Every woman experiences menstruation each month for a great part of her life. That being, the fact that it is so normal doesn’t make it any less unpleasant – quite the opposite, actually. Many women experience pain, mood swings, bloating and malaise, amongst other things during their period.
From pads to tampons, many different methods and products have been used throughout history have been used to help make that time of the month easier. Menstrual cups are one of these products, and are an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly product that you’ll learn all about in our article!
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best menstrual cups on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about menstrual cups
- 3.1 What is a menstrual cup exactly?
- 3.2 Why should I use menstrual cups?
- 3.3 What does a menstrual cup look like?
- 3.4 What are menstrual cups made of?
- 3.5 How do menstrual cups work and how are they inserted?
- 3.6 What types of menstrual cups are available out there?
- 3.7 How often should I change and clean my menstrual cup?
- 3.8 Can I use the cup during sexual intercourse?
- 3.9 What is the difference between menstrual cups and tampons and pads?
- 3.10 What are the risks of using menstrual cups?
- 3.11 What are the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Menstrual cups are a great alternative to tampons and sanitary pads, as they retain liquid rather than absorb it.
- Inserted into the vagina, a menstrual cup fills up with your menstrual flow, which is then easily discarded in the toilet.
- You can use it for up to 12 hours without having to empty it, and some can even last up to 10 years.
- They come in several shapes and sizes.
- Menstrual cups are also environmentally friendly, as they reduce the amount of waste created by plastic wrappings and tampons.
Ranking: The best menstrual cups on the U.S. market
To help you choose the best product to fit your needs, we have created a selection of the best menstrual cups currently available on the U.S. market. We’ve outlined the key features of each product to make it easier for you to compare each one individually and feel confident in your decision.
No. 1: Lunette Menstrual Cup for Heavy Flow
Lunette Menstrual Cups come in two sizes, so you can feel confident that you are protected no matter what life throws at you. Model 1 is designed for light to normal flow, while model 2 is slightly larger and is meant for normal to heavy flow. The reusable cup can be used for up to 2 years, and is a great zero-waste alternative to tampons and pads.
Made in Finland, the brand guarantees that all Lunette menstrual cups are registered with the FDA and Vegan Society, and are chemical, latex and BPA-free. All cups also come with a storage pouch and step by step user guide, making them easy to use and carry with you. Starting at $39.99, this is one of the more expensive menstrual cups in our ranking, and is praised by customers for being reliable and easy to use.
No. 2: Dutchess Set of 2 Menstrual Cups
This set by Dutchess comes with 2 menstrual cups, making it the cheapest and best value for money in our ranking. At only $15.99, you get a pink and a purple cup, along with a small carrying bag. The brand recommends this cup for women who have not given birth or had a c-section, or are under 25 years old.
Dutchess menstrual cups are safe to use, and they guarantee their products are phlalate free, latex free, dioxin free, and BPA free. They are even made with the same super soft medical grade silicone used in infant pacifiers. This is the only product in our ranking that offers a set of two cups!
No. 3: DivaCup
The Diva cup comes in 3 sizes, so you can be sure that you are getting the right cup for your individual needs. There is a small difference between the three sizes, as Model 0 is smaller than Model 1, and Model 1 is smaller than Model 2. The brand recommends choosing a size that best fits your flow to prevent leaking.
This cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, and lasts up to a year. Diva is a well known and loved brand, making this product a bestseller for menstrual cups. With options for women under 30, above 30, and post pregnancy, Diva cup guarantees a product that is best fit for you.
No. 4: Lena Menstrual Cup
This California brand is a favorite among first time menstrual cup users for its “bell shaped” cup, making it easy to insert. This patented bell-shaped design is great for complete coverage and a perfect fit. You have the choice between Lena Small, for first time users, and Lena Large for experienced users looking for added capacity and who have a super heavy flow.
Lena’s packaging is 100% recycled, chlorine-free, and printed using vegetable-based inks, making it a great environmentally friendly choice. Lena is ideal for active women of all ages and can be worn for up to 12 consecutive hours.The cups are even safe to use while you dance, run, swim and sleep!
No. 5: OrganiCup Menstrual Cup
OrganiCup is one of the fastest growing brands within feminine hygiene. In 2019, they even won the AllergyAward for category “Best skin friendly product for Body”. This is why the brand recommends this cup for sensitive users, or those who have allergies to non organic ingredients such as artificial coloring.
If you are a first time user or have very sensitive skin, this is a great product for you. This menstrual cup holds 3 tampons worth and can be worn for up to 12 hours, all while eliminating irritation and dryness. OrganiCup is so confident in its product, they even give you 90 days to return it with a money back guarantee!
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about menstrual cups
Before you decide on a specific menstrual cup, it is strongly recommended to be aware of the different types and how they work. The following section will give you al the information you need to know to make an educated decision. We’ve also answered the most frequently asked questions by women.
What is a menstrual cup exactly?
To put it simply, a menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene device that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its main purpose is to collect fluid and prevent leaking onto clothes. Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible medical grade silicone and shaped like a bell with a stem.
Why should I use menstrual cups?
There are several reasons to switch to using menstrual cups. First of all, this very comfortable product can be worn for hours without needing to be changed. Once it’s in, this little item cannot be felt, and is very safe for your body without limiting your day-to-day activities.
One big advantage is the money you will be saving on sanitary products. With a menstrual cup, you won’t have to constantly buy pads and tampons each month! Don’t forget that you can use the very same cup for up to 10 years. They even prevent infections, as they are made in such a way to where they cannot actually collect germs. All in all, they are easy to get and to use, comfortable and practical.
You should also keep in mind that menstrual cups are an environmentally friendly option, as they reduce plastic waste and pollution. These products are basically a great and comfortable alternative, with many advantages going for them – and not just in terms of practicality, but also for your health and the planet.
What does a menstrual cup look like?
With all of the different products out there, it can be difficult to know which is best for you. Over the years, menstrual cups have been made in different materials, shapes and colours. The bell – or cup, as the name suggests – is the most common type out there. Starting from a wide upper part, it then narrows into a thin stem at the bottom.
Once placed inside the vagina, the stem is used to remove the cup. Think of it as similar to a tampon’s thread. Most cups feature two holes at the top, through which air can enter; allowing the cup to take it’s shape once it is in the vagina and perform its function.
Some cups are designed for heavier flow, and some for light to normal flow. The great flexibility of these products gives them the ability to be easily folded and inserted into the vagina, as you would with a tampon. This flexibility is also what allows them to open once they have been inserted, expanding into their original shape.
What are menstrual cups made of?
Different materials are used to manufacture menstrual cups, all of which offer great flexibility. The most common materials are thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), latex and medical silicone. Some products also contain food coloring, which is why menstrual cups are available in different colors on the market.
Menstrual cups are made to be highly safe, unlike tampons which often contain potentially irritating chemical compounds and allergens. These cups are designed to respect your vaginal flora and shouldn’t cause any dryness, itching or release any material particles.
How do menstrual cups work and how are they inserted?
Menstrual cups may seem complex at first, however using a cup is actually very straightforward, so don’t be afraid to do it. Once you practice how to use it, it becomes very simple.
To start, you will wash your hands and then fold the cup in a way that suits you best. You then need to gently insert the cup into your vagina like a tampon (following the instructions included with your cup). Make sure you insert it to where you can remove it by using them stem.
Once inserted, the cup will pop open and is then ready to begin collecting menstrual fluid.Their capacity of 30 ml means you can keep them on for up to 12 hours, depending on your flow.
Each menstrual cup is designed with a stem. When it comes time to remove the cup, make sure you wash your hands and use the stem to guide your fingers to the base of the cup. You will then carefully pinch the base to release the suction seal and then slowly remove the cup.
At the end of your menstrual cycle, it is also recommended to boil your cup to sterilize it for the next month.
What types of menstrual cups are available out there?
Every woman is different, so it’s no surprise that all menstrual cups aren’t born equal either. The U.S. market offer several products that come in different materials, shapes, colours and dimensions. This means the right product for you is out there.
The two main designs you will see are the cup or bell type, and also the diaphragm type. You’ll also find several sizes from the smallest (S) to the largest (XL), with a few different manufacturing materials used. Here’s a quick recap that will help you compare the different types of menstrual cups.
|Type of menstrual cups||Characteristics|
|Shape or model||Cup or bell.
|Material||Medical silicone. Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). Latex.|
|Size or dimensions||Small (S): dimensions 38 x 45 mm, capacity 23 ml. Suitable for minors who are not sexually active. Medium (M): dimensions 41 x 48 mm, capacity 28 ml. Large (L): dimensions 44 x 51 mm, capacity 34 ml. Extra large (XL): dimensions 47 x 56 mm, capacity 42 ml.|
How often should I change and clean my menstrual cup?
As with any feminine hygiene product, it is important to have proper hygiene and clean your products to reduce the risk of possible infection. Cleaning your menstrual cup is as simple as rinsing it under running water between changes and then boiling it in a pot of water to sterilise it at the end of your cycle.
Unlike pads and tampons, menstrual cups are reusable. They can also be safely stored in the carry pouch that is included with most cup brands. You should not store a menstrual cup in an airtight container!
Of course, each woman has her own flow, so the frequency at which you will empty it will vary. On average, a cup can generally be used for about 12 hours. That being said, it is recommended to empty them more frequently at the start, which will help you get used to them.
Can I use the cup during sexual intercourse?
Since they are used internally, there are some situations in which you need to be careful while using menstrual cups. Please bear in mind that the menstrual cup is not a contraceptive method, and should not be used during sexual intercourse.
While it acts as a barrier by retaining menstrual flow, it won’t actually stop sperm from entering your vagina, and will not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections.
That being said, there are certain products out there which are designed for use during sexual intercourse. For instance, the disposable diaphragm cups. These are particularly flexible and soft, and can be inserted deeper into the vagina. Please remember that the common bell-shaped cups inserted into the lower part of the vagina and are therefore cannot be used during sex.
What is the difference between menstrual cups and tampons and pads?
While they share the same purpose, menstrual cups are very different to tampons and pads. The main difference is that traditional sanitary products are designed for single use, as opposed to cups that are reusable and can last up to 10 years. The waste created by pads and tampons also has a drastic impact on the environment, as well as on your budget.
Moreover, menstrual cups are considered to be safer for your health than other products. Since they are made with inert material, they prevent the development of infections. Meanwhile, tampons and sanitary pads have been associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), candidiasis and other conditions. Cups also avoid dryness!
What are the risks of using menstrual cups?
While these products have many great properties for you, they can also have some drawbacks. However, this is mainly because some women find them difficult to use. At first, it can be tricky to remove the cup from your vagina or place it incorrectly, which can lead to discomfort if this is not done right.
Leaking is also common if the cup is not placed in correctly. Note that clear cups may become yellowish over time, making them appear dirty. This can easily be avoided by using colored cups!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups?
While menstrual cups offer a comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly way to get through that time of the month over pads and tampons, they may not be for everyone. We’ve summed up the main advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups in the following table:
Menstrual cups are delicate products, and there are several to choose from. In the following section, we’ve detailed the different aspects so you can make an easy decision. These are:
- Disposable models
You will find that menstrual cups come in different sizes. While some sources advise you to base your choice on the heaviness of your flow, the general rule is to understand your age, as this affects your vagina’s anatomy, as shown here:
- Girls under the age of 18:Small size (S) is recommended, especially if they have not had penetrative vaginal intercourse yet.
- Women between the ages of 18 and 30 who have not given birth: Medium (M) size is recommended.
- Women of any age who have had at least one vaginal delivery: Large (L) size is recommended.
Please note that your body build and height may affect these suggestions slightly. A tall woman with wider hips may for instance need an L cup even though she has not given birth vaginally, while a smaller woman may still use an S cup despite being sexually active.
As you will see, there are a wide variety of products on the U.S. market. Several different colors are available, the most frequent being pink and purple. You may also find models in yellow, blue, green and any other color you can possibly think of!
Of course, the color of the cup will not make much of a difference, other than personal taste. You should mainly choose a cup based on comfort and design. Though some do contain a coloring additive, they are perfectly safe and non-toxic to use.
The material of each product can vary. We’ve briefly talked about the most frequently used materials: thermoplastic elastomer, medical silicone and latex. No matter the material, they are all safe to use for most women. The only exception is those who have a specific allergy to certain materials.
The materials used for menstrual cups all offer similar consistency and texture. They are made to be flexible and effective in holding liquid. All you’ll have to do is choose the one that best suits you as an individual. Of course, please keep them in mind possible allergens – this is particularly true for latex.
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While the majority of menstrual cups are have a bell shape, there are other models out there. You can find the diaphragm model, which is designed to be placed right below your cervix. This is the type that can be used during sex.
Some models feature rigged edges that will adapt to the shape of your vaginal wall, making them more comfortable and stable. If you’re starting out with menstrual cups, it is recommended to choose a model that features a small device to extract it, like a little hook or clasp.
You can also find disposable cups, designed for use during a single cycle. This option is not as environmentally friendly as reusable cups, but may be an option during your trips or excursions where you won’t necessarily want or be able to to transport and sterilise standard cups.
Menstrual cups are a genuinely innovative and revolutionary product for women, with multiple advantages that easily beat classic tampons and pads. They are a comfortable and practical alternative that is also safe. And if that isn’t enough, these products are also budget and environmentally friendly!
Are you tired of having to purchase pads and tampons every month? Are you sick of having to change them constantly? Go for menstrual cups, and all these will be problems of the past. You won’t have to buy another for up to the next 10 years.
We hope this guide helps to understand which product is the best for you. If you liked our guide on menstrual cups, feel free to share it on your social media, or leave us a comment in the section below!
(Source of featured image: Yulia Grogoryeva: 41240167/ 123rf.com)