How Long Can You Wear a Menstrual Cup?
Most menstrual cup brands claim their products can be worn for 8 to 12 hours, and this is true for the most part. However, these claims have caused some confusion amongst customers. Is it safe to wear a menstrual cup all day? Are 12-hour menstrual cups better quality? In this article, we’ll answer how long you can realistically wear different cup brands and explain how your flow affects the wearing time.
Why different period cup brands have different wearing times
When menstrual cups first became popular, the recommended wearing time was widely considered (and marketed) to be 12 hours. This was a general safety precaution to encourage women not to use their cup continually throughout their cycle. However, many women still end up wearing their cup for more than 12 hours – either by simply forgetting about it, sleeping longer than 12 hours, or not being able to remove it. As a result, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) reviewed menstrual cup advertising claims in 2016. The organisation recommended that in Australia, the wearing time advertised by companies be changed from ‘up to 12 hours’ to ‘up to 8 hours’. This encourages women to remove and clean their period cups more often – a healthy practice to avoid risk of infection or Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
In recent years, many new companies have entered the menstrual cup market and the regulations surrounding menstrual cups have been significantly relaxed. Due to these changes, and the fact that consumers can access cups from international markets (where regulations may differ), it is very common to find different brands with different maximum wearing times.
How menstrual flow determines how long you can wear a menstrual cup
When choosing a period cup, do not make your choice solely based on how long the company claims their product can be worn. More importantly, you need to consider whether you have a light or heavy menstrual flow. Since most cups can carry a similar amount of menstrual blood, your flow will determine how long you can wear the menstrual cup and when to empty it.
Women with a light to moderate flow can usually wear the cup all day (8 hours) before needing to empty it. On the other hand, women with a moderate to heavy flow may need to empty the cup an extra time or two on the first day or so of their period. Once things settle down, you should be able to wear the cup all day. And even if you do need to empty your cup a few extra times, this is probably still less than the number of times you may have changed conventional pads and tampons. If you have very heavy periods or a low cervix, period leaks are non-existent, or much less when using a cup.
General timeframes for how long you can wear a menstrual cup
It is important to note that the timeframes given by the manufacturers are a guide as to how long a cup can be worn and not a definitive duration that applies to all women. The general time frames for needing to wear a menstrual cup are listed below.
- Light to moderate flow: the cup is usually worn up to 8 hours before needing to empty it
- Moderate to heavy flow: may need to empty the cup at around 6-8 hours on the first day or two of menstruation
- Heavy to very heavy flow: may need to empty the cup every 3-5 hours on the first day or two of menstruation
If you have a very heavy flow, consider high-capacity medical-grade silicone cups such as the Super Jennie, XO Flo, or Merula XL. These cups require less emptying throughout the day. High-capacity cups also help reduce any leakage when wearing the product overnight. However, if you need protection while learning how long you can wear your cup, we recommend wearing an absorbent pantyliner along with your menstrual cup in case of leaks.
Rather than choosing a cup based on how long the brand says you can wear it for, choose a cup based on its capacity to hold fluid and your level of flow. To get started, our menstrual cup comparison charts can help you determine the best period cup size and brand for your individual situation. These charts are especially useful for first-time cup users. And if you’re still in need of guidance, visit a gynaecologist or healthcare professional for sound medical advice.
Frequently asked questions:
Discover more about how long you can wear a period cup in the FAQ section below.
You can sleep with a menstrual cup as long as it’s emptied and cleaned right before bed. Menstrual cups are a reliable alternative to sleeping with a pad or tampon as they will usually last for 8 to 12 hours – the perfect amount of time for a good night’s rest.
Most cup brands recommend leaving a menstrual cup in for no more than 8 to 12 hours before removal and emptying are required (a great example is the DivaCup). This means you can wear the cup throughout the day, clean it, and then wear it while asleep for the night. However, you may need to empty the cup more often if your flow is heavy.
If you look after your menstrual cup properly, it can last several years! It’s important to clean your cup regularly with sanitisers or boiling water and store it in a cool, dry location between menstrual cycles.
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