There are a lot of menstrual cup companies and by and large they have similar products, but the FDA is slow to accept new products for sale in the USA. That’s okay though, as you can typically order them online for personal use without a problem. I’ve used a lot of different cups in my day (I can’t pinpoint when I first started using them, but it predates Gmail), and I currently own fourteen cups from at least nine different brands. All of my cups are the smallest size offered unless otherwise noted, and I will rank their “squishiness” from least to most firm. Let’s get started:
Meluna is a German company which makes some of my favorite cups. They are also one of the few companies out there which makes cups out of TPE instead of silicone. My first Meluna cups were like the black one you see on the far left (I actually have three of these, but couldn’t find the other two). They are stemless, short, and small. Really small. Small enough that these are my go-to cups if I want to have sex while I’m bleeding. In that case, I make one small modification- I turn the cup inside out. Once inserted, the inside out small cup fits me almost like a cervical cap and is more or less undetectable for my partner.
NOTE: While you can use menstrual cups during sex (depending on your body/partner/cup), cups are not a form of birth control and will not prevent pregnancy or STI transmission. They are not a diaphragm or cervical cap.
My other Meluna cups are: a pair of Meluna Soft shorty-small ball-stem cups, a Meluna Classic shorty-medium ring-stem, and a Meluna Soft large ring-stem. I really love that Meluna has a wide array of sizes and stems, it makes the cups really customisable to your needs. I’ve stuck with the stemless or ball stems because they’re short and inconspicuous. The ring stem seemed like a good idea, but it’s not stretchy enough to fit my finger into so doesn’t actually function like I expected. It doesn’t stab me, so that’s nice, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again. The Softs tend to be harder to open, as is common with softer cups, and I often have to massage them around to get them open all the way. Typically this doesn’t bother me, but with these it is such a problem that I tend not to use them much. The Classics don’t really have this problem, though the really wee ones do sometimes. Meluna has a new and firmer Sport version that will probably solve this, but I haven’t tried them yet. The Meluna soft is by far the most pliant cup I’ve found, and the Classics coming in at number two in the squish-ranking.
Meluna recap: 8 sizes, 3 firmnesses, 4 stem styles, wide variety of colours. TPE. Pop-open varies. Wears comfortably and some styles work really well for sex.
Lady Cup is a company from the Czech Republic. I’ve had the one on the far right for some time (as evidenced by the previously removed stem). The other two were generously given to me by Lady Cup for this guide. Both the blue and the pink are sized Small, while the green is a Large. Despite already having the pink Small, I asked for a second Small because it had been so long since I’d used one that had a stem. Lady Cups insert and pop open easily. The rim is pretty firm while the bell is nice and soft. Despite the bulb being pretty flexible, these weigh in at number eight on my squishiness-scale due to having a strong, firm rim. They have six suction release holes placed in a staggered pattern and punched at an angle, but I’m not really sure if these design decisions make much of a practical difference. These cups have pretty strong suction and they take some squeezing to remove.
I have two major issues with the Lady Cup. First, the stems: Both the Large and the Small cups have stems that stab me right in the cunt. This is pretty easily remedied by cutting the stem down or, in my case, all the way off. Unfortunately cutting the stems off these cups leads me to problem number two- these are the slipperiest cups I’ve ever used. Without the stems there to give you purchase, these cups are incredibly hard to hold on to. Of course, you can’t actually lose a cup inside you but a stemless Lady Cup is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I had.
Lady Cup recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, wide variety of colours. Silicone. Pops open very easily. Can be difficult to remove.
Lily Cups are made by Intimina, which a health and wellness brand from the makers of LELO. While my colleagues and I might be scratching our heads about the direction that LELO is headed in, Intimina seems to be on the right track- provided you can get past all the pink.
The two cups on the left are brand new. They’re the Lily Cup Compact and they just completed an incredible Kickstarter campaign to the tune of 4000% of their goal. If that doesn’t say that folks are ready for a menstrual alternative, I don’t know what does. These are collapsable silicone cups. Yep, collapsable, like a camping cup. This makes them incredibly easy to travel with if you like to carry a second cup, are expecting your blood but aren’t sure quite when, or just don’t want a cup rolling around your wherever. At first I was worried that the ribs where these cups collapse would be too thin, but then I actually TRIED to puncture them with my fingernails and couldn’t do it. They pop open easily thanks to a firm rim, insert and remove easily, and overall feel like any other cup when in place. The body of the cup being squishier makes them a little easier to grip for removal, which is nice. I’ll probably still cut the stems off on these, but they aren’t nearly as stabby as most. Squishiness ranking of three.
The other two cups are the original Lily Cups, and let me tell you- I love these. They’re really unique in design- they’re slanted, they have a spill-resistant inner lip which also forms the seal around the cervix, they have no suction release holes, and their stem is more integrated than most cups. These are also a matte textured silicone like you’d find on a Mona.See that flange there? It’s fucking genius. It cradles the cervix without generating the pulling sensation that some cups with strong suction can have. In fact, at first I thought that these cups didn’t have any suction at all! Yeah, they do. They actually have a really strong suction, strong enough that on at least one occasion squeezing the cup wasn’t enough and I had to reach up and pull down on the lip a little bit to make it release.
The other thing the original Lily Cup has that others don’t is that it’s actually shaped to match the contours of the cervix and vaginal canal. That angle makes a huge difference. Now, this might not be the case with folks who have a tilted uterus (I’d be really curious to know though!) but for me these fit beautifully and, for the first time in my life, the stems don’t stab me! Whenever I wear a large cup I’m always aware of it because the pressure against my peri-urethral sponge is unmistakable, but I literally forgot I was wearing these! Folding is a little tricky since there is a “right way up”, but the bottom of the cup (what would be parallel-ish to the floor once inserted) has a stiffer rib which makes it easier to wrangle. They roll more than fold, pop open easily thanks to that rib, and the angled shape means less spillage during retrieval. I can’t really rank these on the squishiness scale due to the completely different design and the varied thickness creating the insertion rib.
Lily Cup recaps: Compact- 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, one colour per size- both pink. Silicone. Pops open easily. Collapses for easily portability. Original- 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, one colour per size- both pink. Silicone. Pops open very easily. Can have strong suction. More anatomically shaped.
Next up we have the Lunette. Lunette was founded in Finland, but thanks to distribution through Planned Parenthood is getting really good exposure here in the USA. I’m stoked to have a blue one- I remember when the blue Lunettes first came out and the Menstrual Cup LiveJournal Community went nutso over the “Lunette Selene”, as it was known then. The Lunette is also a matte silicone, but not in the same way as the Lily Cups. This is more like my silicone spatulas, if I had to compare it to something. Like brushed steel is to chrome. The stem is also flat, which somehow makes for less cunt stabbing, to the extent that I might actually leave the stem on this one. I only have the smaller size, but from what I can tell the size steps are similar to those of the Lady Cup. It pops open, inserts and removes easily. All in all, it’s a nice (if average) cup, and ranks at number six in squishiness- not too firm, not too soft. I’m stoked about the wider distribution in the US though, especially to a demographic which might not otherwise have heard about cups.
Lunette recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, 5 colours. Silicone. Pops open easily. Flat stem is less pokey. Available at some Planned Parenthood locations.
I have no idea how to pronounce the Sckoon Cup. At all. None. With a name like that you’d think it was made overseas, but this one is American made. Despite the weird name, it’s a really good cup. It’s one of two cups that I have that are more tulip-shaped, with the rim flaring outwards. This means that, like the Lily Cup, it doesn’t pull quite so strongly against my cervix. Sckoon also seems to use TARDIS technology to create their cups, as they have a capacity equal to or slightly greater than other cups in their size class (small/large) despite being noticeably smaller. Don’t ask me how.
I have mixed feelings on the stem. I love that it’s narrow, flexible, and (despite appearances) not at all pokey. Unfortunately it’s so slender that it’s also pretty stretchy. It’s not vagina-slingshot stretchy but enough so to make it less than effective for me as a retrieval method. I’m not sure about their claims of being “the softest and most advanced” cup, but otherwise? Quickly becoming one of my most used cups, with decent suction despite a squishiness rank of 4.
Sckoon recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, 6 colours. Silicone. Pops open fairly easily. Thin stem is less-pokey. Base texture less useful than it seems.
Fleur Cup is a French company, as the name implies. I think this was my first cup, but I’m not entirely sure. Fleur and Sckoon share a similar tulip shape and flared rim, which is something you don’t find often in cups. However, Fleur is more rounded through the bulb where Sckoon tapers. My Fleur cup comes in near the top of the squish-scale at number 9, but I still turn to it on a regular basis. It has quite a bit of suction which makes it really good for those periods which are more clot-heavy, or for when I’m near the end of my period and the spotting just isn’t going away. I cut the stem off long ago but the matte texture and the ridging on the base make it easy to grip.
I recently read that Fleur has changed their firmness since I got one. I’m going to try and get a hold of one before I update this with info on the new version. From what I have learned, these newer Fleur cups are softer and now are closer to the Lunette in appearance, flat stem, and texture of the silicone. I’m not sure if they’re still making different colours- I’m seeing photos of coloured translucent Fleurs but I’m not seeing them on their site. More information when I have it.
Fleur recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness (possibly different from older versions), 1 stem style, may come in colours. Silicone. Pops open fairly easily. Easy to grip.
Ruby Cup is from Denmark, and although it is a larger cup I rather like it. I don’t often reach for a larger cup, but when I do its the Ruby. The shape and softness means it doesn’t cause the gotta-pee feeling all day and it still works for the occasional heavy flow. This is another cup with a silicone-spatula matte texture, although it is a little more grippy than the Lunette which makes for an easy removal. At a squish factor of 5, this is the Goldilocks of cups. Not too big, not too small, not too squishy, not too firm, even the stem is pretty non-pokey due to being rounded at the end. The suction release holes are a bit lower than on most cups, which may be an issue for folks who need a large capacity cup.
The folks at Ruby Cup also sent me their handy steriliser cup. It’s also silicone, collapses like a camping cup (and could probably double as one) but is also a really handy storage container to keep your cup clean and cat-hair free. It’s also nice if you aren’t boiling a bunch of dildos or cups and just need to sterilise one cup- drop your cup in the, er, cup, pour boiling water over it, and let it steep. Done! Don’t be like me and get the black one just because you’re a goddamn goth. I promptly lost it in the sea of black that is my home. Get something bright. You’ll thank me later.
Ruby Cup recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, 2 colours. Silicone. Pops open easily. Rounded stem is less-pokey. Easy to grip and probably a great starter cup.
I’m going to lump together these next two: the Diva Cup and the Mooncup Mostly because I honestly find these very similar, practically speaking, and also because I strongly dislike both of them. The Diva cup clocks in at a 7 of squish, while the Mooncup maxes out the scale at 10. Despite this, they both have really firm rings and a LOT of suction. The Diva cup is probably the longest cup I’ve used, and because of that it just doesn’t work for my body. When inserted, the tip of the cup is at my vaginal entrance. I didn’t even bother trimming the stem because I knew there was no point.
The Mooncup is really firm, firm enough that I have a really hard time folding it for insertion. It pops open prematurely, which hurts. It’s also really smooth which makes it impossible to grip to get it back out. Oddly enough, both of these cups feel huge when I’m using them, but the Ruby Cup is actually larger. Just goes to show how materials actually matter.
Diva Cup recap: 2 sizes, 1 firmness, 1 stem style, 1 colour. Silicone. Pops open easily. Particularly long but not a whole lot of capacity. Mooncup recap: 2 sizes, 2 firmness, 1 stem style, 1 colour. Silicone. Really firm and can pop open prematurely. Hard to fold. Very slippery.
Ok. Last one (for now). The Instead SoftCup. I’m reluctant to call these menstrual cups, even though they are technically a “cup” for “menstrual fluid”. That’s where the similarities end. Instead, it’s almost like a weird reverse version of an internal condom, except internal condoms are rad. It’s a 2.75″ diameter stiff ring with a plastic bag attached to it. Let’s just call it what it is. These don’t suction onto your cervix, but rather are supposed to loop under your cervix and behind your pubic bone, kinda like how a Nuva Ring fits. That doesn’t even sound comfortable to me, especially given how rigid and surprisingly not-rounded the rim is. None of that matters though for me because these don’t even fit into my vagina. My vaginal canal is too short in it’s unaroused state that it just doesn’t work, and these only come in one size SO…
They claim you can wear this during sex and that your partner won’t feel it “depending on your partner” but uhh, I doubt that. Especially considering how this is supposed to seat. Also, it’s disposable, which seems to largely defeat the purpose of menstrual cups to me. They do make a “reusable” version which has a dark-pink ring instead of a light-pink ring, but it’s still only supposed to be used for one cycle. I really wouldn’t recommend these to someone considering a menstrual cup, and I’m not sure I’d recommend them to anyone.
Softcup recap: 1 size, 1 firmness, no stem. Absolutely useless for me.
Throughout this comparison I’ve referred to what I’ve dubbed the “Squish Factor” of cups. Basically what this means is how easily the cup folds for insertion and how much, if any, coaxing it needs to fully open. I typically do a “punch down fold” but for the purposes of illustrating what I mean I used a “U fold” in the photograph. This is the softest cup I own (the Meluna Soft) and the firmest (the Mooncup). The Meluna folds easily, nice and tiny, and takes no effort to fold and keep folded during insertion. The Mooncup takes effort, and often pops open while I’m trying to fold it. There’s a lot of space between the “loops” of the fold, and it takes some pressure to keep the fold in place during insertion.
- Meluna Soft
- Meluna Classic
- Lily Cup Compact
- Sckoon Cup
- Ruby Cup
- Diva Cup
- Lady Cup
- Fleur Cup (older version?)
- Mooncup (American version)
There are a LOT of other cups out there in the world, and there are a few I’d still like to try. If and when I get a chance to use them, I’ll add a third part to further expand this guide. For right now? My top recommendations are: Ruby Cup for those who need a larger/longer cup, Lunette for those who want a softer and more versatile cup, Mooncup for those who need a firm cup, Sckoon Cup for folks who still aren’t quite sure or who need capacity without bulk, and the Meluna Soft for those who need something really soft or want to do the inversion trick for sex. I also LOVE the Lily Cup and want to recommend it to everyone.
I know this was incredibly long, so thank you for reading. Have any questions I didn’t address in this guide? Feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to answer them!
- Yes, that’s silver glitter you see in the soft cups. Meluna makes a wide variety of colours, including glitters [↩]
- Amusingly, a lot of menstrual cup companies sell storage/disinfection cups for their menstrual cups which are basically silicone camping cups with an integrated lid. Why none of them came up with this first is beyond me. [↩]
- A quick aside here- I realised the other day that, after giving away both of the Mona’s I used to own, I actually need a Mona. Not as a vibrator, but because it’s the only thing I’ve found that gets up under my scapula and into my clavicle to release the pinched nerves I’m prone to getting. Fucking figures. [↩]
- Which is STILL a fantastic resource for all things cup related [↩]
- The American version made by the same folks as The Keeper, not the confusingly-named Moon Cup made in the UK. [↩]
- Similarly the Nuva Ring didn’t work for me, when I briefly tried to switch to it [↩]