While pads and tampons have long been the gold standard when it comes to managing our periods, menstrual cups are growing in popularity as of late — and for good reason. Not only are they sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives, but they also can help you save hundreds of dollars a year on sanitary products. So how do they work? Menstrual cups are flexible little receptacles that get inserted into the vagina where they sit and collect blood while you’re on your monthly flow, rather than absorbing the fluid, like tampons and pads.
There are both reusable and disposable options available, and most brands offer an assortment of different sizes to accommodate light, medium, and heavy flows. I’ve personally ruined a solid number of my favorite jeans, underwear, and bedsheets courtesy of leaks, but another benefit to using cups is that you can (aside from super heavy days) wear them all day without the risk of leaks and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Another notable bonus point? You don’t have to take your menstrual cup out during intercourse, so they allow you to enjoy mess-free period sex.
Aside from the aforementioned pros, menstrual cups also help keep your pH balanced and help ensure that good vaginal bacteria stay intact, which means they help to cut down on embarrassing odor and may reduce the risk of developing an infection. Tampons, on the other hand, absorb all fluid, which can throw off normal vaginal pH. So what are the downsides, you ask? Practice makes perfect.
Initially, some women find that proper placement can be difficult, but once you get the hang of it, you’re golden (if you’ve ever used a diaphragm for birth control, the insertion and removal process is very similar). Because you have empty the collected blood into the sink and cleanse the cups after each use, this can make using the restroom in public a bit challenging — unless of course, you’re not shy about others seeing your blood (and if that’s the case, right on!). Overall, aside from cutting down on landfill waste, menstrual cups offer a number of practical benefits that pads and tampons simply cannot rival. If you’re ready to give them a try, see below for some of our favorites.
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1. Intimia Lily Menstrual Cup
This reusable menstrual cup allows for 12 hours of leak protection, so you can put it in before you leave for work in the morning, and not have to worry about it until the evening. It also features a slanted design to align comfortably with your body and a leak-proof rim to keep you comfortable and dry all day long.
2. Lena Menstrual Cup
The FDA-registered Lena Period Cup comes in two sizes to accommodate normal and heavier flows and features and is designed with hypoallergenic, US medical-grade silicone and dyes to help keep your pH balanced and keep odor at bay.
3. The DivaCup
The DivaCup was one of the first menstrual cups to hit the market and it’s still one of the best options you’ll find. This low-maintenance and super comfortable cup gives you protection for 12 hours and it’s reusable for an entire year.
4. The Hello Cup
The Hello Cup menstrual cup is reusable fora few years, allowing you to save thousands of dollars on period products for a small one-time purchase. This larger size version is perfect for those who have heavy flows, but it also comes in smaller sizes as well.
5. Peach Life Menstrual Cup
Peach Life’s menstrual cup is designed with a ring to ensure an easy and mess-free removal process. It’s also made with BPA-Free and medical-grade silicone to prevent allergies and irritation.