Many women have turned to menstrual cups for their periods instead of the traditional tampons and pads. Some made the change to avoid any toxic ingredients found in some feminine care products, while others see the cost-effectiveness of it. (One cup can last you many cycles.)
While that sounds so appealing, there are also the questions of, "How the heck does it even work?" and "How do I even insert it correctly?" Those questions can make menstrual cups seem super intimidating.
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When choosing a menstrual cup, you'll need to know a thing or two about your vagina and period. Many brands offer different cup sizes—the smaller sizes are recommended for younger people and/or those who have light to normal flows. The regular sizes or larger sizes are best for people with a normal to heavy flow. According to The Cleveland Clinic, you can go up to 12 hours before emptying your menstrual cup. (Of course, this depends on your flow.)
And when it's time to insert the menstrual cup, keep in mind that it will take some time and patience. Wash your menstrual cup before use, and if it has air holes at the top, make sure they are open. Many cups will come with instructions, so read those carefully, but most will ask you to fold the cup in a certain shape (like in a C- or 7-fold) and slide into place. Let the cup open. To secure it, you can rotate the base gently.
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To remove, The Cleveland Clinic says you shouldn't pull on the stem but pinch the base and then pull. Empty the cup into the toilet and rinse under water before reinserting. When your cycle is done, it's recommended to sterilize the cup in boiling water.
As for which cups to choose, we've rounded up some of the best ones out there according to reviews. Take a look at them below, and let us know about your favorites by sending us a comment or DM on Instagram at @thethirty.
This kit has everything for beginners: small and large cups so you can experiment with the fit, wash, lube, and a sterilizing container. One Amazon reviewer wrote, "This kit gave me everything I needed to get started. I was worried that I would struggle with putting it in correctly and taking it out, which was not the case. It was easy to use from the first day I got it through the end of my period. I even went hiking one day and did not have any leaks, it was such a relief to not have to worry about changing a tampon mid-hike! I will highly recommend this to any of my friends and family who are curious about trying out a reusable menstrual cup."
With over 7000 ratings and four and a half stars on Amazon, Lena is the top-rated menstrual cup on the retailer's website. And for good reason: The cup offers 12 hours of protection, comes in two sizes, is made from U.S. medical-grade silicone and dyes. The brand also offers a Sensitive line for women with "sensitivie anatomies or bladders." One reviewer wrote, "After a while of hesitating, I decided to give cups a try, so this was my first cup. It's brilliant—compared to tampons, it is more comfortable, more convenient, and I feel more confident about avoiding leaks. I was apprehensive about insertion and removal, but found the whole process easier than expected. I find the seal is created very easily once the cup is in place."
For a Heavy Flow
The Super Jennie cup was created with a heavy flow in mind. The large cup holds around 41 milliliters and the small 31 milliliters. In comparison, most large cups hold 30 milliliters. One Amazon reviewer said, "In short, I do not understand how they could make a cup so small that can hold so much, a cup that is so soft, yet can open so easily and not slip, and how they can keep the price so low, while making it attractive, with everything from the holes to the seams being nicely finished. I suspect there might be some sorcery involved. Either way, thank you Super Jennie for coming to the rescue! Five stars all around!"
For a Low Cervix
If you have a low cervix, you might need a menstrual cup that is shorter and more flexible. The FemmyCycle menstrual cup has a different "wine glass" shape than other ones on the market. It features a "no-spill" foldable rim and a ring at the base instead of a stem. The brand has a specific size for lower cervixes. One Amazon reviewer wrote, "I have a low-sitting cervix and I have tried a few other cup models. Some didn’t completely fit inside. Some fit completely inside but caused a lot of cramping… The low-cervix model fits the most comfortably and while its appearance is a little daunting it actually collapses inside so it’s more comfortable than standard cup designs. The unique design of this cup makes the worry of spilling a cup a non-issue."
For a High Cervix
The Lily Cup has a higher capacity and a longer stem, which can help if you have a higher cervix. It comes in two sizes—the manufacturer recommends opting for size A if you have not given birth vaginally and size B if you have given birth vaginally and/or have a weaker pelvic floor. One Amazon review reads, "I have a high cervix, and have not given birth yet. A little research and I bought this cup. Went right in, no pain, no fuss! It is so comfortable, you don't even feel it! (I did have to cut the stem a little bit). Haven't leaked at all. This is a FANTASTIC alternative to pads and tampons."
The Saalt cup is good for everyday and when you're working out or swimming. The design is soft and flexible, and it's created for an active lifestyle. Plus, you can use it over and over again—one cup can last 10 years. One reviewer wrote on Amazon: "I just finished my first cycle with my Saalt cup. After a bit of a learning curve, it was great! It is important to remember that a cup sits lower than a tampon, and after this little hiccup I had no issues. It was easy to use and I never had any issues with getting the cup to open. I was able to do yard work, climb, jump, swim, and hike with no issues and also felt cleaner."
Other Top-Rated Menstrual Cups
Lunette menstrual cups have over 4000 ratings and four and a half stars on Amazon, so it can make a good starter cup for beginners. It can stay in for 12 hours and on average needs to be emptied two to four times per day, depending on your flow. Model 1 is for light to normal flow and for teens and young adults, while Model 2 is for normal to heavy flow and for women who have weak vaginal muscles. One Amazon reviewer raved, "My favorite part is how lazy I can be on my period now, and still be totally sustainable! Like even though I'll be on my period for an upcoming vacation, I know it won't be that terrible thanks to my Lunette, because it is so low maintenance. I'll only have to worry about changing every 10-12 hours even on my heaviest days, so it won't interfere when I'm out having fun."
One of the OG menstrual cups on the market, the DivaCup has 6000 ratings and four and a half stars on Amazon. There are three different sizes to choose from, depending on the diameter of the cup. One Amazon review said, "I should have bought one of these sooner! I have used pads, tampons, period panties, and menstrual discs, before trying a menstrual cup and this is the best period product ever created. I find the Diva Cup more comfortable than pads, tampons, and period panties and love that it is reusable and zero waste. Because of the cup's capacity, I can go most of the day without having to check on it, and I personally cannot feel or notice the cup throughout the day."
The Dutchess cups are also made of medical-grade silicone, like many of the others on this list, and are phthalate-, latex-, dioxin-, and BPA-free. One Amazon reviewer wrote, "It does take a little practice to find the best way of getting it in and out, but these are exceptionally better than the traditional pads or tampons. They stop any and all leaking so all you need to wear is this. I also did not think this would help relieve period symptoms (and I experience terrible symptoms), but it does. I was incredibly more comfortable because I used these."
You might know Cora from its nontoxic tampons and pads. The brand also makes a menstrual cup that's made of soft silicone with an innovative finger dent to make it easy to fold and insert. One Amazon review says, "This cup is so much easier and leak-free than using pads and tampons, it’s just a better way! I only have to empty it three times a day and it never gets close to filling up like I imagined it would! Pads and tampons made me think that I was bleeding much more than I actually was, now I’m thinking that was an intentional thing to keep me buying more and more. This sort of changes your whole period game."
The Blossom cups not only have stellar reviews on Amazon (5000 ratings and four and a half stars), but they're also significantly cheaper than many of the other menstrual cups out there. One reviewer wrote, "This is the second brand of menstrual cup that I've tried. I tried the first seven months ago and didn't like how it was too soft, flexible so I switched to the Blossom two months ago. The Blossom is slightly firmer which makes it easier to properly insert it more consistently. Tighter seal means less leaks, less spotting."