What are TPE Menstrual Cups?
TPE is short for thermoplastic elastomer. The same way that silicone cups use medical grade silicone, manufacturers who use TPE also use a medical grade TPE. TPE menstrual cups do not contain silicone, rubber, latex, Bisphenols (BPA/BPS), or heavy metals. They are still required to register with the FDA and use safe colorants. Ensuring that a cup is made from safe, tested materials is just one of the many reasons we choose to support brands with standing, vs “Cheap Menstrual Cup” brands who typically aren’t really brands at all.
How does TPE Compare to Silicone
Silicone is most widely used by menstrual cup manufacturers. While both are a good option, TPE does something that silicone cannot. TPE has the unique ability to warm with your body temperature to create a more custom fit by molding to your shape. This is why some people, like Kim, notice that their cups comes out a bit more oval shaped than it went in. While a silicone cup still makes a seal against the vaginal wall, it does so more by creating even pressure all along the rim of the cup. TPE, however, still has a firmness to create pressure, but it also changes shape slightly for a better fit.
Additionally, TPE cups can come in a firmer cup to open easier, but they soften with your body temperature, making them more comfortable while worn for some users.
Brands That Make TPE Menstrual Cups
While there aren’t a lot of brands that use TPE, you may be more familiar with them than you think! MeLuna is one of the older brands on the market. Not only do they have the widest range of cup sizing available, they exclusively use TPE with their cups. Newer to the scene is the Hello Cup with their uniquely shaped cup and rounded toggle.
“At Hello Cup we chose to use medical grade TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) rather than silicone. There were several reasons behind this. Our high quality TPE is hypoallergenic and and recyclable. Our cups are firm, but very comfortable. We feel firmness is an important aspect to helping prevent leaking, especially for physically active users whose muscles tend to be strong and can collapse flimsy cups. TPE will warm up in side the body and conform to the user’s shape. Hello Cups are FDA registered and contain no rubber, latex, BPAs, heavy metals or other nasties. All colours used are good grade and comply with EU and FDA standards.”
For other considerations I spoke with MeLuna. According to them, TPE is “a very pliable material that readily conforms to its surroundings for an even more custom feel for the wearer. You may find that over time your TPE cup becomes a bit more oval in shape after adjusting to its wearer’s shape. This is nothing to worry about. The cup will again conform to your shape the next time you wear it. If you ever would like to return the cup to its original completely round shape, simply boil the cup in hot water”
They also cite that TPE has less reported incidences of causing an allergic reaction (when compared to silicone). TPE may also have less risk of TSS than silicone (though the risk is already quite minimal with a cup). TPE is also more easily reused — helping to create less waste during manufacturing.
Other TPE brands on the market today include Genial Day, Oi, TOTM, Masmi, SilverCare, & Farmacomfort (all similar as they are private label menstrual cups. You can compare most TPE brands on our Compare & Shop page.
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