What is a Menstrual Cup?
Menstrual cups are reusable, bell shaped containers which women use during their period as an alternative to tampons and sanitary pads.
The menstrual cup was first patented in 1935, but has only gained mainstream popularity in recent years.
A growing number of Australian women now use menstrual cups for a variety of reasons, including their environmentally friendly nature (particularly compared with applicator tampons) and cost-effectiveness.
Some experts advocate menstrual cups as a safer, healthier alternative to tampons which are linked to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) when left inside the body for too long.
Menstrual cups are also associated with less body odour than traditional sanitary towels and tampons, and need to be changed less regularly.
Generic models have a recommended usage time of up to 12 hours, and are suitable for overnight wear without dangers of conditions like TSS.
There are a wide range of menstrual cup brands on the market in Australia today, a list of which are detailed at the bottom of this article.
How does a Menstrual Cup work?
The device is placed inside the vaginal cavity, in the same space you insert a tampon, and collects menstrual blood instead of absorbing it like traditional feminine hygiene products.
Most menstrual cups are made from a malleable material like rubber or medical grade silicone, meaning they are soft and stretchy enough to fit the vast majority of vaginal canals.
Cups are suitable even for women with heavy menstrual flows, as the bell-shaped containers hold more fluid than the highest absorbency tampons.
Period cups are generally made in two sizes, one suitable for younger women who have never given birth and the other targeted towards women who have experienced vaginal childbirth.
How to use and insert a Menstrual Cup
Inserting a period cup for the first time can be daunting, just as using tampons can seem scary if you’ve never done it before.
Menstrual Cups Australia advise allowing for between two and three cycles before you feel fully at ease with inserting your period cup.
Using a panty liner for the first couple of months is advised while you adjust to the menstrual cup to reduce the risk of leaking.
Before you make your first attempt, wash hands thoroughly and bend or fold the cup in a way that feels comfortable.
Gently insert the folded cup inside the opening of the vaginal cavity - once inside, the cup will expand to its normal size and will sit in place ready to collect menstrual fluid.
How to remove a Menstrual Cup
To remove the cup, use the base stem to carefully guide the container out in much the same way you would use a tampon string. Lightly pinch the base to break the suction seal, and slowly remove the cup for emptying and cleaning.
How to clean a Menstrual Cup
As mentioned above, menstrual cups are steadily growing in popularity thanks to their convenience. To clean, simply wash the container in lukewarm running water.
At the end of your cycle, place the cup in a pot of boiling water for 10 - 20 minutes to thoroughly sterilise the device.
Cups can be stored in the accompanying storage pouch which comes with your menstrual cup, ready and waiting for your next time of the month.
What Menstrual Cups can I buy in Australia?
1. Moon Cup
Perhaps the best-known brand, the Moon Cup is made from soft, medical grade silicone for easy insertion and day-long comfort.
The Moon Cup holds three times the volume of the highest absorbency tampon, guaranteeing lasting protection even on the heaviest days of your period.
The cup is non-absorbent, plastic and latex free meaning it won’t cause dryness or irritation as some tampons do.
The Moon Cup is manufactured in the UK and is available for free delivery to Australia at a cost of just over $46 AUD.
The product boasts a slew of positive reviews and testimonials online, with one satisfied customer writing:
‘Can’t tell you how much of a difference it has made to my life – I got mine a year ago with a pair of Thinx period pants and will never go back to tampons and pads. The mooncup makes me feel so much cleaner than tampons, it’s better for the environment, brilliant for backpacking and I really think it has helped with my cramps.’
2. Diva Cup
The Diva Cup is another of the better known brands of period cups and offers 12 hour, leak-free protection, but there is one important caveat which may mean this product is not the right one for you.
The Diva comes in two sizes as most generic brands do, but both models are the longest menstrual cups on the market - and when it comes to inserting a device into the vaginal canal, physical length is one of the most crucial aspects to consider.
Menstrual Cups Australia recommend determining the height and position of your cervix before purchasing the Diva Cup to ensure the product fits well and won’t cause leakage or discomfort during use.
The position of your cervix will be the deciding factor as to whether the Diva Cup is the right period cup for you.
Teenagers and younger women are advised to try the JuJu or Lunette brand instead of the Diva, which is generally more suited to those who have already been sexually active and for females with a high sitting cervix.
The Diva Cup can be purchased online from Chemist Warehouse for $45.99 AUD, and boasts an overall 5 star rating on the site.
One user wrote: ‘This product is great on so many levels. From travelling, health and hygiene, saved money, sustainability and the way it works.’
JuJu is an Australian menstrual cup brand which prides itself on cost-effectiveness, convenience and environmental sustainability.
According to the brand website, using the JuJu for 12 months eliminates the waste of 300 tampons or pads, and their period cup is certified as vegan and cruelty-free.
Unlike the Moon and Diva Cups, the JuJu can only be worn for a maximum of eight hours, but still guarantees full protection during this window.
The cup is slightly more expensive than the Moon or Diva, retailing from the brand site for $49.95 AUD with free delivery. The site also stock an optional cleansing wash to clean the product which you can buy for $9.90 AUD.
One of the best selling points about the JuJu is the variety of sizes manufactured by the brand, with four different containers to choose from.
Cup one is geared towards women under 30 who have not given birth vaginally; cup two is recommended for those who have given birth; cup three is made for women with a particularly high cervix or long vaginal canal, and cup four is specially designed for anyone with a low cervix or short vaginal canal.
One of the most popular menstrual cups in Australia, the Lunette can be worn for up to 12 hours and are BPA and chemical-free.
The Lunette and its packaging are specifically designed to be environmentally conscious, with all materials certified as vegan.
Users raved about the security of the Lunette in online reviews, with one claiming it to be ‘better than both the Diva and Moon Cups!’.
At the higher end of the market, the Lunette comes in five colours - blue, white, orange, yellow and purple - at a cost of $55 AUD.
The brand also stock a limited edition pink period cup designed in collaboration with Monki retailing for $65 AUD.
5. Me Luna
Me Luna menstrual cups come in eight sizes and is suitable for exercise, travelling and all other daily activities.
The brand offers classic and sports versions of period cups.
The classic comes with a small ring at the base for easy removal, while the sport model has a traditional period cup stem to aid withdrawal.
All cups come in sizes small, medium and large to suit all shapes and ages.
At just over $25 AUD, Me Luna is by far the cheapest menstrual cup available to buy online and comes in a variety of colour options.