Last updated: August 18, 2021

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The menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene tool that owes its name to its cup shape. It is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluids during the period. Menstrual cups have emerged as an alternative to pads and tampons. They have become popular because they are healthier and more practical.

The variety of menstrual cups on the market is wide. This is mainly because there are several aspects that change between models and that modify the profile of the cup. These include the material, the size, the handle, among others. Here we will comment on all these aspects.




The most important

  • Menstrual cups have emerged as a popular alternative to pads and tampons. It has several advantages that the other methods do not have. Among other things, it is a more hygienic method and has a smaller ecological footprint because it is reusable.
  • Because they are reusable, menstrual cups not only have a smaller ecological footprint, but also save money in the long run. A good quality menstrual cup can last up to 25 years, which means 2.5 decades without buying tampons or pads. Even changing it at the recommended time - 2 or 3 years - is a huge financial saving.
  • Size and material are aspects that are defined by the physiological profile of the woman. The needs of a woman who has given birth are different from those of a woman who has not given birth, and also different from those of a virgin.

The Best Menstrual Cup: Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about menstrual cups

The menstrual cup is an intimate female item intended for use during the menstrual period.
(Source: Maridav/ 123rf.com)

What are menstrual cups and what are their advantages?

A menstrual cup is an intimate female item intended for use during the menstrual period. It is designed to be inserted into the vagina to fit the vaginal walls. It collects the menstrual flow and retains it until the cup is removed from the vagina.

There are positive aspects that result from its use, such as long-term economic savings, a reduced ecological footprint, it is much cleaner than sanitary pads or sanitary towels, and it is also very durable and resistant. The use of menstrual cups has become more and more widespread and their use is becoming more and more common.

Advantages
  • It is more hygienic than other methods
  • It has a smaller ecological footprint
  • It allows you to go to the beach or swimming pool during your period
  • It saves money
  • It can last up to 15 years
  • There is no risk of overflow
Disadvantages
  • Strict hygiene must be maintained
  • Handling it involves getting blood on your hands
  • It cannot be washed in public toilets
  • Some materials can cause allergies
  • It can be cumbersome to insert and remove it

When were menstrual cups invented?

Menstrual cups have only recently become popular, but they are not a new invention. The most rudimentary cups emerged around 1867, but the first effective and sufficiently hygienic cup was created in the 1930s. These were the first to be made of latex.

The use of menstrual cups declined during World War II, and the product recovered momentarily in the 1960s in the USA. The disadvantages of the cup at this time were that it was very large, very stiff and very heavy. There were also many prejudices about contact with menstrual flow.

In the 1980's, experiments with menstrual cups began, creating more sophisticated, adaptable and modern models. This is how medical silicone was introduced as the material of choice, and various sizes were created to suit the physiological conditions of each woman.

Menstrual cup made of medical silicone, TPE or latex?

There are several criteria to follow when choosing a menstrual cup. The first one to look at is the type of material you want the cup to be made of. There are three materials that menstrual cups are regularly made from: medical silicone, TPE or thermoplastic elastomers and latex.

Menstrual cups made from medical silicone are the most common, as this is a very convenient material for use in intimate instruments. Medical silicone is a medical grade material and is also non-porous so it does not harbour pathogens that can cause infections later on.

TPE or thermoplastic elastomers also have particular advantages when used as a material for menstrual cups. It was developed for plastic products related to medical procedures. It is excellent for the environment, as it is a recyclable material that prevents allergic reactions.

Latex menstrual cups are the oldest of the menstrual cups mentioned. It is an environmentally friendly material extracted from the hevea tree, and is highly resistant and soft to the touch. Its high elasticity is one of the aspects that have boosted its use, as well as the fact that it is quite hygienic and safe.

Medical Silicone TPE Latex
Hypoallergenic Low toxins Watch out for possible allergies
100% pure silicone Zero compounds that can cause allergies Good resistance
Easy to clean Recyclable material Great elasticity
Soft and flexible

How much does a menstrual cup cost?

Menstrual cups are a product with a lot of variety, so there is a lot of choice on the market. Because of this there is a considerable price range, but not too wide. The cost is influenced by aspects such as size, capacity, material and style, all of which change the profile of the cup.

The cheapest ones can cost as little as 250 MXN, usually the simplest and with the smallest capacity, but you can get very good quality cups for a little more. The most expensive ones are around 900 MXN, which are usually made of the best materials and with greater durability.

Although there are sets of glasses that can cost up to 1,200 MXN. These are usually special promotions or use kits that include accessories such as cases and wet wipes.

The cheapest ones can cost at least 250 MXN

Buying criteria

Consider these criteria before choosing a menstrual cup:

Size

The idea of creating different sizes for menstrual cups came about in the 1980s as a way to re-promote the product. Today there are numerous sizes that will depend on brand parameters, but most are limited to two sizes: large and small.

When talking about these general sizes, the large sizes are designed for women over 25 years old or who have given birth. While the smaller sizes are designed for women under 25 who have not given birth. This is determined because the narrowness of the vaginal walls affects the effectiveness of the cup.

The more specific sizes have been determined according to certain parameters. Size S is intended for women under 18 or virgins, usually 38mm in diameter with a maximum capacity of 23ml. The medium size has a diameter of 41mm with a capacity of 28ml. This is intended for those under 25 years of age.

Size L is intended for women over the age of 25 or who have already given birth. It has a diameter of 44mm with a capacity of 34ml. For heavy flow and vaginas that are not very tight there is a size XL, which has a diameter of 47mm and a capacity of 42ml.

Hardness

The softness or stiffness of a menstrual cup is one of the most important criteria to consider. In order to decide on one, certain needs and preferences must be established, as it is an aspect that depends to a large extent on the personal taste of the user.

Soft and flexible cups have the advantage of not causing any discomfort while inside the vagina. But it has the disadvantage that it can easily become dislodged and cause some leakage. While stiffer cups ensure coverage but may cause discomfort to the user.

To solve this situation, menstrual cups were developed with a rigid mouth while the rest of the cup is soft. However, it is possible to find a cup with the right balance between softness and stiffness.

The menstrual cup is an intimate female item intended for use during the menstrual period. (Source: mukhina1: 87555920/ 123rf.com)

Style

The style and look of the menstrual cup are features that will help you create a connection with this intimate wear item. There are many shapes and colours available on the market that open up a wide range of options for shoppers. Some are even glow-in-the-dark or fluorescent.

Style has no immediate effect on the efficacy or effectiveness of the cup, but it does affect the way the user feels about the cup. It is more a criterion of personal feeling than practicality.

Handle

The handle is an appendage that menstrual cups have on the bottom. It is intended to be pulled to remove the cup from the vagina, and an attempt has been made to develop a design aimed at preventing spillage, leaking or staining. So there are different types of pullers with different methods.

Some cups have handles that are just a bulge that must be pulled to remove the cup. Others are more sophisticated and have a ring into which you insert your finger to pull the cup with more comfort and control. Others have a hook-shaped protrusion into which you can hook your finger to pull out the cup

The style and look of the menstrual cup are features that will help you create a connection with this intimate object. (Source: Suria: 99358366/ 123rf.com)

Capacity

The capacity of a menstrual cup is related to the size of the cup, as in general larger cups have a larger capacity. But there are also small cups designed for heavy flow. So virgins or women with narrow vaginas who have a heavy flow have an answer to their need.

Whereas if you have a light or light flow you can opt for a cup with a small capacity. This way you can save a small margin of money on the purchase and you will get one that fits properly to the diameter of your vagina.

(Featured image source: Yulia Grogoryeva: 41238209/ 123rf.com)

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