The best menstrual cup
While menstrual cups aren't as commonly used as tampons or pads, they may be a better alternative for that time of the month. For one, they are reusable, which means after an initial expense, there is no more spending money on sanitary products. And because they are reusable and long-lasting, menstrual cups are also eco-friendly. What's more, they can be worn for up to 12 hours, and they have five times the capacity of tampons -- great news for women with heavy flow.
If you're curious about menstrual cups, read on for more information and product recommendations. We're particularly proud of our top recommendation, which is perhaps the easiest to use (and easiest to clean) menstrual cup on the market.
Considerations when choosing menstrual cups
There are many benefits to using a menstrual cup over tampons and pads. Comfort is a big one. Many women find menstrual cups more comfortable than tampons. In terms of insertion, if you're comfortable inserting a non-applicator tampon, you'd probably be comfortable inserting a menstrual cup. Active users find them less likely to leak during sports and exercise, too.
Not only are menstrual cups better for the environment, they're also potentially better for your body, as they contain zero fragrances, chlorine, bleach, or other chemicals found in tampons and pads. Menstrual cups are non-irritating to women with skin sensitivities and conditions. Most are made from medical-grade silicone, which is great news for those with latex allergies.
Choosing a size
There are generally two sizes that menstrual cups come in: a smaller size and a larger size. However, some manufacturers offer menstrual cups in three sizes. For those under 30 and who haven't given vaginal birth, the smaller size is recommended. For those over 30 or who have given vaginal birth, the larger size is recommended. If you have a heavier flow, you may want to consider the larger size because of its greater capacity.
The average capacity for a menstrual cup is between 20 and 30 mL. To put this in perspective, most women shed 30 to 120 mL during an entire cycle. If you have heavy periods, you might want to consider a cup with a capacity of 40 mL. If you have light cycles, you might want to consider a cup with a capacity of 10 mL.
Your lifestyle is also a factor in choosing the right capacity. For instance, if you have a job where you can't use the bathroom at your leisure, you might consider a cup with larger capacity.
Menstrual cups vary in firmness. Firmer cups have a tighter seal once inserted, which means less chance of leaking. They are also more likely to open properly once inside. However, some users find firmer cups uncomfortable and difficult to insert. When in doubt, purchase a menstrual cup with medium firmness as a compromise.
Menstrual cups come in different shapes. Some are bell-shaped, some are spherical, and some are shaped like a champagne flute. Most are comfortable, and women tend to prefer whichever shape they first use. However, if you know that you have a low cervix or a cervix that sits low during menstruation, we recommend a shorter model.
In the long run, you will save money using a menstrual cup. Women spend an average of $120 on tampons and pads a year. A menstrual cup will run you $10 to $40 upfront and can last a lifetime. You will save a considerable amount of money using a menstrual cup over disposable sanitary options.
Q. How do you empty a menstrual cup?
A. You can safely wear a menstrual cup up to 12 hours before having to empty it. Normally, menstrual cups are emptied in the sink, then rinsed before reinsertion. If you're using a public restroom and don't feel comfortable using the sink, you can empty your cup in the toilet bowl and wipe out the cup with toilet paper (or rinse it with bottled water if you are carrying some). We recommend washing your hands before going into the stall for this process.
Q. How long do these cups last?
A. A well-manufactured menstrual cup can last a lifetime. Cups constructed from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) have the longest shelf life, though silicone cups also last a long time. If your cup splits, becomes sticky, or starts to leak, it's time to replace it.
Clear cups will become discolored from use, which is not an indication that they need to be replaced. If this bothers you, we recommend purchasing a colored cup.
Q. What is the stem at the end of the cup?
A. The stem is simply there to help you remove the cup. If you feel it's too long or not necessary, you can simply trim it with scissors. Just be careful not to nick the cup itself.
Menstrual cups we recommend
Best of the best: Lunette Menstrual Cup
Our take: It sits higher on the price spectrum, but this menstrual cup is nonetheless worth it for its ease of cleaning and of use.
What we like: This cup is rated as being one of the most comfortable menstrual cups on the market. It is also highly rated for its easy-to-clean design.
What we dislike: This cup is twice the price of more economic models, but the majority of users say it is worth the expense.
Best bang for your buck: Dutchess Menstrual Cups
Our take: This option includes two cups for less than the cost of some cups on the market. In spite of the budget price, it retains its quality of construction.
What we like: Users appreciate how soft and flexible this design is while still holding up to continued use.
What we dislike: This model comes with a shorter stem that may make removal a challenge.
Choice 3: Diva Cup Menstrual Cup
Our take: A popular model that is both high in quality and affordable at its mid-range price.
What we like: This cup is designed to be worn overnight and has a reputation for being easy to use and comfortable. It receives top marks for not leaking.
What we dislike: Like all menstrual cups, this one comes with a learning curve for usage. This model in particular lacks clear instructions.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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