What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a reusable device worn inside the vagina that creates a seal against your vaginal wall and collects menstrual blood rather than absorbing it like a tampon. Menstrual Cups come in all shapes and sizes and most commonly are made of medical grade silicone. They are just as safe as tampons but most importantly they are more comfortable and make your period easier to manage.
Are menstrual cups messy to use?
Menstrual cups collect menstrual fluid and blood. I empty mine while sitting on the toilet or in the shower meaning I get very little to no blood on my hands. The blood is sitting inside the cup and when you take the cup out it's not tipped upside down until it's fully removed. When I take my cup out at home, I tip it down the toilet between my legs and then as my sink is too far from my toilet I wrap it in a piece of toilet paper so I can lay the cup on the shelf while I wipe. I then take the cup to the sink, rinse with warm water and pop back in. You can use a cup cleanser to clean it every time or save that for the end of your cycle.
I've got an average flow so only need to empty it morning and evening so I'm normally at home. More details are in our separate article "can i go to the toilet while using a menstrual cup."
Can my menstrual cup get lost in me?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Your cervix (opening to your uterus) blocks the way for anything to get past (apart from sperm). If your cup goes to high and you can't reach it bear down like you're straining to poo and it will move down (doing this while sitting on the toilet is particularly effective. Once it moves into reach push on the sides to make it change shape and break the seal and pull it out. I've got a high cervix but it's never gone so high it can't be reached.
Is it uncomfortable to use a menstrual cup?
You shouldn't be able to feel the cup at all once it's in place. If you can feel it, it's not inserted properly or you need to trim/cut off the stem. If it's definitely in place and the stem has been trimmed then it's possible that it's not quite the right cup for you. It will still work but isn't the optimum cup for you. Read our article on "choosing a menstrual cup." We also have a "menstrual cup comparison chart" to help you find the perfect one for you.
Do I have to remove the menstrual cup when I go to the toilet?
No. You can go to the toilet as normal when wearing a menstrual cup. Some people prefer to remove their menstrual cup for a bowel movement but the choice is yours.
Does a period cup smell?
Absolutely NOT. Blood doesn't smell until it comes into contact with oxygen so unlike pads there won't be a smell as it's worn internally. If you leave your cup in longer than 12 hours when it's removed there might be a slight smell but this will go with the blood being tipped away.
How often do you need to empty your menstrual cup?
This varies on your flow but on average 8-12 hours wear time is normal. Day 1 is more likely to be changed more frequently than the rest of your cycle. If you have a very heavy cycle you may need to change more frequently. Remember menstural cups hold MORE than a tampon.
Personally most months I can put the cup in after a morning shower and I don't need to change it until the evening. On day 1 sometimes it feels "heavy" there so I'll change it after about 8 hours. A colleague has exceptionally heavy periods and day 1 and 2 they'll be changing every couple of hours on day 1 but this is far less than they had before they used a cup.
Cups come in different sizes so change frequency is also influenced by the capacity of the cup. Read our full article "How Often To Empty Your Menstrual Cup."
Can I put a menstrual cup in before my period starts?
YES! This is one of the things I most love about my cup. I've always had an irregular menstrual cycle varying from 5 weeks to 12 weeks (although much improved years ago having taken Agnus Castus). I now use a period tracker so I get an estimated date from the app so when it's getting close I start using a menstrual cup and pop it in the morning just in case. At the end of the day I check and I'm either still fine or surprise it's started! No being unexpectedly caught out or stained underwear. Using the cup was a real game changer for me with my irregular cycle. Full Details are found in our article "Can I Put My Menstrual Cup In Before My Period Starts."
I can't use tampons so would a menstrual cup NOT work for me too?
Absolutely NOT. I have never been able to use tampons I just can't get them in right, too drying and irritating on putting in and removing, I can always feel them. However with a cup from the very first time it was perfect. Easy to get in and doesn't need to be positioned high as tampons.
The risk of toxic shock syndrome is lower with a menstrual cup than with tampons, but it still exists. Do not use any internal vaginal sanitary products if you have had TSS before.
A cup doesn't absorb vaginal moisture so it doesn't dry you out, they are comfortable and can't be felt once correctly in place. Life changing is how I describe my cup! More details in our full article "Can I Use A Menstrual Cup If Tampons Don't Work For Me."
Can you have sex with a menstrual cup in?
NO. The cup will seal your vaginal canal. I have read cases of people who supposedly did leave it in and he slipped by the side but seriously I can't even begin to imagine how this worked out with a standard regular cup. See our Separate article on "Sex and Menstrual Cups." However menstrual discs are designed for mess free penetrative sex in mind so there are options for you.
I have an IUD can I still use a menstrual cup?
Yes you can but you have to be really careful with the strings. You must make sure you break the seal before you take it out so there is no pressure put on the strings. Full Details In Our Article "Menstrual Cup and IUD."
Can I swim with my menstrual cup in?
Yes absolutely. No chance of any leaking blood down your legs, any escaped strings. I do find that some water leaks into the cup which comes out when the cup is removed. This is fine and if you weren't wearing a cup water would get into your vagina anyway. I always empty my cup after swimming. Full Details In Our Article "Can I Go Swimming With A Cup?"
Can I exercise with my menstrual cup in?
Yes you can, I regularly run with mine, exercise classes and the gym. You will find a firmer cup is better for exercise than a softer cup as it holds it's shape better. However I do find that if I'm lifting weights especially on a leg day with squats my cup moves down slightly from the bearing down. Choosing a firmer cup can help minimise this. On heavy flow days you may like to have back up of period underwear such as period pants as well. There is more information on all options for exercise in our article "Exercise & Reusable Sanitary Protection."
I have a weak pelvic floor can I use a cup?
Yes you can. You will find a softer cup such as the Saalt soft cup will be a better choice for you.
How much money will my menstrual cup save me?
This very much depends on how much you currently spend on period products. While some people may only use one box of tampons at a cost of just £2.10, someone else may need heavy pads and to change hourly. We have based our figures on those provided by Channel 4 Fact Check. They estimate that on average £10 per month is spent on essential products like pads, tampons and liners.
Over the course of 10 years (how long the average cup lasts) the average spend is £1200! If you are at the lower end of the scale and only need one box of tampons per period then your 10 year spend would be £252.
Menstrual cups costs about £25 making you a huge saving. Even on the lowest figures, you would make your money back within a year.