out Using a Menstrual Cup
So you’re a mom who, with the efficiency of the menstrual cup, started having cleaner periods in her 30s, and want to pass the tip on to your progeny. Or you’re a postmenopausal woman who didn’t have the fortune of using a menstrual cup for your first period, but you see a golden opportunity for your daughter to have safer and more comfortable periods. Perhaps you’re even an environmentally-minded millennial looking out for your little sis by encouraging her to ditch toxic tampons.
Whatever the circumstance, it can be hard to broach the topic with a younger teenager or tween: you want to help her, but you don’t want to alienate her or cross boundaries.
How do you bring it up? Using a menstrual cup for the first time – whether it’s her first period or not – is daunting for any girl, and a delicately-brought-up conversation coupled with a felt sense of reassurance will go the extra mileage.
This can be a tricky subject to navigate, so let’s explore how to broach the subject, what to say, where to point her for guidance, and how to follow up with your daughter after the first attempts.
Broaching the topic may very well be the prickliest part of the exchange, and while an open interest on her part might be ideal, remember to gently help her explore uncertainty or respect a hard no.
We recommend having this conversation when she’s not yet had her first period – this means that when that time comes, she’ll be well aware of her options and might consider a cup her go-to.
Even if that time has passed, and she’s up against her first cycle or has several under her belt, it’s never too late (well, at least until menopause!) to broach this topic.
If she decides to go through with it, she’ll reduce her environmental footprint and save herself from dealing with messy periods and a reliance on trash bins.
Like all open exchanges, it’s best to begin this sensitive conversation with a question. “Do you know about your options – tampons, pads, and menstrual cups?”, “Have you thought about the possibility of menstrual cups?, or “I’ve had really great experiences with my menstrual cup, would you consider using one?” are all variations, depending on your relationship and the circumstances.
Of course, you could always tap into your cool, in-the-know mom persona: “I hear girls these days love menstrual cups! Do you know what those are?!”
If you receive a clear “not interested,” respect that, move on, and hopefully a time will come when she’s ready to revisit the topic. However, if you receive a positive response, a neutral response, or even an eye roll – a typical response from a teenager who might be interested but not know what to say – you might consider extending an invitation for her to learn about cups.
As always, it’s best to your intuitive ‘mom sense’ instead of forcefully driving this delicate conversation.
Adjusting to Her Needs
Be flexible in adjusting to her comfort level, and have other resources available to her (we’ll discuss those in a minute) if she’s not comfortable talking about cups with her mom.
If she’s used a tampon, the leap won’t be as intense if she’s only use pads, and whether she is sexually active or not may play a role in her comfort level. Walk her through her options – including sizing, color, and design. Make sure she knows her anatomy, and most importantly, help her know their why.
Is she motivated to use cups because they’re comfortable and leak-unfriendly? Does she care about the environment and understand how much waste tampons and pads create? Does she lean more towards cups because she doesn’t want to expose her body to the toxins that can lead to TSS? Is she interested in menstrual cups because it’s the cool thing to do? Guide her in clarifying what about cups appeals to her. Understanding her purpose in using them will help see her through the frustrations of her first time using a menstrual cup.
The greatest takeaway from this conversation is that both of you know this is fully her choice. This is her body – a very intimate part of it – and when you empower her from a young age to make personal choices, instead of following the whims of other people, she will be more empowered when it comes to her sexuality and her ability to draw boundaries down the road.
Moreover, if you keep this conversation open and relaxed, it could lay a foundation for her to open up about sensitive issues she encounters in the future.
Now that you’ve gotten through conversation (congratulations!), which may be the first of many when it comes to sexual or romantic issues and education, let’s talk about menstrual cup education.
If you’re a mom helping your daughter use a cup, you yourself are probably familiar with the process and can show her the various ways to fold and position the cup for insertion.
That said, girls often feel uncomfortable talking to those they know personally (what to speak of their own moms!) about their changing bodies, so make sure you daughter is armed with great, trustworthy resources to help guide her through the process.
Our guide for first-time users is a perfect tutorial to show a beginner how to prepare a cup for insertion, insert it correctly, take it out, and clean it. Successfully inserting a cup is more likely to happen when she is on her period, as the blood acts as a lubricant to help it insert and eject.
However, she should be cushioned with knowledge that goes beyond the ‘how tos.’ If she has an intact hymen, for example, she should know that it might rupture when using a cup or tampon, as it might while playing active sports, but that it isn’t equivalent to losing her virginity.
She should be familiar with the concept of spotting and know that it is completely normal, especially for her first several periods. Resources like Be Prepared Period and XXX act as great guides in educating girls and women on these topics.
When it comes to familiarizing girls with their bodies, our anatomy guide is another visual learning tool. Whether you think she’s savvy in these regards or not, ensure she has a safe experience by providing educational materials in a safe environment.
Following Up With Your Daughter
While the benefits of cups far outweigh tampons and pads, let’s be honest: the first time using a cup can be frustrating and painful, especially if a tween or teenager is struggling to adapt to having periods, is just learning her anatomy, or has never used tampons.
Once your daughter has her cup in hand, let her know that you’re available to talk once she tries to use it. Some girls will not take the subject further, which is absolutely fine. If that’s the case, make sure she has resources to fall back on.
Getting through the first period of using a menstrual cup is a huge accomplishment that will likely be the most challenging part using one: it’s all downhill from there.
What if she has problems with the cup or wants to give up?
What should you do if she is initially excited about using a cup and then, out of frustration or physical pain from trying, decides not to use it?
Let her know that the second and third ‘cup’ periods will likely become exponentially easier – it’s all about getting through the first one – but don’t push her.
Whether it’s dealing with tampons, cups, intercourse, or pregnancy, the vagina is not the easiest body part for a female to negotiate! Let her know that it’s completely normal to struggle with coming to terms with her transforming body. Your empathy will go a long way, and she may be ready to try again when her frustration subsides.
If she is successful and likes the experience, be available for her and open to any feedback she might offer, keep pads and tampons on hand in case she needs to fall back on them, and let her know you’re there to provide non-judgemental support no matter what she decides to do.
Have you had a similar conversation with your daughter, friend, or other family member? Tell us how it went in the comments below.