Menstrual cups can come in slightly varied shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s hard to know the best one to purchase. Here are a few tips.
Most manufacturers offer either a “small” or a “large” cup. Although the same language is used across manufacturers, there isn’t a standard for sizing dimensions.
Small cups are usually 35 to 43 millimeters (mm) in diameter at the rim of the cup. Large cup diameters are usually 43 to 48 mm.
As a general rule, select a cup based on your age and history of childbirth rather than your anticipated flow.
Although the volume the cup can hold is important, you want to make sure that the cup is wide enough to stay in place.
A smaller cup may be best if you’ve never had intercourse or typically use absorbency tampons.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery or have a weak pelvic floor, you may find that a larger cup fits best.
Sometimes, discovering the right size is a matter of trial and error.
Most menstrual cups are made from silicone. However, some are made from rubber or contain rubber components. This means if you’re allergic to latex, the material could cause irritation.
You should always read the product label before use to learn more about the materials in any menstrual product.
Is There Anything You Should Know About Proper Usage?
Your cup should come with instructions for care and cleaning. Here are some general guidelines:
It’s important to sterilize your menstrual cup before you insert it for the first time.
To do this:
- Submerge the cup completely in a pot of boiling for 5–10 minutes.
- Empty the pot and allow the cup to return to room temperature.
- Wash your hands with warm water and mild, antibacterial soap.
- Wash the cup with a mild, water-based, oil-free soap and rinse thoroughly.
- Dry the cup with a clean towel.
Always wash your hands before inserting your cup.
You may also consider applying a water-based lube to the outside of the cup. This can reduce friction and make insertion easier. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the product packaging before using lube.
As a general rule, silicone- and oil-based lube may cause certain cups to degrade. Water and water-based lube may be safer alternatives.
When you’re ready to insert, you should:
- Tightly fold the menstrual cup in half, holding it in one hand with the rim facing up.
- Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina like you would a tampon without an applicator. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.
- Once the cup is in your vagina, rotate it. It will start to expand to create an airtight seal that stops leaks.
- You may find that you have to twist it or reposition it slightly for your comfort, so adjust as needed.
Depending on how heavy your flow is, you may be able to wear your cup for up to 12 hours.
You should always remove your cup by the 12-hour mark. This ensures regular cleaning and helps prevent a buildup of bacteria.
To remove and empty your cup:
- Wash your hands with warm water and mild antibacterial soap.
- Slide your index finger and thumb into your vagina.
- Pinch the base of the menstrual cup and gently pull to remove it. If you pull on the stem, you could have a mess on your hands.
- Once it’s out, empty the cup into the sink or toilet.
- Rinse the cup under tap water, wash it thoroughly, and reinsert.
- Wash your hands after you’re done.
After your period is over, sterilize your cup by putting it in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. This will help prevent contamination during storage.
You shouldn’t store your cup in an airtight container, because this won’t allow moisture to evaporate. Instead, any moisture present can linger and attract bacteria or fungi.
Most manufacturers recommend storing the cup in a cotton pouch or an open bag.
If you go to use your cup and find that it appears damaged or thin, has a foul-smelling odor, or is discolored, throw it out. Using the cup in this state may increase your risk of infection.