#Health & Fitness
Replace Tampons and Pads with the 10 Best Menstrual Cups That Actually Work
by Daniela Galvez
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Did you know that many conventional pads and tampons contain hazardous ingredients that can be harmful to the body? Not to mention they result in 3.2 million kilograms of waste every year. If you’re looking for a healthier and eco-friendly alternative to traditional period hygienic products, menstrual cups are the answer.
What exactly is a menstrual cup?
In short, a menstrual cup is a flexible cup-shaped vessel made of silicone or rubber that you wear inside your vagina while on your period. Unlike a tampon or pad, a menstrual cup collects your period blood until you’re ready to dump it out, typically holding way more liquid than the cotton alternatives. According to Dr. Renee Allen, an OBGYN from Atlanta, GA, a reusable menstrual cup can hold up to 1 ounce of fluid, which is almost twice the amount a super-plus tampon or pad can handle. Dr. Allen says you can even keep it in overnight, as long as you empty it out every 8-12 hours and rinse between uses.
The increased popularity of menstrual cups is largely due to their eco-friendliness and cost effectiveness. You’re not throwing away wrappers, applicators and cotton products each month (or more if you’re irregular), making them less wasteful than tampons and pads. And while the initial cost of one cup may range from $15-$40, Dr. Allen says menstrual cups can last up to 10 years, saving you a pretty penny over time.
Plus, menstrual cups require fewer trips to the bathroom throughout the day, compared to the recommended every 4-8 hours for tampons. They also don’t leak as much and aren’t scented or full of other strange chemicals like some feminine products.
Using a menstrual cup can be intimidating or a little hard to understand at first. The learning curve associated with using a menstrual cup requires you to get up close and personal with your vagina, which may be difficult or uncomfortable for younger girls or women who have never engaged in sexual activity.
There’s also the potentially messy emptying process, which has made many skeptic. To avoid this, empty the cup while hovering over a toilet close to a sink (at home is ideal) or even in the shower, so you have easy access to water for rinsing the cup and your hands after. Dr. Allen also recommends sterilizing the cup between cycles using boiling water and unscented soap. You can also clean your menstrual cup with a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 9 parts water) according to Dr. Sherry Ross, OBGYN and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.
Though advertised as being safer than other alternatives, menstrual cups still pose a very slim risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, like all products that allow air to enter the vagina.
Should you use one?
Of course, everyone’s body is different, so deciding whether or not to use a menstrual cup really comes down to personal comfort and ease of use. Dr. Nicole Bullock, an OBGYN based in Abilene, Texas, says, “The vagina’s pretty elastic and forgiving. The differences between most models are pretty small, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect fit — it just has to fit comfortably.” Her two most important factors in determining which cup size to use are whether you’ve had a baby and your age range. The rest is up to research and trial and error.
Put a Cup in It offers a free quiz asking nine questions about factors like age, whether you’ve had children, your activity level, and cervix to help you find your cup match made in heaven.
Both Dr. Allen and Dr. Sherry say you are safe to wear a cup with an IUD. Dr. Allen says, “Recent studies that have looked at IUD expulsion and menstrual cup use have been reassuring in that they have found no increase in the IUD expulsion rate between pads, tampons and menstrual cups.” If you’re at all worried that your cup may interfere with your IUD, talk with your gyno just to be safe.
From menstrual cups that offer leak-free protection for those with heavy flow to ones that provide comfort for first-time users, we rounded up the best menstrual cups that’ll inspire you to ditch tampons and pads forever. Are you ready to jump on the menstrual cup bandwagon? Scroll through to see which top menstrual cup would work best for your body and lifestyle.
- Best for Beginners: Lena Menstrual Cup
- Best for Heavy Flow: Lunette Reusable Model 2
- Best Affordable Pick: Blossom Menstrual Cup
- Best Value Pack: Dutchess Cup
- Best for Comfort: Saalt Menstrual Cup
- Best for Travel: Intimina Lily Cup Compact
- Best for Low Cervix: FemmyCycle Menstrual Cup Spill-Proof
- Best for High Cervix: Intimina Lily Cup
- Best Disposable: Softcup Disposable Menstrual Discs
- Best-Selling: DivaCup
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.