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Questions About Menstrual Cup Features

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What features vary between menstrual cup brands?

Every menstrual cup has its own unique shape. They can vary in size, shape, length, diameter, grip ring pattern, stem, rim, number of air holes, texture, firmness, colors, material from which they are made, and price.

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Is it good that a menstrual cup brand has FDA approval?

Within the USA, a menstrual cup is categorized as a short-term implantable medical device. It will need to be registered with the FDA to be legally sold. This does not mean that the cup, company, or manufacturer has been tested or visited by the FDA. This is only to ensure that if problems arise and a batch needs to be recalled, the FDA has a way of contacting the manufacturer and company.

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What different materials are used to make menstrual cups?

The majority of menstrual cups on the market are made of silicone. There are also a few that are made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) or rubber.

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What is medical-grade silicone?

Silicone that is labeled as medical-grade means that it has had biocompatibility testing done to ensure that there are no toxic or injurious effects on biological systems = Class VI. Although medical-grade can be broken into three categories, only two have been tested for biocompatibility and deemed safe for use inside the body.

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What purpose does the stem serve on a menstrual cup?

The stem is to aid in locating the cup itself. It may be used to wiggle the cup down enough until you are able to reach the base. The stem alone will not support the weight of the cup, especially if it’s filled, so you’ll want to pinch and hold the base before the cup is completely removed or you might end up with a huge mess.

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What types of stems do different menstrual cups commonly feature?

Different brands offer different stems and some brands offer more than one option. A stem can be long or short, hollow or solid, flexible or stiff, have grip rings or be smooth, or have a variety of other features. The user may have a preference based on these factors or whether they need the stem or not.

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If the menstrual cup stem is a tab stem or flat stem, can I trim it?

All stems on menstrual cups can be trimmed. However, pay close attention to the area that the stem and cup meet. Some cups offer an extra thick area of silicone at this meeting point to help ensure the user doesn’t puncture or damage the cup when trimming the stem. Other cups may not have this extra silicone and therefore need extra care to not cut directly into the cup. You can use a nail file to smooth down any jagged areas after trimming.

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What are the holes for on the menstrual cup?

  • Most menstrual cups have air holes near the rim but some cups have no air holes at all. The user may prefer air holes if they experience a tight seal/suction with other cups, or they might prefer a cup with no air holes if they have difficulties getting a cup to seal correctly.
  • Air holes have a few different purposes. The first is to help introduce air into the cup so that it can fully open. With some cups, you may actually hear the air enter it while the cup expands. Second, it helps the cup get a good seal. Pinching the base of the cup forces some of the air out and allows the cup to create a slight suction. Third, when it is time to remove the cup, the suction should be released before gently tugging down on the cup. The air holes help break this suction so that the cup may be removed without pain or discomfort.

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Can I add a hole on a menstrual cup?

This can be done at your own risk, but it is not suggested. Doing this may damage your cup or leave it open to allow bacteria to grow. There have been people who were successful doing this with no problems but, often, the holes end up larger than the user originally hoped for, which leaves the cup unusable. Instead, it is suggested to find another cup that is similar but includes the air holes that you want/need.

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Are some menstrual cups softer or firmer than others?

Yes. The firmness of a menstrual cup vary from brand to brand and some brands offer more than one firmness level. You may also find that one size feels more firm than its counterpart within the same brand. These variables are important for a person’s unique situation, needs, and preferences. Some users like softer cups for comfort or sensitivity issues, while others prefer a firmer cup that opens more easily after insertion or for vigorous activities.

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Do some menstrual cups have a higher holding capacity than others?

Yes. Menstrual cups are made in various sizes. One brand may only offer one size, but there are so many other cups on the market! Menstrual cups will hold more than a regular absorbency tampon or pad, so even the smaller-sized cups should have a longer wearing time if you are a light bleeder. If you’re looking for more capacity, try the larger size or a cup that holds over 35ml.

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Do menstrual cups come in different colors?

  • Some do, yes. Depending on which brand you choose, a company may offer their menstrual cups in a variety of colors, or just one or two. They’re not only fun, they may also serve a purpose: colored cups, especially darker colors, may help hide stains.
  • Within the USA, the colorants that are used in medical grade silicone must be compliant with health regulations. There are many menstrual cups on the market that are white or clear if you would rather not worry about extra additives.

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If a menstrual cup is smooth, is it a good thing?

As with all menstrual cup features, the finish or texture of the menstrual cup varies according to the design and brand of the cup. Some cups may be developed to be all smooth from the rim, body and stem, while others have texture throughout the cup. Smooth cups are known to be comfortable and easy to insert; however, some users may find those cups hard to grasp during removal.

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My menstrual cup has a texture and writing on it. Will it bother me?

The finish and texture that a cup has are sometimes due to manufacturing methods, but it can also be because the brand designed it that way for one reason or another. The texture should be so slight that it shouldn’t bother you even if you have sensitivities. However, your comfort will depend on how prominent, firm, or pliable the markings or grip rings are with any given cup.

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Is the design of a menstrual cup very important?

It can be very important. The design of a menstrual cup can play a key role in which shape will be more comfortable or easy to use from user to user. Someone with a low cervix may want to seek a cup that is shorter, bell-shaped, or one that is labeled for a low cervix (mini or short version). These cups will feel more comfortable as they are designed to be shorter in length and usually have a rounded base. A person with a high cervix may find that a V-shaped cup has more length and is easier to reach when adjusting and removing. Choosing a design that suits your needs will ensure a better fit and overall experience.

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