A menstrual cup is a menstrual health product (like tampons, pads and liners) made of latex, silicone or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). It is usually bell-shaped, around 2 inches long and flexible. A menstrual cup is worn internally, but collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbs. Unlike pads and tampons, a menstrual cup is reusable and can last for years.
Why should I switch to a menstrual cup?
There are many benefits to using a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups collect flow, not absorb. As such, they don't dry you out or disrupt the pH levels of your vagina. They are also comfortable when inserted correctly, and have a greater capacity than pads or tampons. Using cups minimizes the waste created every cycle, and are cheaper in the long run.
Read more about why you should switch in our blog post here.
Is the menstrual cup safe to insert into my body?
All brands of menstrual cups we bring in are made of high quality medical-grade silicone. Quality matters to us because we don't want to insert any dubious materials into the vagina! We do not stock any menstrual cups that are made of unknown quality materials, or are knock-offs of established brands. Although such cups can be purchased at very low prices on websites such as AliExpress, we only wish to bring in the highest quality items for our customers.
All the brands of cups that we carry are registered with the FDA in the US. You can refer to this blog post where we discuss FDA approval and registration of menstrual cups. You may also refer to the quality and standards of our cups (in the individual product listings) for your peace of mind.
Which menstrual cup is right for me?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a menstrual cup, namely the amount of flow, your anatomy, the location of your cervix, and the stiffness of the cup. Take our quiz to find out which menstrual cup will best suit your needs. You may also refer to our comparison chart for more information.
Do menstrual cups cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?
TSS is a medical condition caused by infection of a bacteria that produces a toxin that triggers the immune system to go haywire. TSS can happen to anyone (even men and babies), whether menstruating or not. However, it is often inaccurately linked to solely the use of tampons. It is important to note that there have been cases linked to use of sanitary pads, as well.
TSS has also been known to be recurrent, even after an individual has stopped using the product (tampon or pad) that had triggered it. TSS can be fatal, but early detection can help save lives. You need to be aware of the symptoms of TSS, which include:
- Severe flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and pains, stomach cramps, a headache, or a sore throat.
- Sudden fever over 39°C (102°F).
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Signs of shock, including low blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, often with light-headedness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, or restlessness and confusion.
- A rash that looks like a sunburn. The rash can be over several areas of your body or just in specific places such as the armpits or the groin.
- Pain at the site of an infection (if a wound or injury to the skin is involved).
- Redness in the nasal passages and inside the mouth.
Studies of TSS in menstrual cup users is extremely limited, and due to a lack of conclusive evidence, no medical authority has taken a stand as to whether menstrual cups can cause TSS. In July 2015, there was a case report in the UK, of a woman using menstrual cups who presented symptoms of TSS. However, her blood and urine test results were negative for the staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria linked to TSS.
If you think you may have TSS, please see a doctor right away. If you have ever had TSS before, speak to your doctor before using any internal products.
If you would like to have access to this case report from UK, please contact us via email.
Can the cup be used as a method of birth control or STD protection?
No, the menstrual cup cannot be used as birth control or STD protection.
There are holes in my cup! Is it a defect?
No, it's not a defect! The tiny holes near the rim of your cup allow air to flow inside the cup when breaking the seal, making it easier for removal.
Can I use a menstrual cup when...
...I have an IUD?
If you do use an IUD, consider cutting the strings as short as possible and monitoring their length regularly during periods. If the strings seem longer than normal, it might be a sign that your IUD has moved. If in doubt, please consult your doctor.
...I'm a virgin?
People who have not had penetrative sex before can still use the menstrual cup, although a softer and smaller cup may be more suitable. However, this is just a guideline and there are other factors to consider when selecting a cup (try our quiz to find the most suitable cup for you). Do note that first time users may take slightly longer to master the use of a cup.
...I've never tried tampons before?
Yes, you can still use a menstrual cup. However, if you are not familiar with your anatomy, you may take slightly longer to master the use of a cup.
Try our quiz to find the most suitable cup for you.
...I am pregnant, but sometimes still experience spotting?
You should not use the cup while you are pregnant. The vaginal canal should always be kept clear during this time, even in early stages, for safety reasons. Your pH levels are also extremely sensitive due to the chemical changes in your body during this time. Pregnant people are very prone to vaginal infections during pregnancy because of this, even if they are not doing anything differently. Wearing something inside the vagina is not best at this time.
...I am having sexual intercourse?
The only menstrual cup we stock that can be worn during sexual intercourse is the Ziggy Cup, which sits higher in the vagina than the conventional bell-shaped menstrual cups.
...I just had a baby?
You should not use a cup for postpartum bleeding. Please wait until your doctor tells you it is OK to use internal vaginal products.
...I have long nails?
You can, but you may need to be more careful during insertion and removal. The material of the cup is thick enough that your nails will not damage it, but long nails may hurt the delicate skin in that area if special care is not taken.
...I have a tilted uterus?
Most people can. You may need to find the angle that works best for you. However, please consult your doctor before trying a cup.
...I have Endometriosis?
Many people with Endometriosis do use a cup, but again, if you have a medical condition of any kind, you should always check with your doctor before trying a menstrual cup.
...I am a teenager?
Absolutely! Read our user-contributed article about using a menstrual cup as a teen. There are also menstrual cups specifically designed for teens, that are smaller in size and easier to use for first timers.
How do I use a menstrual cup?
Here are the basic steps to insert your menstrual cup. For more information, please refer to our blog post here.
- Using warm water and mild soap, wash your hands and cup under clean running water
- Choose a folding method and fold the cup
- You can stand, squat, sit, or raise one of your legs. Hold your cup firmly and guide it towards your vagina
- Relax your pelvic muscles and gently separate your labia with your other hand
- Guide your cup into your vagina, pointing it upwards toward the base of your spine
- Try to keep the cup folded until the cup body is entirely inside of your vagina
- Gently release the folded cup – the cup will pop open and create a seal
- Run a finger along the base of the cup to ensure that it has opened completely – if you feel any folds, hold the base of your cup and gently rotate it until it opens completely and creates a seal
- Gently hold the base of the cup, not the stem, and try to rotate it from side to side to ensure it is sealed
What are the different folds I can try?
There are several folds that we recommend for both beginners and experienced users, as they are the easiest to master and work well for our cups. Click to see a video of how to fold the cup with the various folds:
There are many other folds that have been tried and tested by cup users around the world. Do experiment with different folds and see which works best for you!
Can I practice putting my cup in and taking it out, before my period starts?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, you are encouraged to do so. Trying out the cup before you period comes can help you to master the techniques of inserting and removing it! We suggest doing some "dry runs" before your period, to get familiar with your body and how the cup sits in your vagina. When your period actually comes, it'll be much easier since you already know what to do. It is perfectly safe. You can even wear the cup ahead of time, when you are expecting your period.
I need to use a lubricant to make inserting a cup easier. Which kind should I use?
Water-based lubricants can be used with menstrual cups. We highly recommend the Merula Menstrual Cup Lube which is designed for use with menstrual cups.
Please do not use oil-based or silicone-based lubricants as the ingredients may degrade silicone, rendering your cup unusable. We also recommend avoiding lubricants that contain glycerin. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol compound, and can feed yeast in the vaginal environment, which may cause yeast infections or thrush.
Will I feel the cup when I wear it?
Most people cannot feel the cup if it is inserted correctly, especially if they trim the stem (but only trim as much as is necessary). Others are slightly aware that the cup is there, the same way they are aware that a tampon is in. But the cup is soft and as long as you have a good size for your needs, and it is inserted correctly, it should not hurt or cause discomfort.
Will the cup fly out when I do sports?
No. The cup is held in place by your vaginal muscles and will not fall out of your vagina. It should not move even when you are doing physical activities.
Do I need to remove the cup when urinating/having a bowel movement?
No, the hole you urinate from (the urethra) and the vagina are not the same hole. The cup will not get in the way, or fall out when you pee.
Some people prefer to remove their cup before a bowel movement as the pushing during a bowel movement may move the cup further down their vagina (but probably not enough to push it all the way out). If you do not wish to remove the cup but it has moved, you can adjust it by pushing it further back into the vagina after the bowel movement.
Do I need to trim the stem of the cup?
The position of your cervix could change during menstruation, usually moving lower down the vagina. Get through at least one period to see how your cervix height fluctuates to establish if you need to trim the stem. See if you need the stem for removal on any of the days you are on your period. If your cup sits comfortably in your vagina and the stem does not stick out, then you do not need to trim it. However, if the cup is inserted correctly and you have worn it for some time, and the stem pokes your underwear or sticks out of your vagina, consider trimming your stem. (Some cups' stem should not be trimmed - refer to individual product pages for more info.)
Be absolutely sure before you modify your cup. Don't lop off the entire stem at once; you can always trim more later but you can never put any back.
Never attempt to trim the cup’s stem while it is still inside of you; remove the cup before you trim the stem.
My cup is not opening up fully
To check if your cup has opened fully after insertion, give it a light tug. If it is fully opened and has formed a seal with the vaginal walls, it should not budge. If the cup slides out easily, the cup has not fully opened.
Some tips to make the cup open fully:
- Hold on to the base of the cup and rotate it
- Hold on to the base of the cup, pull it out slightly and let it pop open, then push it back in
- Insert a finger along the side of the cup and find the part that is still folded, and push the fold out
- Remove the cup and try another fold for insertion
My cup is leaking!
If you're sure that your cup has opened fully in your vagina, but you still experience leaking, it could be one of the following:
If it's full blown "nothing getting into the cup" leakage, then you have missed your cervix. Find your cervix and point the opening toward it during insertion.
If it's leaking like it's overflowing even though it's only partially full, then your cervix might be low and taking up some of the space in your cup. Empty your cup more often or get a cup with higher capacity.
The third kind of leak is what we call "residual slobber." That's when the flow that finds its way into the nooks and crannies of your vagina on the far side of your cup works its way out. It usually looks like a little bit of spotting. This is usually unavoidable. You can wear a cloth pad or period panties to catch the flow.
Can the cup get stuck or lost inside me?
No, the cup cannot get lost inside you, because it is trapped by the walls and the closed end of your vagina. You are sort of like a pocket up inside, there is nowhere for a cup (or anything else) to go.
Will it hurt when I am removing the cup?
Not if you break the seal properly. A first-time user may have some discomfort the first few times, but it will lessen with practice. Squeeze the cup gently, to let some air in and break the seal. Inserting a finger alongside the cup also helps this process. Sometimes there are certain medical conditions (such as vaginismus) that can cause pain with any kind of insertion, even small objects. There are other conditions that can cause this too. If you suspect that you may have such a condition, please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Help, I can't remove my cup!
Sometimes you may have trouble removing the cup because it is so far inside the vagina that you can't get a hold of the bottom or stem (sometimes this happens during the night). First of all, do not panic! After waking up, wait at least half an hour to allow the cup to settle and then remove.
Breathe deeply, relax your vaginal muscles, and try to grasp the bottom or stem of the cup with your fingers. You can bear down your weight (pushing downward using the same muscles as when making a bowel movement) in order for the cup to move down. Squatting helps open the vagina and bring the cup down to the vaginal opening. The cup can’t get lost in the vagina; it will ultimately slip down by force of gravity. Find a comfortable position that will allow you to remove the cup more easily: try straddling the toilet bowl with the vagina open and legs relaxed. The vagina has a natural curve and the cup is usually above the pubic bone when sitting. Grasp the bottom of the cup tightly with your forefinger and thumb and pinch to release the suction, rock it back and forth, and gently ease it out.
How do I clean my cup?
Before using the cup for the first time, check that the air holes at the top are open. Wash your hands and clean the cup by washing with water and a mild soap. Then boil it in a large pot for 20 minutes before first use. You may place the cup in a wire whisk to prevent contact with the bottom of the pan during boiling, which may damage it.
During your period, it is best to wash your cup with a cup cleanser and warm water every time you empty it. However, if you are using a public restroom, camping, travelling or just do not have access to running water you can either rinse your cup with bottled water or wipe it with a piece of clean tissue – once convenient, wash your cup thoroughly.
After your period has ended, clean the cup thoroughly with a cup cleanser and warm water. You may also sterilise your cup with a menstrual cup steriliser or baby bottle steriliser. You may let the cup sit near a sunny window to remove discolouration and odour. Store the cup in the cotton pouch or any breathable container or bag.
You can refer to this blog post for a thorough guide on cleaning and caring for your menstrual cup!
How often should I replace my cup?
Every cup stocked by The Period Co. is built to last for years. However, some people change them once a year (still cheaper than disposables!), or even own multiple cups in different sizes and colours for different days!
In general, if you notice any deterioration or wear and tear, such as a sticky or powdery film, splitting of the cup, or severe discolouration and odour, it's time to replace your cup.
Why should I switch to cloth pads?
Disposable pads contain plastics, which block airflow to the vagina and are uncomfortable and crinkly. They also contain synthetic fibres like rayon which are bleached to give it a clean and white appearance. The bleaching process creates dioxin, a highly toxic pollutant that may lead to various forms of cancer and endometriosis. On the other hand, cloth pads are made of breathable fabrics that keep you comfortable throughout the day.
Although cloth pads cost more upfront, they are last for years with proper care. Using reusables also helps to minimize the waste created by disposables. In fact, an average of 17,000 pads, tampons and pantyliners are used per lifetime!
Cloth pads also come in lots of colours and patterns; there is surely something that will suit your personality!
How many cloth pads do I need?
Everyone's cycle is different. To determine how many cloth pads you need, consider the factors below:
- How often will you be able to wash the pad?. If you are able to wash your pads about every second day, you can cut down greatly on the amount of pads you'll need.
- What size of pads do you normally use? If you use liners, day pads and night pads on different days, you may want to get a good combination of sizes for your cloth pads.
- How many pads do you normally use? Keep track of the number of pads you use during a cycle so you can determine how many times you need to change your pad every day.
Rather than purchasing a whole stash for your first order, we suggest purchasing 3-4 pads of the different sizes you need. This way, you can decide if they are a good fit for you. You can always make another order!
How do the cloth pads stay secured on my underwear?
Most cloth pads come with wings, and have snaps attached on both wings. They are fastened around the base of your underwear, similar to disposable pads with wings. Wearing fitting or snug underwear will help hold the pad close to your body and prevent it from sliding around during the day.
What is PUL?
Polyurethane laminate (PUL) is a compound fabric made by laminating a cloth fabric to a thin film of polyurethane. This laminated fabric is useful as a wind and/or water barrier in the construction of fluid-splash protecting garments, shower curtains, outerwear clothing, however it is primarily used for making cloth nappies/diapers and cloth menstrual pads. It can be machine-washed and dried.
Do cloth pads smell?
Many cloth pad users have reported that there is very little or no smell at all. Cloth pads allow moisture to evaporate, and less moisture means fewer bacteria to produce unwanted smells. If you do notice an odd smell, common bacterial imbalances could be to blame; you may wish to consult a doctor.
Do cloth pads leak?
Cloth pads are made to be very absorbent. Most have a leakproof PUL layer, which prevents menstrual fluid from soaking through the pad. Of course, just like disposable pads, it's possible to leak off the sides if you wear it for too long. The wings that snap around the underwear helps to keep the sides of your undies dry, but of course, it is best to change them out before they become totally saturated.
How do I wash my cloth pads?
Cloth pads can be hand washed or machine washed. Soaking or rinsing soiled pads in cold water before hand/machine washing helps to remove as much blood as possible and prevent stains. However, if it is not convenient for you to soak your pads, you can also moisten the absorbent side of the soiled pad with a little cold water, fold in the top and bottom and snap the wings together, and store in a wet bag until washing day. Some people prefer to wash their pads on a daily basis, while others prefer to wash everything at once after the end of the cycle.
Our favourite, fuss-free method is as follows:
- Get ready a small plastic basin or pail filled with cold water. When you come home, throw all the soiled pads into the pail and let them soak. Soaking gets most of the blood out and prevents any staining on your pretty, patterned pads. You can add disinfectant, baking soda, tea tree oil or soap to help with stain removal and to prevent odour. Cover the pail with a lid if it needs to be discreet.
- Every day when you come home, pour away the water and refill the pail with clean water. Continue adding your soiled pads into the pail.
- After your period is over, its time to wash the pads! By this time, most of the blood should have been removed by soaking. Throw them all into the washing machine with your regular laundry and wash as per normal. (Do not use fabric softener as it may affect the pads' absorbency.)
How long can cloth pads last?
The lifespan of a cloth pad varies greatly according to how they are cared for and how often they are used. Cloth liners for daily use tend to last about 18 months to 2 years, depending on how often they are used. Washing is hard on any cloth — pads or clothing — so if you have a small stash of just 3 liners, they’ll be washed a lot more than if you’ve got a larger stash that you’re able to rotate more often.
Menstrual pads that are used just once a month typically last longer — anywhere from 3-7 years, depending on how often each individual pad is being used and washed. Again, a larger stash with pads that are only being used 2-4 times per cycle will last longer than a small stash with pads needing to be washed daily and reused several times within a cycle. Some love a large stash for this reason, but not everyone can afford a huge stash, so we recommend you to decide how often you want to — or are able to — wash their pads and multiply that by how many days you need to use them.
Can I wear period underwear by itself / without additional protection?
Depending on your flow, period underwear can be a total replacement for disposable (panty liners, pads, tampons) and reusable (menstrual cup, cloth pads) menstrual products OR can work in conjunction with them. It’s all about knowing your flow, and which absorbency level suits you best.
How many pairs of period underwear do I need?
This depends on whether you use them by themselves or in conjunction with other menstrual products, and how often you change them. If you go through a few pairs a day, you may want to get enough to last you a few days. If you are able to wash them about every second day, you can cut down on the number of pairs you'll need.
Can they be used for light bladder leaks?
Yes! If you experience light bladder leaks (e.g. when sneezing or jumping), period underwear can be worn to catch these leaks. They are breathable, odour resistant, super absorbent, leak-proof, stain resistant, and wick moisture away from your skin so you feel dry and fresh all day.
Can they be used for postpartum bleeding?
Yes, but the amount of blood loss post-birth can vary greatly from person to person. We suggest you purchase the Heavy/Overnight absorbency underwear and use them as backup in that first week post-birth. Then you may be able to use them on their own ongoing. They won't go to waste of course, as you can keep them and use for your periods once they return.
Will they feel different from my regular underwear?
The gusset of period underwear is slightly thicker than regular underwear.
How do I wash my period underwear?
Period underwear can be hand washed or machine washed. Rinsing soiled undies in cold water before hand/machine washing helps to remove as much blood as possible and prevent stains. (Most manufacturers do not recommend soaking them though.) You can then toss them into the washing machine, run a gentle cycle with cold water, and hang to dry.
How long can period underwear last?
The lifespan of a pair of period undies vary greatly according to how they are cared for and how often they are used. Generally, they will last for 6 months to 2 years, and this is dependent on the wash and care. Underwear is considered a delicate product, so the elastic and thread may get damaged with wear and tear. However, this will not impact the effectiveness of the absorbency built into the gusset.