Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups: What Are The Differences
Finding the best menstrual cup can be tricky with so many different brands on the market. There's the Saalt menstrual cup, or the Lena Sensitive vs Diva Cup, or the Diva Cup vs Organicup, or the Keeper menstrual cup and lots more to choose from! So where do we start? And what does it mean when considering soft vs hard menstrual cups ? In this article, we will look at how to define soft vs hard menstrual cups. We will also figure which one would be best for you!
Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
All menstrual cups are actually “soft” as they are designed to be comfortable to wear for up to 12 hours a day. You should not be able to feel it when the menstrual cup is used correctly.
So when we talk about soft vs hard menstrual cups, we are looking at the firmness. The firmness of a menstrual cup is how much effort it takes for the cup to spring back into shape when released. Think of the rim as an 'O' shape, and see how much effort it takes to squish that rim into a flat position.
A firm menstrual cup requires more effort to push down but will spring open easier.
A softer menstrual cup will be easier to squeeze down but may take a little bit longer to spring back into an 'O' shape.
This is important as you want the cup to fully open and fit against your vaginal walls after it is inserted. This is to collect your menstrual blood with no gaps, and so, no leaks. This does not mean that you need to choose the firmest menstrual cup on the market.
How easily a menstrual cup opens up, with little or more effort, will also depend on the strength and elasticity of your vagina. Remember, every woman’s body is completely different. That's what makes it so special!
The 'Squish' Factor - Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
To figure out soft vs hard menstrual cups, do the following:
Squish the cup’s 'O' shaped rim down with your thumb and forefinger to see how much it flattens out.
The ‘squishiness’ of a rim important. This is where the cup will meet the vaginal wall to collect the menstrual blood with no leaking.
If a cup’s rim is easy to squish and flattens out quite a bit, then it is a soft menstrual cup.
Whereas a cup that takes more effort or pressure to squish down is a firm or hard menstrual cup.
The Design of the Cup impacts Soft Vs Hard Menstrual Cups
Design elements such as shape, thickness, type of material, and internal structure of the cup may also impact how soft or firm cups are. Even the menstrual cup size makes a difference.
Let’s have a look at how they impact menstrual cups.
Shape - Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
Depending on the design, the cup’s firmness may be considered thicker if it has a soft base but firm rim. This is because the rim is the part that you want to ‘spring open’ to create a full seal.
Thickness - Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
In theory, the thicker or denser the cup, the more firm it may be. This of course, will also be impacted by the material of the cup.
Material - Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
Silicone and TPU (thermoplastic elastomer) come in various types of firmness. TPU is found to mold to your body slightly with your internal body heat. This can affect how the cup sits in your body. Menstrual cups made out of natural gum rubber tend to be quite rigid. This can make it more difficult to squish down. As it is a bit stiffer however, these cups pop open to their natural shapes easily.
Soft Menstrual Cups
Soft menstrual cups conform to your body easily. They are believed to be more comfortable as there is no pressure pushing on your vaginal walls.
But they may be harder to open completely once inside. Your vagina walls may be pushing it out of shape. If there is a fold or incomplete seal, this can cause leaking.
With very soft cups you may need to check the seal. You can do this by running a finger along the rim once inserted.
Women who have strong internal muscles may 'crush' the soft cups once inserted. This can result in some leaking.
But women who are sensitive or have any prolapses may find soft cups more comfortable. The Lily Cup compact and Super Jennie are great for those looking for a softer cup!
Lily Cup Compact
- Hypoallergenic and contains no harmful chemicals or bleaches
- Comes in 2 sizes
- Thin design which is great for women with high cervixes
This cute Lily Cup has an odd shaped design with a slanted design that is made for your body's internal curves. It is completely smooth on the outside. There are no protruding ridges or logos and this makes it easier to insert and remove. The ultra soft silicone is thin and flexible making it one of the softest cups available. It also has a pretty cool spill-proof design for those a bit worried about making a mess!
Check out How to Use a Lily Cup.
Super Jennie Cup
- Made in the USA from medical grade silicone
- Comes in 2 sizes
- High capacity, perfect for those with heavier flow
The Super Jennie range is considered one of the softest cups out there and is a good option for those who are more sensitive down there. It also has a soft stem so it won't dig in, but some reviewers have noticed that the stem is structurally weak.
Medium or Average Firmness Menstrual Cups
Medium firmness cups are usually the easiest cups to use when you are trying a menstrual cup for the first time.
This is because the cup will ‘pop open’ easier when inserted. But it is still quite comfortable for beginners.
You may find that you can feel a tiny bit of menstrual cup pressure, and this may be most noticeable when you try to pee. The Diva Cup and Lunette cup are very popular due to its average firmness.
Great for beginners who are unsure of what their preference is!
- 100% hypoallergenic and suitable for women with latex allergies (nitrosomine and latex free)
- Very popular brand with thousands of views online
- Multilingual Consumer Care Team on call for your Qs online 24/7
This is probably the most popular cup online. The Diva Cup belongs in the kinda soft, kinda firm category. It is usually the cup used as a benchmark when determining whether another cup is soft or firm. Because of its average firmness, this menstrual cup is great for beginners who are unsure of their bodies or their preferences.
- Made of medical-grade silicone in Finland
- Odorless, safe and does not contain rubber latex
- Comes in 2 colors
This is a hugely popular menstrual cup in Europe, and it comes in cute, poppy colors. The Lunette cups seems to be a bit thinner and a bit more pliable than a Diva Cup. The rim protrudes out slightly but is rounded to make it more comfortable. Many women find that most folds are doable with the Lunette cups. This is due to its softness, but it still pops open easily once inserted!
Firm Menstrual Cups
Firm cups spring back to shape very easily and need little to no manual help once inserted. However, you may feel the cup when it is inside as it will apply pressure to your vaginal walls.
It can also cause some women to find that the cup pushes on their bladder, resulting in an urge to pee. Furthermore, some women have reported that a firm cup causes their urine stream to slow down. Firm menstrual cups may also create more suction on high cervixes. This can make it more difficult to remove.
With a firm menstrual cup, you may find there are fewer folds you can use. As it will be more difficult to push down with one hand. But it will spring back into shape easiest. This is great for women who may have a weaker pelvic floor and are worried about leaking.
Firmer cups are also useful for those who are planning extreme active exercises. This is because your muscles might (though rarely) push the cup out when tensing. The MeLuna Sport cup and The Keeper cups are currently the firmest cups that women prefer.
MeLuna Sport Cup
- Designed and manufactured in Germany
- Small, ball stem so the stem does not protrude or poke you even during the most extreme activities
- Contains no Bisphenol A, Phthalates, Latex or Alkylphenols
This menstrual cup is a great firm cup, and is marketed as such. It is made for women who have strong pelvic muscles. It is also 25% more resilient than the MeLuna Classic version. The menstrual cup immediately springs back into shape when pushed down. Even under the stress of sport and exercise.
The Keeper Cup
- Available since 1987
- Perfect for those who do not want to use silicone
- Comes in two sizes (A & B)
The Keeper is made out of natural gum rubber (latex) and is currently the firmest menstrual cup on the market. Some women may struggle with using this as it is quite hard with a thicker rim. You may want to soak the cup in warm water to slightly soften it when you first try the cup, or try softer cups first. However, it is a great firm cup for those who have a weaker pelvic floor. Due to its natural rubber, this cup doesn’t discolor either!
Be Active with your Menstrual Cup
Choosing the best menstrual cup for your body will depend greatly on the comfort and effectiveness of the cup. You might want to also consider the following factors:
Conclusion - Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups
Soft vs hard menstrual cups are very individual. We recommend you try a few cups before committing to one that you regularly use. Cups have also discovered to become softer with time. This will not compromise it's use. This is usually due to repeated boiling when sterilizing the cup after each cycle. So a cup that is used often may become squishier and softer than a cup that is hardly used. Remember to check your cups often regardless of a soft vs hard menstrual cups. If you find the material is degrading or is being compromised, then it might be time to get a new cup!