The 8 Best Menstrual Cups of 2020

An economical and environmentally-friendly alternative for people with periods

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The Rundown
"Flex allows you to swap the size in case it doesn't fit quite right, making it a no-risk choice."
Best for Beginners and Teens:
Saalt Teen Menstrual Cup at Amazon
"Colorful and compact, this Saalt cup is a great choice for teens."
Best for a Heavy Flow:
Lena Menstrual Cup at Amazon
"The large Lena is designed to hold plenty of menstrual blood for those with a heavy flow."
"Nixit's stemless design allows for easier insertion and a higher volume of menstrual blood."
Best for a High Cervix:
DivaCup Menstrual Cup at Amazon
"DivaCups come in three sizes, each long enough to fit those with a high cervix."
"Designed especially for a short cervix, this cup has a shorter overall length."
Best for a Tilted Cervix:
Pixie Cup Luxe at Amazon
"Made with a shorter stem and from a softer material, Pixie's Luxe version is comfortable for those with a tilted cervix."
Best for Swimming:
Mooncup Menstrual Cup at Amazon
"Creating a strong seal on the cervix, Mooncups are ideal for activities like swimming."

Once you try a menstrual cup, it's hard to go back. Usually made of silicone, the simple devices catch period blood and fluid inside the body and can be worn for up to 12 hours. Though invented in 1867, they've become a popular and widely available option for people with periods in the last decade. 

There are so many reasons to love menstrual cups: Not only are they far cheaper than shelling out regularly for pads or tampons (a one-time cost gets you a cup that will last a decade or more), but they are also a no-waste option, eliminating the need for tampons and their applicators or plastic pads and their wrappers. 

Menstrual cups are also perfectly safe. Many users say they have less cramping and shorter, lighter periods, and there is no odor when using a cup since blood isn’t exposed to the air. Ahead are our top choices for the best menstrual cups.

Best Overall: FLEX Menstrual Discs

With fit being the number one potential issue for menstrual cups, Flex’s offer to swap your cup out for another size means it’s a less-risky purchase. It also has a special pull tab at the bottom of the cup, which allows for easier cup removal, since the tab breaks the seal on the cervix. Made in the U.S. from black, medical-grade silicone, you won’t be able to see any discoloration on this cup, and the silicone is rated by reviewers as being extra-soft to the touch.

Good to Know

A 2019 meta-analysis published in The Lancet looked at 43 studies of menstrual cup “use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability” from countries around the world. Epidemiologist Anna Maria van Eijk, PhD and her co-authors found that cups don’t leak more than pads or tampons, they don’t hurt the vaginal microbiome (in fact, some of the studies showed fewer vaginal health issues in cup-users), and they generate 95 to 99 percent less plastic waste.

Best for Beginners and Teens: Saalt Teen Menstrual Cup

This Saalt Cup is made especially for teens—it’s smaller and comes in two bright colors. Its shape was designed so that it can form a good seal, which should mean fewer leaks, even during active pursuits. Made in the U.S. from medical-grade silicone, Saalt is a certified B-corporation that gives 2 percent of profits back to “fund initiatives in menstrual health, education, and sustainability” in places that need it most. Saalt also has a standard menstrual cup.

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Best for a Heavy Flow: Lena Menstrual Cup

The large Lena is designed to hold plenty of menstrual blood for those with a heavy flow. It’s made in the U.S. from medical-grade silicone and is designed for experienced menstrual-cup users. Beginners and those with regular-flow periods have the option of the smaller size Lena.

Best Stem-Free Cup: Nixit Menstrual Cup

The Nixit menstrual cup (or disc) is a different design than the others on this list; it more closely resembles a diaphragm, so it doesn’t suction onto your cervix and hang down within the vaginal canal. Instead, the medical-grade silicone cup sits against the cervix, tucked behind the pubic bone, which also means it doesn’t need to be removed to be emptied (just bear down) while using the bathroom.

The size and shape of the Nixit means it can hold a larger volume of menstrual blood, and, as our reviewer wrote, “Nixit does not have to be folded awkwardly when inserting. Anyone who's used another menstrual cup knows the battle it can be to fold properly and ensure it opens fully once inside.”

Best for a High Cervix: DivaCup Menstrual Cup

DivaCups are long enough to fit those with a high cervix comfortably, according to reviewers. Also made from medical-grade silicone, they come in three sizes, Small, Medium, and Large. Diva Cares is the company’s philanthropic arm, and it funds women’s organizations, does period advocacy through legislation, and even helped fund a documentary about periods.

Best for a Low Cervix: MeLuna Low Cervix Menstrual Cup

The only non-silicone option on this list, MeLuna makes a wide variety of medical-grade thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) menstrual cups in various lengths, widths, and firmness. You can also choose the handle style, either a small ball (the most comfortable for many); an easy-to-grasp ring, for anyone who might not be able to reach the handle as easily; or a stem, which is best for beginners. The Shorty is designed especially for a short cervix, so it has a shorter overall length, but you can buy a small, medium, or large cup size (it grows in volume horizontally instead of vertically to hold more fluid).

Best for a Tilted Cervix: Pixie Cup Luxe

Designed and made in the U.S. from medical-grade silicone, the Luxe version of the Pixie Cup is intended for tilted cervixes and low cervixes. It has a shorter stem and is made from a softer material, which may make it more comfortable. Pixie Cups come in size small or large, and you can buy them individually or as a combo pack so that you can find the size that’s most comfortable for you. For every Pixie Cup sold, one is donated to a woman in need.

Best for Swimming: Mooncup Menstrual Cup

Mooncups have a strong seal on the cervix, making them ideal for activities like swimming since they’re a little less likely to get dislodged by movement. Made in the UK from medical-grade silicone, they come in several sizes and are one of the original menstrual cup brands.

What to Consider When Buying a Menstrual Cup

Fit: One of the main reasons some people don’t like using menstrual cups is that sometimes, fit can be tricky, and they might have tried one that wasn’t a good fit. Vagina sizes vary based on genes, age, or if you’ve had a baby pass through it. Luckily, different brands come in different sizes (and shapes), and some brands have more than one size available, with guidelines on their sites.

In terms of sizing, smaller-sized cups are for teenagers and those who haven’t had a vaginal delivery. “Some vaginas are shorter than others depending on where the cervix is. If you can touch your cervix with your index finger, you need a shorter stem,” says Dr. Kim Langdon, an Ohio-based OB/GYN. 

Larger-sized cups are for those with a heavier flow or those who have delivered a baby via the vagina. Or, you could need a larger or smaller cup simply because that’s the way your body is built (genes)—and no, it doesn’t have much to do with your exterior body type. Some petite individuals have larger vaginas and vice versa. 

When first trying a menstrual cup, be patient. “Use plenty of lubrication and clean your hands and trim your nails,” Dr. Langdon says. You will likely feel the cup in some positions, but menstrual cups should definitely be painless and when properly situated, actually comfortable.

Cleaning: Another chief concern about menstrual cups is keeping them clean. Because it’s fine to let them stay in for 12 hours, you’re not changing them as frequently as a pad or tampon, so many people just do the twice-a-day change at home. If you do need to empty it in public, some women’s health professionals say it’s OK to simply reuse it, while others recommend cleaning it off.

“I would take personal wipes to clean it off in the stall. You could take a little spray bottle of water to spritz it clean. Dry with toilet paper if nothing else, and don’t drop it!” Dr. Langdon says.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Starre Vartan has been covering sustainable consumer products for 15 years, 10 of those with Treehugger (under the MNN brand). She’s also a science writer who has covered biotech, astrobiology, animals, women’s health, and space for a variety of publications including Scientific American and National Geographic. She interviewed an OB/GYN for this piece.

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