A Guide to Eco-Friendly Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups have recently gained popularity but have been around since the 1930s. At first glance, menstrual cups may look strange and intimidating, but were here to help explain what they are, the pros and cons, and how to use them.

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a reusable feminine hygiene product that can last up to 10 years. It’s a flexible funnel shaped cup made of rubber or silicone that’s safe to use and just as effective as pads and tampons. The cup is inserted into your vagina to catch and collect period fluid and can be worn for 8 to 12 hours. Menstrual cups can hold about twice the amount of blood that pads and tampons can, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative.

Pros and Cons


  • Eco-friendly and cost effective: reusable menstrual cups provide long-term use allowing you to save money on pads and tampons, which means less waste in landfills and less trips to the drugstore.
  • Odorless: Odor occurs when menstrual fluid is exposed to air and the airtight seal from menstrual cups prevents leaks, unlike pads and tampons.
  • Safer: no risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  • More time in between changes: menstrual cups can hold more blood and be worn for 8 to 12 hours, depending on your flow.
  • Eliminates irritation and dryness.


  • Messier: emptying the cup can be messy and spills may be unavoidable but improves with practice.
  • Can be difficult to insert or remove: you may find yourself having a difficult time getting the right fold to insert the cup or a having a hard time pinching the base of the cup to remove it.
  • Can be hard to find the right fit: menstrual cups are available in sizes small and large, but proper use of the cup can be difficult due to individual anatomy. Talk with your provider to find out which size would be right for you.
  • Regular sterilization is required: after each menstrual cycle, the cup must be sterilized in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
  • Potential allergies: menstrual cups are made of silicone or rubber which means that they’re safe to use in the body, but some people may have an allergic reaction to the material.
  • There can be an increased risk of infection: to avoid infection, be sure to wash your hands before inserting and removing the cup. Rinse the cup thoroughly after removal to prepare for next insertion and sterilize the cup after each cycle.


How to insert

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Apply a thin layer of water-based lube or water to the rim of cup.
  3. Fold the menstrual cup tightly in half to create a C shape.
  4. Insert the cup into your vagina, like you would a tampon, with the rim facing up.
  5. Rotate the cup once it’s in your vagina to fully open the cup. This will create an airtight seal to prevent leaks. If inserted correctly, you shouldn’t be able to feel it.

How to remove

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Using your index finger and thumb, pinch the base of the cup to break the seal and gently pull down.
  3. Empty the cup into your toilet.
  4. Rinse cup with water and gentle, fragrance-free soap. Once it’s clean, you can reinsert the cup.

Sterilizing the cup at the end of your cycle

Rinsing the cup after removal removes some surface bacteria, odor, and buildup, while sterilizing after your cycle ends, completely removes bacteria.

  1. Rinse the cup thoroughly.
  2. Boil the cup in water for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Allow the cup to completely dry off and cool down.
  4. Store the cup in breathable pouch when not in use in a cold, dry location.

Is a menstrual cup right for you?

You and your provider will consider:

  • Length of your cervix
  • Your age
  • If you’ve given birth vaginally
  • Menstrual flow
  • Strength of pelvic floor muscles


To schedule an appointment, call (203)-488-8306 or through your MyChart Portal.


Additional ways to fold a menstrual cup: