The Sweethome Guide to Menstrual Cups
December 6, 2016 10:38 AM   Subscribe

This week, the Sweethome (previously) tackles the question of finding the best menstrual cup for a first-time user to try out. With menstrual cups (previously) quickly increasing in popularity from relatively unknown status, it can be difficult to figure out what models to try and what size your vagina even is, so the article includes some helpful tips on guesstimating size and cervix height. Cups don't work for everyone and there's definitely a learning curve, so making sure to start with a model that's probably not completely the wrong size can be surprisingly important! Of course, testing out cups in an evidence-based way meant designing an artificial vagina to keep things consistent--which turned out to be a bit more difficult than previously expected.
posted by sciatrix (70 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I have a great deal of admiration for the people who figured out how to test this and tested it. I'm a cup user and have tried and given up on several brands over the years and still didn't know there were this many options right now. Thanks to their testing I think I know what specifically to look for the next time I switch.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

This makes me so very happy.
posted by zebra at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2016

Having reached the appropriate age, I just went from the Divacup size 1 to their size 2, meant for mothers and women over 30. Just that teeny tiny size difference has made its use incredibly uncomfortable, so now I've gotta go back and buy a size 1 again and take the financial hit in stride. Testing all of them... man, that'd be a fortune.
posted by theraflu at 11:10 AM on December 6, 2016

Yep, theraflu. I love mine but it's a huge outlay if you're on a budget.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2016

I have been using the same Keeper for, let's see, gotta be more than 15 years, closer to 20. Back then that was just about the only brand available.
posted by JanetLand at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am actually really glad the Sweethome review mentioned the size thing, because I had also been told to use the larger size because fat, but I literally can't pee with the larger ones in so I would say any women who hasn't had a vaginal birth might start with a small, except maybe in the one range that had more options than strictly "small or large".
posted by Lyn Never at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

The part about wandering a Target surreptitiously trying to fit menstrual cups into the cavities of various products is amazing.
posted by Rinku at 11:29 AM on December 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

I had also been told to use the larger size because fat

this is horrifying. how do thick thighs translate into a wide vagina in people's minds? how do they think vaginas work.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2016 [40 favorites]

I still have the Diva cup that I bought a while ago that I never used because it was painful (perhaps wrong size?) but I'm planning to try again post partum.
posted by ethidda at 11:38 AM on December 6, 2016

that I never used because it was painful

You might have a tilted uterus? I have a renegade tilt and these things never work for me...
posted by mochapickle at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you are a person who gets a period, you can probably use a menstrual cup.
The average person who menstruates...
... in general the larger one is for people who’ve given birth...
... most folks who haven’t given vaginal birth...

I'm absolutely no expert on these things, but that seems like a nicely inclusive use of language.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2016 [42 favorites]

My Diva cup magically became the right size when I read a message board that said it was fine to flip it inside out to shorten it. I was thrilled it worked, because at $30 a pop, you can't exactly keep trying and tossing.
posted by gateau at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I just went from the Divacup size 1 to their size 2, meant for mothers and women over 30.

I lost my DivaCup a few days after my 30th birthday and REFUSED to size up based on the arbitrary age. I'm glad my vanity also has some basis in reality.

But man, do I love my menstrual cup. That thing makes having your period and struggling with menstrual products so much less of a thing. I barely notice that I have my period after my initial day of heavy flow where I have to keep an eye on the cup getting too full.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

>how do they think vaginas work.

I don't know, but yeaaaaaars ago, I decided I was going to try one of the female barrier methods of contraception because everything else was awful (and even then, my doctor at the time just looked at me for a while when I asked about it, and I think the pharmacy had to special order it). I was told that any significant change in weight (in either direction) would require a refit. So my impression was that vaginas were some sort of magically chimeric body part.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Cup users, may I ask how you manage the mess in a public, multi-stall restroom? My brief at-home experiment with a cup many years ago, failed mostly I suspect due to a tilted uterus, left me wondering how in the world one gets from stall to sink without alarming other users with one's bloody hand. Maybe if it works properly there's a way to do it without mess?
posted by HotToddy at 12:14 PM on December 6, 2016

I saw this yesterday and it was awesome! I so wish it had been around when I was buying a new menstrual cup after the birth of my first kid. I ended up with a DivaCup because... who knows, I guess I had heard of it before, and I thought maybe it'd be better than the Keeper I had used prior to childbirth. But I'd found using it over the past two years to be a lot more prone to leakage and less comfortable than before I had a kid and I didn't have any idea why. Sometimes it would seat/pop open correctly, but every fourth or fifth time it just wouldn't. After reading that review, I was like, OH, it's because it's too big/long and also not stiff enough rubber (I'm a runner and evidently my pelvic floor is powerful!). Awesome to know that there are different cups that are likely to work better.

Also I feel like I'm a pretty knowledgeable person about my own anatomy, especially after trying to conceive for a while and having a baby, but the note about how to check whether you have a low vs. high cervix was totally new to me.
posted by iminurmefi at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

HotToddy: Maybe TP up your hand first so you don't have to make a ton of contact? I fortunately don't confront that issue often...

I also recently accidentally switched from a 2 to 1 because what kind of fucking order is that to put the numbers in, obviously 1 should be the smaller one, but I'm just sort of rolling with it. It was a little uncomfortable but it resolved quickly. I actually feel like it leaks a little less.
posted by sibboleth at 12:20 PM on December 6, 2016

HotToddy, I use a ton of toilet paper to wipe my hands real well. Then I exit the stall with my elbows. It can be done.
posted by domo at 12:20 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

@HotToddy when I've been faced with this problem, I just dump it, wipe it with TP as well as I can and pop it back in. When I am able to next time, I give it a nice hot wash in a sink. I'm also not really squeamish about germs or blood so YMMV.
posted by bigstace at 12:22 PM on December 6, 2016 [8 favorites]

HotToddy: I got my pro-tips from this blogger (other menstrual cup tagged articles from her here). But ditto what others above said, clean hands + toilet paper. Can also carry ready-wipes.
posted by slipthought at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2016

When I am able to next time, I give it a nice hot wash in a sink.

just as an aside, one major thing ppl tend to forget is if you're on vacation somewhere where the local tap water isn't safe to drink, it is also not safe to wash your cup in; you will get An Insalubrious Ooze.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2016 [14 favorites]

Cup users, may I ask how you manage the mess in a public, multi-stall restroom?

I just don't. If I need to be gone from the house so long I couldn't wait until I got home, I'd use tampons. I work from home 98% of the time so that's easy for me to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I've used a cup, I've wrapped my hand in toilet paper before removal. Not pretty, but mostly avoids my coming out of the stall looking like Lady Macbeth.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:45 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

An Insalubrious Ooze

New favorite MeFI username.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

Cup users, may I ask how you manage the mess in a public, multi-stall restroom?

I just don't. If I need to be gone from the house so long I couldn't wait until I got home, I'd use tampons. I work from home 98% of the time so that's easy for me to do.

Same. I have squeamish feelings about toilet paper getting wet, especially getting wet with blood, and possibly pilling on my hand or on the cup. And then this time of year I'm usually wearing some complex layers on my bottom, and I shan't be bothered to hitch up my layers in a small stall with bloody/pilly hands.

The bottom line is still good, though; I buy a box of tampons once every six months or so where before it'd be once every two months. It's still a lot less waste.
posted by witchen at 1:01 PM on December 6, 2016

Hot Toddy, I do this all the time. You take some paper towel before you go into the stall, one dry and one slightly wet. I use my underwear as a surface after sitting to keep them clean, while I take out and empty my cup. Then I use the paper towel to wipe the cup clean. Finally I wrap the paper towel in tp and put it where the pads go.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is fascinating. To Hot Toddy's question: I never wash it in public restrooms. Remove, empty, wipe off with TP, reinsert, wipe off hand with TP, flush, open door with other hand. I've never had problems with pilling, I just use more TP if that happens I guess? I do the whole thing one-handed with a hard-to-describe wrist flick and keep the 'affected' fingers tucked inside my 'affected hand' when I leave the stall and I think I use the 'clean' hand to redress also. Anyways, I don't wash the cup, just my hands. What bothers me is the audible noise of vacuum that sometimes occurs.

It took me a few months to get the technique down. At first I was squeamish and horrified. Now I'm not at all squeamish and have a pretty smooth routine that works everywhere. I dunno, I thought it would be much worse than it is. I like it very much now and think disposables are gross and crinkly and bulky and ew.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:35 PM on December 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think they're harder to use than tampons (the folding, the getting it to unfurl), but SO GREAT otherwise. And I've almost never had to remove one in a public restroom because I can easily go 12-16 hours without having to empty one, even on pretty heavy days. Tampons have never lasted as long.
posted by ldthomps at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks to this, I just ordered a Lunette to give it a go. I have been trying for years to get the Diva Cup to work and found it to be the most painful obnoxious thing ever. Now I know I'm not alone.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:07 PM on December 6, 2016

I tried the Keeper, ages ago. It wasn't a complete failure, but not great enough to keep it up. I never knew there were so many other choices! I'd be tempted to try some of these others, but I keep hoping I am almost done with this.
posted by elizilla at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2016

I do approximately what epanalepsis does, after washing both hands vigorously when I come into the restroom and then keeping the Keeper-hand untouched as I get into the stall. I also don't wipe the cup down before reinserting -- I think what just came out of my innards is less likely to have a contamination than anything that's been in a toilet stall. (I prefer bathrooms with a sink in, and rinsing the cup before re-inserting, but quick reinsertion and then wiping down my outer bits works.)
posted by clew at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2016

The dealbreaker for most people when it comes to menstrual cups is the learning curve. 'The first few times you change it you might want to do that where you don’t worry about leaving it like there was a serial killer in there,' said Dr. Gunter. 'I’m good at taking things in and out of vaginas, and the first time it was like WHOA!'

Dr. Jen Gunter, ladies and gentlemen. Saying the things only an OB-GYN can say without it sounding like boasting.
posted by The Bellman at 2:39 PM on December 6, 2016 [15 favorites]

Kanata - I imagine there would be quite a learning curve.

I used tampons ever since I started my period without a problem and I've been using the Juju and Lunette cups for about 6 months now. Once or twice per cycle I manage to insert the cup slightly incorrectly which I don't notice until I sit on the couch. I then have to get up very, very quickly to go and adjust the position of the cup.

Depending on why tampons hurt you might need a very small and possibly very soft cup. The SweetHome article recommends the Meluna Shorty for low cervixes as it is shorter than most tampons.

The main thing I find with the cups is to insert them when you don't have a limited amount of time so you can get it sitting just right (I have a very light period and can insert the cup before work and empty it after work). When I was starting out it was difficult to get the cup out but I'm getting the hang of it now (and also not panicking if it is difficult, just relaxing and trying again).

I'm at the point now where I'm quite comfortable using the cup and wouldn't switch back to tampons. I no longer have to feel guilty about flushing them.

The reviews I looked at the most before decided which cups to buy were the ones by Bree from Precious Stars Pads (SLYT) although I have just ordered a small Meluna classic to try based on the SweetHome article.
posted by poxandplague at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hey, Kanata, I actually hate tampons way worse than my cup--I think I'd used them successfully like twice when I got mine? and then I found they dried me out like hell and just, no, ouch, and they hurt me way worse coming out than my cup ever has. So I had exactly the sort of learning curve you're talking. (I continue to hate tampons like burning; pads or cup for me.)

And I guess for me the answer was... it wasn't that bad? Like, it took me a couple of days to work it out and get the fit right, but I lucked out or something with the Duchess Cup I bought and it fit fine (esp with a bit of lube going in), did not attach itself to my cervix like some sort of demented octopus, and has never once leaked on me. It took me a while also to get used to the angle of entry and figure out what fold worked best for me and things, and I think it took until Round 2 for me to be able to successfully insert it, but once I got past the learning curve it's been really nice.

I also found fucking around with a tampon applicator to be way more of a hassle than inserting and removing the cup, because I can never get the level of insertion right before I trigger the applicator or if I do there's no bloody traction, and with my cup it's like... fold, insert, keep pushing until it's just the tip of the stem and you feel that weird slightly uncomfortable pop, ignore until you get home in the evening and then gently pull, squeeze a bit so it can't suction, dump, rinse, and return. (I, uh, am lucky enough to be able to go 24 hours between ejecting on mine; I know the Sweethome says not to but I will probably continue being That Jerk.)
posted by sciatrix at 2:59 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

kanata, I am on the larger size of things and tried the cup because tampons and pads both dry me out and irritate me for days during and after my period. Unfortunately, I was really unable to get it in properly. Some of the links describe how the cup pops open again after you've folded it - that happened heaps, of course, which was frustrating enough. And I also discovered that I have really short arms/fingers or can't bend enough or something, I am not exactly sure what but I couldn't reach far enough to actually put it in properly. I can put tampons in - just - because they are rigid and if I push them in by the end, they don't pop open prematurely. But if you hold the cup by the bottom and push it in, it just won't work. Your fingers have to be further up, keeping the fold in place (or not, depending).

You should be able to test this without actually shelling out for a cup. Keep your thumb and forefinger about 2cm apart and see if you can reach halfway up your vagina in a posture which is one you would be likely to be able to assume in the bathroom. If you can, you have a good chance with the cup. If you can't - I can't, even lying on my back on the bed, which is not really feasible in a bathroom scenario but I was determined to give it my best go - then I wouldn't spend the money on one. I am pleased that the $70 I spent can be of some use, however small.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:22 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I loved my Diva Cup enough to pass it around in a TMI show and tell one Thanksgiving. Then it got uncomfortable and I switched to a Meluna that I adore (I got the bright orange one). I have had it going on 7-8 years now.

I don't change it in public bathrooms. I'm fortunate in that I only need to change it 2x a day, so I do it at home.

If I don't have it with me I would rather use a pad. The dry thought of a tampon makes me absolutely cringe now.

Also: Why the hell weren't we taught about these when we were just starting our periods? Makes me really mad.
posted by Vaike at 3:48 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

This article is amazing, and sooooo needed as a backstop against the I-tried-one-cup-and-it-tickled-so-they-are-evil-and-it's-my-duty-to-warn-the-rest-of-vaginakind stuff that gets kicked up around here (and the wider internet) when cups come up as a topic.

They should teach this stuff in middle-high school health classes (and provide free IUD consultation and insertion at age 18) but god forbid girls learn this kind of day-to-day useful stuff in school.

FWIW, in public spaces I wipe my external bits, remove cup, dump cup, then reinsert. I see no reason for toilet paper to touch the cup, as any stuff that was on the cup was just inside me and I'd rather have that go back in than paper bits.
posted by sparklemotion at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've been using a cup for almost 20 years and those things scare me. They're huge! Nobody ever talks about the kind of cup I use, though.

The Instead Softcup has been around for ages. It consists of a silicone ring and some sort of plastic film bag. Advertised as disposable and sold in packages of 14, I've been washing and reusing the same one for several years. The Instead cup is very easy to insert and can be worn comfortably during sex (empty first). I can feel it when I first insert it but once it seats properly I never notice it again. I have to remind myself to check it regularly.

Also, I do like sparklemotion in public restrooms. Dump and reinsert. No wiping.
posted by irisclara at 4:46 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

This article was a revelation. I suppose I always knew I had a slightly short cervix, but I've also had other problems with cups and tampons due to a (previously) inporforate hymen, so I associated all my woes to that. I've used the Divacup for years, but I can only handle a few days per cycle because it starts to hurt. It sounds like I just need a shorter cup!

Also, man, I know we're all about the quantified self navel-gazing but I need a Bluetooth-enabled menstruation device like a fish needs a bicycle.
posted by Paper rabies at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Question for you awesome smart cup-users: after dumping, my output is thick enough to sink to the bottom of the toilet, and leave blood skidmarks, that repeated flushing does not solve. At home I'll use the toilet brush, no big. In public, I'll wait for a min or so for it to dissolve a bit, then flush it away. is there a better solution?
posted by Fig at 5:02 PM on December 6, 2016

In public, I'll wait for a min or so for it to dissolve a bit, then flush it away. is there a better solution?

I always went with the "welp, it's getting cleaned more often than my toilet at home ever does, and also blood skidmarks are not grosser than poop skidmarks" shrug and move on.
posted by asperity at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

Question for you awesome smart cup-users: after dumping, my output is thick enough to sink to the bottom of the toilet, and leave blood skidmarks, that repeated flushing does not solve. At home I'll use the toilet brush, no big. In public, I'll wait for a min or so for it to dissolve a bit, then flush it away. is there a better solution?

You can try pouring it onto tp in the bowl (this doesn't really work if you bleed an obscene amount).
posted by moira at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2016

Depending on the bathroom configuration and your precision balancing skills, you might be able to flush and dump into the current.

I don't know that I'd stress much about it. People have seen far worse in public toilets.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:24 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fig - I put some TP down before I dump my cup-output out. It seems to escort most of the bloody skidmarks away.
posted by thirdletter at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2016

I heart my Compact Lily Cup. Though it's small, it seems to hold a lot of blood. It works with my low cervix. And it's soft enough that it doesn't trigger a urinary tract infection. (I'm prone to them, and to plagiarize my own comment from the cup thread linked in the post, I can get UTIs just from wearing close-fitting trousers or not having peed enough on a given day.)

And I found out the hard way that the Diva aggravated my risk of UTIs. It's long, as the Sweethome guide notes, and quite firm.

So I use my cup only on the second day, my heaviest, and use cloth pads the rest of the time. I can recommend Anne Riggs' bamboo terrycloth pads, sold on Etsy or at the Merchant Co. consignment store if you are a Portland, Maine, resident or visitor.

I will note that the Sweethome guide was pretty "meh" on the Compact Lily. So YMMV, obviously.
posted by virago at 6:02 PM on December 6, 2016

After my anti-Diva rant, I should have said:

So I use my Compact Lily Cup only on the second day ...

(Apologies for any confusion!)
posted by virago at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2016

I spend a few months per year camping and using portable toilets. My Moon Cup makes dealing with my period much easier. I bring baby wipes and go through a bunch of them when I empty my cup (2 times a day at most).
posted by luckynerd at 6:57 PM on December 6, 2016

at $30 a pop, you can't exactly keep trying and tossing

At the Menstrual Cup Sales livejournal, people sell and trade cups that don't work for them -- either unused and purchased in error, or, for the very unsqueamish, boiled to sterilize. (Handy that they're silicone.)
posted by tangerine at 8:52 PM on December 6, 2016

Seriously, though. NOPE.
posted by at 9:02 PM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

This seems like a great thread to ask in: for those of you with IUDs, how does the cup fare for you? Other women seem to be worried about the suction of, say, a diva cup being not great for keeping the IuD seated, and an instead cup sits so far up near my cervix I'm afraid it will jostle or irritate the strings.

Another thing that stops me from using my cups regularly is that I can feel them-- both instead and diva cups-- as pressure against my front vaginal wall, and this seems to make cramping worse. Since I just got a copper IUD and am having cramps more strongly now anyway, I've been kind of scared to try...
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:24 PM on December 6, 2016

Like irisclara, I use and love the Instead disposable cups. Because I'm cheap, I use one per period. For some reason they work way better for me than the more cup-shaped cups. I definitely find them *way* easier to remove. I had a compact Lily cup for a while and I just could not seem to get the damn thing out without a ton of uncomfortable poking around, but I've never had that problem with the Instead cup.

I do live in fear that they'll discontinue them, though.
posted by merriment at 9:30 PM on December 6, 2016

I have really liked the idea of menstrual cups ever since I first read about them. Wanted to try one for a long time but always hesitated. Finally bought one a few months ago. It was a little uncomfortable and then I found that I desperately needed to pee and couldn't until I got the cup out, and for several panicky minutes I couldn't get it out. So ... that was fun, especially imagining the conversation I might be having with the ER folks. Having RTFA, I think I had the wrong size, and I feel encouraged to try again.
posted by bunderful at 9:31 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You guys! I just re-started using a menstrual cup this week, and it is symbolic of everything that's going right in my life right now!

I used The Keeper about 17 years ago. Just popped it in and was on my way -- no adjustment period, no problems. And then it started to get uncomfortable and irritating. I thought I'd developed an allergy to natural rubber. And then tampons were irritating. And then even flannel pads were irritating. Turns out I had developed an autoimmune disease that means that any friction wrecks my vagina. It was because a Mefite shared her symptoms and ultimately, diagnosis, that I was able to figure out what was going on, and a couple of doctors confirmed the diagnosis. There's not much to do for treatment - and it had a big impact on my quality of life (and by that I mean, my and the Mr.'s sex life).

And then I developed another autoimmune disease (chronic hives). I became a sedentary, aging, very overweight miserable person. Desperate to do something about it, I followed a mefite comment about the keto diet and ended up losing 35lbs in 4 months -- and it sent both my autoimmune diseases into remission!

Having now enjoyed many months of great sex, it occurred to me a few days ago that I could maybe use a menstrual cup again. I dug it out of the cupboard (it's not the 17 year old one, but a silicone one I tried once in the meantime when I thought I couldn't handle the natural rubber one), sterilized it and am on Day 2. I'm finding it difficult to remove, but I know enough not to panic -- and thanks to this post, I now know what to try next!
posted by vitabellosi at 4:06 AM on December 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also shoutout to my dude who came home several times to me cursing at failed fake vaginas and never batted an eye.

So basically just another Saturday Night in Tokyo.
posted by rokusan at 6:15 AM on December 7, 2016

Hello all! Long time metafilter reader, first time actually joining and commenting.

I wrote this review! If anybody has questions or feedback I'm all ears and can try to answer as best I can*. It was a fun but tough one to do (way harder than reviewing tampons, which I did earlier this year), since every vagina is a special snowflake so recommending "the best" gets tricky.

*I am not a doctor.
posted by roseveleth at 7:51 AM on December 7, 2016 [26 favorites]

Awesome! Ok, is there a way to measure the internal width of the vagina? For purposes of more-or-less guaranteeing the correct cup size.
posted by bunderful at 9:18 AM on December 7, 2016

WidgetAlley, I (and a friend of mine) both have the mirena, and use our diva cups and instead cups regularly. (Or at least, I did - haven't had a proper period in months, hurrah.) I asked my gynecologist, who also has an IUD, and she said she uses her diva cup, too. I'm more careful about pulling it out - make sure I break the seal before moving it, but other than that, no problems.
posted by umwhat at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, she did say to wait about two weeks after insertion before you use it to make sure everything has healed up.
posted by umwhat at 9:29 AM on December 7, 2016

WidgetAlley, I have a copper IUD and don't have any issues at all with strings or unseating. I just pinch the cup a bit as I'm taking it out.

For people with tilts: I had much better luck seating the cup right around my cervix rather than below it. This doesn't give the cup a chance to slide right past and miss the point entirely.

For people with a "dangly" cervix (cervix takes up a bunch of room in the cup and you tend to get leaking) or heavy periods: you will probably have better luck with a larger or wider-bottomed cup.

For people who have issues with urethral irritation, bladder pressure, etc.: a softer cup is so much more wonderful, though it's a bit tricky to get the hang of opening it at first. I think the softness helps to prevent leaking, too.

The cup that finally solved all these issues for me was a large Fleurcup.
posted by moira at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2016

I've been using a cup (the small fleurcup) after getting an IUD (mirena) and I haven't had any troubles. The IUD has made my periods super weird though. I have a dangly cervix and the small one has actually worked better for me than a larger cup (I used a divacup for a long time pre-baby).
posted by that girl at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2016

bunderful: is there a way to measure the internal width of the vagina? For purposes of more-or-less guaranteeing the correct cup size. There are some ways to try and guess but it's not scientific. The best way I can recommend is based on your experience with penetration. So if penetration that involves hitting the walls of your vagina is painful, you probably have a narrow vagina. You can actually use a sex toy to test this yourself if you want (it's a fun game!) to see which angles are more comfortable than others.

WidgetAlley: On the IUD thing -- depending on your strings and your cup, you can pull the IUD out when you pull out the cup. It's rare, but it can happen. I would say that before inserting a cup, check to see where the strings are, and make sure they're not dangling way down into your vaginal canal. Also, if your cup is pressed tightly enough against your vaginal walls that it can pull on the strings, it might be a bit too big.
posted by roseveleth at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

This guide is amazing and I'm super excited to delve into it more! I have the Sckoon Cup and have had the Keeper, Luna and MoonCups (I still use the MoonCup for overnight because the Sckoon Cup doesn't hold as much) but I keep wondering if there's something better out there. I love the Livejournal Menstrual Cup community that's, like, obsessed with trying these out and totally see how that might be a weird thing that people start collecting.

I do have a point of contention with the article, that says to avoid sterilizing the cup with hydrogen peroxide or bleach. I agree that I would would NEVER! use bleach on mine, but I have found that a soak overnight in a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide is amazing at taking out stains and cleaning the gunk out of the holes at the top in a way that nothing else can. It also helps keep them from getting smelly. I'm not grossed out by menstruation in any way, shape or form but the smell after a year of use or so that occurs just never seemed right and using soap never did much for removing buildup and made me worry about irritating my PH level or something.

While I never really expected my menstrual cups to stay shiny and new, it's kind of nice to get them back to the original color every couple months as needed. I haven't noticed any degradation, even when, for a few years, I was soaking mine in 100% hydrogen peroxide every month until I realized a dilute concentration did the job just fine.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:32 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

the thorn bushes have roses: If that is working for you great! Some cups get super dry when exposed to hydrogen peroxide, and can start leaving a residue behind which you definitely don't want anywhere in your vagina. For these guides we tend to try and give as generally safe advice as we can, so since some cups react badly to hydrogen peroxide in general it's better to steer clear if you're not sure. But if it's working for you with no problem, that's great!

One nice thing about the MeLuna is that it comes with a handy little cleaning brush to get into those holes!
posted by roseveleth at 12:39 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

My sister bought into the Looncup kickstarter - that thing is nuts. Anything that tells me not to sterilize it, or says"Do not wear through airport security" is all I need to know that it's not for me.
posted by honeybee413 at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ooh that's interesting, roseveleth! I had been assuming that all the silicone cups would respond in the same way because that didn't happen with my three of that material even though they're different thickness/stiffness. Sorry for generalizing! I wasn't sure from your review if it was just a general note against trying to sterilize the cups, since I use the hydrogen peroxide more as an aesthetic solution because boiling did nothing for me. Thank you for doing all this exhaustive research, I've already shared this with 3 of my friends who I've been slowly coaxing into trying cups and all have been really excited about it, too.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

roseveleth, I loved this! Thanks for writing it in such a wonderful and inclusive way!
posted by sadmadglad at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

These things are $25 now?! When I bought mine they were like $50!
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:40 PM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

showbiz_liz: they are cheaper now! But I will quote from one segment of the piece (which is SO LONG I really can't blame anybody for not reading the whole thing) about the super cheap ones:

You can go on Amazon and find menstrual cups that are really cheap, but menstrual cup reviewer Bolen says to steer clear. A handful of companies advertise $3.99 or even $1 menstrual cups, but these are sometimes not made of medical-grade silicone, and in most cases it’s unclear what specifically they’re made out of. I found several reviewers who said that when they boiled these cheaper cups to sterilize them between uses (we’ll get to that later), the material deteriorated quickly. If you’re going with a menstrual cup, it’s worth the money to get one that will hold up. Remember, when you think about it as a replacement for all the pads and tampons you buy, it will pay itself off within two years.

posted by roseveleth at 7:20 AM on December 8, 2016

I have loved my Diva Cup ever since I took the time to practice with it and figure it out and get comfortable. Then, like most, I began to tell everyone I knew just how amazing it was to use a menstrual cup. Slowly but surely, as time went on, more of my friends got on the bandwagon and equally as excited. Every single one of us, at some point, wondered why we hadn't heard of them sooner. The BEST.

For me, though, the highlight came via my job. I manage an outreach program that works with people who are experiencing intense poverty and other issues. Many of the women who access the program request tampons and/or pads, so we have spent a lot of time putting together "period packs" to distribute (thanks to donations) but, as we all know, the cost adds up. Some weeks we basically had to ration the packs - giving people enough supplies for a few days, rather than the week they might actually need. We heard stories of people who couldn't leave their hotel rooms for a week because they couldn't afford whatever products they preferred - and wadded up toilet paper was the only other option for 'emergency' appointments or whatnot. I mean, these folks live in a relatively wealthy city in Canada.. and for a few days each month they're essentially trapped.

One day, a woman asked if we had a Diva Cup - she had heard about it and wanted to try it out. We didn't, so we put out a request for donations on our Facebook page in the hopes that we could raise enough funds to buy one. Well. It turns out that when people recognize how life-changing menstrual cups are, they REALLY get on board with wanting to share that joy. Within a few hours, we had 6 donated cups (3 of each size) and a bunch of money donated so we could buy them as-needed. The only issue is that they're not ideal products for someone who's homeless - since you need to be able to clean/sterilize them properly at the end of your period. But for people who are marginally housed, or staying in shelters, it's such a wonderful solution. Life-changing, yet again.
posted by VioletU at 8:33 AM on December 27, 2016 [12 favorites]

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