How Long Do Menstrual Cups Last?how long do menstrual cups last

Anyone who has ever had to shop around for their “Goldilocks” cup (the one that's not too big, not too small, but just right) is probably reading this and thinking “Ha! Mine only lasted 5 minutes!” 

It's true - the hunt for the perfect menstrual cup may well result in some very short-lived relationships as you shop through your options. Your menstrual cup may only survive one cycle or less before you recycle and replace it.

But after you've found your ‘forever cup' and you're basking in the improvements you're making to both the environment and your wallet, you might ask yourself, “How long can it last? How long until I have to do it all again?”

Reports on this are divided. Some websites and menstrual cup manufacturers say 3-4 years, some recommend to change as regularly as every year, and yet, many sources claim you can get as long as 10 years out of them. The FDA recommends you change your menstrual cup every two years.  

Having to replace your menstrual cup on a regular basis does seem to defy the point of using one for many of us, even if do you recoup the initial cost after 8 months or less. But if longevity is important to you, you may wish to spend extra time comparing the shelf life of different brands via their websites and also via independent review sites. Different companies use different strengths of silicone and rubber, which will be one of the most important deciding factors in how long your menstrual cup will last.

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Obviously, when it comes to their products, no-one knows better than the manufacturer. The care instructions they provide must be followed in order to guarantee the life-span they promise.

In general, how you care for your menstrual cup is the ultimate test of your cup's shelf-life. Below are listed some of the most commonly offered care instructions given by manufacturers to ensure the longest life for your menstrual cup (instructions can vary greatly so if your cup's instructions differ from that listed below, stick to what your manufacturer says).

Caring for your menstrual cup

  • Wash with care. Rinsing with warm water alone when emptying your menstrual cup mid-cycle will usually suffice, although some manufacturers also recommend using a water-based soap or cleanser (free from microbeads or other solids which can damage your cup). You can also clean out the holes beneath the rim of your cup with a toothpick to remove debris. Chemicals like peroxide or bleach should never be used.
  • Never store in an airtight container. Some menstrual cups come with their own cotton bag for storage. If yours doesn't, you may want to consider investing in one. It is important for air to circulate around your cup when it's not in use, and even more important that moisture not be allowed to build up between cycles. This can cause an unpleasant odour and discolouring which signifies damage to your menstrual cup.
  • Be careful when sterilising. Generally 5-10 minutes is the agreed length for boiling in a pot used only for cleaning your menstrual cup, though some manufacturers recommend no longer than 7 minutes. It is a noteworthy factor which isn't discussed much online that allowing your menstrual cup to touch the bottom of the pot when sterilising may damage it greatly, so this is something you may want to research for yourself. Sterilising tablets may be an option you'd prefer to choose, if your cup's care instructions allow for it.

If followed carefully, your menstrual cup's care instructions should allow for the shelf-life outlined by the seller and the reviewers who recommended it. Who knows, you might even see out the decade together! Next find out Can You Recycle a Menstrual Cup?

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