Frequently asked questions

A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis in The Lancet affirmed the safety of menstrual cups.

This study was conducted by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University College London, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the UK, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Bill and Melina Gates Foundation in India, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kenya. The study was sponsored by the UK Medical Research Council, UK Department for International Development, and the Wellcome Trust.

Read the study from The Lancet >

The British National Health Service (NHS) also endorses menstrual cups as a safe option for managing periods.

Read the view from the NHS >

Menstrual cups are not recommended for post-partum bleeding (Lochia).

Single-use period products are the fifth biggest source of plastic on beaches, take over 500 years to decompose, block sewers, fill landfills, and create air pollution if burned. An individual using pads and tampons fills the equivalent of two minibuses with waste., in their lifetime. Each disposable menstrual product used, and its wrapping, has a life-cycle environmental impact, from manufacture through to disposal. The primary constituent parts include cotton, paper, wood pulp, and plastics, plus water and fuel, which all have substantial carbon, resource use, and ecological footprints. 

Menstrual cups are used all over the world, in big cities, small villages, and everywhere in between. They are used by individuals of many cultures and religions. 

Menstruation can have a negative effect on girls’ education, especially if they have no pads or cups. More research is needed. 

Read more on does menstruation make girls miss school.

The environmental impact of a reusable menstrual cup is less than 1.5% of the impact of tampons or towels. Menstrual cups use 16 times less carbon impact than single-use products, saving 7 kg CO2e over a year. Each cup requires only 15 grams of silicone to make, derived from silica sand, an abundant material with minimal environmental impact.  

Learn more about the environmental impact of menstrual products.

Yes, women of Islamic faith are using cups across the world, including in Kenya, Pakistan, Jordan, and Syria. Learn more about Islamic faith and menstrual cups

About once a month, blood and cells from a woman’s uterus leave her body through her vagina. Periods are normal and healthy. They last from 2 to 8 days each month. 

A menstrual cup is shaped like a small bell, it is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. A cup is clean, hygienic, safe, and comfortable, and produces no smell. You will not feel your cup inside you, and you can remove it easily. Each cup is reusable and lasts 10 years, so saves the cost of 2,500 disposable menstrual pads or tampons. 

Each cup holds 20-25 millilitres of blood, about the same as 3 pads or tampons, enough for heavy periods. 

The vagina is made from elastic muscle, which can stretch wide open and also hold the cup tightly. You do not have to remove your cup to urinate. Sometimes when you defecate the cup falls out of place, then just remove it and reinsert. 

If you drop the menstrual cup on a clean surface, it can be rinsed with clean water and reinserted. If it falls onto a dirty floor or latrine, do not use it until you have cleaned it with boiled water. 

Each woman is different; some need to empty the cup every 3 hours. Do not leave it in longer than 12 hours. You can use your cup overnight while you sleep. Empty the cup before going to sleep and then empty it again when you wake. 

Remove it as soon as you remember. It is easy to forget your cup because it is comfortable, and the menstrual blood does not come into contact with air, so it does not smell. You can put the cup in the day before you expect your period will start. 

Relax, and do not worry. Walk around and try again. Jumping or gravity might help. Try sitting or squatting in a different position. 

No, the vagina stops at the cervix, which only opens during childbirth. 

Using the cup can be messy until you are used to it. After a few periods, you will learn how often you need to empty the cup. Most individuals take a few periods before using a cup is comfortable and easy. Talk to your friends who use them. It is like learning to read, or riding a bicycle – difficult at first, and then suddenly it is easy! 

No. Blood only smells when it is in contact with air. There is no air inside you, so no smell. 

Yes. A menstrual cup can be used from an individual’s first period. When the menstrual cup is first inserted into the vagina, it may stretch the hymen, which is the skin around the entrance of the vagina. At puberty, the hymen becomes more elastic and stretches. A stretched hymen does not mean a girl is not a virgin; a girl only stops being a virgin when she has had sexual intercourse. 

Learn more about menstrual cups and virginity.

No. The vagina is made of muscle that stretches when you insert the cup and goes back to the same size when you remove it. 

There is no age limit. You can use a menstrual cup from your first period. 

Yes, you can use it at home or at school and while swimming, running, dancing, playing netball, cycling, or any other activity. 

A cup may leak if it is full, if it has not been put in correctly, if it is too small a size, or if it has not opened up inside you. Take it out and try again. Or try a different size or brand. 

No, the menstrual cup will not give you vaginal infections. The vagina makes protective secretions that help prevent infections. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups do not absorb your natural secretions, so the vagina remains healthy during your periods. Always rinse your menstrual cup with plenty of clean water, as soap on the cup can irritate the inside of your vagina. 

Read more on the topic here.

Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome (mTSS) is a rare event that occurs among menstruating girls and women. The symptoms are high fever, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, which can lead to severe illness, coma, and even death. About 3 per 100,000 tampon users suffered from mTSS in the 1980s when they used highly absorbent tampons. Since then, only 5 suspected cases of mTSS have been reported among many millions of cup users. Two of these women also used a contraceptive coil, and one had an auto-immune disease. mTSS is very rare, but be aware of the symptoms. If they occur, immediately remove the cup and seek medical advice. 

Read more details on mTSS and menstrual cups.

No, it is for your personal use and must not be shared with anyone else. 

Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone, latex, rubber, or plastic elastomer. Most cups have approval from national regulatory authorities such as the US Federal Drug Agency. Quality silicone cups contain no additives, perfume, or chemicals and are hypo-allergenic, so there are no side effects. A few people are allergic to rubber or latex. If you feel pain, burning, irritation, inflammation in the genital area, or discomfort during urination, remove the menstrual cup and visit a clinic. 

The holes help the cup make a good seal to prevent leaking. At the end of your period clean the holes with a cloth or an old toothbrush. Do not use a pin or needle as they may damage the cup. If the cup does not have holes, push the base of the cup, to release the ‘seal’. 

Some brands of cheap cups are not made from medical-grade silicone but from poor-quality plastic elastomer. They may be stiff to fold and insert easily or too soft and leak. The material may not last ten years. If you look after your cup carefully it should last ten years, so it is worth using a good one

The tail is only there so that you can feel inside to ensure the cup is there. It should not poke out of your vagina. If the tail pokes out, cut a small piece off with scissors or a knife to make it fit. If it is still uncomfortable, cut a bit more from the tail. Be careful not to cut a hole in the cup! 

Yes. The menstrual cup is good for light period flow, as it collects blood without absorbing natural fluids from the vaginal walls. 

The menstrual cup does not prevent pregnancy, nor protect from sexually transmitted infections. Some couples are comfortable using a cup during sex, it is up to them.