How to choose the right menstrual cup
Not all menstrual cups are created equal
Congrats on starting on the menstrual cup / moon cup / period goblet / Wā Cup conversation! Welcome.
We have some important information to flow your way if you are thinking of buying a menstrual cup or already own one.
Today, there are heaps available, so many it can be overwhelming.
Where do you start, how do you decide and importantly, how do you know you are getting a safe product that will actually work?
..and what about those ‘only pay shipping cups’ anyway?
Your vagina is an absorbent environment. It's also the portal to your whare tangata (house of humanity) or womb. It's an important and sacred place. Anything that goes in there can potentially leach nasties, which can be absorbed into your body.
When it comes to putting things in vaginas, our health is at stake
A good cup will be so much easier to use and better for your body than tampons and pads, but a dodgy cup can not only not work and feel uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous too. A cup is a purchase you'll have for years; do it right and it will look after you right.
Here's how to do it right
What your cup should be made from
Your menstrual cup needs to be pure medical grade silicone. Not only this, but it needs to have a silky finish on it, otherwise, you are going to have resistance ala - hello dry tampon syndrome.
Silicone is from silica, the second most abundant elemental resource in world (right after oxygen) and can also be upcycled afterwards. 100% medical grade affirms that it is of standard to be worn internally in the human body and doesn’t contain any other nasties such as fillers.
Latex and plastic (thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)) cups exist too. However, we don’t recommend plastic cups as plastic is often derived from petroleum, and, we have enough plastic in our environment.
How to tell
A TPE plastic cup:
Is completely solid in colour, will not be transparent in any sense and can feel almost chalky to the touch. If you fold it, then pop it open, you will be able to see little (or big) lines where you folded it. The packet it comes in should also say that it is TPE. They are safe to use, are recyclable but have a shorter lifespan than medical grade silicone (usually 2 - 5 years before they loose their shape) and can't be chemically steralised.
As for silicone:
Ask what type of silicone the company uses. There are four. Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) is almost always medical grade silicone, so is your safest bet. Other types include, High Consistency Rubber (HCR), Fluorosilicone Rubber (FSR) and Room Temperature Vulcanized Silicone (RTV).
Reputable websites selling reputable menstrual cups should be transparent about this. Check out their FAQs and general info. BUT, the issue is that some onsellers (either consciously or unconsciously) sell frankly, really crap cups that claim to be made of ‘medical grade silicone’, but that’s not actually the case.
In some instances, manufacturers even have fraudulent ISO, CE or FDA certificates. This happens a lot, especially cups manufactured in China. Not good. Onsellers often get conned too, thinking they are doing the right thing, just wanting to get menstrual cups to people who need them.
A cup can be safe without having been registered with the FDA, as it a costly process that not all companies can afford off the batt, and is a strictly American system. However, it really needs other safety certificates with it too, such as SGS or ISO (and should have these anyway). CE registered is the European version of FDA registering, with differing processes.
If in doubt, don’t buy it!
If your cup or cup manufacturer claims to be FDA registered, but is not on this list, then it’s likely fraudulent (you will find Wā Cups under Casco Bay).
If it’s claiming to be FDA and isn’t, then, what gives you reason to trust it’s actually medical grade silicone and not full of cheaper fillers or a grade of silicone not safe for internal use?
How do you know it is proven to be safe for your body and stand up to boiling in 100 degrees celsius and not deteriorate or leach chemicals? How do you know it is designed to work?
Wā Cups are made from medical Class VI LSR silicone with complete material traecability from our ISO certified manufacturing partner in the USA. We have the material certifications for each FDA registered menstrual cup we sell. You can contact us to request them if you like :)
Menstrual cups come in many different firmnesses. That’s because everyone’s bodies are different. As well as this, some menstrual cup designs (such as flimsier softer cups and hard rock like ones) are cheaper to produce than others. When looking at cups, a good rule of thumb is:
- Pops open easily inside you
- Holds its shape against pelvic floor muscles
- Trickier to insert
- May put pressure on your urethra (makes you feel you need to pee!)
- Easier to insert
- Less likely to put pressure on the urethra
- Moulds to your body shape
- Difficult to pop open
- May get compressed by your PC muscles
Right, so you may see there is often a payoff. However, there is a sweet spot. That’s us. Wā Cups have the benefits of both firm and soft cups. How?
Wā Cups have a firm sub rim so they pop open easily. That’s important, or getting it working is going to be an unfun experience.
This firmer sub-rim allows for a soft body (we like soft bodies). The soft body means it will be easily folded and inserted, you won't feel it at all and it won’t put pressure on your bladder.
Some people have said their Wā Cup decreases cramping too. It’s the real deal.
Your cup also needs a rim at the top opening to be able to use it easily. Some cups don’t have these, and that’s okay, but it’s going to be a lot trickier to use and may leak. Not ideal for your fav. undies or confidence.
The rim of the cup forms a seal inside your vagina. Don’t worry, you can’t feel it! It just means that it won’t leak or slide down to say hello as it fills up!
The rim needs holes by the way.
How many holes below the rim does your cup or potential cup have, where are they and how big are they?
Your cup needs holes to be able to form and remove the seal properly. Four holes are best, a couple of millimetres below the rim, only two and it’s not as easy to operate.
How much did you pay?
‘Just paid shipping’, got a sweet deal for under NZD$20, or the cup is a higher price, $39.99 / $59.99 but is always 50% off? Think workers rights, material traceability, product safety, design and materials and infringement on intellectual property and harmful environmental practices.
Often material 'fillers' are involved meaning it's not medical grade silicone alone (or even not medical grade silicone at all, even if it claims to be). When we were validating Wā Collective we experimented with many different manufacturers and cups and were shocked.
Tip: stretch the material of your cup. If it claims to be silicone.. give it a massive stretch - really get in there. If it goes opaque/white where you stretch it - it isn't pure silicone.
Ask yourself, how is your cup that cheap when others aren’t? As above, many cups made in China claim to be FDA registered but actually aren't and have virtually untraceable production lines through multiple parties. You literally don't know where it came from, what's in it and what isn't in it. You sure you want to be putting that in your honey box?
At what sacrifice has this cheap price come? What’s in your cup, who's agenda are you supporting and where's your money actually going?
Also, cheap cups (watch out though, some companies still on sell these for $20 - $60) are often shoddy design aka- no design at all and either rip off other brands, or, don't work properly or even physically hurt simply because no market research went into the design and it’s just pumped out of the factory at the cheapest mass price to get a bit of $buck$. Do they really care about your health?
Often onsellers, so people that have set up a lovely little business importing cups, will either be unaware or naive to the above and will be selling these potentially dangerous, cheap rip offs for $20 to even $60. Price isn't always an indicator of quality.
Most knockoffs come from China courtesy of e-bay, Aliexpress, Alibaba and local online auction sites. These can be purchased off the site or from further onsellers who are importing these in large quantities.
How's your cup finished? Look at the joins on the rim of the cup - is it nice and smooth or uneven? If you see join marks going down the cup vertically from rim to stem, it's going to not last the distance.
If it’s got these joins, no matter the brand or it’s supposed prestige, it’s not as good as it could or should be. Prominent joins can also irritate you and, frankly is just a shoddy job. We'd be embarrassed to put our name to that.
Top tips on spotting the generic cheapie for what it is
- It calls itself a 'moon cup' or 'diva cup' when it’s not that brand
- It's always 50% off, down from eg, $39.99USD
- At full price, it's under $20NZD
- Has a name listed as a bizarre list of keywords like “ silicone ladies diva menstrual cup” instead of having a brand name
- The cup looks identical to other ones you have seen, but has a different name
- The product doesn’t have it’s own branded packaging
- It ships directly from China
- Product photos are blatantly stock images
- Photos look weird and fake
- Doesn’t give a firmness indicator or specs of the cup and is just designed for an easy purchase
- The info or site contains typos or questionable grammar or syntax
Loyal Ovulator, it’s worth getting the right cup. We’ve put a heck of a lot of research into finding our amazing US manufacturer for our Wā Cup.
We’ve sampled cups from over the globe to end up here, taking us through 15 design iterations and countless cycles! Do it once, do it right and experience how much a good cup can revolutionise your life.
You can find your perfect size cup here, Period.