** This review was originally written by Tara in November 2012 and the post was reformatted to include Carolyn’s opinions in February 2014. As with all things related to menstruation, features unique to each person (such as flow or anatomical structures, particularly the height or tilt of the cervix) can influence the user’s experience. Both Tara and Carolyn’s opinions are equally honest and valid reflections of their experiences, which other people may or may not relate to or agree with. Comments and questions are welcome, though any that are felt to be malicious or cruel will be deleted without warning at our discretion. **
Green Team Distribution provided Tara’s Lunette cup for review – all other products were purchased at our own expense. For information on how we attempt to ensure our product reviews are as honest and fair to product creators as possible, please click here.
All right LADIES, we are taking a break from diaper talk to talk about the lady business. Or, more specifically, alternative ways to deal with this besides tampons, pads, or banishment to a forest.
Some great menstrual cups are coming out that are intended to be an environmentally-friendly way of handling when Lil’ Red Riding Hood comes into town. I have spent MONTHS testing out both the Lunette and the DivaCup and I am excited to give you my take on the two. ~ Tara
- Size 1
- Size 2
- Size 1
|1.60 inches||1.69 inches|
- Size 2
|1.80 inches||1.81 inches|
- Size 1
|1.90 inches||2.25 inches|
- Size 2
|2.00 inches||2.25 inches|
- Size 1
|1 inch||0.38 inches|
- Size 2
|0.80 inches||0.38 inches|
|Colors||Variety of colors||Clear|
|Pros||Tara: Colors concealed any staining, comfortable (once stem was trimmed), easy to insert and remove|
Carolyn: Comfortable (once stem was trimmed), easy to insert
|Tara: Stem is comfortable, no dyes or anything since it is clear|
|Cons||Tara: Still some leaks (when compared to a tampon)|
|Tara: Several leaks, doesn't open up easily once inserted|
Carolyn: More difficult to insert and position, body of cup is long (even with stem trimmed)
Both cups come in two different sizes, 1 and 2.
DivaCup recommends the size 2 cup for anyone over 30 years old or who has given birth (either vaginally or by Cesarean section, no matter their age). For all others, they recommend the size 1 cup.
Lunette bases their size recommendations primarily on flow, so that users with a light to moderate flow would typically use size 1, and users with a normal to heavy flow would use size 2. (Flow rate descriptions can be viewed at Heavy or Light Menstrual Flow?) They do encourage users to consider a variety of other factors as well, though, such as age, anatomy, and cervix location. (A more complex guide to choosing the right size Lunette cup can be found at Detailed Menstrual Cup Sizing Guide).
Tara: I initially purchased a size 2 DivaCup, and was provided a size 2 Lunette cup for review. After experiencing leaks and problems with both cups I tried a size 1 Lunette cup, and had greater success with that.
Carolyn: I have both a size 2 DivaCup (since I have given birth) and a size 2 Lunette cup (which I purchased over a year ago when I believe their sizing instructions were similar to DivaCup’s. Even with the different sizing instructions now, the size 2 is still appropriate for me and I’ve never had any issues with it).
DivaCup says you can wear their product for 10-12 hours before it needs to be emptied (though they recommend removing and washing it a minimum of 2-3 times per day). Lunette also says that their cup can be worn for a maximum 12 hours before it needs to be removed and cleaned (which they also recommend you do 2-4 times per day).
Tara: Now, let me put it this way, I am a rather small person, so I don’t consider myself one to have a heavy flow, but none of these cups lasted longer than 4-6 hours for me.
Carolyn: I found that, just like any other feminine care product, there is some necessary trial and error to figure out how long you can wear your cup before needing to empty it. I do tend to have a pretty heavy flow, so during the beginning of my cycle I usually need to empty my cup every 3-5 hours, whereas towards the end of my period I can easily go 12 hours without needing to empty it.
Both cups are made of medical grade silicone, which means it can safely be boiled to sterilize it between cycles and is safe for use by those with rubber latex allergies.
Lunette states that their size 1 cup is made of softer (more flexible) silicone than their size 2 cup.
One concern you may have is if you want a colored cup or not. The DivaCup only comes in one color, but the Lunette has a variety of colors.
DivaCup.com provides an explanation for why they only have the “plain” color: “Although colors are fun, adding other components such as pigment particles, along with chemical additives required to bind the particles to the silicone, create additional risk to the base chemistry of the silicone. ”
Lunette, which comes in several colors, says the following: “The dye we use in our colored cups is FDA approved for medical and food use. The colors don’t contain heavy metals (e.g. lead, chromium VI, cadmium, mercury) or phatalats. We choose the colors carefully so they truly are safe to use inside the vagina. Therefore we don’t use really bright colors or glitter in our Lunette products. Lunette menstrual cups contain only small amounts of colorpaste. The type of dye used in Lunette menstrual cups are inside the silicone so it’s not possible for the color to leach like with some cheaper dyes which are also used in menstrual cups.”
For those who want color, Lunette comes in a bunch of fun colors. Their reason for doing so is, “Some women are a bit worried about possible discoloration of clear Lunette menstrual cups so they want to choose a cup that doesn’t show it so easily” (lunette.com).
Tara: This is definitely something worth considering–I clean my DivaCup religiously, but it is a little stained.
Carolyn: Staining isn’t something I’m very concerned about (I want a menstrual cup to be functional – I don’t spend much time looking at it or anything!) With that said, I did purchase the light blue Lunette, and it’s nice (though the availability of different colors is not something that would influence my decision to purchase one brand of cup over another).
Both cups, in either size, cost $39.99.
Tara: I’ll be honest, when I bought my DivaCup (the Lunette cup was provided to me by Green Team Distribution), I was so desperate to find a leak-free solution for my heavy flow (it was my first period after my second baby), that I bought without looking at the price. I just assumed this would be an affordable option. So I did some math afterwards and it would take me several years to “even out” in cost from continuing to buy tampons. So if you are someone who is doing it for cost reasons, I am not sure that it pays for itself too quickly, especially if you coupon.
Carolyn: I have pretty specific tastes when it comes to the brand, style, and absorbency level of the tampons I use on a regular basis. For me, the cost of a menstrual cup evens out by approximately 6 months. That means that it certainly isn’t an immediate cost savings, but considering the number of years most women menstruate for, over the long run I expect to see increasing cost benefits.
Both cups come with recommended insertion techniques (Lunette’s can be seen at Folding Methods For Menstrual Cups and DivaCup’s instructions are at How It Works), however, there are a number of folds and ways to insert any menstrual cup (the only difference between them all is how well they meet your particular needs). An Internet search for “menstrual cup folds” will bring up numerous insertion methods and video demonstrations of various folds.
Tara: So the instructions for the DivaCup were a little odd for my body. It says to fold it in half, insert, and twist it. I personally found that I could never get a twist–also, to be frank, it had my fingers up in my business and that made it more messy than I needed it to be. There are a lot of different ways to insert a menstrual cup (DivaCup or otherwise!) but I was able to find a technique for putting it in that kept my fingers away from getting stuff on them. In case it helps other people I thought I’d share my method, but it may or may not work for you as well as it did for me.
Let me walk you through how I do it. I am using a banana here, just because I felt odd photographing something that’s been in my business.
Fold the cup in half vertically, with your finger going down the middle:
When you fold it, it looks like this at the top and your finger should be buried as much in that fold as possible (that protects the finger from getting stuff on it):
You then insert it, making sure that the folded side (the side opposite of your finger) is pushing up against the back wall, as shown:
You then very subtly release your finger. Don’t go too far, like in this next picture, or you have a mess:
So see here how it is just VERY subtle and you avoid the finger hitting the front wall of your entry? Once your finger pulls away, the cup should unfold and you’ll hear it seal off. If it stayed folded (which happened a lot with the DivaCup for me), then you’ll have to try again (folded=leak city).
Since your fingers are going in your business, you will still have to wash your hands (just was you would after inserting a tampon, or heck, going to the bathroom). But I felt that this method definitely got very little on me at all.
Carolyn: When I received my first menstrual cup (the Lunette) I tried following Tara’s preferred insertion method and had difficulty getting my cup placed comfortably that way. I had greater success with the “C-fold” or “U-fold” (same technique, different name) but I did find that the insertion process is where there is the greatest learning curve. It definitely took a lot of experimenting (Is this easier to do sitting down? Standing up? Standing with one leg up on the toilet?) and while I read numerous explanations of the proper angle of insertion and where the cup should be situated, I had the most success worrying less about the diagrams I saw and paying closer attention to how it felt in my body after I stood up and moved around. If it was uncomfortable, I removed it and tried again in a slightly different manner. After a few months I started to recognize the patterns in what worked best for me, and now I rarely need to adjust the cup after I insert it. There’s really no way to tell someone exactly how to put in a menstrual cup because everyone’s body is unique. I recommend practicing using your cup for the first time when you will be at home and don’t have much going on – that way you can take the time to work out the method that feels best for you without feeling stressed or rushed.
To remove, you pinch the base of the cup to break the seal that has formed, and then pull it out. Do not pull the cup out by the stem (the stem can be used to help bring the cup low enough to reach the base, but should not be used to remove the cup from your body). Lunette recommends rocking the cup side to side as you pull down.
Once you have removed it, you can tip the contents into the toilet bowl.
Tara: I basically repeat the motion I did to insert the cup, but you don’t have to go in as far…but just remember, keep your finger as buried in the fold of the cup as possible.
Carolyn: I find the side to side rocking motion helpful in removing the cup, and I also try to remove the cup so that it ends up being upright (as it comes out of your body you can begin to tilt the cup so that the first edge to emerge leads the way, and when the rest of the cup comes out you don’t spill it’s contents on accident).
Care and Cleaning
DivaCup and Lunette both make a special wash for menstrual cups, but they state that you can also use any mild, unscented soap to wash your cup between uses. When out of the house, you can simply wipe the cup clean with toilet paper before reinserting, and then clean it thoroughly when you return home. Lunette also makes disinfecting wipes for this purpose.
Carolyn: Readers have said that they bring small water bottles in their purse to rinse their cup out over the toilet when using public restrooms. I don’t typically use my cup if I anticipate having to change it while I’m out of the house, but one of my biggest cleaning concerns had been how to get my cup from my home toilet to the sink to clean it (especially since our bathroom has the toilet in it’s own small room, and then the sink is in an outer area). Facebook fans recommended using a peri-care bottle (those things really do come in handy!) to rinse the cup enough to carry it to the sink. I have found it easiest to keep a small plastic cup by the bathroom sink, which I take with me to the toilet when I need to empty my menstrual cup. I remove my menstrual cup, pour it’s contents into the toilet, and then place the menstrual cup in my plastic cup. I then finish up on the toilet, carry the plastic cup to the sink, and clean both the menstrual cup and the plastic cup. Then I take the clean menstrual cup back to the toilet to reinsert it (as that’s where I prefer to insert my cup). If you remove and clean your cup in the shower, you can eliminate all of these steps, though (which is why there are many people who prefer to do at least one of their daily cup cleanings there!)
Between cycles both companies say that you can boil your cup for 5-10 minutes to further sterilize it (making sure to use plenty of water, so that the cup doesn’t settle on the bottom of the pan and burn). After it has been cleaned and sterilized, you can store the cup in the cloth or satin bag it came with until the beginning of your next cycle (it is important that you do not store your cup in an airtight container).
Carolyn: At the end of my cycle I wash my cup, place it in a large Pyrex container filled with water, and then microwave it for 10 minutes (checking every so often to make sure there is still enough water in the container). I let mine air dry on our bottle drying rack, and then leave it there until I need it for my next cycle. It’s totally clean and sterilized (so it can’t possibly do any harm to anything else drying on the rack) and nobody has ever noticed it or mentioned it. At the beginning of my next cycle I wash and sterilize it again before using it (since it has been sitting out in the open for a while).
Comfort: Both of them were equal in comfort. At first I had issues with the very stem of the Lunette cup. The stem is a very thin and long, while the DivaCup stem is more rounded and shorter. So the Lunette was very uncomfortable at first, but Maria at Change-Diapers suggested I trim the stem down with a pair of scissors and once I did that, it was awesome.
Leaks: Especially in the beginning as I was figuring things out, I got leaks with both cups. I had also initially purchased the larger sized cups (for ladies who had vaginal deliveries), but found that by having it too big, it folded more, didn’t seal, and caused leaks. As I was figuring out insertion techniques and the right size (I ended up preferring the size 1 Lunette cup), I used the sherpa liners that came with my Ragababe AIO diapers.
Grossness: Gross happens. As a Mom, I’ve become pretty immune to it. But I feel compelled to be totally honest and say that I’ve had the cup fall into a public toilet while I was trying to insert it (this was in the beginning, when I was still trying to figure it all out). The next part, I am ashamed to write on the world wide web, but I feel like I have to….I’ve had both brands of the cup fall out 3 times while going to the bathroom–GROSS! I have found that it happens when I’ve had it in for a while before changing (4 hours, which is still 1/3 of the time which DivaCup says you can keep it in for). Now that could be my anatomy but I think it’s more of a gravity issue, since it was fuller at 4 hours. Another time, at the very end of my period, my sleep-deprived memory failed me and I thought I had taken it out, but hadn’t…a day later, I realized it was still in there, and that really grossed me out (but maybe that is a good testament to how once it’s in, you don’t really feel it?).
In Summary: I think this is a good option if you are trying to help the environment. If you just want to save your money, it may take a while before you start to save the money from it. I also think that each cup works differently–I personally found that my body wouldn’t let the DivaCup unfold once inserted, but the Lunette worked like a charm for me.
Comfort: The stem on the Lunette is really long, and most people end up needing to trim it down. I found it quite uncomfortable until I had cut off enough of it that I could no longer feel it when I stood up and walked around. Once trimmed properly, I’ve never had any problems with my Lunette. In comparison, I found the DivaCup to be less comfortable, particularly towards the end of my cycle. The body of the DivaCup is longer than the Lunette cup, and I could definitely feel the end of the DivaCup poking me when I sat or lay down in certain positions. It was not consistently uncomfortable, but the fact that I could feel it at all (even once in a while) bothered me. I trimmed the stem and that helped to a certain degree, but since the stem is already quite short my issue was really with the height of the cup itself (which I cannot do anything about). For my particular anatomy, I prefer the Lunette.
Leaks: I have never had any leaks with either cup (though I do frequently use a cloth pantiliner as backup protection at the beginning of my cycle, when my flow is heaviest).
Grossness: I don’t feel like there is ANY way of dealing with menstruation that doesn’t involve some degree of mess, so it really comes down to what you are comfortable with. If my cup has been working properly and not leaking, I don’t find that my hands get messy when removing/emptying my cup (the parts of my body that I’m coming in contact with haven’t been exposed to any menstrual fluid, since that has all been contained within the cup up higher than I need to reach). There is greater potential for getting your hands messy with a cup than with something like a tampon, but with a cup you don’t have to worry about disposing of anything afterwards (I used to DREAD having to dispose of menstrual care items at other people’s houses – you don’t want to flush a tampon and clog their toilet, but you also don’t want to use a whole roll of toilet paper wrapping something up so it won’t look disgusting in their trash can . . . and that’s IF they even have a trash can, or at least one with a liner in it instead of an empty and pristine garbage can …. clearly THAT situation has caused me more anxiety than the potential for getting my hands dirty!) But in reality, I’ve had worse messes on my hands changing diapers than I have had with my cups, so my personal feeling is that it isn’t anything grosser than what you already do as a parent.
In Summary: I definitely prefer menstrual cups to pads or tampons – I hate the “leaking” sensation when using pads, and there’s nothing worse than removing a tampon that was a higher level of absorbency than you actually needed. I like that menstrual cups solve both those problems, but what I love even more is that I swear (even though I thought everyone was making it up when they said it before!) that my cramping is less intense when I use a menstrual cup than a pad or tampon. I have no idea why that would be the case, but I’ve had times where I was using a tampon and having terrible cramps, and I switched to my menstrual cup and soon after my cramps were far more bearable (I’m not saying that I never have any cramps anymore, just that they aren’t as bad as they usually are). I like the fact that I won’t have to buy tampons anymore (or at least not as often) but I mostly prefer the way my body actually feels when using a menstrual cup (the Lunette cup in particular).
Where To Buy
You can see who carries this product by typing in “Diva” or “Lunette” at the Cloth Diaper Retailer Database (www.clothdiaperretailers.com). You can compare retailers based on shipping costs, location, and even specials they have going on. Many of them even post exclusive discounts for Padded Tush Stats followers. If you buy from those with an asterisk (***) next to their name, a portion of your purchase goes towards supporting this site, so thank you in advance!
Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
Latest posts by Tara Porter (see all)
- Tara’s Farewell Post - August 1, 2014
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- Tara & Carolyn’s Top Picks for 2014 – Covers (Part 1) - June 18, 2014