Last updated: August 31, 2021

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Menstruation is a physiological phenomenon that every woman experiences 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. For many women, menstrual period rhymes with pain, mood swings, bloating and malaise, amongst others.

Different methods have been developed throughout history to help women overcome their menstrual period, giving them greater comfort and hygiene during those days of the month. Menstrual cups are one such advance: an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly product that you'll learn all about in our article!


  • Menstrual cups are a great alternative that retain menstrual flow, contrary to tampons and sanitary towels that 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 it has an estimated life cycle of 10 years.
  • You'll find menstrual cups in different materials, sizes and models. This affordable alternative that retains your menstrual flow is also environmentally friendly.

The best menstrual cups: Our Picks

The following section is our very own selection of the best menstrual cups currently available on the market. We've detailed the key features of each product to make it easier for you to compare them individually and to choose the most suitable product for your needs.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about menstrual cups

Before you set your mind on a specific menstrual cup, it is strongly recommended to be aware of a certain number of aspects regarding this product. 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 past users.

Medical silicone, latex and thermoplastic elastomer are the most common manufacturing materials.
(Source: Antonio Diaz: 120173724/

What is a menstrual cup exactly?

This little container is inserted into the vagina to retain menstrual flow during your menses. Similarly to tampons and pads, this product is designed to contain your bleeding; that being said, it does not absorb the liquid, unlike the two previously mentioned.

The cup becomes a reservoir for menstrual flow once it is positioned inside the vagina: as we mentioned above, it truly contains and does not absorb it. Once you remove the cup, all you have to do is discard its content in the toilet.

Unlike sanitary towels and tampons, the great advantage of this item is that it is reusable.

Why should I use menstrual cups?

Menstrual cups are a great option to consider, taken into account its multiple advantages. First of all, this very comfortable product can be worn for hours without needing to be changed. Once it's on, this little item is imperceptible and very safe for your body, without limiting your day-to-day activities.

Regarding your budget, the advantage of menstrual cups is huge: you won't have to constantly spend on pads and tampons anymore. Don't forget that you can use the very same cup for up to 10 years. Their characteristics prevent infections, as these products cannot actually retain germs. All in all, they are easy to get and to use, comfortable and practical.

Barbara Hays, MDBoard-certified Ob/Gyn
"Over time, a non-disposable menstrual cup can save significant money over buying tampons or pads".

You should also keep in mind that menstrual cups are environmentally friendly, as they reduce environmental toxic 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?

Different models have been developed over the years, and they are now available 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 grip at the bottom.

Once placed inside the vagina, this grip is very useful to extract the cup. In that regard, it is the equivalent of a tampon's thread. Most cups feature two holes at the top, through which air can enter; this allows the cup to loosen once it is in the vagina and perform its function.

Economically speaking, menstrual cups are clearly advantageous, as they avoid constant spending on pads and tampons.
(Source: Josep maria suria: 99373421/

The gauge present in certain cups is designed for you to quantify your menstrual flow. The great flexibility of these products means that they can be easily folded and inserted into the vagina, as simply as a tampon. This very flexibility is also what allows them to open once they have been inserted, adopting their original shape.

What are menstrual cups made of?

Different materials are used to manufacture menstrual cups, all of which offer great flexibility. Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), latex and medical silicone are the most frequently used. Food colouring is also found in these products; this is why menstrual cups are available in different colours on the market.

The compounds mentioned above are highly safe, as they contain potentially irritating chemical compounds or allergenic substances. They are designed to respect your vaginal flora and shouldn't cause any dryness, itching or release any material particles.

How do menstrual cup work and how are they inserted?

We've already mentioned that menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina and act as container that will hold your menstrual flow. While this may seem complex at first, using a cup is actually very straightforward, so don't be afraid to do it. Start by folding it until it is narrow and easy to insert.

After that, all you need to do it is insert the cup into your vagina like a tampon. Make sure you insert it at a depth where you can remove it by using its lower end. Their capacity of 30 ml means you can keep them on for up to 12 hours, depending on the amount of menstrual flow you release. Remove it when it is filled.

You'll easily remove the cup from your vagina by pulling on the stiffest lower end. You can empty its contents into the toilet. Make sure you thoroughly wash your cup with soap and water after use, and it'll be ready to be used again. At the end of your menstrual cycle, it is also recommended to boil your cup as a sterilisation method for use the next month.

What types of menstrual cups are available out there?

Since every woman is different, it's no surprise that all menstrual cups aren't born equal either. In that regard, the market currently offers a wide variety of products, that come in different materials, shapes, colours and dimensions. This means there's always the right product for you out there.

Regarding the different models or shapes, you'll naturally find the cup or bell type, but also the diaphragm type. You'll also find several sizes available ranked from the smallest (S) to the largest (XL), and we've already mentioned the 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?

In contract to sanitary towels and tampons, menstrual cups are reusable. Once you've inserted it, it should be emptied, cleaned and can then be reintroduced. Each woman has her own quantity of menstrual flow, so the frequency at which it should be emptied will vary. On average, a cup can generally be used for about 12 hours continuously.

That being said, you are recommended to empty them more frequently when you start using them, which will help you adapt to them. Menstrual cups are highly resistant and safe. As we mentioned before, reusable menstrual cups were designed to be used for up to 10 years before you need to change them.

Your menstrual cup can also be sterilised in the microwave. Simply boil a bowl of water without the cup, take the container out of the microwave and place your menstrual cup in the boiling water.

Can I use the cup during sexual intercourse?

Please bear in mind that the menstrual cup is not a contraceptive method. 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. For that reason, under no circumstances whatsoever should you use it as a contraceptive.

That being said, certain products are designed for use during sexual intercourse. This is, for instance, the case of disposable diaphragm cups. These are particularly flexible and soft, and can be inserted deeper into the vagina. Note that bell-shaped cups inserted into the lower part of the vagina and are therefore not suitable for sexual intercourse.

You'll find a wide variety of menstrual cups: they come in different materials, shapes, colours, and dimensions.
(Source: Sergiobarrios: 79704992/

What is the difference between menstrual cups tampons and sanitary towels?

While they share the same purpose, pads and tampons have significant differences with menstrual cups. One of the main ones is that they are designed for single use, as opposed to cups that are reusable and can last up to 10 years. This has a significant impact on the environment, as well as on your budget.

Moreover, menstrual cups are considered to be safer for your health than other options. Since they are manufactured with inert material, they prevent the development of infections, whereas tampons and sanitary towels have been associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), candidiasis and other conditions. Cups also avoid dryness.

Did you know that the first menstrual cups on record date back to 1937?

What are the risks of using menstrual cups?

While these products have many great properties for you, you should know that they also present certain drawbacks or disadvantages. These are mostly linked to the initial difficulties related to its use. These problems may include removing the cup from your vagina or placing it incorrectly, which leads to discomfort.

It is also possible that flow losses occur in the first few days, which is generally caused by inadequate cup size or placement. Note that clear cups may become yellowish over time, giving you a dirty feeling. The good news is that this can be avoided by using coloured cups.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups?

In short, these products offer a comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly method. They have many advantages over pads and tampons, but this doesn't mean they don't come with their own drawbacks. We've summed up the main advantages and disadvantages of menstrual cups in the following table:

  • Variety of sizes and models
  • Less frequent changes
  • Less spending
  • Lesser risk of infections
  • Won't dry or damage the vagina
  • Respectful to the environment
  • Difficulties to adapt to their use
  • Flow loss if placed incorrectly

Shopping Criteria

Menstrual cups are delicate products, and there are several key aspects that you need to consider before you make your purchase. In the following section, we've detailed these important factors to help you in making the most appropriate decision depending on your personal needs. These aspects are:


Different sizes with distinct dimensions are available on the market. While some sources advise you to base your choice on the quantity of your menstrual flow, the general recommendation is to take into account your vagina's anatomy, for which the following factors are important:

  • 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 had a vaginal delivery: 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 constitution and height may affect these suggestions. 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.

The multiple advantages of menstrual cups make them a very viable option.
(Source: Grogoryeva: 41240167/


As we mentioned earlier on in the article, you will find a wide variety of products on the market. Several different colours are available, the most frequent of which being pink and purple. That being said, you'll also see models in yellow, blue, green and every other colour you can possibly think of.

There are no strict criteria when it comes to choosing one colour or another for your menstrual cup, and the product will work all the same regardless of its colour. This is why you should only let yourself be guided by your preferences and comfort. As we mentioned before, you don't have to worry about the colourant they contain: they are perfectly safe and non-toxic.

One single menstrual cup can replace five tampons.
(Source: David-Pereiras-Villagrá: 77480481/


The manufacturing material used for your menstrual cup is something else that can vary. We've already briefly talked about the most frequently used materials: thermoplastic elastomer, medical silicone and latex. All are highly safe compounds and don't present any additional risk of infection or others.

These three materials used for menstrual cups all offer similar consistency and texture. They are extremely flexible and effective in retaining menstrual flow. All you'll have to do is choose the one that best suits your preferences. If you suffer from allergies or intolerance, please keep them in mind – this is particularly true for latex.


While the majority of menstrual cups are shaped – as their name indicates like cups, you can find other models on the market too. The most frequently used is the diaphragm model, designed to be placed right below your cervix. It stands out from other types as it can be used during sexual relations.

Other models feature rough surfaces that will adapt to the walls of your vagina, making them more comfortable. If you're starting out with menstrual cups, it is recommended to opt for a model that features a small device to extract it, like a little hook or protrusion.

Remember that folding models are also available; they are practical for travelling.

Disposable models

Disposable menstrual cups are designed for use during a single cycle. This option may not be as environmentally friendly as reusable products, but they'll give you greater autonomy during all 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 menstrual flow retention system, with multiple advantages that easily beat classic tampons and sanitary towels. This very comfortable and practical alternative is highly safe for you. If that weren't enough, these products are also budget and environmentally friendly!

Are you tired of having a big chunk of your budget dedicated to pads and tampons? Are you sick of having to change them constantly? Go for menstrual cups, and all these will be problems of the past. You can keep them on for up to 12 hours without even noticing it, and you won't have to buy another for the next 10 years.

Do you now know 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: Hidalgo: 85269922/