Whether you’re thinking of ditching tampons and pads for cost reasons or looking to make your period more eco-friendly, it’s really worth considering a menstrual cup.
The disposal of single-use menstrual products – pads, tampons and applicators – generates more than 200,000 tonnes of waste in the UK each year.
Not to mention that spending on single-use products really adds up – a calculation by the charity Bloody Good Period, put that cost at a considerable £4,800 over a person’s lifetime.
“Menstrual cups not only save money in the long-term but are an eco-friendly, zero waste way to collect your menstrual blood,” says Helen Lynn, environmenstrual campaign manager at the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN). “Not only that but menstrual cups can last up to 10 years, and are very easy to care for.”
“They are also convenient, as they only need changing every eight-12 hours,” she adds, advising spending a bit of time researching brands and checking the sizing guidelines of each product to find the best fit.
Indeed, there are a wealth of options on the market, from those that are suited to a lower cervix to ones designed to be worn during sex.
Simply put, a menstrual cup is a small funnel shaped cup. Made from either silicone, rubber, latex or plastic, it’s designed to be inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid and period blood.
Once full, it can be tipped into a toilet, rinsed under water and popped back in to be used again and again.
Generally, menstrual cups come in two sizes: A and B, with the former for those who are aged 30 and over and anyone who has given birth vaginally, whilst size B is for those under 30 and who haven’t given birth vaginally. Sizing can differ though so it’s always worth checking and getting in touch with individual brands if you do have any questions.
If you’re unsure about whether you have a high or low cervix and want to know more, then this helpful online guide by Rubycup is well worth a read.
It’s also worth noting that it can take time to get used to a menstrual cup – anything new will take a few tries and don’t beat yourself up if you have to switch between a cup and other period wear before making a full transition. In the long run it’ll be worth it: “It really is a good investment for your period and for the environment,” says Helen.
Whether you’re a complete beginner when it comes to menstrual cups, or looking for something specific, our round-up of the best menstrual cups will have you covered.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best menstrual cups for 2021 are:
Best overall – OrganiCup: £14.89, Superdrug.com
Best for comfort – Lunette: £14.66, Amazon.co.uk
Best for easy removal – Luna: £14.99, Superdrug.com
Best for beginners – Boots: £17, Boots.com
Best budget cup – Heygirls: £9.48, Heygirls.co.uk
Best for straightforward use – Mooncup: £17.95, Ethicalsuperstore.com
Best for teenagers – Saalt: £25, Saalt.co.uk
Best cup with shorter stem – Bettercup: £20, The-Bettercompany.com
Best for experienced users – Nixit: £41, Next.co.uk
OrganiCup menstrual cup
The award-winning OrganiCup may seem very unassuming but it’s a neat little choice if you’re new to menstrual cups. The offering is simple: a clear, 100 per cent soft medical grade silicone cup that holds up to three tampons worth and can be worn for 12 hours. Available in three sizes, including size A and B (£14.89, Superdrug.com), the mini option is suitable for teenagers and is accompanied by a drawstring storage bag made from unbleached organic cotton. OrganiCup also has a strong charitable mission, with recent initiatives including donating cups to sex workers, being involved with the City to Sea’s Rethink Periods project which provides teacher training and partnering with NGOs to tackle period poverty across the world.
As well as being easy to use, comfortable to wear and not causing any leaks when we tried it (even on very heavy days), we love the fact that the brand truly puts sustainability front and centre. Instead of flashy packaging, the cup comes in a simple cardboard box which can be unfolded to reveal information and instructions printed directly onto the inside of the carton, rather than having produced a separate leaflet. The packaging is also deliberately minimised in size to reduce transportation emissions and ships in plastic-free packaging.
Buy now £14.89, Superdrug.com
Lunette menstrual cup
Best: For comfort
Scandinavian brand Lunette offers their menstrual cup in a variety of colours, from blue to orange and purple. Why does colour matter? Well, some users prefer a coloured option, as over time the clear menstrual cups can become discoloured. With a vibrant shade, you don’t have that issue so much. The bell shaped cup is made of the highest quality medical silicone, is soft and comfortable to use.
We found inserting and removing the cup really simple and liked that it wasn’t as rigid as some other options. After all, founder of Lunette, Heli did design the cup for a better fit and grip. The flat stem makes it easy to remove and has a good length if you struggle with grabbing hold of a short stem. It also comes with a storage bag and is available in two sizes: model one (for light to normal flow) and model two (for normal to heavy flow).
Buy now £14.66, Amazon.co.uk
Luna menstrual cup
Best: For easy removal
Not only did Superdrug become the first health and beauty retailer in the UK to remove all plastic from its own-brand tampons last year, it also launched an own-brand range of organic menstrual products called Luna. In even better news, the retailer expanded the range to include tampons made with organic cotton and renewable plant material, and a reusable menstrual cup.
Made of 100 per cent soft medical grade silicone, the Luna menstrual cup comes in two sizes and holds three times as much as a tampon. Simple to use, the purple cup comes in a recyclable cardboard box and with its own storage pouch. We also liked that it had a slightly rounded stem making it easier to grab hold of when you need to empty the cup. It comes in both small and medium (£14.99, Superdrug.com).
Buy now £14.99, Superdrug.com
Boots menstrual cup
Best: For beginners
Launched last summer, Boots’ own-brand range of menstrual cups was an exciting move for the reusable period product market. Given the retailers wide reach, it’s a positive step towards making eco-friendly options more mainstream and accessible. Their own brand menstrual cup, made from 100 per cent medical grade silicone and coming in a lilac shade, is available in two sizes: A and B (£17, Boots.com), or pre and post birth. It also comes in a recyclable cardboard box, with its own cotton storage bag and a handy leaflet that’s perfect for beginners.
Fans of the product praise its softness and ease of use in both inserting and removing the cup. We’re happy to say that we agree and think it’s a neat purchase that’ll last you for years and years to come.
Buy now £17.00, Boots.com
Heygirls menstrual cup
Best: Budget cup
At under a tenner, this menstrual cup is a bargain. Just think of the cost per use – you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to figure that it’s a wiser choice than throwing money away on disposable period products every month. Founded by a mother and her two daughters, Hey Girls is dedicated to helping tackle period poverty in the UK and for every product sold, the brand donates one to girls and women from low-income families in the UK.
The environmentally-conscious brand, which has a wide range of products including period-proof pants, reusable sanitary pads and subscription boxes, offer the hypoallergenic, 100 per cent medical grade silicone cup in two sizes (we’re not quite sure why, but the small comes in white while the large is coloured red). It also comes with its own drawstring pouch so you can easily store it away when not in use.
Buy now £9.48, Heygirls.co.uk
Mooncup menstrual cup
Best: For straightforward use
Seen as the original and certainly one of the best known menstrual cups out there, Mooncup have been selling their menstrual cups for almost two decades. We love how the spark for Mooncup came following a conversation between two cyclists (one who is the current commercial director of Mooncup, Eileen) at a Critical Mass Bike Ride in the UK in the late 90s. Mooncup, who make their menstrual cups in the UK are also an employee owned and ethical company.
Coming in two sizes, the clear cup is made from medical grade silicone (Mooncup was the first ever menstrual cup to use this alternative to rubber) and also comes with a nifty storage bag. Effective and simple enough to use, we did find it a little more rigid than some of the other options we tried but it’s still clear to see why the product is such a popular choice.
Buy now £17.95, Ethicalsuperstore.com
Saalt menstrual cup
Best: For teenagers
Trying to figure out which size menstrual cup to go for can be tricky – even though most brands have only two sizes, there’s other things to consider such as firmness of the cup or the strength of your pelvic floor. Saalt’s super handy quiz promises to decipher which size and firmness are best suited to each individual and we love that its aim is to find the “goldilocks cup” for you. Coming in either a small or regular size, there is also a specialist teen cup (£25, Saaltco.uk) and a soft cup, made of an ultra-soft silicone in Saalt’s range.
Each cup is made of 100 per cent medical grade silicone, offers 12 hours of protection and comes with a cotton storage pouch. As well as being really easy to use, we also were big fans of the pastel colourways the brand uses for its cups: seafoam green, Himalayan pink and ocean blue are just some of the cute options. The certified B Corp also gives two per cent back to fund initiatives in menstrual health, education and sustainability.
Buy now £25.00, Saalt.co.uk
Bettercup menstrual cup
Best: Cup with a shorter stem
Made of 100 per cent medical grade silicone, the Bettercup is available in two sizes and comes with a GOTS-certified cotton bag. Featuring quite a short stem, it’s worth noting that it might be a better option for those with a low cervix.
As well as the neat packaging (a plastic free, small recyclable cardboard tube) and the cup itself being easy to use, we’re also impressed with the brand’s charitable giving. Founder Ruth has partnered up with her sister who teaches at a school in Zimbabwe to give the menstrual cups to female teachers and teenage students there, so for every sale, a Bettercup is donated to someone who needs it most.
Buy now £20.00, The-bettercompany.com
Nixit menstrual cup
Best: For experienced users
Unlike the other menstrual cups featured in this round up, the Nixit version only comes in one size. Also it’s suction-free, shaped like a circular disc and can stay in during sex. The cup is very soft, light and flexible. It’s easy to insert but we did find it a bit of a struggle to remove when we first tried it due to its shape, plus there’s no stem to help pull it out.
It’s probably not the best option to use if you’re a complete beginner as there’s definitely a knack to using it and you might want to have the confidence of using a more traditional funnel-shaped cup first. But, if you do want to go straight in then Nixit have a handy guide on how to use the cup on its website.
For those who are experienced with menstrual cups and don’t want a monthy cycle interrupting their sex life, then this is an option worth giving a try. It’s not cheap but it does offer something more than most other menstrual cups. Plus it holds up to four tampons worth and fans of the product rave about it being leak-free.
Buy now £41.00, Next.co.uk
The verdict: Menstrual cups
We’re so pleased to see that there’s such a variety of menstrual cups on the market, which hopefully will cater to people’s different needs and make the eco-friendly option more accessible. For us, OrganiCup stood out for having its environmental and charitable credentials running throughout the product and brand. Lunette was also highly rated for comfort and ease of use and we love that it offers such a range of colours, while Saalt was another great choice with a teen-friendly option to boot.
For the latest offers on health and beauty products, try the links below:
Make a sustainable switch to plastic-free beauty products that aren’t adding to landfill