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A menstrual cup is a funnel-shaped feminine hygiene product that a person inserts into their vagina. The cup collects menstrual blood, and when it is full, the person removes the cup and tips the blood into a toilet.

Most people use disposable sanitary napkins or tampons during menstruation. However, many individuals are considering menstrual cups as a sustainable alternative to disposable products.

A menstrual cup is a reusable menstrual management product that a person inserts into the vagina to catch and collect menstrual blood. It is a flexible, funnel-shaped device often made of medical-grade silicone, latex, or rubber.

Aside from being affordable and eco-friendly, menstrual cups are also nontoxic. Additionally, a 2019 study affirmed the safety of menstrual cups, making them a preferred alternative to other menstrual products.

Learn more about menstrual cups here.

Menstrual cups could suit most people during menstruation, especially those who have active lifestyles. They are also good options for individuals looking for sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to single-use menstrual products.

According to a 2019 study, an intrauterine device (IUD) may dislodge when using a menstrual cup, so a person should consider seeking advice from a medical professional if they have an IUD and would like to try a cup.

Menstrual cups provide a convenient and safe way to manage menstrual blood and also benefit the environment.

Personal benefits

Some people may notice some personal benefits to menstrual cups, including:

  • Budget-friendly: While buying a menstrual cup may have a higher initial cost, a person can save more long term as they do not have to replace the cup frequently.
  • Less leakage: When correctly inserted, menstrual cups produce an airtight seal that prevents leaks.
  • Odor-free: Since menstrual blood has no exposure to air, blood collected in menstrual cups is odor-free.
  • Safety: Napkins may prevent airflow and trap heat, promoting the growth of bacteria and fungus. While rare, a person that uses tampons risks toxic shock syndrome (TTS). However, it is important to note that some people have experienced TSS when using menstrual cups.
  • pH balanced: Unlike tampons, menstrual cups will not dry the vagina and disturb its natural bacterial and pH balance.

Environmental benefits

There are also some benefits to the environment, such as:

  • Eco-friendly: A person can use around 11,000 single-use menstrual products in their lifetime. Using a reusable menstrual cup that lasts for several years significantly reduces menstrual cycle-related waste. Additionally, a 2021 study recommends using menstrual cups as an alternative to sanitary napkins to help reduce plastic waste.
  • Long wear-time. A person may only need to empty their menstrual cup every 4–12 hours, depending on their flow rate.
  • Reduced waste: Aside from paper and packaging waste, most napkins contain polyethylene and polypropylene plastic which takes years to degrade. Most menstrual cups are silicone, which degrades back to silica — a non-hazardous compound.
  • Less pollution: Sanitary products can release toxic chemicals, such as dioxins, rayon, and chlorine. These chemicals can pollute both land and air.

When using a menstrual cup for the first time, a person may find insertion a little tricky, and it may take several cycles before they become accustomed to using them. Individuals may consider using a napkin during this time to avoid any unwanted leakage.

Most cups will have detailed instructions on inserting them, and some techniques may differ by product or preference.

Here are the steps an individual may take when inserting their cup:

  1. Wash hands thoroughly.
  2. Clean the cup with water and fragrance-free water-based soap.
  3. Fold the cup with the rim facing up. A person can fold the cup several ways, including punch-down fold, U-fold, C-fold, and 7-fold.
  4. Insert the cup into the vagina with the rim facing up and angled toward the lower back.
  5. Once inserted, the cup should pop open, creating a light vacuum against the vaginal wall.
  6. Rotate the cup by holding it by its base and making a complete turn. Doing this ensures that the rim is open and that the gentle vacuum seal is in place to prevent leaks. Check the seal by gently tugging the cup and looking for slight resistance. The cup will slide if not inserted properly and would need reinserting.

Individuals inserting them for the first time may find using water or water-based lubricant helpful.

It is important to follow the product’s insertion and wear directions to avoid complications. Improper use of menstrual cups may lead to conditions such as uterohydronephrosis, as reported in a 2020 study.

Some points to consider when considering a menstrual cup include:

  • Menstrual flow: Large sizes of menstrual cups have more capacity to hold moderate to heavy flows.
  • Cervical length: Those with a shorter cervix may find regular-sized cups uncomfortable and may benefit from smaller sizes. Similarly, individuals with a higher cervix may find larger or longer cups easier to remove.
  • Latex or silicone allergies. A person with specific allergies should always check the material of their intended product, as most menstrual cups are silicone or latex.

Learn more about menstrual cup cautions here.

Below, we look at some menstrual cups to consider.

All the products listed are BPA- and phthalate-free medical-grade silicone.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best for first-time users: Lena Menstrual Cup

This California-made menstrual cup uses medical-grade silicone and dyes. The Lena small accommodates users of all ages and body types and is ideal for those using a cup for the first time. Experienced cup-users who may need a cup with a larger capacity may find the Lena large more suitable for their needs.

  • Small size:
    • Diameter: 41 milimeter (mm)
    • Length: 46 mm
    • Capacity: 0.85 ounces (oz)
  • Large size:
    • Diameter: 45 mm
    • Length: 50.7 mm
    • Capacity: 1.01 oz

Pros and cons

The Lena menstrual cup has many positive reviews relating to its quality and stating that it is comfortable and easy-to-clean, as it has air holes that are slanted.

However, some people commented on experiencing pain and discomfort.

The Lena cups start from around $25 on the company website. They are also available online or in stores, such as Walmart, Grove Collaborative, and EcoRoots.

Best for flow tracking: Diva Cup

The Diva Cup is available in three models that vary in volume and diameter. Their Model 2 is ideal for those that have recently given birth or are over 35 years. The cups also come with measurement marks, making them a good choice for flow tracking.

  • Model 0 size:
    • Diameter: 38 mm
    • Length: 65 mm
    • Capacity: 0.67 oz
  • Model 1 size:
    • Diameter: 42 mm
    • Length: 66 mm
    • Capacity: 1 oz
  • Model 2 size:
    • Diameter: 45 mm
    • Length: 66 mm
    • Capacity: 1.08 oz

Pros and cons

This menstrual cup provides up to 12 hours of protection, and according to reviews, it may suit those who experience irregular periods.

However, some people noted leakages and may not suit those with a heavy flow.

The Diva Cup costs around $33 from Amazon. Other retailers have varying prices and include Walmart and Target.

Best with removal loop: Intimina Lily Cup One

This collapsible menstrual cup is a petite size suitable for beginners or young adults. It features a double rim and removal loop to ensure ease of use while providing a high capacity.

  • Size:
    • Diameter: 39 mm
    • Length: 47 mm
    • Capacity: 0.73 fl oz

Pros and cons

According to the company website, the Intimina Lily Cup One offers up to 8 hours of protection, and can be a good option for those with a higher cervix. It is available in two sizes and has a no-spill rim. It may suit individuals with a light or heavy flow.

People can also find some negative reviews on the Intimina website. For example, buyers found it difficult to take the menstrual cup out and the company does not accept returns.

Intimina Lily Cup One is available from the company website for around $28.

Best for sensitive skin: Saalt

This soft menstrual cup is ideal for people with sensitive vaginal walls who may find firmer cups cause cramping, bladder sensitivity, or general discomfort. There are two sizes that suit first-timers and experienced users, as well as people with either a low or high cervix.

  • Small size:
    • Diameter: 41 mm
    • Length: 70 mm
    • Capacity: 0.8 oz
  • Regular size:
    • Diameter: 46 mm
    • Length: 70 mm
    • Capacity: 1.1 oz

Pros and cons

According to reviews, the Saalt menstrual cup may suit first-time users, those with sensitive skin and a low cervix. Comments also mention the cup is soft and does not put pressure on the bladder.

Less favorable comments include that the cup can leak, so may not suit individuals with a heavy flow. Those with a tilted cervix did not find this product useful and had to ask a doctor to remove it.

The Saalt menstrual cup costs around $29 from Amazon.

Best for sexual intercourse: Intimina Ziggy Cup

This menstrual cup has an extra-thin, double rim, flat-fit design, allowing it to sit right below the cervix. Individuals can even wear them even during sexual intercourse.

  • Size:
    • Diameter: 76 mm
    • Length: 65 mm
    • Capacity: 2.36 oz

Pros and cons

Reviewers wrote that the Ziggy cup is comfortable and easier to remove than traditionally-shaped menstrual cups. They did not experience any pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse with the cup inserted.

Others advised that the cup is a little too long, and they also had to wear a pantyliner for extra protection from leakages.

The Ziggy Cup costs around $35 and is available to purchase online.

Best for heavy flows: Super Jennie Menstrual Cup

This menstrual cup is one of the largest and thickest. Designed with a thick rim but a soft body, this cup suits those with a heavier flow.

  • Small size:
    • Diameter: 47.5 mm
    • Length: 43 mm
    • Capacity: 1.08 oz
  • Large size:
    • Diameter: 52 mm
    • Length: 47 mm
    • Capacity: 1.41 oz

Pros and cons

Many reviewers recommend this product for people with bleeding conditions and those who have bladder pressure. It may also suit people unable to make regular bathroom stops.

Less favorable comments note that the easy insertion and removal tip may come off, making it more difficult to remove the cup.

The Super Jennie is available to purchase online for around $40.

Easiest to clean: Lunette Menstrual Cup

This menstrual cup is odorless, made from silicone, and provides up to 12 hours of protection. It comes with a carrying case and instructions.

The company recommends emptying the cup 2–4 times per day.

There are two models available. Model 1 may suit those with light bleeding or spotting. Model 2 may suit those with moderate, heavy, and very heavy flows, and when people feel they need to change their pads or tampons regularly.

They have the following sizes:

  • Model 1:
    • Diameter: 41 mm
    • Length: 47 mm
    • Capacity: 0.8 oz
  • Model 2:
    • Diameter: 46 mm
    • Length: 52 mm
    • Capacity: 1 oz

The cup comes in different colors, including orange, yellow, violet, and pink.

Pros and cons

The Lunette menstrual cup is chemical and latex-free, and suits all types of period flow. It has a soft and flexible rim, so people do not feel it after insertion, and it also has a smooth interior for easy cleaning.

However, the cup can be still, and some users may find it difficult to get it in, even after trying different folding styles. Those with a high cervix may have to consider other options. According to Amazon reviews, the cup can attach to the cervix, making it difficult to take it out.

The cup is available to purchase online for around $40 from the company website.

Best easy-to-use: Flex Cup

The company claims this menstrual cup provides 12 hour-protection. It has a pull-tab, making it easier for people to remove it, similar to a tampon.

The Flex cup is available in two versions:

  • Slim fit: Best for first-time users and those with light or heavy flows. It has the following measurements:
    • Diameter: 43 mm
    • Length: 46 mm
    • Capacity: 0.7 oz
  • Full fit: Best for those who have used a menstrual cup before and have had two or more vaginal births. Its measurements are:
    • Diameter: 46 mm
    • Length: 53 mm
    • Capacity: 1 oz

Pros and cons

According to the website, the Flex Cup may suit those who have any type of flow, and it can also be a good option for those who have had a vaginal delivery. Those with rheumatoid arthritis found this product useful, as they did not experience any pain or stress when removing the cup.

However, some reviews state that the cup is expensive and does not provide a secure fit. They also note that there are limited available sizes, and those with a lighter flow may find the cup too big.

This cup is available to purchase online for around $35.

Best for traveling: Nixit

The Nixit suction-free menstrual cup is a soft silicone and people can use it for 12 hours. They can also use it during sexual intercourse. It is free from chemicals so should not cause vaginal dryness.

It has the same size as a regular tampon and holds 2 oz of liquid.

The company states that the cup is compatible with IUDs. However, a person should consider discussing the use of both with a doctor or healthcare professional.

Pros and cons

According to customer reviews, the cup is comfortable and may suit those with a low cervix. It is reportedly easy to insert and remove, and can provide protection when bleeding is light or heavy.

However, the cup comes only in one size, and it may not work well for those looking to buy a smaller cup.

The cup is available to purchase online for around $42.

Best budget: The Honey Pot

The company claims this menstrual cup is gynecologist-approved and eco-friendly. It also claims to be soft and undetectable once a person inserts it.

The cup is leak-free, and individuals can wear it for 12 hours.

There are two sizes available:

  • Size 1: This cup may best suit people aged between 19–30 and who may have a medium flow. This cup holds 0.8 oz of liquid.
  • Size 2: This cup may suit those aged 30 years and older and who may have a heavy flow. It holds 1 oz of liquid.

Pros and cons

This product is made for people of all ages, and it comes in different sizes that suit their flow and age. Some people who have not given birth bought size 1 and found it beneficial.

According to negative critiques, the cup is very soft, and so, this may cause leaking.

The Honey Pot menstrual cup is available for purchase online for around $20.

Best vegan: OrganiCup

The OrganiCup is soft, has a flexible stem, and is not colored. It is allergy-certified and registered with The Vegan Society.

The cup comes in three sizes:

  • Mini: This cup may best suit teenagers and holds 0.64 oz of liquid.
  • Small: The company recommends this size for people who have not had a vaginal delivery. It has a capacity of 0.91 oz.
  • Large: This works best for those who have given birth vaginally and it has a capacity of 1.1 oz.

In addition, the menstrual cup comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

The product may suit individuals looking for a vegan-friendly option. It does not contain allergens or color additives.

Some reviewers do not recommend the OrganiCup for first-time users, as it does not pop open automatically upon insertion.

These cups are available to purchase online for around $26.

Below we look at this table that provides a comparison between the 12 menstrual cups mentioned in this article:

Best forCapacitySizesPrice
Lena Cupfirst-time use0.85 and 1 ozsmall and largearound $25
Diva Cupto track period flow0.67, 1, and 1.08 ozmodel 0, 1, and 2around $33
Intimina Lily Cup Oneremoval, as it comes with a loop0.73 ozone size, but suitable for beginnersaround $28
Saaltsensitive skin0.8 and 1.1 ozsmall and regulararound $29
Intimina Ziggy Cupuse during sexual intercourse2.36 ozone sizearound $35
Super Jennieto use for heavy flows1.08 and 1.41 ozsmall and largearound $40
Lunetteeasy cleaning0.8 and 1 ozmodel 1 and 2around $40
Flexcupease of use0.7 oz and 1 ozslim fit

full fit
around $35
Nixitto use during traveling2 ozone size, same as a regular tamponaround $42
The Honey Potsaving money0.8 and 1 ozsize 1 and size 2around $20
OrganiCupvegan option0.64, 0.91, and 1.1 ozmini, small, and largearound $26

Here we look at some common questions a person may have about menstrual cups.

How do menstrual cups work?

Menstrual cups work by making an airtight seal on the vaginal wall to catch and collect menstrual blood while preventing leakage.

How do you use a menstrual cup?

After cleaning the hands and the product thoroughly, fold the cup and insert it into the vagina. Once the cup “pops,” move it around and tug it a little to ensure that the menstrual cup is sealed against the vaginal walls.

Most menstrual cups typically come with full instructions.

Are menstrual cups safe?

Yes. Menstrual cups are generally safe to use. However, people with vaginal prolapse, recent birth or gynecological surgery, or those using IUDs should first seek advice from their doctor.

Menstrual cups are eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives to single-use menstrual products.

A person may initially find it challenging to find the right fit, but as everyone is different, perseverance can help a person find the right product.

Individuals should ask their doctor for the type of menstrual cup that may best suit their needs.