My most recent look at sustainability is menstruation. (Sorry to any fellas reading – you may want to skip this one! But first please bookmark it for your SO if it’s relevant to her.) The first time I heard about menstruation cups I thought they were a bit…hippy-ish. But I’ve done some research and now, following two and a bit wonderful years period-free (I know, I did well!), I’m intrigued to try one. There’s a little bit to know first, such as menstrual cup sizes. So I thought I’d go over the basics in case any of you are also looking to make the switch, or are even just curious.
So, we’re going to embark on this journey together and by the time I’ve finished writing, my own device will have arrived. I’ll give it a whirl and update you with my thoughts at the end of the post!
Menstrual Cup Sizes and Other Considerations
I had so many questions before deciding to make the change from disposable feminine products, and I’ve tried to cover all of these for you below…
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What is a Menstruation Cup?
A menstruation cup (often referred to as a Mooncup which is actually a brand), is a silicone cup that’s worn internally in place of a tampon or instead of a pad. It fits over your cervix creating a seal, and collects your menstrual blood.
As with tampons, menstruation cups must be emptied regularly; however with the maximum length of wear being 12 hours, they do compare favourably (tampons must be removed after no more than 8 hours). The device should be cleaned before being repositioned.
Menstrual cups have multiple benefits over other products including length of wear, comfort, reduced odour, and reduced vaginal dryness.
Are Menstrual Cups Eco Friendly?
Absolutely! Compared to pads and tampons they are far superior for the environment as they can last for years and completely eliminate waste during that time.
Do Menstrual Cups Work?
Yes! When fitted correctly menstruation cups are an excellent choice of protection during your period.
Top Tip: Remove undesirable odour from your device by soaking in a solution of one part water to one part vinegar, and wiping over with lemon juice.
Do Menstruation Cups Hurt?
There are different types of cup available and you may experience discomfort if the one you select is not ideal for your body. There are several considerations when making a purchase, namely menstrual cup sizes, flow, and lifestyle – don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through selecting the best option later.
There are also reports of less frequent and less severe cramps, though there’s no medical explanation for this since cramps tend to stem from the uterine muscles and menstrual products shouldn’t have any influence on this!
Do Menstrual Cups Cause TSS?
The general consensus is that cups are far safer than tampons when it comes to toxic shock syndrome. Current FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) advice is that cups can be worn for ten -twelve hours between rinses.
For more information check out this post on the subject.
Is Taking Out a Menstrual Cup Messy?
Depending on the type of cup you’re using, usually the answer is no. More on this later!
Can You Use a Menstrual Cup Whilst Sleeping?
Yes! You can wear a menstruation cup for up to 12 hours without the need to remove it.
Can You Have Sex Whilst Using a Menstrual Cup?
Well… Generally no. But there is one for which this isn’t the case… Again, more on this later.
How Do You Care for A Menstrual Cup?
For first use and between cycles sterilise by submerging your device in boiling water.
To clean during your period hot water and a mild soap should be sufficient.
Top Tip: Remove stains by leaving your cup in sunlight for several hours.
Will a Menstrual Cup Make a Prolapse Worse?
A prolapse changes the shape of the vagina and therefore you may find it difficult to find a menstruation cup that’s comfortable.
However, it’s worth persevering because some users have reported the ‘right’ one actually gives a feeling of support.
It’s likely you will require a shorter and/or wider cup for a good fit. For more information, this post provides information from the perspective of a women’s health physio.
How Long Do Menstruation Cups Last?
Devices should last for around ten years. That’s a huge financial saving and a significant environmental impact – for the better!
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Which Menstrual Cup is Best for Beginners?
There are so many different cups available now and what suits you will depend upon your own anatomy, your flow, and your lifestyle. If it’s your first time trying a cup, sound advice is to start small and short and consider moving up to a bigger/taller option, or take a quiz – yes really! (Try this one.)
What Menstrual Cup is Best for a Low Cervix?
If you have a low cervix you may find that many menstrual cups on the market are not a great fit for your body. But how do you know whether you have a low, high, or ‘average’ cervix?
A good rule of thumb is if you you can feel your cervix with a finger inserted up to the first knuckle, your cervix is low; put to the second knuckle is average, and up to the third your cervix is high. Note that your cervix height can change depending on your position (prone/sitting/standing) and where you are in your cycle.
One ‘cup’ that has come up again and again during my research is the Intimina Ziggy. This product is quite unlike any other cup currently on the market as it’s not technically a cup at all. The Ziggy is actually a flat-fit disc which sits directly over the cervix and doesn’t have a stem like cups do – making it a great option for a low cervix (and according to the information chart on Amazon it’s also fine for a high cervix too!).
The unique design of the Ziggy means that while it has many benefits, it can be a little messier to remove due to the lack of a stem. The volume capacity is large, but in practice it may be be sensible to change more frequently/in the shower to avoid messy spillages.
This cup can also be kept in during sex to eliminate mess!
It’s worth noting this particular device is recommended to be replaced after around two years.
Top Tip: This product does not protect against pregnancy or STI’s.
Menstrual Cup Sizes: Do They Differ?
Yes; menstrual cup sizes can refer to both diameter and length, and there’s no sizing standard with most cups being either ‘small’ or ‘large’. Check here for guidance.
Which Menstrual Cup Size Should I Choose / What Menstrual Cup Should I Get?
With so many variables, such as your age and birth status (after age 30 and/or a vaginal delivery it’s recommended you use a larger size), cervix height and lifestyle, it can be a tough call to make. Naturally you want to ensure you choose the right product first time because you’ll be unable to return a poorly fitting device for hygiene reasons, and yet menstrual cup sizes have a huge bearing on comfort and success.
There’s plenty of advice within this post, and you can also take a quiz to help you choose the correct size (such as the one mentioned above), or check the advice of individual brands before purchasing.
Finally, I’ve collated recommendations from real women who have been using menstrual cups. In each case I’ve asked them to provide a little detail as to why they love their choices:
I have a Enna cup. I was sent it to review but I found it brilliant to use straight away so I always recommend that one.
I’ve had three kids and my pelvic floor is definitely not what it used to be and I literally have never had a single leak or issue with it. I would add to that that I don’t have heavy periods though! It’s just really easy to get in and I’ve never felt uncomfortable with it at all. It’s also cheap and comes in a set of two which has been handy.
I’m using the Lena cup; it was one that was recommended to me for its large capacity as I have very heavy flow. It’s also made of soft silicone which I find easier to insert and more comfortable.
I have used the Fleur cup for about 2 years. It’s cheap (about £10) so really affordable!
I have this one:
It’s a Fleur cup – much cheaper than other brands I looked at and not as ‘long’, however after the first couple of goes (which were ok) I haven’t been able to use it (I think this is more about my anatomy and some gynea issues than anything else!). I did trim the stem right off and turn it inside out so that the end was smooth but I’m going to have to get a shallower one I think.
I’ve been using the Lunette size two for about five months now. It’s quite firm, which I didn’t like at first, but now that I’m used to it, I can’t feel it at all. I’ve also trimmed the stem, which has improved comfort considerably.
I used a Moon cup for around 4/5 years prior to having children and it worked perfectly for me. However, after two pregnancies and vaginal births things were a bit different and I found I was leaking.
I used the FB group ‘Put A Cup In It’ and did their quiz to see which one would suit my high cervix and heavy flow best. It suggested a Diva cup model 2 and its brilliant, really comfortable and no leaks whatsoever. With the Moon cup I had a few incidents of not being able to quite reach the stem due to it being shorter but I’ve never had that problem with the Diva cup. I’d never use anything else now!
I’ve been using a Mooncup for a couple of years. I chose that brand because I’d heard plenty about it, had it recommended and didn’t want to go down the cheaper route because of the old “you get what you pay for” mantra.
My periods are shorter, cramping is less, the general health of my internals is better (no drying or irritation) and there has been less waste sent to the landfill. Can’t say much about volume/cervix height other than it fits and the seal holds well.
I’ve been using a Me Luna cup for the past 3 years and I’ve found it life-changing. I find it brilliant for continuing with life as if you didn’t have your periods.
You can keep it for up to 12 hours on lighter days. There’s no discomfort or uncomfortable ‘period sweating’ you get with disposable pads. You use them again and again and again. They seem to completely eradicate period cramps for me.
They’re far more hygienic than pads or tampons. I had my periods for a 4-day festival last month and it didn’t bother me because I could just wash it and put it back in whilst in the shower every evening.
My Experience With a Menstrual Cup
Based on my anatomy and the reviews I’d read, I decided to try the Ziggy cup. For transparency, this is not a sponsored post; I paid for the device myself having gleaned that it is a bit of a ‘Marmite’ product: I was either going to love it or hate it…
Getting Started With My Intimina Ziggy Cup
I was apprehensive about how easy (or otherwise) I’d find correctly positioning the cup. I watched a video for guidance and my first attempt was unexpectedly straight forward!
It was simple and comfortable, and the device stayed put all night.
Top Tip: I’ve since discovered that sitting on the loo is key to ensuring optimum alignment to guide the disc into place!
I’ve not been using my cup for very long yet but the hygiene, plus the lack of hassle and the elimination of mess (other than removal, and even then it’s not been too horrendous – just avoid public loos!), odour, and waste mean I think I’m a convert.
Update: Read my full review of the Intimina Ziggy!
I have noticed that whilst wearing the cup I feel pressure in my pelvic area similar to later stages of pregnancy which can make using the toilet more difficult! But otherwise I don’t notice it at all.
Overall, so far, my impressions have been very positive.
If you’re planning to make the switch and you’d like some tips on how to insert a menstrual cup, you may like to check out this link. Or for alternatives to cups, check out this post about eco friendly periods for more options.
I hope this post has been informative about menstrual cup sizes and the other considerations, and helped you to feel empowered about which device to select!
Have you used a menstruation cup? Which is your preferred brand?