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Pads and tampons may be the most popular choices when it comes to period products, but they aren’t the only options.

One alternative you may want to consider is a menstrual cup. Compared with single-use products, a cup is more eco-friendly, doesn’t have to be changed as frequently, and may be less prone to leakage.

Read on for a few top picks to get you started.

Menstrual cups are bell-shaped cups made of silicone or rubber.

When you fold one and insert it into your vagina, it unfolds and forms a seal against the walls of the vagina. Menstrual fluid collects in the cup until you take it out and empty it.

Menstrual cups have been around since at least the 1860s. However, they weren’t marketed until American actress and singer Leona Chalmers began promoting her patented catamenial receptor, now known as a menstrual cup, in the 1930s.

Still, they were slow to gain popularity since early rubber models weren’t very comfortable.

Most menstrual cups are now made of silicone, which is soft, flexible, and comfortable.


  • eco-friendly
  • more cost-effective than pads or tampons
  • can be worn for up to 12 hours, versus only 4 to 8 hours for a tampon
  • nondrying compared with tampons
  • not usually associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare, life threatening condition linked to tampon use. There are only rare reports of TSS from menstrual cups.
  • doesn’t contain chemicals sometimes found in tampons and pads, such as bleach and dioxin
  • no odor since menstrual fluid isn’t exposed to air


  • takes practice to learn how to insert
  • may be difficult to empty and clean on the go
  • may take some trial and error to find a comfortable fit

To create this list, we scoured reviews, looking for menstrual cups that customers rate the best. We also selected a variety of cups to suit different needs.

Each cup has been vetted by our in-house team to ensure it meets certain medical and business standards. Read more about our process.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $27
  • $$ = $27–$37
  • $$$ = over $37

Choosing a size

Menstrual cups usually come with a cloth storage bag. Most are available in two sizes.

The small size is size 1. It’s geared toward teens and those under 30 years old. People who have never given birth may also prefer the smaller cup.

A slightly larger version, size 2, is for those over 30 years old. This size is also recommended for those who have given birth and who have a moderate to heavy menstrual flow.

Some brands also sell size 0, which is intended for teens.

Best menstrual cup for a high cervix


  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0, 1, and 2

Diva International is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of menstrual cups.

DivaCups are made of clear, medical-grade silicone. They’re slightly longer than other brands, which makes them an especially good fit if your cervix is high in your vagina.

Reviewers mention how much more manageable and comfortable their periods are with the DivaCup. Others mention trying other brands, but only finding success with the DivaCup because of its length.

Although the manufacturer says the DivaCup should be replaced every 12 months, many people report using them for a lot longer than that.

Read our in-depth review of DivaCups.

Easiest menstrual cup to clean

Lunette Menstrual Cup

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1 and 2

Founded in Finland in 2004, Lunette now sells menstrual cups in more than 40 countries.

This cup is made of medical-grade silicone, so it’s free of chemicals and bisphenol A (BPA). It’s very pliant, which makes it easier for some people to insert. Best of all, reviewers say it’s easy to clean, thanks to the large holes on the top of the rim and the fact that it’s overall smooth.

It comes in an assortment of limited edition colors.

Longest-lasting menstrual cup

The Keeper Cup

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 and 2

The Keeper has been manufacturing menstrual cups since 1987, making them one of the most established companies in the industry.

The Keeper is the only latex menstrual cup in our lineup. It’s a brown color and some people describe it as less flexible, which may make it harder to insert. On the other hand, it will last for years because of its latex construction.

It also holds slightly less fluid than some other options.

Reviewers from around the globe praise The Keeper for its longevity and convenience.

Most comfortable menstrual cup

Intimina Lily Cup

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1 and 2

Lily Cup is one of the longest menstrual cups, which works especially well if your cervix is high. Like most other cups, Lily Cups are made of medical-grade silicone.

The big difference with this product is that it has an angled shape that matches the shape of the vagina and cervix. The company says that makes it easier to insert and more comfortable to wear.

There’s also the Lily Cup Compact, which is the only collapsible menstrual cup. As the name suggests, it has a compact container. This makes it easy to carry with you, so it’s there whenever and wherever your period starts.

Reviewers say the shape of the Lily Cup makes it much easier and more comfortable to remove than cups from other brands. They also mention its softness.

Best menstrual cup for beginners

Flex Cup

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 1 and 2

The Flex Cup is designed with a patented pull tab instead of a stem. It was created with menstrual cup beginners in mind. The company says their pull tab means the Flex Cup removes like a tampon.

It’s made with black medical-grade silicone and designed to be one of the softest, most comfortable cups on the market.

It’s also well reviewed, with many happy customers praising the Flex Cup for its user-friendly design.

Softest menstrual cup

Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 and 2

The Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup is made with ultra-soft, medical-grade silicone that’s designed to be extra gentle. That makes it a good choice for people who experience bladder sensitivity, cramping, or discomfort with firmer menstrual cups.

It’s available in three colors and two sizes to accommodate different flow amounts.

Over 600 reviews are overwhelmingly positive, praising the Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup for its softness, ease of use, and comfort.

Clearly, there are options when it comes to menstrual cups. To help you zero in on which one might work for you, keep these tips in mind:

  • Size. While different manufacturers will have their own names, most cups are offered in small or large sizes. Smaller sizes are typically intended for lighter flow days and people who are new to menstrual cups. Larger sizes are for heavier flow days, those with menstrual cup experience, and people who have had two or more vaginal births.
  • Material. While most menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone, there are rubber cups on the market. If you have a latex allergy, you’ll want to stick with silicone.
  • Firmness. Menstrual cups can vary in softness. If you have a sensitive bladder or tend to find menstrual cups uncomfortable, look for the cups that are marketed as
  • Cervix length. Cervix lengths vary, and cup lengths vary to match. You can measure the length of your cervix by inserting a clean finger into your vagina. You can also check with your doctor for a recommendation on a menstrual cup that will be suitable for your body.

It often takes some trial and error to find the best menstrual cup. If you find one size or brand isn’t quite working, it’s a good idea to try other options.

The biggest risk with menstrual cups is mild irritation or discomfort. More substantial risks like infection or TSS are rare.

Still, menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor, especially if you’ve had uterine prolapse. Uterine prolapse is a condition in which your uterus slips into the vagina because supporting ligaments and muscles have become weakened or stretched. This condition is most common in postmenopausal people who’ve given birth vaginally.

It’s also important to discuss your options with your doctor if:

  • you’re allergic to rubber or latex
  • you use an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control — sometimes it’s necessary to shorten the string attached to the IUD so that you won’t pull it out when you remove your menstrual cup
  • you’ve ever had TSS
  • you’ve recently had gynecological surgery, given birth, or had a miscarriage
  • you have a vaginal infection

Are menstrual cups safe?

Yes, menstrual cups are generally considered safe by the medical community. Risks are minimal and include irritation, infection, and rarely, TSS. You can minimize risks by following directions to ensure you’re using a menstrual cup correctly.

How do menstrual cups work?

Unlike menstrual supplies like tampons and pads, menstrual cups don’t absorb your flow. Instead, they collect it.

Before your period begins, you’ll insert the cup into your vagina. It will form a seal that protects against leaks. When the cup is full, you can gently pull it out using the stem and base of the cup. Then, you’ll empty, wash, and reuse it.

Do menstrual cups have side effects?

Risks associated with menstrual cups are similar to those of other interior menstrual products. You may feel a little discomfort during insertion. Rashes or allergic reactions are rare, but possible.

How do you know when a menstrual cup is full?

Determining how full a menstrual cup may be requires a little mental math and an understanding of your own flow. While you can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours, you will need to empty it more frequently on heavy flow days.

Do menstrual cups leak when you lay down?

Not usually. However, some people do experience leaking while they’re asleep. This is because the muscles in the vaginal walls that hold the cup in place relax, so the seal may be broken. Taking care to insert it properly can help.

Since you can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours, most people don’t have issues with the cup overflowing overnight. However, you’re the best judge of your own flow. You may need to change it more frequently on certain days.

Some people also opt to wear a panty liner or period underwear in addition to the cup.

How do you remove a menstrual cup without making a mess?

Avoid pulling out a menstrual cup by the stem alone. Instead, use the stem to gently pull the cup down far enough that you’re able to firmly pinch the base of the cup. Squeeze gently and angle it slightly from side to side to help release the seal as you remove it.

Should the stem of a menstrual cup stick out?

No. Make sure the cup is inserted far enough into the vagina, so that the stem is completely inside.

Since every body is different, you could insert a cup properly, but the stem may still be just a little too long. In that case, you can trim the stem so it’s still usable but not sticking out. Just make sure to remove the cup first.

A growing number of people are using menstrual cups and raving about them. If you’d like to have a period free of pads, tampons, and concerns about overflowing, consider trying the menstrual cup. Your doctor can help you determine which cup would have the right fit.