We may not all welcome our periods with open arms, but at least we have our choice of ways to deal with it. Still, what works for one person may not be ideal for another. For instance, for Kristen Bell, menstrual cups are not the top choice anymore.
While appearing on Busy Philipps‘s new show, Busy Tonight, Bell explained that she may be done with menstrual cups after a particularly trying experience with one. No, we don’t mean spillage—Bell actually passed out while trying to remove her cup. Here’s what happened, plus a gynecologist’s take on why this might occur.
“I tried the DivaCup but I had a very weird experience with it,” Bell told Philipps on the show.
“A menstrual cup is tricky and takes some trial and error and you have to be willing…” Philipps started.
“To figure it out,” Bell finished. “To finger it out, really.”
Bell went on to describe a time in which her DivaCup got, well, stuck. “I went to grab it and there was something that was suctioned to the wrong part of me,” she said, explaining the very odd feeling of something pulling on your insides, which caused her to pass out on the toilet.
“I fully passed out and came to and I still hadn’t had it out, so I then had to remember, like, ‘OK, you gotta brace yourself, you gotta grab hard, you gotta grab strong,'” she said. “I ripped it out, but after that I was like, ‘Maybe I should take a break. Maybe it’s not for me.'”
It’s not uncommon for people to get things like menstrual cups stuck, but most of us don’t faint when that happens.
Getting something like a tampon, vaginal ring, or menstrual cup stuck inside of you is an unfortunately common issue, Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF.
We obviously don’t know exactly what happened in Bell’s case, but she blamed her fainting on a nerve issue, such as vasovagal syncope. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a condition in which your vagus nerve overreacts to certain triggers, like seeing blood or “extreme emotional distress,” causing a sudden drop in blood pressure that leads to fainting.
Interestingly, though, the vagus nerve branches out all over the body and passes directly by the cervix, Dr. Streicher says. So, some people find that “cervical manipulation” of any kind, like during a Pap test, causes a vasovagal reaction. So it’s possible that if a menstrual cup was far enough inside of you that it was putting pressure or suction on your cervix, that could also cause a reaction. “It’s not a common thing, but it’s not that strange,” Dr. Streicher says.
If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, Dr. Streicher suggests, first, doing your best to stay calm. Then, try to squat and bear down at the time as you pull the cup (or other item), that way you have gravity and some extra pressure on your side. If you can, try to get two fingers inside rather than just one, which might make it possible for you to actually grab whatever’s inside of you. Or, if you have a partner or friend and you’re comfortable with it, you can ask them to help grab it.
“But the main thing is to stay calm and remember that nothing terrible will happen,” she says. And know that if all else fails, your ob/gyn will be happy to help.
And, hey, if menstrual cups are really not for you, you’ve got plenty of options, such as tampons, pads, liners, and menstrual discs. Or you can even try one of Bell’s (and Philipps’s) favorites: Thinx period underwear.