What to do if your cup is hard to remove (spoiler: it's not stuck!)
Let's get that cup out!
For some menstrual cup users, the removal process isn’t as simple as “pinch base and pull down.” If you’re finding it difficult to reach or smoothly remove your menstrual cup, here's what you need to know:
Shortening the vaginal canal
Using your internal pelvic muscles to “bear down” (meaning a pushing motion) will help to shorten the vaginal canal, bringing your cup lower in the process and making it easier to reach. If you need a bit more help, it’s as easy as getting into a squatting position! This works really well in the shower. You can also semi-squat by propping a foot up on the side of your tub. This paired with “bearing down” does a great job to lower the cup.
Understanding - and breaking - the seal
Part of how a menstrual cup works is by forming a seal against the vaginal walls, thanks to the tiny holes along the cup's rim. This helps keep the cup in place and prevent leaks. However, when people hear "seal" they often think of "suction," which can be confusing! Clarifying seal vs suction is important, and may be the key to understanding why you're struggling to comfortably remove your cup.
When your cup pops open after insertion, it molds against the vaginal walls, forming a seal. This process alone does not create suction. Pulling on the cup without breaking the seal first is what would create a pulling/sucking sensation. So, suction is easily avoided if you remember that the seal needs to be broken to comfortably lower the cup!
To break the seal, the rim of the cup needs to separate from the vaginal wall, allowing air through. One way to break the seal is to insert a finger against the side of the cup and press in. You can also use this finger to press against the vaginal wall closest to the tailbone (it's easier on that side, since your pelvic bone isn't there to get in the way), pushing the vaginal wall away from the side of the cup and letting air through to break the seal. Another option is to wiggle the cup while holding the base, or largest bead of the stem.
Once the seal is broken, you should be able to lower the cup. When it comes to gripping the cup base to pinch and remove, it’s good to make sure you’ve got dry fingertips to provide enough friction to keep a hold on the slick silicone. Having a bit of TP handy is good for dabbing fingers dry periodically.
The stem guide
If you can reach the tip of the stem, try and use that to find where the stem meets the base of the cup. You may need to use some of the tips we've given so far: shortening the vaginal canal will help you reach the base of the cup, and breaking the seal is essential to removing the cup.
Relaxation is key
When following these tips, it’s important to try and de-stress! If you’re tense while trying to remove your menstrual cup, that will include the pelvic floor muscles, which may feel like they're gripping the cup in place. It helps to focus on relaxing another body part (such as your jaw) to put the focus elsewhere and allow your whole body to be less tense. Relaxing will make all the difference!
Could it be stuck?
It’s a rare occurrence to have a menstrual cup get stuck, and it certainly can’t get lost inside you! A cup that seems "stuck" is typically just a cup that has settled into place higher than you can easily reach it. That's frustrating, of course, but doesn't mean you have a bad case of unremovable-cup-itis! (In reality, you probably just have beginner syndrome, which is best cured with practice 😉). The tips above will most likely help you to successfully reach and remove it.
If you're still struggling after troubleshooting, then you can simply wait a little bit — as the cup continues to collect your flow, it’ll grow heavier and shift down.
Note: If all else has failed you, never use anything other than fingers to attempt to remove your menstrual cup! OBGYNs have the necessary training and equipment to safely remove objects from vaginas, and trust me, they’re seen it all before.