How To Pick The Right Period Cup FOR YOU!
It’s 2020 and menstrual cups are everywhere. There are literally hundreds of types of cups to choose from. So many cups, so little time: how do you know which one is right for you? Instead of Googling for hours trying to figure out which cups are for who, we've got you covered with this guide to point you in the right direction.
Between differences in body shapes, age, and experience, there is enough variety from one body to the next that no single period cup is going to fit everyone’s needs. The great news is, there is such a thing as a perfect cup…for you. Knowing your vaginal anatomy, combined with a little research on different cup characteristics and how they work, we've done all the work to save you from shelling out a lot of dough and going through an annoying trial and error period.
Cup Size Matters
You may have noticed that many brands of cups come in two different sizes, usually named “small” and “large”. Typically the sizes mean they are different in diameter (how wide) and length (how tall), but check the measurements on the box or website for accurate measurements.
Different brands list different reasons for choosing a menstrual cup size. Some of the common reasons for choosing a smaller size could include:
- You who have a smaller build or are a teenager
- You have a lighter flow
- are under 30 and have never given birth or never had a full-term pregnancy
A larger size, is often suggested if:
- You have a larger build
- You have a heavier flow
- You are over 30 years old and have given birth/have had a full-term pregnancy
Maybe you’re wondering:
What if I have a heavy flow and a baby, but I’m 22?
I just got my period for the first time. Can I use a cup?
What if I’m older than 30, but I have a small frame and have never been pregnant? Are you saying when my vagina turns 30, it becomes huge? Does this mean I should get my vagina tightened?
No need to start researching vaginal surgeries yet (but like, no judgment if you want to- do what makes you happy!). The FIXX is here to help. Everything is going to be ok!
So Where Do You Start?
Prioritize your cup choice to fit your body before choosing a size according to your flow, because it doesn’t matter how much your cup holds if it is leaking, isn’t staying in place, or is poking out because you can’t get it in any further. Also, keep in mind that period cup sizing guides are suggestions, not rules. You know your body best.
For example, if you are very active and in higher than average physical shape, your age may not be as important. And though the larger cups can hold more, a person with a heavy flow who is young may find a smaller size more comfortable but may need to empty it more often than the recommended 12 hour wear time.
Do you know where and how high your cervix is? We talked about cup diameter above, but different cup sizes (or brands) also have different lengths. Your cervical height can determine how well a cup fits inside of you, so we really recommend learning what that is before you start shelling out cash on a period cup. You don’t want one that’s long enough to peekaboo out of your vagina or one that is too short to reach comfortably. No one wants to call their friend in a panic to get help with removing a cup. If you do though, it might make your friendship even stronger. Just saying!
Some cups are designed specifically for people with high cervixes- these will typically be shaped longer, while cups designed for people with lower cervixes are shorter and may appear bulbous in shape.
If you have a tilted cervix, talk to your doctor about what type of cup would work best for you. They may recommend a smaller cup if your cervix is low, or they may advise against using a period cup completely.
Allergies and Material Options
The majority of menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone. If you are allergic to silicone, there are cups made out of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), and cups made from rubber. The cup material should be clearly listed in the description on the box, Amazon listing, or company website. If you can’t find what it’s made of, keep looking because you want to make sure what you put inside your vagina every month doesn’t contain toxins.
Soft vs Firm
How firm a period cup is can depend on the material, design, and thickness of the cup. Firmness influences these factors: how easy the cup is to fold and insert, whether it automatically pops open inside, and how much pressure the cup will put on your pelvic area.
The walls of muscle that hold in your menstrual cup are shared with your bladder on one side and your rectum on the other, so it makes sense that some people find that firmer cups are uncomfortable on the bladder and make it difficult to pee or that it can create pressure in their rectal area. Others find a cup that is very soft may be difficult to insert or keep in place, especially during exercise. A softer cup may also require an extra finger- finessing when you insert it to get the rim to open up completely. Other features, like an adjustable pull tab, can make a cup easier to use for beginners regardless of firmness.
Some general guidelines to lean towards a firmer cup are:
- You're a beginner cup user and aren’t sure how to use a menstrual cup yet
- You have previous experience with traditional menstrual cups not staying in place
- You are very physically active
Reasons to lean towards a softer cup would be:
- You have a sensitive vagina or cervix
- You've experienced difficulty using the bathroom with previous cups
- You have trouble folding firmer cups and keeping it folded during insertion
- You have pelvic floor tension of pelvic floor dysfunction
It’s important to note that not all cups will be the same firmness out of the box as they are in your body. TPE cups sometimes soften from body heat, but cups made of silicone or rubber shouldn’t really change firmness once inside of your body.
The color of your period cup has no effect on performance but if you don’t want one that is pink or purple or some sort of pastel, you have options. There are clear cups and darker colored cups on the market. PS- Clear or lighter colored cups do have a tendency to stain from period blood, so if you’re worried about that, go for a darker cup color.
If you do choose a lighter-colored cup, keep your cup squeaky clean to help with staining.
Period Cups for IUDs
You may have heard horror stories about how using a cup can dislodge or even “suction” out IUDs. Studies have shown that the chances of this happening are not higher if you’re using a menstrual cup, but you should definitely talk to your doctor or health provider if you’re concerned since they will know more about your IUD placement, string length, and your anatomy.
If you want to try a cup, check that your IUD strings aren’t long enough to get pulled in your cup when removing. When removing your period cup make sure you break the seal first to avoid those suction scaries, then pull and twist down slowly and gently.
Period Cups for Beginners and People With Disabilities
If you have never used a cup before, FLEX Cup’s pull tab can make removal easier. By using the pull tab, removal is similar to pulling a tampon string and may be more familiar to you compared to a cup with a stem that requires you to insert your fingers, pinch the cup, and twist and pull to remove.
Some physical conditions can affect your coordination and/ or strength and you may need a design that accommodates how you are able to insert, wear, or remove a menstrual cup. FLEX Cup was actually designed by someone with a disability that needed a cup that was easier to remove than what was available. It is the ONLY cup on the market with the patented pull tab for those that have difficulty reaching in and pinching their cup to break the seal or difficulty pulling a cup out. By pulling down on the tab, you can break the cup’s seal without inserting any fingers and pull the cup downwards in one motion, similar to a tampon.