Sometimes periods can be sheer torture. And unfortunately, for many people they’re just a fact of life until menopause hits. That is a lot of blood-filled years, which is why some people are turning to menstrual cups as an alternative.
Menstrual cups are reusable, bell-shaped products that are inserted into the vagina to catch blood during menstruation. Instead of changing a tampon or pad every few hours, many people find they can wear menstrual cups for 12 hours sans leaks before removing them, pouring out the blood, then washing and reinserting them. For easy removal, menstrual cups come with “stems” at the bottom that you can grab onto, although some people trim the stems for comfort’s sake. As you’ll see below, menstrual cups come in a variety of brands and sizes, are usually made of latex or medical-grade silicone, and can last for around 10 years when used properly.
The 17 people featured opted for menstrual cups for different reasons, but they fell into a few major camps. Mainly, they felt pads and tampons were too expensive over time (especially thanks to the ridiculous tampon tax), had environmental concerns, or felt uncomfortable using pads and tampons. Here, they share their experiences using menstrual cups and explain why they’re fully on board with the movement.
1. “I tried a DivaCup first, but I now use a Blossom. The first few times, I had some leakage issues and nearly gave up, but I figured out the correct technique for me and now have zero problems. Some of my friends are completely put off by the thought of taking out and emptying a cup, but I don’t find it any grosser than pulling out a tampon!” —Paige W., 29
2. “I use Lily Cup. There’s a small learning curve, but overall it’s pretty easy to figure out. I would never want to remove it and empty it in a public restroom, so I plan my schedule around when I will be home to change it. I haven’t worn tampons since I tried Lily Cup, and I’m never going back.” —Andrea S., 28
3. “I’ve been using the Softcup for over 12 years. One of the main benefits is the ability to have intercourse during your period with less mess. My husband says he rarely feels it. It can ‘shift’ during sex, however, which can lead to leaking and make it tricky to take out. Also, on a heavy day, you have to be aware of how much might be in the cup as you’re removing it; otherwise you will literally have a mess on your hands!” —Diane P., 47 (“and on my way towards menopause, I hope!”)
4. “I got a Rainbow Cup [also known as the Monzcare R-CUP] because it was inexpensive. I tried a dry run and used coconut oil for insertion, which worked well. I found that doing squats helped the cup pop open fully, which stopped the light leaks I was experiencing at first. Thanks to my menstrual cup, I pretty much forget that I’m even on my period.” —Jessi B. 24
5. “I started with Softcup, but I had to drag it out with a hooked finger, which caused all the blood to escape and make a huge mess. So I tried MeLuna with the ring at the bottom for better grasping. At first I could not figure out how to remove it and panicked, which made it impossible to get out for a bit. Now I use Mooncup, which I love. By the way, the best way to remove a cup is to bear down like you are trying to poop. This lowers the cup for a better grasping point.” —Corissa O., 37
6. “I chose the small DivaCup at first, but it isn’t as firm as I’d like, so I’m trying the Lena Cup and the Yuuki Cup. I’m a virgin, and I’ve never stuck anything up my vagina. With lube and the origami fold, which makes the insertion point as small as possible, it worked. But my cervix is high, and I didn’t realize how far out of my reach the cup would travel. It’s tight in there, so I can’t fit two fingers in at once. I had to resort to giving birth to the cup. This was partly my mistake because I cut off the stem of my first diva before I used it properly.” —Joanne G., 21
7. “I got a DivaCup, but it was a little too long for me, so I use a Lunette now. I mostly have insertion and removal down, and I only notice it when I’m super crampy already. But if I already feel like crap because I’ve started my period without getting the insertion out of the way in time, I may not feel like messing with it, so sometimes I revert back to pads.” —Jen G., 30
8. “The first couple of times putting in my DivaCup felt sort of awkward, and I had to use lube. Now that I’ve learned how to fold it in half, it’s not much harder to put in than a tampon. Panty liners can catch enough to assure it won’t leak through my pants.” —Haily B, 23
9. “My first cup was a knock-off I found on Amazon, since I wanted to try a cheap one to start. After a few months, I bought a MeLuna to use long-term. The first time, it was hard to put in. Then I tried different ways of folding the cup, and it became easier. But I don’t like that my cup tends to fall out when I have a bowel movement.” —Cynthia F., 32
10. “So far, I’ve only tried the Vida Cup, which is on Amazon. Before my period started, I tried to put the cup in, and I couldn’t get it to open fully. I was about to write off menstrual cups all together. Luckily I stuck with it, and when my period finally came, I was able to put the cup in with no problems. I can’t feel the cup at all when it’s in, and I’m one of those women who can still feel tampons when they’re inserted.” —Alexandra H. 23
11. “I tried a Lunette size two, and I never had a problem putting it in. I only had it leak once, and that was because I forgot it was there and went way too long between emptying. I did have a hard time removing it at the end of a period one time. I spent a good half-hour wiggling and bearing down to get the cup out. When it finally came out, I felt so triumphant.” —Erin M., 20
12. “I tried a Lunette first, but later I purchased a Super Jennie, which I prefer because it’s softer. During my period, my cervical opening is about one inch above my vaginal opening. My first cup leaked a lot because my cervix took up most of the room in the cup and made it overflow. Using a larger cup helps somewhat with that problem, but I still have to empty it every two and a half hours on my heavy days. The nice thing about having a low cervix is that I don’t even need the stem to remove the cup.” —Katherine S., 21
13. “My first and only cup has been the EvaCup. I’m very happy with it. I have never leaked when wearing it or had any issues removing it. Getting it to pop open was difficult the first few times, but I eventually got it. I can go the entire day not having to worry about my period, and I love that a lot.” —Brittany D. 20
14. “I bought the cheapest menstrual cup I could find. It was smaller than I thought, but I had the biggest issue putting it in at first. It leaked like crazy and I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I ended up calling a big-name brand to have them help me with placement. It was so much easier than I originally thought! I love that my menstrual cup doesn’t fill landfills, can last for 10 years, and leaves me more money for books!” —Alisha W., 23
15. “I did a lot of research on size and firmness and ended up with a DivaCup, which fits me perfectly. It took a bit of practice to insert the cup so it sits comfortably—luckily there’s a ton of information online and a lot of great communities that’ll share their experiences. [Ed. note: like the Reddit Menstrual Cups page, where I found a lot of these sources!]It’s a bit of a ‘hands-on’ situation because you need to put your fingers up your vagina and not be too squeamish about blood, but it makes my period so easy.” —Hanne T., 28
16. “I got the Lunette. Putting it in was hard—I would definitely suggest a trial run WITH LUBE (I learned this the hard way). When it was in place, it didn’t feel strange at all. In fact, when I had it in during my period my cramps went completely away! I think menstrual cups are one of the best things to happen to people with periods.” —Marlene J., 23
17. “I bought the LadyCup because it was so small, had good reviews, and looked pretty. I wet the cup with water and put it in and it was in place in under a minute. It was kind of amazing. Taking it out was a whole other story. It was so slippery, I had to use both hands. I eventually ordered a less slippery cup, which still works fine, though inserting was never as fast as with the Ladycup. Still, it has improved my comfort and it is so convenient. Tampons are dead to me.” —Stefanie T.
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.