Save money and reduce your carbon footprint with the best menstrual cups
The best menstrual cups make switching from tampons or pads as stress-free as possible. These flexible little cups sit just inside the vagina and collect your monthly flow. Unlike disposable sanitary products, they can be used pretty much all day without needing to be changed. Not only does this give you far more freedom to go about your day without worrying about leaks or having to find a toilet, it’s also far more sustainable than using a disposable product.
If you’ve never used a menstrual cup before, they can seem a bit daunting at first. That’s why we’ve put a variety of cups to the test, to ensure you can find one to suit your individual needs and budget.
If you’re a total cup novice, our guide below will help you decide if a menstrual cup is right for you, as well as how to use one correctly so you can wear with confidence. Underneath this, you’ll find our roundup of the best menstrual cups for every body type.
How to choose the best menstrual cup for you
Are menstrual cups safe?
Menstrual cups aren’t currently regulated in the UK, but this doesn’t mean they’re unsafe to use. If inserted, removed and cleaned correctly, a menstrual cup is perfectly safe to use for most people.
What’s more, all of the menstrual cups tested on this list are made with BPA-free, medical-grade silicone and are perfectly safe to use inside the body. However, if you’re allergic to any of the materials used in menstrual cups, they may not be suitable, so it’s always best to check before you buy.
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Is a menstrual cup right for me?
Menstrual cups are ideal for people who want to make a switch to a more sustainable period product. They’re reusable and can last up to ten years before they need replacing, which is far better for the environment and for your bank balance. However, they have other benefits over more traditional period products too.
Tampons are designed to absorb your period blood but they also absorb other moisture from the vagina, including the natural liquids and bacteria your vagina produces. This can lead to excess vaginal dryness and in some cases cause soreness and even thrush.
Menstrual cups, on the other hand, simply collect the blood and fluids from the vagina, meaning far more of the natural moisture your body produces is left behind. While a menstrual cup won’t stop you from experiencing issues, it can alleviate many of the problems caused by tampon and pad use.
Asides from the benefits, it’s also down to personal preference. Menstrual cups require you to be a lot more hands-on with your period and if you’ve not long started your period or are used to using pads, they can take a little while to get comfortable with. You shouldn’t let that put you off, though.
One last thing to consider is contraception. If you’re using an IUD, you’ll need to be extra careful when using your cup. While IUDs sit in the uterus, they can still be affected by menstrual cup suction. If you have a low cervix, a long IUD string or your IUD moves, a cup might not be the best option for you.
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How do you use a menstrual cup?
Most menstrual cups work in a similar way and don’t need to sit too far inside the vagina to work. They need to be folded up, usually into a U shape, and then inserted using clean hands. The stem shouldn’t hang out of the bottom and the cup should be completely unfolded once inside. If the cup doesn’t unfold on its own, you may need to move it around to encourage it to open up. Once unfolded, it should stay securely in place, as it creates an air-tight seal around the vaginal wall.
You shouldn’t be able to feel the cup during use, but if you do then try repositioning it until it’s comfortable. The most important thing to remember is to not give up if you’re struggling. Using a cup for the first time is tricky, but once you have the knack, it becomes second nature.
To take out your menstrual cup, you’ll need to first break the suction by squeezing one or both of its edges – it will be obvious when the seal is broken. Doing this before you try to remove it is important; otherwise, you risk hurting yourself and damaging your pelvic muscles. You should also avoid pulling the cup out using the stem for the same reason.
How do I clean a menstrual cup?
You should empty and wash your menstrual cup between uses with nothing but plain water. It’s also important to clean your cup thoroughly between periods. This can be done in a number of ways and should be stated when you buy. However, the most commonly advised method is to boil your cup in a pan with water for three to five minutes. You should never use any soaps, wipes or chemicals to clean your cup, as this can lead to irritation and infection.
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What size do I need?
Menstrual cups generally come in three sizes, one size for teenagers, one for those who haven’t given birth vaginally and another size for those who have. This can vary from brand to brand, and often the sizing will also be based on your age or how heavy your period is.
These sizes should be taken with a pinch of salt, as everyone is different. Many brands offer advice on cup sizing and if you’re really unsure, you may want to opt for a product that offers two cup sizes in one pack.
Another thing to consider is how high or low your cervix sits. Some cups are longer than others and therefore may not be suitable for people with a low cervix, as it will force the stem too far down. Most people’s cervix will move throughout the month, so you might find you benefit from a shorter cup on certain days of your period.
How we test menstrual cups
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to menstrual cups, which is why we test every cup on our list over several months to assess comfort and quality. We first look at the overall size, shape and length of the cup and assess how quick and easy it is to insert. During use, we take note of whether we can feel the cup and whether it shifts or moves around during day to day activities – a good menstrual cup, inserted correctly, will stay put no matter what you’re doing. We also consider how easy it is to remove – some have extra-long stems to help you find the cup during removal, but these shouldn’t be used to pull them out.
The wear time and volume of the cup is also assessed as part of our tests. Most menstrual cups have a recommended wear time of 12 hours and can hold more than enough for the average period, but some do advertise themselves as being suitable for extra-heavy periods. Finally, we consider how easy they are to sanitise in between uses and how easily the material stains.
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If you’re fairly confident about making the move to a menstrual cup for good or are looking to change your current one, the OrganiCup is a great all-rounder for most people. It comes in three sizes: Mini for teenagers, Size A for light to regular flows and those who haven’t given birth vaginally, and Size B for heavy flows or those who have given birth.
The shape and width of this cup is fairly standard and the stem is long enough to help you find the cup while inserted without being uncomfortable. It can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, including overnight, meaning it typically only needs to be changed once in the evening and once in the morning. It’s relatively easy to insert and remove once you’ve got the knack and doesn’t leak when inserted correctly, even during exercise.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 3; Colours available: Clear/transparent; Wear time: Up to 12 hours
2. Diva Cup: Best menstrual cup for normal and heavy periods
Price: £24 | Buy now from Amazon
You may already be familiar with the Diva Cup, as it’s a long-standing name in the world of menstrual cups. It’s still one of the better cups out there and comes in three sizes: Size 0 for teens aged 18 and under, Size 1 for people aged 19-30 and Size 2 for people aged 30 and over or who have given birth.
Its sizing isn’t as strict as it seems, though. Many people aged over 30 should be able to wear size 1 without the worry of leaks, and the Diva Cup website has plenty of information on sizing if you’re not sure.
As far as useability goes, the Diva Cup is relatively simple to insert. However, it’s a bit firmer than some of the other options on this list, meaning it might take a bit more getting used to if you’re new to cups. This firmness isn’t a bad thing, though, and you can’t feel it when it’s inserted correctly. In fact, it makes it particularly good for heavier periods, as it’s less likely to move or bend throughout the day. We experienced no issues with leaks, even after wearing the Diva Cup for 12 hours.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 3; Colours available: Clear/transparent; Wear time: Up to 12 hours
3. Intimina Lily Cup One: Best compact cup
Price: £19 | Buy now from Holland and Barrett
If you’re looking for a menstrual cup with a smaller body, the Lily Cup One is an ideal choice. Rather than using the classic cup shape, the Lily Cup has a thinner width and unusual three-tier design, which not only means it’s well suited to those who might need a smaller size but also for those with a lighter period. It’s also collapsible, making it an excellent emergency, on-the-go period product.
The Lily Cup only comes in one size, as it’s designed to be a starter cup for younger people, but if you have a light to medium flow and haven’t given birth, you should be able to use this without any leak worries. In testing, we found the unusual shape a little hard to get to grips with at first, but after a few goes it became much easier. On normal days it’s perfectly fine to keep in for 12 hours, but during a heavier flow you may want to empty more often for peace of mind.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 1; Colours available: Pink; Wear time: Up to 12 hours
4. Saalt: Most comfortable menstrual cup to insert
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
The Saalt cup actually comes in two varieties: regular and soft. Both are incredibly comfortable but we think the regular version is the perfect balance between comfort and security. This cup has a slightly softer suction rim and much softer stem, making it easier to insert, particularly if you suffer from irritation or vaginal dryness. It comes in three sizes: Teen size for teenagers, Small for light to medium flows and Medium for heavy flows, or those who have given birth. Saalt also has a handy quiz to help you find your perfect size, but if you’re still not sure you might want to consider the dual pack, which has both a small and regular-sized version.
This cup is very easy to insert and remove but as the suction rim is slightly softer, it sometimes needs a bit of help fully opening up. This becomes quick and easy to do after a bit of practice. There were no leaks using the Saalt cup and we felt comfortable using it overnight as well.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 3; Colours available: Pink, green, blue; Wear time: Up to 12 hours
5. Lunette: Best long stem menstrual cup
Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon
While you should never use the stem of a menstrual cup to pull it out, it can help you to find it when it’s time to empty it out. That’s why the extra length on the Lunette is a huge benefit, especially for those who might be nervous about using a cup for the first time. The stem is not the only great thing about this cup, though. The Lunette is also flexible and easy to insert, making it ideal for first-time users. It comes in two sizes: one for a light to medium flow and another for heavy bleeding.
It’s important to note, however, that a longer stem isn’t for everyone. If you know that your cervix sits quite low, you might find the stem doesn’t stay completely inside your vagina, which can be uncomfortable. Some brands suggest cutting the stem down, but we’d recommend just opting for a shorter stem cup instead. As far as usability goes, we found the Lunette ideal for both light and heavy periods and experienced no leaks during use.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 2; Colours available: Clear, purple; blue, yellow, orange; Wear time: Up to 12 hours
6. Satisfyer Feel Confident Cup: Best menstrual cup for light periods and those on a budget
Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon
For those lucky people with lighter periods, the Satisfyer cups are a good choice due to their size and texture. They’re ultra-soft and lightweight, meaning they offer a barely-there level of protection, as well as a greater level of comfort generally. The biggest perk of these cups, though, is the price. For £7 you get two different sized cups, which is much cheaper than any of the others on this list.
Unfortunately, you can only benefit from this saving if you have a light to medium flow, as the softness of these cups means they will bend more than others. They can be quite tricky to insert correctly and you may need to try several times to get the cup to unfold. However, if you’re an experienced user, you should be able to get the hang of this eventually. We didn’t notice any leaking with these cups during the day, but wouldn’t feel confident wearing them at night, making them more suited to being a back-up cup.
Key details – Material: Medical-grade silicone; Sizes available: 2; Colours available: Blue, light blue, mint, orange, violet; Wear time: Up to 12 hours