I’m relatively new to the idea of menstrual cups, so I’ve been trying to find the best brand out there for me. I’ve tried a fair few and so I thought I’d write up my findings to help anyone else who is considering getting hold of one but isn’t quite certain about making that leap.
If you’re wondering why you should bother at all when you’re getting along fine with tampons, there are a whole load of reasons that others have already written about (be warned; that last link is not for the faint-hearted). So I’ll just say this – you can put it in and forget about it for up to 12 hours. Plus, there is no need to worry about running out of supplies, since your next 12 hours of protection is already inside of you. Can you say that about tampons? The whole idea of something reusable sounds odd at first, but only because we’re not used to it.
There are loads of brands out there; this is just a comparison of the ones I happen to have tried and needless to say this is just my own personal experience – others will have different perspectives.
Picture shows (from left to right): Unopened and opened Softcup; Mooncup and case; Femmycycle and case; Lily Cup and case.
Instead Softcup – Reusable
First, I tried the Softcup. This is a completely different design from the other cups, as the removal and insertion process is different and it sits differently in the body. They have plenty of information on their website about how to use it. It’s also different in that it’s not as long lasting as most. The “Reusable” version says it is “reused throughout one menstrual cycle” and there is a disposable version which is designed to be worn for 12 hours and then binned. However, I tried the reusable one and the instruction leaflet actually says: “To store a used reusable Softcup, wash thoroughly with a mild, unscented soap, dry completely and store in a ventilated container. Many find it most convenient to use and reuse one up at the start of each period and discarding it at the end of the cycle or when washing or rinsing the cup becomes inconvenient.” So, there is really no reason why you can’t use it for a number of months.
- Cheap to buy.
- Easy to insert and remove.
- Flat shape makes it easy to stow in your bag.
- One size: no wondering if you’re buying the right one and no trimming to fit.
- You can wear it during sex (so they say – I haven’t tested that!).
- Relatively short lasting.
- No case provided.
- Messy to remove.
- Likely to leak when you’re sat on the loo, meaning you’ll probably want to wear a panty liner as back up.
- Took me a while to get insertion right, as initially I didn’t have it in far enough, and if it’s in the wrong place will offer no protection.
- One size inevitably means it won’t work for everyone.
While I was struggling with the positioning of the Softcup, I went to Boots for a Mooncup because I know how popular they are. It comes in two sizes, based on age and child-bearing history. You wash it with soap and water and boil for a more thorough clean if you need to.
- Last for 10 years – super economical.
- Made and designed here in the UK.
- Easily available in Boots (all the others I’ve bought online).
- Come with a nice cotton pouch.
- Great customer support if you have queries.
- Needs to be trimmed to fit. I feel that I want to get used to it first to know how much to trim; but I can’t wear it to get used to it until it’s trimmed because it’s not comfortable.
- It has a relatively thick and stiff rim (to ensure it pops open inside you), but I’ve found it very uncomfortable to remove and I can’t get my head round what to do differently to help that.
- I’m wondering if I bought the right size.
The Femmycycle is the same general concept as the Mooncup, but the shape is a bit different. It looks much bigger, but it’s designed to not open right up when it’s inside you; it’s flexible enough that it moulds to your shape. It comes in one original size, with smaller Teen and Low Cervix versions for those who need them. For cleaning at the end of the month, they say to soak in water and vinegar.
- No spill lip, which makes removal less messy.
- The stem is a loop, which makes removal easier.
- Easy sizing and no trimming to fit.
- I can’t feel it at all and I get 12 hours of completely leak free wear – I can literally forget I’m wearing it.
- Folding for insertion is a little tricky, although I’m getting used to it.
- Currently still finding it uncomfortable to remove, but that is getting better with practice.
- Relatively short life span: recommended to change once a year.
- Not so transportable. It comes with a case, but it’s kind of bulky (and a little ugly).
- The instruction leaflet is brief and poorly written – however, there is plenty of information on the website, including plenty of detailed and informative customer reviews.
I wanted to try the Lily Cup because of the smooth shape, which looked like it would make removal more comfortable. There is also a compact version, which is shaped more like a Mooncup, but collapses/folds down to a flat shape to make it more portable. Cleaning recommendation is soap and water, with the option to boil for a more thorough clean when you need to.
- Comes with a nice pouch (“anti-bacterial and anti-stain”).
- Good instruction leaflet and plenty of info online.
- Its smooth shape makes it comfortable to remove.
- You can trim the stem if you need to.
- Like the Mooncup it comes in two sizes, but the information on which to get is different. So while I bought the bigger Mooncup, I have the smaller Lily Cup and I think smaller is probably what I needed.
- The stem is hollow, so you have to be careful to clean it.
- I find it a little fiddly to remove – the stem gives you less to grip on to than the Femmycycle.
- They say you can roll it for insertion, so that it’s barely bigger than a tampon – I couldn’t get it to roll at all, although this may be another thing that just takes some practice. However, I did find it easy to insert just folded.
- Smaller capacity than the Femmycycle.
So, while I’m still getting used to them, I am completely converted to the idea of cups. It requires some initial investment of time as you learn, but I can already tell it will be worth it and save me so much hassle in the long run.
I’m planning to continue using the Femmycycle (though possibly with the Lily Cup pouch), but I may come back to the Lily Cup again as well. I’d like to be able to get used to the Lily Cup as I’d then buy the compact version, which folds down flat into a pretty little case and would be great to just chuck in your bag. In the meantime, I have a Softcup wrapped in tissue and stowed in a little purse, which works well enough.
General Menstrual Cup tips:
- There are plenty of reviews and blogs online and each company has its own info. You will need to do some reading, but it will save you time in the long run.
- Once you’ve bought one, read the leaflet it comes with, particularly regarding cleaning, as recommendations vary. Some brands say “boil, but don’t use vinegar”, some say “use vinegar, but don’t boil”, etc.
- There is a learning curve – give yourself at least three months to get used to it.
- There are plenty of people online willing to answer questions. For example, there is an active Facebook group called Menstrual Cups Worldwide, which has a ton of information and discussions on every aspect of cup usage you can think of – and some!
There are lots of other brands out there to try, but I hope I’ve taken the mystery out of menstrual cups for you, and tempted at least some of you to give them a go.
– Tracey Duckett