Should you choose a soft or firm menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups come in many shapes and sizes, but did you know that they also come in different levels of firmness too? Choosing a softer or firmer menstrual cup is an important consideration, and we’re here to explain why.
How firm a menstrual cup feels usually comes down to the type of material it is made of, as well as the shape and thickness of the different design features of the cup. For example, a cup with a thicker rim or a thicker ‘spine’ are usually considered to be more firm, as they take more pressure to ‘squish’ and spring open quickly and easily. We rate and compare each cup for firmness in our Menstrual Cup Comparison Chart.
Silicone vs. TPU Firmness
Both silicone and TPU (a type of plastic) menstrual cups come in varying degrees of firmness, however, it’s worth noting that cups made from TPU (like the Hello Cup) tend to ‘mold’ more to your body shape once inserted. This is due to the fact that TPU becomes more malleable with body heat. Silicone on the other hand, will only become very slightly softer with warmth - some people like to soften their cup by running it under hot water before inserting. However, the difference in firmness is only very subtle when doing this with silicone menstrual cups!
Soft vs. Firm Menstrual Cups
There are different pros and cons to soft and firm menstrual cups - it really depends what works best with your body.
Generally speaking, firmer menstrual cups tend to be easier to insert and keep leak-free, as firm silicone or TPU ‘pops’ open easily to form a seal and create a seal inside the vagina. Softer menstrual cups, on the other hand, can be trickier to insert as they take longer to spring back into shape, but can be more comfortable for people who have a sensitive bladder, suffer from bad menstrual cramps or have a more sensitive body in general.
You might not realise that you need a soft menstrual cup until you have used a different, more firm cup. We recommend to begin your menstrual cup journey with a medium to firm cup while you get the hang of insertion and establishing a seal. We go into more detail on which choice might be better for you below.
Do You Need a Softer Menstrual Cup?
If you’ve tried a medium or firmer cup and found that felt uncomfortable while you were wearing it (such as an increase in cramps, bladder pressure or other discomforts), a soft menstrual cup may be a better choice for you. Soft menstrual cups are usually not ideal for very active people or for use during sports, as they can be more easily crushed by the pelvic floor during physical activity. When a cup is crushed, the seal can break and result in leaks - the last thing you need during a gym sesh!
Soft menstrual cup pros:
- More comfortable for those with sensitive bodies
- Create less bladder pressure for those who struggle to urinate while wearing a menstrual cup
- Can be more comfortable to insert and remove
Soft menstrual cup cons:
- Doesn’t pop open as easily once inserted, especially if you have strong vaginal muscles
- Trickier to get a good seal with the vaginal walls
- Can be crushed more easily during physical activity, resulting in leaks
Do You Need a Firmer Menstrual Cup?
If you have a strong pelvic floor that tends to ‘crush’ your cup or make it difficult to open fully once inserted (ie. it feels ‘dented’), or you do a lot of physical activity, a firmer cup will likely be a better choice for you. When using a firm menstrual cup, make sure you keep a good grip on it while folded during insertion, otherwise, it may spring open and take you by surprise! The punch-down fold is usually the easiest to grip.
Firm menstrual cup pros:
- Pop open easily once inserted
- Easier to form a leakproof seal with the vaginal walls
- Stays in place better during physical activity
Firm menstrual cup cons:
- Can cause pressure on the bladder (you can prevent this by wearing your cup lower in the vagina)
- Can cause more cramping or other discomfort for those with particularly sensitive bodies
The Best Soft Menstrual Cups
- Saalt Soft - designed especially for sensitive bodies and available in 2 sizes (small or regular) and 2 stunning colours, Mist Grey or Desert Blush. The tab stem is easy to trim and rounded bell shape makes it suitable for a range of cervical positions.
- Pelvi Cup - the Pelvi cup is made from super soft silicone and has a more ‘cone’ shape with a comfortable, rounded stem. The longer shape is a great option for a medium to high cervix.
- Canack Menstrual Cup - this soft silicone menstrual cup with an extra-long stem that makes it great for a high cervix. We love that it is available in lots of fun colours including blue, pink and purple as well as the classic clear.
The Best Firm Menstrual Cups
- Hello Cup - the Hello Cup is made from TPU and one of the firmer cups available on the market. The rounded ball stem makes it comfortable to wear and it pops open easily thanks to the thicker rim that is on the inside of the cup rather than protruding on the outside.
- Merula Menstrual Cup - the Merula is a versatile cup that can suit a variety of cervical positions thanks to the short bulb shape paired with a long ladder stem that is easy to trim to size.