Menstrual Cup Firmness Guide

Measuring the Immeasurable

A definitive menstrual cup firmness chart is not possible due to how the thickness of silicone (which is technically measurable) is only part of how the cup’s firmness feels when worn. Shape, thickness, type of material, and more play a role in how firm or soft the cup wears while inside the vagina. Other design elements, such as internal support or varying thicknesses, can also have an effect on how the cup feels while worn.

All that said, we’ve done our best to group cups into five categories after the direct handling and comparison of each brand and size. There is a bit of variance in some of these cups (as noted below the graphic) but generally speaking the firmest or most prominent portion of the cup is what lands a cup in a category. For example, the LadyCup has a soft base but a thick and firm rim. Because the firm rim is what will apply the most pressure, we rank it as a firmer cup.

As we mentioned, material plays a role. Both silicone and TPU come in a variety of firmnesses. TPU does mold to your body more with heat, which also has an effect on how the cup feels when worn. The Keeper is made from natural rubber and is by far the most firm cup on this list (it’s actually quite hard).

Menstrual Cup Firmness Guide

Cups with varying thickness/firmness include:

  • LadyCup — base is average firmness while the rim is firm
  • Lily Cup — this cup has a soft body but firm, non-protruding rim & internal spine to help it open
  • Merula — rim is non-protruding average firmness while the body has a firmer feel due to the bulbous shape

Why does menstrual cup firmness matter?

Choosing a cup with the correct firmness for your body can make a huge difference in your comfort and the effectiveness of the cup. In general, softer cups are more comfortable because they don’t apply any outward pressure but they can be harder to get open inside. We call softer cups “fiddle cups” because there is often some manual maneuvering that has to be done in order to get the cup to open once inside. Soft average cups will be slightly better when it comes to opening and still offer a high level of comfort.

Average or average firm cups are better when you first begin using a cup because they take little to no coaxing or manipulation to open once inside. Average firm cups may apply some slight pressure that only announces itself once you try to urinate, making your urine stream a tad slower (see our post and video: Peeing with a Menstrual Cup). Firm cups may apply noticeable pressure that shows in either an urge to urinate (bladder pressure) or slow urine stream. In severe cases a complete blockage of urine could occur, though this is very rare. While the pressure mentioned is a possibility it isn’t a guarantee, we just feel pointing out all possibilities is important. On the plus side, average firm, and firm cups are better for those who experience cups that slip down during wear. If you’re a very active person you will want an average firm or firm cup to prevent your muscles from pushing the cup out during exercise.

To find more information on the brands listed in the firmness guide you can visit our menstrual cup comparison chart– this sortable chart lists details such as capacity, length, diameter, and more.

Did you find this post helpful? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Put A Cup In It

Menstrual education by menstrual cup experts and advocates Kim Rosas & Amanda Hearn. Thanks for being here!

- Kimanda

35 Comments

  • Hi. Any insight on the pixie cup? I wanted to know how it stacks up as far as firmness compared to the other brands. Thanks!

  • I’ve used a Diva Cup for years and always had the slower urination issue with it, but had no idea why or if another cup could fix that or if it was bad for me. This article is SO HELPFUL!

  • I been using Diva cup for at least 8 years. Each time I get headaches using it but thought it was just period related. Last month I realized that it could be the cup. Low and behold it was. No headaches this period. But I don’t like using pads and I have a heavy flow. Pads actually are my liners when I use a cup. What do you suggest I do?

    • The Hesta Cup size 1 is the same size as Diva size 1 but a bit softer. It’s only 14$US on Amazon right now and manufactured in the USA. I find that I have to mess with it a bit more to get it to open up than I do the Diva, but I have trouble with softer cups. You could give it a try if you like the Diva size and style but want something softer.

    • I tried the Cora cup in size 1 since since I’ve never had kids and it was a disaster..I used the punch down method to insert and it was too painful. I tried it probably an hour ago a d I’m still feeling cramps and soreness at the opening. Ugh, I was so hoping it would workout.

  • Question: When my cup is in its squished closed. It pops open but it doesn’t suction and it doesnt stay round its just flat I rotated it but nothing changes. Its a really soft cup so I’m thinking maybe I need a firmer one. Does this seem like a firmness issue?

    • It does sound like a firmness issue to me. I had a soft cup (the lily cup) and I could never get it to open. As soon as I tried a firmer cup (LENA cup), it was much easier for me. I usually have no trouble at all and don’t have to do any adjusting to get it to open up.

  • I’ve been having some issues with my cup. It is a Lunette. It slides down and even when I insert it I can feel it right there even wearing it inside out. When I sit down to pee i can pop it out because it is half out already. I’m guessing I have a low cervix. But the bigger issue is that when I go to remove it after the first couple of times on my cycle there is a lump of flesh inside it.

    At first I thought that I had a prolapse or something because I can feel the mass there as I pinch the cup to remove it. Nothing seems out of place when the cup is removed although I might be a bit inflamed. I even went to get myself checked out by a doctor and everything was fine. It is just when I’m wearing the cup. No one else I know has had this happen. One person suggested that I might need a softer cup but I don’t know if that will help.

    Have you ever heard of something like this or have any idea what might cause it or fix it? Might a softer cup help?

    • The first time I used a cup I thought I had a prolapse, too. Turned out that was just my cervix inside the cup! Pictures show it as a little bump, but for me during my period it stuck out/down quite far. Given your issues with getting the cup to stay in, it may very well be a super low cervix!

      It may be cups won’t work for you, but if you’re willing to try some other brands that have different shapes:

      LilyCup — your cervix may just stay in the top part.
      LENA or another with a fuller bottom (vs a V-shape like the Lunette)

      OR try a softcup like the Instead.

  • Quick question, what is the smallest and softest cup? I’ve been using a meluna soft small (with lube because I’m sensitive) but even though it’s super soft the rim is too wide and gives me cramps. The lunette is way to firm and I’ve hurt myself several times trying to get it up there! Never succeeded…

  • I have 2 Lena cups, large and small sizes. I’ve tried using them both several times over and they both slide down and partially out after only walking around. I got sore from trying place it as high up as possible and checking to make sure it opened all the way. Do I need a softer cup? What would you recommend. The size seems fine until it starts sliding down and it feels comfortable.

    • I have the same thing happening. I have recently started using it, but it seems to be such a hassle. It is either sliding down, or pressing on my bladder!!

  • Why are some cups rated N/A for firmness? I have a very heavy flow, bought a Juju cup (4) and am wondering why it doesn’t show up in my quiz results, even though size 4 is for a low cervix and has a higher capacity than the to-holes capacity of the ones listed in my quiz results. These are the most important issues I have. And why no firmness rating?

  • I bought Lena sensitive large as a first cup. It’s tricky learning but i like it. Problem i have is removal – i swear it runs and hides and breaking it free from waaaay up there is like an Olympic event! The tail is gripped but barely any fingertip to pull with – thoughts?

  • I have been using a Mooncup UK but sure it contributing to constipation/haemorrhoids. I have been using the smaller size even though I am older and post-childbirth. There are not many softer options but I guess I could try something with less of a prominent ridge.

    • This is the only problem I have with the Mooncup as well. I’m sure the firm rim is messing with my ability to go to the toilet. I have been using the smaller size for 12 years, and i’m now in my thirties (but I haven’t had kids) and there’s no leaking to suggest that I need to start using the bigger size. But since it’s about time I replaced my current one i’m looking in to ones with softer or less prominent rims.

  • I currently use a Lena cup. I’ve been using it for roughly a year and STILL have issues getting it inserted properly so that it doesn’t leak. I’ve triedany folds, angles, etc. It’s very frustrating. I’ve have 5 children very close in age and I’m also very active. Should I go for a firmer cup although the Lena cup is considered firm/average?

  • I am very active – I do functional training 3 times a week and lift weights (not super heavy, but I do make a lot of effort) 2 times a week. On those days I get really sensitive, sometimes even my labia hurt a little – but I can still workout without a problem. All the quiz recommendations are a 2 in the firmness scale, and I am buying a Meluna cup becuase where I live you don’t have that many options. The soft MeLuna is a 2 and the classic is a 4. Do you think I should stick with the soft or buy the classic?

  • I see the Meluna Sport on the list, but I’m wondering how the regular Meluna rates in comparison? I’m on my first cycle trying to use the regular firmness Meluna Shorty. The rim doesn’t stay folded down after insertion, but it feels like it’s squished flat and when I remove it the rim is oval shaped. I’m also getting a lot of leaking. I’m thinking this might mean I need a stiffer cup.

    • In case it helps anyone else, I figured out whatvwas happening: apparently my cervix is very low and the cup was getting squished between it and the vaginal wall, so it wasn’t capturing all my flow. I figured out how to put the cup around the cervix and I don’t get leaks anymore. Unfortunately it also doesn’t hold a lot, though, because the cervix is filling part of the cup, so I have to empty it frequently on my heavy days.

  • So I am a new user and I just got a Saalt cup and so far from what I can tell it is slightly uncomfortable until I wear it for a while. Is that normal or did I maybe not put it up far enough. I am a disk user and all the reading and research I’ve done made me think may e the cup doesn’t need to go very high. But positioned lower in my vaginal canal I can feel it and it’s not pleasant. After I moved it up a bit it was still a little crampy for 20-30 mins but now I don’t feel it at all. Any suggestions or reassurance is welcome. I wish I had discovered all these tools before I turned 40!!

  • The Diva Cup kills me when I try to wear it. It feels like it’s suctioning my cervix as if it’s holding on for dear life, but it doesn’t seem to open up completely either. The weird thing is, is that I leak and have pee collect in it as well. Can you give me some insight as to if I need a cup firmer or softer than the Diva cup?

  • So I just started my 3rd cycle using a Lena cup and I’m feeling really discouraged. I took the quiz and it said Lena Sensitive, well long story short I came to realize I ordered the wrong one. I’m pressed for money so I have no idea when I’ll be able to buy a different cup. I have issues of pressure when I pee and leaking so I still have to use back up pads. I really really want to be comfortable in this change but it’s so frustrating.

  • Hi everybody,
    there is one reason to wear a firm cup I’ve never read about. But it is actually my reason and perhaps it can help some other women.
    I’ve strong muscels a very high Cervix, I cannot even reach it with my fingers. When I insert a cup it almost slides up on it’s own and I cannot reach the rim any more, sometimes I cannot even reach the middle of the cup. So I have to guess if it is opened up or not.
    That is the reason I first thought a cup would not work for me, but I kept on trying an fortunately a quite firm cup works for me.
    I’m using a cup for about 9 years now, and your website and videos helped me to find two new cups that work even better, than the last one.
    Thank you!

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