As someone with an unpredictable menstrual cycle, it’s been difficult to find a period product that works perfectly for my inconsistent flow. About three years ago, I discovered U By Kotex Click Compact Tampons and thought I’d never look back. The product itself is relatively affordable ($7.19 for a pack of 30 tampons), the click compact aspect makes it easy to insert, and the potential for leaking is low. But now I find myself, along with other menstruating people, struggling in the midst of a tampon shortage. After I had to travel over 100 miles to find my preferred tampons, I decided it was time for a change. Luckily, TikTok helped me discover menstrual cups.
If you’re not familiar, a menstrual cup is a reusable period device usually made out of rubber or silicone that you insert to essentially catch and hold onto the blood. Sounds quite terrifying, doesn’t it? I thought so too until I saw a video on my For You page from Clue, a period tracking app, that showed how to insert the cup. All the content creator did was fold the sides of the cup and push in an upwards motion, mimicking how you’d put it in. It looked incredibly easy — easier than putting in a tampon.
So I did it. I got myself a Saalt menstrual cup, one of the highest-rated cups for beginners, turned on some Harry Styles in the background to calm my anxieties, and I put that baby in. If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you should try a cup, keep reading for my honest review.
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- Price: $29.
- Best For: Beginner menstrual cup users, regardless of the type of flow.
- Rating: 4.7/5.
- What We Like: How comfortable it is, and that it’s sustainable, reusable, and easy to use.
- What We Don’t Like: The removal process can be tricky.
The Saalt Regular Menstrual Cup
I did a ton of research when deciding which menstrual cup would be best for me. I read articles, asked friends what they use, watched TikTok videos — and they all pointed toward Saalt. A ton of reviewers said it’s the perfect cup for beginners. On Saalt’s website, the company says their regular cup is a “great option for first-time users as the slightly firmer silicone allows it to open easily when inserted.” Saalt also recommends this cup to people with normal to heavy flow, as its capacity holds the same amount of liquid as three to four tampons. Learning that Saalt is a woman-owned company — and they understand the complexities of having a period — was pretty much all I needed to go ahead and order my own cup.
Saalt launched in February 2018 and has since created over 30 products with the intention of making period care more “natural, distinct, simple, and elemental.” The company offers menstrual cup options according to sizing, silicone firmness, and even age. If you’re not sure what type of cup will work for you, Saalt has a cup quiz to help you choose.
After analyzing my previous cycles and the heaviness of my flow, I went with the regular size, Saalt’s original product. Saalt says you can wear this bestseller for up to 12 hours, it’s reusable for up to 10 years, and is made out of medical-grade, odor-free silicone. The regular cup is also made in the U.S., FDA-registered and compliant, as well as free of BPA, latex, and toxin-free.
The company says that one Saalt menstrual cup saves you upwards of $1,500 on period products, or displaces between 3,000 to 5,000 tampons and single-use pads. Saalt is also on a mission to provide period care for those with limited access, committing 2% of their revenue to this initiative.
Right off the bat, I noticed the packing was aesthetically pleasing, which made the product less terrifying for me. As an environmentally-conscious consumer, I was happy to see they chose natural materials for both the product and the paper packaging. The design on the tube is light, airy, yet trendy — using fonts and calming elements that intrigued my Gen Z soul. The tube is easy to open, holds smooth and clean lines throughout, and offers access to the menstrual cup — leaving out harsh materials like plastic. Removing the cup from the packaging resembles the action of inserting it, all I had to do was fold it and pull — giving an instant sneak peek at what my insertion process would look like. There’s a hole underneath the cup where I found a tiny go-bag for the cup, along with a small pamphlet that describes their 2% initiative. I also found a how-to guide that helped subtract any apprehension I had about inserting, extracting, and cleaning the cup.
As someone who’s used tampons or pads my entire life, my first impression was honestly an uncontrolled mix of fear and anxiety, but also excitement. Instantly, I noticed the menstrual cup itself is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I immediately questioned how it was going to fit. However, once I read the instructions, and realized the length of the entire cup was almost the same length as my tampon, it made the whole process seem a lot more doable.
Based on first impressions, it was obvious that the company goes to great lengths to make the process approachable and pleasant for first-timers. Even the little bag they included to store the cup was adorable.
Using The Saalt Menstrual Cup
Putting in the cup for the first time was easier than putting in my first tampon. I had to boil my cup in water for about five minutes before inserting it. While it was boiling, I looked at the instructions and noticed they gave me multiple options for folding; the c-fold (flattening and pinching the sides together), the punch-down (pressing down on the rim to collapse the cup), or the 7-fold (squeezing the cup and folding the top right corner down). Knowing I had multiple inserting options made the process quite easy because even if one specific process was difficult, I had other choices.
I sat down on a bench in my bathroom for easy access, folded the sides using the c-fold method with one hand, parted my labia with the other hand, pushed the cup inside, and that was that! I did feel the cup pop into place, but nothing was painful about the whole process. Per the Saalt instructions, I also rotated the cup once it was in to make sure it was secure and fully opened. It took about 15 minutes to adjust to the sensation, but throughout the day, I felt nothing. I was able to go to the gym, work at my desk, take a shower, and even ride my bike without feeling any pain.
After leaving the cup in for about eight hours, I decided to remove it and switch to a panty liner while I slept. But removing the cup was an entirely different experience than inserting it. It took me about 15 minutes to take it out. The action of removing the cup itself wasn’t quite as easy as the instructions made it sound, and I had to do some maneuvering to understand how to comfortably take it out. Don’t be fooled by the stem — I learned the hard way that the stem is not a pull tab. The instructions do tell you not to grab the stem, but when I first approached this daunting task, I didn’t necessarily see another option.
Once I pinched the bottom of the cup itself, I was able to pull it out. Not without breaking a sweat — but all that matters is that I got it out eventually. For the rest of the night, I felt some discomfort internally. I felt quite a bit of pressure around my cervix, suggesting that maybe the cup is too big for me. All of that pain subsided once I was ready to reinsert it the next morning. However, just like the day before, I felt that same discomfort the next time I took it out. I figured my body would familiarize itself with that sensation, but surprisingly after a week, the pain (which I rate a 4 out of 10) continued every time I took out the cup. Because I do love the product, I will probably look into getting a smaller size for my next period, just to make sure I’m providing myself the most comfort possible.
There are tons of menstrual cups on the market, and most range from the $25 to $30 mark. Saalt grabbed my attention immediately because while most menstrual cups have no more than two sizes, Saalt has four sizes, including one for teens or those just starting to menstruate. “The Cup” from Athena Club is $25, has two sizes, and has metrics on the side of the cup to see how much blood you are accumulating per day. However, on the Athena Club website, it isn’t entirely clear how different the two sizes are, which is another reason I chose Saalt.
“The Lily Cup” from Intimina is one of the only menstrual cups that can be rolled into the same width as a tampon, making it easy to use. In two sizes, the Lily Cup is on sale for $26.31. It’s a bit of a different shape than the Saalt cup, skinnier, and easier to insert, but that does leave me to worry about the removal process. Tampons have a string that allows for easy extraction, but the Lily Cup, even though it’s the same size as a normal tampon, doesn’t have those same luxuries. Like the Saalt regular cup, this product is beginner-friendly.
Transitioning period products is definitely a hassle, so I wouldn’t force yourself if you’re not ready to switch. However, the Saalt menstrual cup is definitely worth buying if you’re looking for a sustainable product, without sacrificing comfort. Honestly, I would buy the Saalt menstrual cup just so I didn’t have to pay over $30 a month on period products.
I’ve always felt a lot of insecurity around my period. Wearing tampons and pads made me feel dirty, and I generally felt uneducated when it came to cycles and menstrual products. This was my first period where I felt like I was still myself. I’m not saying this menstrual cup was the magical key to all my period problems — I still have a heavy flow, aggressive cramps, and sensitive boobs, and I still only want to watch reruns of New Girl when it’s that time of the month — but I was comfortable.
I didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper, my cycle was shorter by two days — something other menstrual cup users have reported, too — and I didn’t leak through my underwear, which was a common occurrence when I used pads and tampons. I was able to continue with most of my daily activities, which was difficult for me when I was using tampons. Plus, I felt better knowing I was making a sustainable choice. Could I survive the rest of my menstrual cycle while still using tampons and pads? Yes. But, those products aren’t necessarily guaranteed for people with uteruses anymore. The tampon shortage opened my eyes to the different types of period products available and I’m so glad I took the plunge and tried something new.