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.
- 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.
- The cup is sold via:
- Wish App
- Alibaba or AliExpress
- Amazon only (not also sold through retailers or a branded website)
- Wal-Mart (brands sold though website and not fulfilled by Wal-Mart)
- The cup’s price is $15 or less
- The cup lists a high price ($29.99-39.99) but is always marked down well over 50% off.
- The brand cannot be found online elsewhere (such as their own website, other stores, or on social media).
- The product description has typos and errors in grammar.
- The cup ships directly from China.
- The cup has minimal packaging in photos (only a plastic bag, only a pouch, etc)
- 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”
- The cup’s listing title uses “Diva Cup” or “Moon Cup” but is not that brand.
- The listing makes hard to verify claims “Voted Better than Diva,” or “Best selling” without proof or award seals.
- The cup looks identical to several other cups but has a different name.
- The cup listing has weird ass stock photos and god awful graphics.
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.
- Most do not use FDA cleared medical grade silicone, so it’s unclear what is being put inside of your vagina.
- 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.
- 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:
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.