Today, there are hundreds of different kinds of menstrual cups available for sale online and in stores, be it through Amazon, Aliexpress, dedicated website platforms or pharmacies.
The past few years have seen an onslaught of new menstrual cup brands popping all over the place.
For a would be user, while it is awesome that more choices are being made available, it is also a potential information overload disaster!
What We Did
In our quest to find the best cups for different situations, we poured through thousands of reviews, combed through hundreds of websites, analyzed the reviews and data available, as well as tried some promising ones over the course of the past two years.
Just so if you are curious...
The brands that were heavily researched on and analyzed are as follows (in alphabetical order):
Amy Cup, Angel Cup, Anigan Evacup, Athena Cup, Bella Cup, Blossom Cup, Biointimo, Bodybay Cup, Charlene, Cleo Cup, Comfy Cup, Crystal CUp, CupLee, Daisy Cup, Diamond, Divacup, Dutchess Cup, Easy Cup, Femmecup, Femmy Cycle, FleurCup, Gaia Cup, Hengsong Cup, iCare, Iris Cup, JuJu, Keeper, Lady Cup, Lena Cup, Lily Cup, Lola Cup, Lunacup, Lunette, Luv Ur Body, MeLuna, MenstroCup, MiaLuna, Mia Cup, Moon Cup (US), Mooncup (UK), My (Own) Cup, NaturCup, Pixie Menstrual Cup, Purposefull, Rainbow/Monzcare R- Cup, Ruby Cup, Sckoon Cup, SkinCo Cup, Si-bell, Softcup, Super Jennie, Vida Cup and Yuuki Cup.
What Is A Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual Cup is a form of sanitary protection, that is usually reusable. It is usually folded and inserted up in the vagina, below the cervix.
Once inserted properly, it should open up and adhere nicely along the vagina walls, to create a good seal so that it can collect the menstrual blood.
According to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, the usual amount for blood loss per period ranges from 10 mls to 35 mls (1, 2).
The usual capacity for a menstrual cup is between 15 mls to 35 mls, and should be sufficient for most women with average flow.
Thus, the average person can easily go for as long as 12 hours before needing a change, as compared to the average 4-6 hours recommended for sanitary pads and tampons changes.
For women with heavier flow, they usually just have to empty the cup more frequently.
In many sense, using a menstrual cup can be a very freeing experience for women.
In fact, a common remark from many women who switched to a menstrual cup is how they sometimes actually forget they were on their period because the wear is so comfortable, and they can get on with their usual activities, even swimming!
It is a more environmentally friendly option.
In just an average menstrual cycle, a women can potentially use up to 24 sanitary pads or 36 tampons, as compared to having 1 menstrual cup that is washed and reused for years.
It is also cost effective.
While the upfront cost of a good menstrual cup can be 5 to 10 times of what you usually pay for your monthly disposables, the cost gets amortized when you take into consideration the average longevity (at least 3 to 5 years, with many having shelf lives of more than 10 years when maintained properly ) of a menstrual cup.
In addition, unlike tampons, good menstrual cups made of hypoallergenic material does not interact with our body. This eliminates the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome that is associated with usage of tampons.
Furthermore, because the menstrual cup merely functions as a device to contain the blood, it is not like the tampon that can stick to the vaginal wall due to its absorbency.
As a result of the absorbency, fibres from the tampon can sometimes remain in the vagina even after removal, resulting in potential infections.
The menstrual cup is an effective tool in containing menstrual related odor by virtue of the fact that it provides a good seal. An effective seal traps the odor causing molecules inside the cup.
When you remove and empty the cup will the smells be released.
Does Menstrual Cup Really Work?
The simple answer is an unequivocal yes!
A menstrual cup really works when used in the form that it is intended for.
Now for a more long winded answer.
We believe it is important to consider the soft and hardware components when you are making the decision whether using a menstrual cup is for you.
Software, in this context, refers to how you emotionally feel about using a menstrual cup.
Are you squeamish with sticking your fingers up your vagina, when it is bloody?
I am not going to sugarcoat this, so yes, you will have to get used to sliding a folded cup up your vagina in order to use a menstrual cup.
The size of the folded cup is usually comparable to a tampon. You may also have to reach in to remove the cup, when/if it slides up your vagina.
Also, does the idea of emptying a small cup of blood nauseate you?
If any of this turns you off, there is a good chance using a menstrual cup may not be suitable for you yet.
Fret not, you can always click here for other less physical ways in which we can improve our feminine health!
If you are still here, and the notions of having an environmentally friendly, hypoallergenic, lifestyle freeing and cost effective option for sanitary protection appeals to you, using a menstrual cup may be the next logical step for you!
How To Choose The Right Menstrual Cup
So, knowing how to choose the right menstrual cup would be a good question to start off with.
The simple answer is that any good menstrual cup that works should have the following basic hardware characteristics:
1. Right Fit
Getting the right fit is important in helping you enjoy your menstrual cup.
There are brands that offer only one size (for example, Femmecup) while most brands tend to offer 2 sizes – small and large.
There are also brands like Femmycycle, MeLuna and MiaLuna that offer a variety of sizes purported to suit every type of cervix.
The Femmycycle offers 3 cups sizes while the Meluna has 8 sizes, 3 handle styles and 2 firmness levels.
Just as mentioned above about right fit, accurate sizing charts may be hard to decipher.
Generally, if you have had a vaginal birth, or above 30 years, and/or live a rather sedentary lifestyle (= less strong pelvic muscles) or experience heavy flows, you would want to choose the larger cup.
On the other hand, younger women, or those who had not have vaginal births, or live very active lifestyle (= stronger pelvic muscles), or have light to medium flow, should choose smaller sized cups instead.
Some brands are going a step further, and offering cups that are designed for adolescents, as well as cervix lengths.
2 . Leak Proof
The design should be able to provide good, comfortable adherence to the cervical walls so that the blood does not leak, even on heavy days.
It is important that the cup opens fully while in the vagina to form a complete seal so that it can collect the blood as designed.
The most common complaint regarding poor uptake of a menstrual cup is that the cup leaks. This can be due to several reasons.
- Inexperience with using menstrual cup, resulting in poor opening of cup in vagina.
- Firmness of cup not compatible with strength of pelvic muscle. Some women with strong pelvic floor muscles do better with firmer cups, because cups made of softer materials tend to not hold their form as well, thus leading to leaks.
- Width of cup not compatible with width of vaginal canal. Adult women who had vaginal births tend to have wider vaginal canals, and would usually require a larger cup rim to have complete seal.
Practice is needed to get used to wearing a menstrual cup.
A common analogy is that a newbie car driver needs to have her full attention all over the place when starting to drive.
However, as the person becomes more experienced, they can sometimes find themselves surprised reaching home because driving becomes autopilot for them.
The same is with menstrual cup usage.
The first few cycles are usually the getting used to phase. As you become more experienced with your cup and how your body responds to it, you learn that maybe nudging the cup to the left can aid in better adherence or removal of the cup.
It then becomes subconscious, and you do it without knowing that you did it. It is a learning curve, as with most things in life.
An important point to note is that a smaller cup that was suitable for you when you were younger may not be as suitable now as your lifestyle and circumstances changes.
Another major problem of being leak proof is usually linked with strong suction powers of the cups, which can make it a pain to remove.
One way to remedy the strong suction is the built-in tiny air holes you can see near the rims of most cups.
The problem with air holes, is that for some brands, they are actually big enough for some blood to clog (which can be a pain to clean) or leak through the airholes.
Rather ironic, huh 😉
3. Hypoallergenic Material
The best is FDA approved hypoallergenic medical grade silicon. In terms of quality, Diva Cup (ISO 13485:2003) and Lena Cup (ISO 13485:2004) have the distinctions of receiving the ISO 13485 certification, indicating a comprehensive level of quality and standards reserved for the design and manufacturing of medical devices.
There are cups out there that are made of different materials, from latex to polymeric materials.
The Keeper cup (by Gladrags) is one of the earlier brands available in the market that is made with latex (increased durability as compared to silicone, but not suitable for those allergic to latex).
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) is also another common material used in the manufacturing of menstrual cups. MeLuna is one such brand that uses TPE.
There are also many China and India made knock offs which can be found much cheaper online, but have questionable claims for material composition.
In terms of form, some of these cups can actually look exactly like the other established cups in the market.
While we think it is great that more affordable cups are being made available in the market, the ethical concerns of copyright issues, as well as safety of claims are still rather questionable.
Delving into their websites (if there is any), some actually list their products being made of medical grade silicone, and posting certification from SGS/ISO/FDA!
For example, the i Care u menstrual cup sold on Aliexpress listed certification from SGS to support their claims to safety of their cups.
However, with the proliferation of editing skills as well as a simple copy and paste, is it really as simple as believing what you see is what you get?
The scary thing about them is that you can never be sure if the material is what it claims to be.
Often at any sign of trouble, it is extremely common for these companies to just take the product off market for a while and then proceed to rebrand it under another name.
For example, lots of different knock offs use the box carrying this brand “Aneer”. Apparently, Aneer does not produce menstrual cups, it just produces the box that carry them.
So who do you look for information when something goes wrong, or an allergy sets in?
Thus, I believe that buying from a reputable company can help set our mind at rest, especially with regards to the quality of the material that we are putting INSIDE our body.
Always make sure to buy from official sites and established re sellers to ensure that you are getting the real deal.
4. Comfortable To Wear
With regards to comfort, here are two important components to consider.
Firstly, the firmness of material – if the cup is too soft, it may make it difficult to remove or adhere to the wall, while too hard a cup can cut into the cervical wall, causing pain.
While a soft cup may be more comfortable to wear, it may be more suitable for women who have more experience using menstrual cups.
Beginners may have problems maneuvering softer cups to pop open for that perfect seal, and may be disheartened after a few bloody tries.
Also related to firmness of material, the cup should be flexible enough to make it easy to slip it in without much effort.
If you find yourself having to contort your body in weird positions in order to get it in despite trying it out for several times, it is not a suitable cup for you.
Ideally, a great cup is one that slips in easily and makes you forget that you are wearing one.
5. Easy To Remove
Some cups have strong suction by virtue of design, which makes for good leak proof ability.
However, it can also mean that it can get painful when you want to remove it for cleaning.
Some cups can be quite slippery upon removal because of the material, so the design of the cup (be it the grips on the wall of the cups or length and design of tabs) can make a difference in the ease of removal.
Knowing the length of your cervix is helpful in choosing the right cup for you.
If you have a high cervix, a menstrual cup with a long tab may be helpful for you in removal, as you can easily reach it and pull it out.
The worst nightmare for anyone is to have to end up in the local ER to get someone to remove it for you.
6. Good Odor Containment
A well designed cup that is easy to clean also helps with elimination of odor as the blood does not get trapped in the crevices.
Sanitizing the cup after each cycle with a good boil or microwave action helps to keep the cup clean.
On the other hand, one common odor related review of users of sanitary napkins and tampons is that these products are can sometimes exacerbate the odor situation.
A poor fit, napkin riding up the underwear, chafed and irritated skins due to less than ideal components in the napkins and tampons all contribute to increasing smells rather than reducing it.
Now, these six factors should form the basic criteria for assessment for any good menstrual cup.
Based on our evaluation, there are plenty of well made cups in the market the fit many of the criteria but not all, and there are some that do seem to check all boxes!
So whether you are a beginner interested in trying out a menstrual cup, or a seasoned wearer, looking for a more suitable cup, do check our top recommendations for Best Menstrual Cup for Beginners.
- Hallberg L. Menstrual blood loss. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1966; 45:320.
- Cole SK Sources of variation in menstrual blood loss. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 1971; 78:933.