5 reasons your menstrual cup is leaking and what to do about it

why menstrual cup leaking

A leaking menstrual cup is probably among the top three of the biggest menstrual cup fears, alongside a menstrual cup getting stuck or lost inside the vagina (no worries, there’s always a way to get it out), or the dread many feel towards having to empty their menstrual cup in a public bathroom (also, not as bad as you imagine it to be).

First of all, I think it’s important to say that menstrual cup leaks have happened to the best of us, but in most cases, it’s not the cup’s fault, it just takes a few tweaks to know how to insert your Ruby Cup correctly.

Of course, not using the right menstrual cup size is a common reason for a menstrual cup to leak, but with our money back guarantee, you can simply switch size or even get a full refund if you feel like you’re not using the right size or the right cup brand.

Much rather, menstrual cup leaks occur because a Ruby Cup wasn’t inserted properly or you forgot to empty it, causing an overflowing incident (even though you can wear it for 12 hours, time flies when you’re having a busy day – or fun.)

So, if you’ve experienced leaking, good that you’re here now. In this article, we’ll share bulletproof tips and tricks on how to solve leaking problems. We also asked menstrual cup experts Kim and Amanda from Put A Cup In It to add their expertise and we got some hands-on tips directly from Ruby Cup users who shared their tips on how they managed to solve menstrual cup leaking issues.

5 common reasons your menstrual cup is leaking and what to do about it

1. Your Ruby Cup didn’t open properly

This is one of the main reasons for a menstrual cup to start leaking. The menstrual cup will only work if it is able to “pop” open fully after insertion. That’s when the suction is formed and the menstrual fluid will stay inside the cup.

Illustration of how to insert a menstrual cup5 reasons your menstrual cup is leaking and what to do about it

How to get your menstrual cup to pop open:

A good trick to get the menstrual cup to pop open is to rotate it after insertion and slightly move it from left to right or push one side of the cup with your index finger. And then do the test! Once positioned, carefully try to pull the Ruby Cup downward – if the suction has formed, you will literally feel it. It will only move a little before you’ll feel the pressure of the suction – and without breaking the seal, it will be very hard to remove.

Tip 1: You can run your finger around the edge to see if there might still be a small crease, hindering the vacuum to form.

Tip 2: Try a different fold. I found that my Ruby Cup never opens up when I use the c-fold, but I have a 99% chance that it opens up almost immediately when I use the Punch-down Fold.

Tip 3: Our customer Emma was having some leaking troubles until she discovered that inserting her Ruby Cup a bit higher (and switching from Ruby Cup Small to Ruby Cup Medium), was the trick she needed in order to go leak-free the whole day. She shared her experience in an e-mail with us and gave us permission to share it with all of you:

“I actually have some happy news, I had a FANTASTIC day with my Ruby cup today!! I saw some advice in a forum about kind of scooching forward and then leaning backwards on the toilet to insert the cup. By doing this I was able to insert the cup to a higher position than I initially was able to. (…) Everything I had read said that the cup should sit much lower than a tampon so that’s what I had been aiming for, placement wise, but I guess if it’s okay for it to sit up as high as it is right now then I’m good with it because I went 12 hours today with ZERO leaks! Previously I couldn’t go 12 minutes!

Tip 4: If you’re using an IUD with your menstrual cup, ask your gynaecologist to clip the strings shorter so that they hang directly into your menstrual cup and don’t sit on the rim, preventing suction to form.

2. Your Ruby Cup is leaking because it’s overflowing

Illustration of how to remove menstrual cup

If you have a very heavy period, your Ruby Cup might be overflowing, causing the leaks. Especially during the heavy days, you might not be able to go for the full 12 hours without having to empty it. Even though the Ruby Cup Medium has triple the capacity when compared to an ultra tampon (34ml vs. 10ml), make sure to know your flow so you can change your Ruby Cup on time before it starts leaking. Usually, if you have a very heavy period, be sure to check if your Ruby Cup is full every 4-6 hours.

Solution: If you’re not already using a Ruby Cup Medium, consider switching size, or if you already use a Ruby Cup Medium, look into a menstrual cup with an even larger capacity or empty more frequently if possible. If you have a busy day, you can also use some period underwear for back-up.

3. Is your menstrual cup leaking even though it’s never full?

Illustration of how to empty a menstrual cup

During menstruation, your estrogen levels drop sometimes causing your cervix to move position. Also, your cervix opens lightly or swells to permit the uterus lining and mucus to flow out easily. It’s common that during that time it might tilt a little to one side or move downwards in the vagina.

The cervix sits in the vaginal canal, leaving a little space to both sides. So when you insert your menstrual cup, be sure that you don’t push it up too high, hence having it pop open next to the cervix instead of under it.

If that happens, the menstrual fluid can flow past the cup freely instead of getting collected inside of it and you’ll have leaks even though you’re menstrual cup is not full.

Solution: Run your finger around your cup and try to feel if the cervix is outside of it. If so, take the cup out and re-insert it. Letting your Ruby Cup pop open further down in the vaginal canal can also reduce the risk of the cup opening next to the cervix instead of below.

4. Bowel movements can cause short leaks

Another common leaking situation occurs during bathroom visits for number two. Being constipated or having diaharrea during the first few days of your period are common symptoms, so it’s important to know that your bowel movements can also move your menstrual cup a little. But no worries, it will not pop out like tampons did, thanks to the suction which will keep it in place.

What might happen though, especially when the cup is already pretty full, is cause overflowing. So when you wipe, you will see menstrual fluid, but most likely it’s from the pressure of the bowel movement and not a “real” leak.

5. You have strong pelvic floor muscles

Strong pelvic floor muscles are important and actually have a bunch of positive health benefits. But – if they’re too strong, they can also squeeze the walls of the menstrual cup, pinching it as you do before removing it. This can cause the seal to break and the Ruby Cup to overflow (if it is already pretty full).

Solution: Try a menstrual cup that is a bit firmer. In terms of firmness, Ruby Cup is in the medium range, making it an all-rounder for most vaginas and an easy menstrual cup for first-time users. But if you have very strong pelvic floor muscles you might be better off with a firmer menstrual cup. Check out some menstrual cup groups online to get more information on other, firmer menstrual cups to try . Have a look the comparison chart from Put A Cup In It for more insights.

Experience menstrual cup leaks even though you just emptied your menstrual cup?

A while back I experienced some leakage so I had a couple of days where I was minor paranoid about my menstrual cup leaking on me again. I experienced the case where I had just emptied and rinsed my Ruby Cup and an hour later I had stains on my underwear as if my cup was about to start leaking again – that was so frustrating! I now lovingly call this situation “having fake leaks” because I know that it’s not a leak, and Kim from Put A Cup In It refers to them as “wiping leaks”.

So what’s a wiping leak or a fake leak?
It mostly occurs during the heavier days of your period when you just emptied your menstrual cup, rinsed it and inserted it again. There might be leftover drops of water on the outside of your cup that mix with some menstrual fluid from the walls of your vagina. The next time you sit down or walk, it might smudge on your underwear, looking like a leaking stain, when actually it’s just left-over water drops from the rinsed menstrual cup.

Just make sure you dab yourself dry well after you’ve inserted a freshly rinsed menstrual cup. Also, wearing black underwear during the heaviest days is a great asset ;)

If things are still unclear, this video will cancel all doubts. It demonstrates how the menstrual cup acts inside your vagina. It’s very eye opening and helps to understand why your menstrual cup might leak:

So for the next time, before you panic, remember to take the time when you insert your menstrual cup and check for all the potential reasons your menstrual cup could leak.

Here’s a quick checklist you should keep in mind to prevent your menstrual cup from leaking:

  1. After inserting the menstrual cup, check for dents and if you find one, give it a little push on the other side, twist and wiggle it or rotate it so it can find the space to pop open.
  2. Check if it popped open: do the test by pulling it down to see if the suction was formed
  3. If you’re facing difficulties inserting the menstrual cup, try a different fold (e.g. Punchdown vs. C-Fold)
  4. Empty it more often, especially if you have a heavy flow.

Do you have any great tips? Let us know in the comments below! Happy leak-free periods!

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Leanka Sayer

Leanka’s job is to talk about periods. She is currently the Content and Community Manager at Ruby Cup, an award-winning social business that sells menstrual cups, where for every Ruby Cup you buy, you automatically donate another one to a girl in need. She advocates for period positivity and having a healthy relationship with your menstrual cycle. Leanka studied Communication Science in Vienna and has been working for Ruby Cup since February 2014 - first in Berlin, now in Barcelona.