Soft vs Hard Menstrual Cups: What Are The Differences
Finding the best menstrual cup can be tricky with so many different designs on the market. Choosing the right one for the first time can be a very daunting process with so many various factors to consider. How do I choose a cup? What shape do I want? What size do I need? How high is my cervix? What EVEN IS a cervix? What about soft vs hard menstrual cups? And why does it even matter if a menstrual cup is soft or firm?
Knowing the differences in firmness can help you make a better decision to which menstrual cup will be the best for you and your needs.
Here we are going to look at what is considered a firm or soft menstrual cup, and which are the best firm, average, and soft cups out there!
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. This way they can be worn for several consecutive days (emptying it out at least twice a day) and each month when you get your period.
When we speak of the firmness of a menstrual cup, we are looking at how much effort it takes for the cup to fully open or ‘spring back’ when pushed down. Think of the rim as an 'O' shape, and see how how much effort it takes to squish that rim into a 'C' shape.
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 slightly 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 therefore, 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 lots of 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
To figure out what cup is considered soft, and what cup is considered firm, you can squish the cup’s 'O' shaped rim down with your thumb and forefinger to see how much it flattens down.
Commonly, we look at the ‘squishiness’ of a rim as this is where the cup will meet the vaginal wall to properly collect the menstrual blood with no leaking.
If a cup’s rim is easily squished and flattens out quite a bit, then it is considered to be softer.
Whereas a cup that takes more effort or pressure to squish down can be considered firmer.
The Design of the Cup
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.
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.
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.
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, and therefore 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 usually conform to your body easily, and are sometimes thought to be more comfortable as there is no pressure pushing on your vaginal walls.
However, they may be harder to open properly once inside. Furthermore if there is a fold or incomplete seal, this can cause leaking.
Very soft cups usually require the user to check that the seal is open by running a finger along the rim once inserted.
Some women who have very strong internal muscles have found that they 'crushed' the soft cups once inserted, resulting 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, with no protruding ridges or logos, to make 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!
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 Softness/Firmness
Medium soft or 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 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 applicable with the Lunette cups due to its softness, but it still pops open fairly easily once inserted!
Firm Menstrual Cups
Firm cups spring back to shape very easily and require 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 this causes their urine stream to slow down. Firm menstrual cups may create more suction on high cervixes, which may make it more difficult to remove.
There is also a limited variation of folds as it's 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, where your muscles might (though rarely) push the cup out. 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 and is 25% more resilient than the MeLuna Classic version. It immediately springs back into shape when pushed down and it claims that the cup will unfold properly, 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)
Very Firm - 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:
The Bottom Line
Soft vs hard menstrual cups is very individual. We recommend you try a few cups before committing to one that you regularly use. Cups have also been found to become softer with time. This is usually due to repeated boiling when sterilizing the cup after each cycle. So a cup that is regularly used may become squishier and softer than a cup that is hardly used. Remember to check your cups regularly, and if you find the material is degrading or is being compromised, then it might be time to get a new cup!