With menstrual cups becoming more popular, you may be considering switching to experience the health benefits and convenience for yourself.

As one cup can last you five to ten years, and with it being more expensive than trying a new brand of pad or tampon, you would like to buy the perfect one the first time.

But with six brands (five are proudly South African), and two sizes per most brands you might feel overwhelmed. The following tips are here to help you find the menstrual cup that fit you best.

The right fit for your anatomy

The number one consideration when choosing a menstrual cup is matching the position of your cervix to the cup length (without stem). The cup typically sits lower than a tampon, but should not stick out in any way.

It is time to find your cervix! Locate your cervix a couple of times during menstruation, when it sits lower, with a clean finger. You can do this in the shower, and measure your finger in preparation for a better approximation, if you want. 

If your cervix is too high to reach any cup length should suit you fine and you might want to keep the stem for easier removal. If it is very easy to reach, your vaginal canal is short and a shorter cup with only a bit of the stem (to find the bottom) may be more suited. It is best to try the cup of your choice before cutting the stem.

Read more: Menstruating at the Olympics: A silent challenge that sportswomen face

The right capacity for your flow

You can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours and most cups have at least double the capacity (to the holes) of a regular pad or tampon. You don’t want to miss out on the convenience of emptying it only two or three times a day, and going leak-free through the night, by choosing one with too little capacity.

If you often use super tampons or pads you have a relatively heavy flow and might want a cup with a capacity of 25ml and upwards. If you use products of regular absorbency for four hours or more, some of the lower capacity cups might suit your needs.

The right size and firmness for your pelvic strength

Most brands come in two sizes with different diameters; the brand usually recommends its larger size for women over 30 or who have given birth as your muscle tone may weaken. Pelvic muscle toning exercises (kegels), yoga, pilates, and other sports can improve muscle tone.

A large diameter could pose difficulty upon removal for first-time users, particularly if it is also very firm. If you have a very strong pelvic floor try a firmer cup like the MPower and MoonCups to prevent your muscles from folding a too soft cup in on itself causing it to leak – it is also more likely to stay in place during sports.

Read more: 3 things you need to stop doing to your vagina. Like, right now

A less frim cup like PrincessD or MiaCup may suit you better if you have a sensitive bladder or experience severe cramping during your menses. MyOwnCup is made from TPE and is the softest, while PinkCup is of average firmness. The larger of a brand’s two sizes are usually firmer in order to hold its shape better and pop open easier. 

Other cup characteristics

If you are lucky and almost any cup would do, you can narrow your choices by looking at characteristics not related to fit, like colour. All the local brands come with flat stems and the MoonCup has a round hollow stem that might be uncomfortable for some or difficult to clean.

Cups with more imprints like measuring lines or brand names and small or slanting air holes can be more difficult to clean.

Where to buy

You won’t find these in Pick ‘n Pay or Checkers (yet), so where do you buy them?

MyOwnCup is packaged in a reusable plastic container and does not include a storage pouch; it can be bought from Wellness Warehouse for R239, or these shops and individuals.

PinkCup costs R249 and is officially distributed by takealot.

MPower is also available online from takealot for R279, the ethical co-op at R325, and can be bought from these stockists in KZN, EC and WC.

MiaCup can be ordered directly by email

PrincessD costs approximately R400 and comes with a cleaning cup. Retail, pharmacy and individual stockists can be found on the PrincessD Facebook page.

MoonCup is an imported brand from the UK and can be bought directly from their website for approximately R470 or from local online stockists for R485 – R 595.

 To help girls and women without access to menstrual hygiene products you can donate the MinaCup. Many other brands are also involved with similar campaigns.

Follow Michelle on her blog and on Instagram.

Read more:

What it’s like to go to the gynaecologist for the very first time

Tampon versus pad: why more women still choose the latter to manage periods