Cheap Menstrual Cups — Are They Safe?

We feel that it’s time to address the big, cheap elephant in the room — “generic” menstrual cups.

Usually referred to in cup communities as “cheapies” “knock-offs” or “china cheapies” these cups are priced as low as $2 on eBay or in apps — some are even sold “free for shipping” like in a viral Rebel Kate Facebook promotion. Considering reputable brands, like The Diva Cup, a brand sold in stores across the US and Canada, retails for $40 these cups seem like QUITE a deal.

How do we define what a “generic” or cheap menstrual cup is?

By our definition a cup is considered a “generic” or “cheap” cup if it does not have a unique, proprietary design and/or is not known to be made from FDA cleared silicone, TPE, or rubber. Generic cups will often be the same design sold under many name brands with varying packaging or without any brand name at all, only a listing description. While not inherently a safety issue, it does pose and ethical problem in regards to intellectual property and integrity.

By contrast, brand name cups are unique in their design, packaging, marketing, and online presence. We list only known and trusted brands on resources like our quiz and comparison chart. If you’re looking for a cup and don’t see it listed, it’s likely considered generic.

How do I know if a cup is “real” or “generic?”

Below is a list of tell-tale signs a cup is not a reputable brand and should be avoided.

  1. It’s not listed as FDA, BfR, or EC compliant. Unless not sold in the US & compliant with international standards, we suggest avoiding all brands without the FDA designation.
  2. The cup is sold via:
    1. Wish App
    2. Alibaba or AliExpress
    3. Co-Ops
    4. eBay
    5. Amazon only (not also sold through retailers or a branded website)
    6. Wal-Mart (brands sold though website and not fulfilled by Wal-Mart)
  3. The cup’s price is $15 or less
  4. The cup lists a high price ($29.99-39.99) but is always marked down well over 50% off.
  5. The brand cannot be found online elsewhere (such as their own website, other stores, or on social media).
  6. The product description has typos and errors in grammar.
  7. The cup ships directly from China.
  8. The cup has minimal packaging in photos (only a plastic bag, only a pouch, etc)
  9. The cup has no name at all and is only listed as a nonsensical string of keywords “ladies vagina period reusable copa menstrual cup hygiene wow”
  10. The cup’s listing title uses “Diva Cup” or “Moon Cup” but is not that brand.
  11. The listing makes hard to verify claims “Voted Better than Diva,” or “Best selling” without proof or award seals.
  12. The cup looks identical to several other cups but has a different name.
  13. The cup listing has weird ass stock photos and god awful graphics.
A smattering of graphics used by generic cup brands. If the listing includes at least 3 of the following categories then BINGO you have a generic: Happy stock photo women doing yoga/sleeping/swimming (usually white), cup surrounded by inexplicable water, women in erotic poses with photoshopped cup hovering, stolen Diva Cup insertion diagram, menstrual cup with testicles.

Brands to Avoid

Based on our experience and knowledge of cup brands we suggest avoiding the following brands:

  • Alilove, AMAZZANG, Aneer, AneerCare, Anytime, Athena, Bloody Buddy, Bodybay, Calicup, CHUDONG, Coomammy, Daisy Cup, Dandelion, Day and Night, Dewcare, Dew Fresh, Diggold, Dutchess, Dovewill, Easymoon, Ecosin, Fairyfox, Fivebop, GIMITSUI, GUAnqqi, HENGSONG, iCare, Intimate Rose, JACKYLED, Jubilene, kesoto, Leasen, Leegoal, Luna, MagiDeal, Miusie, Monzcare R-Cup, Nezbling, OTTBA, Ovu, Pixie, Protable, Rebel Kate’s unnamed cup, RedDhong, Remedy Health, Shelcup, Sileu, Skinco, Smart Cup, SPEQUIX, The Goddess Cup, ThinkMax, TOOGOO, Viva Cup, WensLTD, Yamete, Yiwa.

What’s the deal with FDA clearance?

FDA cleared brands have passed manufacturing standards that meet strict medical guidelines. While the thought of our periods being regulated like illnesses gives us feelings, we appreciate the assurances of safety when it comes to a cup that will reside in your vagina.

Generic brands often use false claims of “FDA cleared silicone” because they know that informed consumers want safe products. Unfortunately anyone can say anything they want on the internet and Amazon has a lackluster history of ensuring accurate listings and enforcing protections of intellectual property.

First and foremost — be an informed consumer. We can’t say it enough. This is an internal device and you want to be sure that the product you use is in-fact medical grade silicone and that it does not contain potentially unsafe colorants or contaminants.

Research the brand you are interested in, cross reference with the FDA cleared list, and ask for proof if you can find a contact email — but know that anyone can SAY they have certifications and tests when they know 99% of buyers will never fact check them or have no way to. Some of the unnamed brands have claimed they are made by FDA cleared companies listed on the FDA website but there is no way to know for sure since the brand itself isn’t listed. Only brands with their names listed can prove their compliance — and your safety.

Why should I care about intellectual property?

As mentioned, many cheap brands are simply knock-offs of reputable brands who have put their hearts, time, and money into the creation of their products and designs. While some of these brands may be FDA cleared, we still feel strongly against supporting these brands and do not include them in our resources. These brands hurt by having their property stolen both emotionally and tangibly as many consumers aren’t aware of these facts and opt for what is most wallet friendly – even if the knock-off is just a few dollars cheaper. This does obvious harm to the established brands and in many cases also harms the consumer. Most knock-off brands come with little or no customer service – leaving new cup users with little assurance if they have purchased the wrong size or run into other troubleshooting issues that reputable brands are known for helping with.

So, should you buy a generic menstrual cup? And if you DO buy one will it work?

Put A Cup In It has the official stance that we do not support the purchase of ANY “generic” brands for a few reasons.

  1. Most do not use FDA cleared medical grade silicone, so it’s unclear what is being put inside of your vagina.
  2. Most do not have official websites or customer support. If you don’t receive the product or if the product fails you have no recourse.
  3. Most are stealing designs of other brands and undercutting them on price – typically while not delivering the level of quality silicone and service brand names provide.

But what do consumers think?

We decided to poll our own Facebook group, also titled Put A Cup In It, about their experiences with these “cheapie” menstrual cups. Results are as follows:

Of course our group is not a large enough sample to have a complete representation of all experiences with generic cups versus brand name cups, but it does give us some idea of why people buy them (the most selected answer shows that they purchase generics to test cups before investing in more expensive cups) and how they work.

Complaints against the cups included the products being flimsy, having rough seams, obnoxious chemical smells, and some even reported headaches caused by using the cup.

On the approvals side, there were two “generic” models that seemed to have the best reviews — Blossom Cup and Anytime. Again, we are not promoting the use or purchase of any generics but if you are buying then these are ones other people have had positive experiences with. Anytime is a knock-off of the FDA cleared brand name cup Sckoon (so on principle it’s not a cup we think people should support). As for Blossom, it is listed on the FDA website but in most other ways appears to be a generic. It is a budget friendly cup, however, and has good reviews.

As previously mentioned, whether the cup works or not the most important reason NOT to buy a generic cup is that it’s likely not made from FDA cleared medical grade silicone and thus not proven safe to wear inside of your body where heat and fluids are a factor. As a reminder, you can see the list on the official FDA government website here: Menstrual Cups with FDA clearance.

Why should you skip the cheap menstrual cup and start with a brand name menstrual cup?

Experience — The experience you have with your “throwaway” cup is more likely to be a frustrating one. Since so many people buy a generic cup to experience what using a cup is like as a whole it might turn you away from using ANY cup if the one you try won’t open or has constant leaks. As a general rule, PACII points new cup users to ones that are average in firmness for this reason — too soft and the cup is harder to get open, thus resulting in leaks. Since the generic cups are usually flimsy it makes sense why people may never go on to buy a brand name version due to a poor experience. Additionally, brand name cups come with real humans who are passionate about making their product work for you to improve your life. If you have questions or issues with your cup they are often only an email or phone call away.

Safety — Not only can you be assured that the device intended for 10-12 hours of wear INSIDE YOUR VAGINA is FDA Cleared and SAFE but you can also be sure that if something goes wrong you can reach a human for help.

We’ve spoken to many employees from cup companies and they truly know their stuff; they’re there to help people who have unfortunate first experiences with their menstrual cups. They’ve walked many a caller through removing a cup that feels stuck or that is thought to be “lost.” They’ve also been known to send a replacement when a customer has ordered the wrong size. They’re real humans who care that the customer has a good experience and part of the higher price paid is that peace of mind.

But I don’t want to waste $40 on a cup that doesn’t work for me.

We hear you and we completely understand. Thankfully there are several trusted brands that retail for under $30, but we know that money doesn’t grow on trees and cups aren’t exactly a thing you can sell when it doesn’t work (actually, some people do but it may not be your thing).

That’s why Put A Cup In It has resources available to help confused minds choose the best menstrual cup for them. Our menstrual cup quiz has a very high success rate when it comes to matching up takers with the cup that ultimately works for them. Our menstrual cup comparison chart lets you go even deeper and compare cups both numerically based on measurements such as length, diameter, and capacity plus you can compare cups visually.

Additionally, we have created a closed Facebook group that gives you a safe place to ask sensitive questions about picking or using your menstrual cup. We strive to make everyone’s journey a successful one and also a safe one.

If you really must try a cup cheaply before making the more expensive leap it is possible to “try on” a cup by utilizing a Facebook cup BST or swap group.

Other resources on this topic:

Menstrualcups.wordpress

What’s Your Experience?

Have you tried a generic cup? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. It would help others if you include the name or source of the cup.

Updated to remove Blossom cup from the brands to avoid since it was found on the FDA cleared list by manufacturer KA-LU.

Put A Cup In It

Menstrual education with a twist by Kim Rosas & Amanda Hearn. Thanks for being here!

- Kimanda

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29 Comments

  • This article is inaccurate in some of its information. The VIVA CUP is safe. It is actually truly FDA certified, and comes with a certification in every cup packaging. The Viva has been around for a very very long time. A VERY long time, actually.

    This was actually one of the pricier more trendy cups of an earlier time, such as an time that exceeded the Diva cup. The packing is simple in order to reduce costs. When the DIVA cup won the popularity contest, the VIVA CUP went a different direction and decided to become the EVERYMANS cup so to say. There was a HUGE promotional effort directed to addressing price, packing, and availability back in the day. Viva cup has been portrayed with inaccuracies and falsehoods in this article which makes me doubt the whole site.

    • If you have the FDA clearance information we can remove this cup from that list. I’ve gone over the list of cleared brands and do not see VIVA but if you have that information you can email us.

      • The one listed as HULE Y SILICON S.A. DE C.V. from Mexico is likely the one sold as AngelCup, since it’s the only Mexican cup with FDA clearance.

  • I have used the femmecup for years and was surprised to see it’s not on the FDA approved list. I recently bought the rebel Kate generic cup, since my femmecup is getting pretty old. Surprised to see that the manufacturer is on the approved list. Haven’t tried the cup out yet; hope it’s as good as my femmecup!

    • Maybe it’s because Femmecup isn’t in the market anymore, as far as I’ve heard. They did cups with good reviews (even when they might not be a fit for everyone – they’re firm and only size) but they’re not selling them as in 2018. So maybe that’s why they don’t appear there.
      The other reason can be that they don’t sell in the US and they don’t intend to.

  • The Rebel Kate cup is manufactured by Vincent Industrial, which is why RebelKate isn’t on the FDA list posted here. Their FDA number is verified to make menstrual cups, and it’s 3012890712. I’m not sure what the search criteria for the posted list was, but if you search the number, they do exist.

    • I was told by the Rebel Kate company that theu ship directly from their manufacturer, Shenzhen Vincent Industrial co. Their FDA registration number is 3012890712. I’m hoping to find a way to check if the company truly does make Rebel Kate’s menstrual cups.

    • Hi! Where did you find the source indicating that Vincent is the Rebel Kate manufacturer? I did look up this number and can verify they are on the FDA approved list for Rebel Kate. However, I just wanted to ensure this is in fact a true statement.

      • I was about to write this same comment. I asked customer service with Rebel Kate directly about their FDA clearance and was given this company name and number. I also ordered the cups to review, and the packaging, direct from China, was indeed from Shenzhen Vincent Industrial CO. LTD. I don’t know how much more confirmation you need or how else they could be a scam. I would love more info if you have it!
        The cups themselves are definitely cheaper than a name brand – thinner and less stiff, which could be frustrating for a first-time cup user – but functional.

        • Them being flimsy and soft, the scammy way they market through Facebook, and the overwhelmingly bad reviews we see in our group are enough to keep the brand out of any and all resources we provide. There are far more cups available that are also inexpensive that have a better reputation.

          • I’m surprised at one aspect of your comment – “the overwhelmingly bad reviews we see in our group”
            I have only seen good reviews, never come across a bad one. Can you link me to those bad reviews? I’m a new user and want to ensure I’m using the correct product. Thank you in advance!

      • I just received my cup from Rebel Kate and on the instructions leaflet contained in the packaging it does indeed state the manufacturer as Vincent Industrial Co. Ltd, as well as the FDA registration #3012890712. The package was shipped from Longgang District, Shenzen, China. The only thing that is different is the physical address, which I would assume is due to one being the manufacturing facility and the other being the shipping facility. The cup I ordered was FREE. All I paid was the shipping so felt for myself that was worth giving it a go and just see how I felt once it came, if I could verify the information. I am now comfortable using this cup.

  • I am on my second cycle using the Blossom cup. I am the author of one of those great reviews you mention in the article. I have had leaks on my heaviest day and problems with the cup sliding down, but I think these are issues that are personal to me and my body (3 large babies, tilted uterus and heavy periods due to perimenopause). On my lighter to normal days it functions perfectly and makes me so happy. I will be be trying a Lena cup based on the reccommendations from the survey on this site. However, it should be noted (as it is in this article), that the Blossom cup is registered and listed on the FDA site, so it is not actually a generic brand as defined here. If it weren’t for my overall positive experience with the Blossom cup, I would not be purchasing the Lena cup. I was not going to invest $40 into a product I had never tried and was not sure I would continue to use. Also, I do absolutely intend to continue using the blossom cup, even if I decide that I prefer the Lena cup. I am buying a second cup so I can keep one in my vehicle and one at home. I don’t carry a purse and my minivan is my home away from home. I will keep the cup I like the least as my emergency cup. I would recommend the Blossom cup as a good starter cup or even a good bargain cup for an experienced cup user.

    • Sorry, I meant to say I purchased the Lunette Mentrual cup not lena (I’m not even sure if that’s a real thing). I couldn’t figure out how to edit that mistake after I posted. Lunette is a pricier cup, but I hope it can help with my heavy day cup problems with the Blossom cup.

  • Any knowledge on V Cups? They are on the FDA list but it’s listed with a bunch of other names by the same host company.

    • We believe V-Cups to be too similar or the same as a lot of the generic cups available. We choose to mostly list cups we know to use a unique mold and design that are FDA cleared in resources.

  • After learning about pthaelates in sex toys, I made I think a point to buy silicone/glass/stainless steel from that point forward. I apply the exact same principle to cups. $40 can be a lot of money, and I totally saved for my lunette – but it’s worth it to have a safe cup that’s not leeching chemicals into my body.

  • There are a whole lot of approved Chinese manufacturers on that list, who obviously have met the FDA standards for production but none of them seem to state the names that their cups are being marketed under. This is a real pity because it means as consumers we need to rely on the vendor to check the FDA status for us, and can’t double check it ourselves. I suspect that just like the rebel Kate cup ( produced by Shenzhen Vincent) a lot of the other China cheapies are also FDA certified but it’s really difficult to know which ones. This is a real pity as I strongly support the idea that everyone ought to be able to afford a menstrual cup.

    • Blossom and Anytime are two well reviewed “cheap” cups available, Blossom is one that we know to be FDA cleared. Frankly the number of offbrand generic cups is too confusing for buyers and then having to research which are or are not using FDA cleared silicone is a real pain for consumers. You can find reputable cup brands for sometimes as low as $15-$18 which is a good deal but even those in the $20 range are affordable and will recoup investment in 1-2 months.

      • Reading through the comment chain on this article, it looks like there are many cups that are on Put A Cup In It’s “not recommended” list that are actually FDA approved. Just because it takes a little research/emailing around to find out if the cup is cleared doesn’t mean that it should be written off. As a woman on a budget (with several friends in the same boat), I appreciate that Rebel Kate’s viral marketing and affordable price got me to purchase and make the change. I know personally I would rather take ten minutes to research whether a cheap cup is safe than spend more money on a branded cup when the generic one would work just as well.

  • Is the Organicup safe to use? I received mine this week but it has a strong chemically smell, yet my new Lena Sensitive doesn’t have a smell at all.

  • I have used the Blossom cup, size small and purchased through Amazon, for about 6 cycles now and it works pretty well for me. However, it is also the only cup I have used.

    I sometimes have problems with the cup popping open but have managed to finagle it. (Do you know the reason for this happening?)

    Recently I’ve had some pain while removing. Not sure why as I did not experience that before.

    But overall, I am happy with it. It has a lot of color options, too. As a college student on a budget, it was the best option for me right now.

  • I find it interesting that you speak of copy cats…. yet it seems you guys have not tried the *original* silicon version: The Moon cup Introduced in 2002 (or MCUK as you know it)…. Or The Keepers Moon Cup (Introduced in 2006) for that matter…. The keeper of course in rubber form has been going since 1987, and seems to be the direct descendant of the 1937 Tass-ette cup, with the classic “bullet” shape with stem and protruding rim.

    Diva cups web site claims to be the first in the world(and first certified in Canada) (conveniently forgetting the Keeper and Tass-ette!) but also says they “researched” design in 2001 . . released in 2003 by the looks of it, so third/fourth to release a VERY similar product. Second on silicone.

    I will give credit to the Diva founders’ efforts to take a niche product to the masses.

    Please test Moon cup – (MCUK)
    🙂

    • I have both versions of the Keeper (silicone and rubber) and Amanda has the Moon Cup. Every cup is basically a version of the very first and the good brands have innovated on the concept to improve user experience. Our issue comes when a brand tries orders a generic cup, slaps a name on it, and markets under the guise of being their own design. Or the brands that are not using FDA cleared silicone.

  • I have been using ICare for more than 3 years and I love it ! fix all my mestrual problems, my cycle now is regular, no more infections and I more aware of my mestruation and my body. You said is not in FDA maybe is true.. probably is generic and from China like most of the things in the market, is cheap yes!! but that dosen’t make it worse or better. In my experience is good and safe.

  • I wish I had researched before I got sucked into getting the pair from Rebel Kate and only paying for shipping. I’ve been using the Diva for 3 or 4 years now and thought I’d give a different brand a try. I basically spent the last 6 hours trying to get the no-name cup to sit properly and release some of the suction. It was hard to pull out each time, but I didn’t give up until bedtime, when I said “F@*k it” and switched back to my Diva cup.

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