Have you ever thought about what your period costs over a lifetime? Over the span of just three cycles, a reusable menstrual cup can save you thousands of dollars. The best menstrual cups are reusable, bell-shaped devices inserted into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual blood. A single latex or silicone cup can last up to 10 years, making it far more environmentally friendly than tampons or pads.
Why should I use a menstrual cup?
Think about this: the average menstruating person has an average of 520 periods in their life, which translates to roughly 10,400 tampons used. That’s a lot of products ending up in landfills and sewers—and doesn’t even factor pads into the super wasteful equation. The average box of 34 tampons costs $7 (according to some quick sleuthing on Amazon), which comes out to $2200. Worldwide, menstrual products cost consumers US$26 billion in 2019. That’s a lot of money spent on something painful, emotional, and unpleasant.
Beyond saving money, this simple switch can help the planet. Tampon applicators are almost always made out of single-use plastic, which isn’t so great for the environment. Then, there’s the huge carbon footprint that goes into making these products. I’m looking at you, cotton, which goes into tampons and pads.
Buying a menstrual cup won’t save the planet, but it is a more sustainable period product. Before you reach for another box of tampons or pads, consider switching to a menstrual cup. It’s easier on the planet—and your wallet.
How to use a menstrual cup
Obviously, period alternatives aren’t accessible to everyone. For one, there’s the upfront cost. Also, they may be difficult for some disabled people to use.
If you’re new to menstrual cups, it can take a bit of practice to figure out the perfect positioning for your cup, so you might want to put a towel down just in case the first few times you use a menstrual cup.
Every vagina is different, just like every body is different. Most important is to find your cervix to figure out how far you need to insert the cup. The back rim of the cup needs to go below and past the cervix (basically the end of the vagina) while the front rim tucks into place behind the pelvic bone, right near the G-spot.
So really, what you’re doing is wedging the menstrual cup between the back wall of the vagina and the pelvic bone, so it cups your cervix, clicks into place, and stays there until you’re ready to remove. Here are some popular folding methods.
A quick note about pregnancy and periods
Friendly PSA while we’re here: don’t forget, menstrual cups may provide a barrier to blood, but they don’t block sperm. Despite common misconceptions, you can still get pregnant during your period.
The best menstrual cups for your time of the month
1) Ziggy Cup 2
This stem-free menstrual cup is basically the answer to penetrative period sex prayers. Its flat design sits under the cervix and feels much like a diaphragm (but doesn’t leak). Ziggy also has the added benefit of keeping things comfortable because, unlike tampons, it isn’t absorbent. During your period, you’re still producing much-needed moisture (aka discharge) in addition to your menstrual fluid, so everything stays lubricated, and your flow is cleared out of the body easier. Bonus: the silicone is soft and easy to clean.
2) FUN CUP
Yes, so FUN FACTORY’s menstrual cups, aka FUN CUPS, are available in two different sizes. Depending on what size you choose, they hold 4-6 times as much as a tampon.
The FUN CUP, which is made of medical-grade silicone, is shaped to curve with your body. The rim is thicker and firmer to keep your cup reliably in place, and its tapered tip is also firm for easy adjustment. In the middle, the silicone is softer and thinner, so it conforms to the shape of your body for maximum comfort.
It also comes with a storage bag and is available in various colors, which is great for anyone tired of hyper-feminine period products. It’s also good to note that all the language in the packaging and instructions is gender-neutral.
Price: $24.99 for a single cup; $39.99 for a pack of two
This cup is for you if you have a long vagina and a high cervix. It’s one of the larger and longest ones on the market, but its firmness makes it easy to fold and pop open once inside.
In my experience, it’s also leak-proof—for a long time. I’m a heavy, like murder scene menstruator if I don’t change a tampon during the night, and I can go a solid 12 hours without emptying it. This cup can keep up with my heaviest day, and I’ve never had overflow issues. There’s a reason why a lot of menstruating people start with this bestseller.
4) Flex Cup
Not to be confused with the Flex Disc, this soft and collapsible cup comes in two sizes: slim and full fit. What sets this cup apart is its looped stem. It may not seem like much, but it’s a big deal for people with muscle weakness or limited hand mobility, making removing a traditional cup tricky. Like the DivaCup, this cup is well-suited for people with high cervixes.
The nixit design is another great pick for first-time cup users. Unlike most cups, this disc-style cup doesn’t use suction—it naturally stays in place. In addition, its soft, flexible, double-ribbed rim makes it easier to insert and remove than other models made with more rigid materials. Also, it’s one size fits all approach truly fits most vaginas.
Finally, this cup stands up to the heaviest of flows, holding up to four tampons worth of fluid (blood from the uterine lining mixed with other fluids). Sure, it’s one of the more expensive models, but it’s one of the sacred few that is safe to wear during penetrative sex.