A menstrual cup is exactly what you think it is: a cup to catch menstrual fluid. The concept has been around since the 1930’s, but has recently become more popular. Some cups are made of rubber, but allergies to latex and other components of rubber are increasingly more common so the best option is a cup made of medical grade silicone, which is hypoallergenic.

A menstrual cup might take a little getting used to if you have never inserted a diaphragm (check out The Green Girls for a pretty accurate, and funny description of the process). Once it is positioned correctly it should not be uncomfortable. There are several different cups on the market, so if the one you chose is a little uncomfortable, look for a brand that has a shorter length cup.

How to use: the cup should be removed every 12 hours (you can remove it more frequently if you have a particular heavy flow) to empty, clean with mild soap and water, and then re-insert. A cup holds more menstrual blood than a tampon, so you can wear it for longer. At the end of every menstrual cycle it should be boiled for 20 minutes. Don’t use anything but soap and water to clean the cup or the silicone will be damaged. When used correctly a silicone menstrual cup should last for a year.

There are typically 2 sizes: small for women under 25-30 (varies by brand) who have never been pregnant, and large for the “older gals” (not that 30 is old, I’m just saying) or women who have had either a vaginal delivery or a c-section.

Why choose a menstrual cup?

The environment. In the U.S. alone we dump 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons every year; because tampons are often flushed applicators frequently wash up on beaches (yuck). A menstrual cup is clearly a more green alternative.

They have a high user satisfaction: in the FLOW study (Finding Lasting Options for Women, seriously, even I couldn’t have made that one up) 91% of women who tried a menstrual cup said they would continue to use it and recommend it to others. There was some increase in irritation in the first cycle, but that decreased as women became more familiar and comfortable inserting and removing. There was also no higher incidence of vaginal infections or bladder infections in this study between cup and tampons.

Convenience. Ever realized you were out of sanitary products, searched the cupboard under the sink in vain for a rogue pad or tampon, and then made do with waded up toilet paper because you were late for work? With a menstrual cup under your bathroom sink those days would be over.

Travel: You know how awesome it is to fill your suitcase with pads and tampons in case your period comes while you are away, right? Well, a menstrual cup takes up a lot less room and you don’t have to worry about the tampons falling out of your purse like some crazy game of pick up sticks if your bag gets taken apart by the TSA.

Are cups expensive? Women use an average of 13 menstrual products/cycle or 169 products/year. A box of brand name Tampax at Walgreens.com today is $6.79 for 40 tampons. So if we round up and say you have to buy 180 tampons for the year (because you always have to throw a few away that have been sitting in your purse for so long they have sprouted out of their wrapping), that’s about $30.54/yr. The Keeper menstrual cup on Amazon.com is $24.28 and the DivaCup is $25.17.

Anyway, that’s the run down on the cup.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks…I’ve been wondering about these things. I’m going to give it s try. Do you use one?

  2. A year? Other brands last longer much than the diva cup then e.g.: Mooncup UK has a guideline of at least 5 years.

    The menstrual cups Livejournal page is THE place to go for more info.

    1. I’ve had my same Diva for 9 years…. and there isn’t any indication that it is old or worn. I figured it would last almost forever. 🙂 So, yeah…. Diva – over a year.

  3. I had no idea you were supposed to replace your Diva cup every year. I’ve had mine for three or four years and it still seems good as new.

    Also, to cup-skeptics who might be reading: seriously try one, it really is the best thing ever. Benefits that weren’t mentioned in the above article:
    – Because they’re non-porous, the risk of toxic shock syndrome is much, much lower than tampons
    – Also related to being non-porous, they won’t suck up your vaginal moisture and dry you out if your flow is less than expected

  4. I don’t get much of a period anymore as I use a Mirena IUD but I love my Diva Cup. Wouldn’t use anything else. Have used it exclusively for at least 7 years now.

  5. I’m another who adores my cup and has used it for several years. Definitely wouldn’t go back to pads or tampons now, I hated both of them. My biggest worry is actually that I’ll completely forget I’m wearing it at the end of a period!

  6. I am so impressed that something environmentally friendly is being marketed for a process that occurs for most women each month. It’s about time we were given a choice like this.

  7. I’m very excited to find a doctor knowing about and advocating the use of a menstrual cup! I have used a diva cup for about 5 years, and the lunette for a couple. I would never go back to tampons.

  8. I’ve read about risk of endometriosis using the cup, is it true?? what is your experience on it??, also I am trying to get pregnant, would it make a difference or is it the same?

  9. I don’t like to use tampons because it feels like it’s going to fall out when I go to the bathroom. Are diva cups the same way?

    1. If the tampon feels like it’s going to fall out you probably didn’t push it in all the way, or maybe your cervix is so low you couldn’t push it in too far therefore leaving it too low. The first time I wore a tampon I didn’t know how far to push it (didn’t have instructions on me) and it did slide down a little after a while.

      The diva cup shouldn’t feel that way but if you’re worried look into other brands (there are many), read any reviews you can find (you may come across a similar worry) and if your cervix does happen to be low there are short cups and short but wide cups available, just look for menstrual cup size comparisons.

    1. If you’re asking if it will make you “loose” then no. The cup won’t have any effect on your vagina, if anything seeing as how the vagina is a muscle the cup would be more likely to strengthen/tighten your muscles rather than stretch them like an old hair tie that doesn’t work anymore.

  10. I was told that they are unhygienic, is this true? P.s i highly doubt they’re unhygienic, i just want to prove a point.

  11. You shouldn’t be saying “should”. If your product is good it would sell itself. As it is, you are promoting a dangerous (and very stupid!) product no good for women, due to changes in pH, retaining of blood and oxygen n carbon dioxide during period. Toxic shock or infections is not off the options list. It is utterly foolish and cruel for any sane decent doctor to recommend, let alone push for with manipulative coercive advertising you intentionally use!
    Girls smart up and think of your future and the utter unnaturalness of a device and process like this! Much like building up your vomit or boogies until released in one go, or your poo!!!!! If you did it with wee, you’d have kidney and bladder issues.
    Think for yourselves and stop living in the moment.
    Period are uncomfortable and messy. It’s life, like having babies!
    And like death and taxes –> unavoidable!!…
    A ” comfortable, cheap, neat” solution is not worth your health risk. Be smart. Mess is part of life. Deal with your emotional mess which I’m sure tonnes of men would agree with.
    Stop giving these companies needless and greedy-intentioned money.
    They don’t care a hoot about you.

  12. I’m curious to try one, but also concerned about what type to get. I have uterine fibroids – specifically, the kind that are outside the walls of the uterus, hanging out in my abdominal cavity (according to the vaginal ultrasound performed by my GYN), and I have noticed that I occasionally feel annoying pressure (a little like pinching) against he wall of my vagina. It can sometimes be a bit painful during intercourse, but not always. I don’t usually have any issue with inserting tampons, but I am unsure on which cup would work best – I’ve been told a soft, small one, but I am also 37 and do work outs that involve a lot of lower abs/pelvic floor strengthening.

    Do you know of any resources or studies that have explored this question? Most of the stuff I have seen doesn’t address it, or only addresses fibroids inside the uterus.

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