Menstrual Cups

Menstrual Cup Timeline

Making a timeline of “Menstrual Cup” inventions depends on what you consider to be a menstrual cup.  For the purpose of this list, I’ll consider anything that is:  fully internal, self-supporting, capable of holding its shape and capable of holding menstrual fluid on its own.  There have been devices that were similar to a menstrual cup but had external collection pouches and other features that I would not consider to be a “menstrual cup”.  This list includes cups that have been patented but may never have been produced, as well as cups that have been (or continue to be) available to purchase commercially.

1903-coke-US737258-0_web 1903 – Inventor: Coke & Mallalieu
This first of the early designs to actually hold the menstrual blood itself, I would consider this to be the first of the “Menstrual Cups”. Longer and slimmer by appearance, it would seem to have an internal lip to help limit leakage, and the diagram and instructions talk of a ball which floated ontop of the blood, and formed a seal against the internal lip when the cup was full.
https://www.google.com/patents/US737258
1907_nelson_US854593-0_web 1907 – Inventor: Nelson
This patent mentions the device being worn during menstruation, and uses the term “cup” – so I presume it was intended to be used as a menstrual cup-like device and was able to collect menstrual blood. The little string coming from the bottom of the cup was for attaching to a belt (perhaps to stop the feeling of it getting lost)
https://www.google.com/patents/US854593
1914_Jorgenson_US1113561-0_web 1914 – Inventor: Jorgenson
This rather uncomfortable sounding metal (aluminium) receptacle was believed to hold position better in the vagina than the rubber versions previously patented.
https://www.google.com/patents/US1113561
1918_Norquist_US1263797-0_web 1918 – Inventor: Norquist
This design is starting to get closer to what we think of as a modern cup.  The image here shows it side on, as it has a curved shape and ring grip on the base.
https://www.google.com/patents/US1263797
1932_goddard_US1891761-0_web 1932 – Inventor: Goddard
This patent is said to be used for the Daintette and Foldene cups.  So it may be the first cup design to be commercially viable.  Patented for the “Cokzene” company, perhaps this cup was the Foldene?
https://www.google.com/patents/US1891761
1935_hagedorn_US1996242-0_web 1935 – Inventor: Hagedorn
This patent is also referenced for the Daintette and Foldene cups.  The only differences I can see with this and the above cup are the addition of channels (#15) in the wall of the cup and perhaps there were no airholes in the Goddard version as they are mentioned in this patent but not in the other.
https://www.google.com/patents/US1996242
1937_chalmers_US2089113-0_web 1937 – Inventor: Chalmers
Commonly claimed to be the first menstrual cup as we know it, although as you can see, the above cups predate this.  The Keeper and subsequent “modern” cups do however have a shape closer to this cup.
https://www.google.com/patents/US2089113
1950_chalmers_US2534900-0_small2 1950 – Inventor: Chalmers
This patent talks of using a thin rubber with strengthening ribs around the top of the cup and spiraling around the inside.  Intended to be made from much thinner material than her previous design.  Flat tab stem with a hole in it for threading a string onto. The back of this cup was flattened and thicker than the rest of the cup, said to help keep it in place without tipping.  This design also included an air vent (tube) running from the rim of the cup to the base, to help equalize pressure.
http://www.google.com/patents/US2534900
1952_gordon_US2616426-0_web 1952 – Inventor: Gordon
This cup was designed to fit “sideways” like an Insteads Softcup does.
https://www.google.com/patents/US2616426
1968_waldren_tasette_US3404682-0_web 1968 – Inventor: Waldron
This cup was created for the Tassette brand, and would be the disposable “Tassaway” cup they brought out, after their reusable Tassette (which appeared to be the same as the Chalmers cup) didn’t prove cost effective to produce.
https://www.google.com/patents/US3404682
1971_Waldron_Tassaway_US3626942-1_web 1971 – Inventor: Waldron
A slight modification to the above Tassaway menstrual cup, adding stabilising ribs to the bottom of the cup and removing the centre ring.  This design appears to have also made the cup cheaper to produce.
https://www.google.com/patents/US3626942
1974_zoller_US3845766-1_web 1974 – Zoller
I’ve not been able to find reference for this cup anywhere, so it may never have been produced.  Which is a shame, as it looks interesting!  The wavy lines were said to help the cup grip the vaginal walls.
https://www.google.com/patents/US3845766
1986_china_small 1986 – Unknown (Chinese)
This cup has a very long body, designed to be emptied via a hollow tube stem with a stopper on the end to seal it. Presumably the idea was for the stem to protrude out of the vagina so that it could be emptied cleanly. Patent expired in 1992. See full patent info (in Chinese) including pictures here.
https://www.google.com/patents/CN85201219U.

1988 – Inventor: Cattanach (“Gyneaseal” – No patent image available) An Australian balloon-like menstrual flow collection device. Referenced at the Powerhouse Museum & Museum of Menstruationhttps://www.google.com/patents/EP0236457A4http://worldwide.espacenet.com

1992_keeper_USD323212-1_web 1992 – Inventor: Crawford
This patent for a Keeper cup says “showing my new design”. But I could not find an earlier patent. The Keeper was first sold in  1987.  So it may mean the new design compared to previously patented cups from other inventors, or this could be a design of the Keeper that was never put into production.  I have never seen a Keeper in this style.
https://www.google.com/patents/USD323212
1994_contente_US5295984-5_web 1994 – Contente, Rose, Potter
This is the design for the Softcup – made for the Ultrafem company, revised in another patent.  The same cup design was later patented for the Insteads company, after Ultrafem went out of business. Interestingly the patents refer to the product being created for the application of drugs or hormones, and the use for menstrual blood collection is only a minor secondary use.  Patent expired 2013
https://www.google.com/patents/US5295984
1997_chinese_small 1997 – Inventor: Unknown (Chinese)
An “inflatable” menstrual cup with pump. Presumably inserted and then inflated to the desired size to ensure a good fit. The patent doesn’t indicate if the pump is removable or not (I suspect not). Patent expired in 2000.
https://www.google.com/patents/CN2260593Y
See original submitted patent (in Chinese) here.
1998-keeper-US5827248-1_web 1998 – Inventor:  Crawford
Another Keeper patent, this one providing various methods for emptying the cup while leaving the cup in place.  As well as showing the standard Keeper design without the ability to empty the cup via the stem (referenced as an exemplary prior art menstrual cup.)  None of the stem-emptying designs ever seem to have been put into production.  Patent expired 2010.
https://www.google.com/patents/US5827248

2000 – Mooncup UK

2003_zadini_US06540728_web 2003 – Inventor:  Zadini
An inflatable menstrual cup.  The patent also shows alternative versions.  Doesn’t seem to have ever been produced though.  Patent expired 2007
https://www.google.com/patents/US6540728
https://www.google.com/patents/US6746432

2004 – Lunette

2006 – Moon Cup USA

2007 – Femmecup & Yuuki

2008 – Alicia/Hygina, Diva Cup, Lady Cup, Miacup, MPower

2008_Diva_US20080077097A1_web 2008 – Inventor:   Chambers & Chambers
Made for the Diva Cup company, although Diva had been on sale since 2004 (presumably under a “patent pending” status, since the patent was submitted in 2004)
https://www.google.com/patents/US20080077097

2009 – Fleurcup, Green Donna*, MeLuna, Cheers Cup Concept Design.

2010 – Iriscup, Miss Cup/Inciclo, Naturcup, Shecup

2010_sheu_US20100312204A1_small 2010 – Inventor: Miin-Tsang Sheu
This cup design features a reusable outer cup, with a disposable inner “bag” – the idea being that the disposable bag can be added so that it can be removed and the cup wouldn’t need to be cleaned before being used again.  The patent doesn’t explain whether the bag would be flushable or not, it just says it is disposable and replaceable.  Doesn’t seem to have been in production.
https://www.google.com/patents/US20100312204
2011_lee_PCTKR2010004860_web2 2011 – Inventor: Gook Hoon Lee

Spill proof menstrual cup.  Allows blood to flow through into the body of the cup, but not back out again (though how would you empty it easily?).  I’ve not seen a cup with this design – so I don’t think it was ever produced.
https://www.google.com/patents/WO2011013954A2

2010_Chinese01_small 2010 – Inventor:  Unknown (Chinese)
This cup looks similar to the Keeper/Mooncup design.  The patent was granted in 2010 but in 2012 there was a cessation (meaning they no longer own the patent right).  Could be because they didn’t pay to keep it patented? See original submission (in Chinese) with picture here.
https://www.google.com/patents/CN201481625U

2011 – Cup Lee, Juju, Mialuna, Naturalmama, SiBell

2012 – Amulette*, Bella Cup, Female Cup*, Femmycycle, Jasmine*, Lila Cup, Lily Cup, Mami Cup, Organicup, Ruby Cup

2012_lilycompact_small 2012 – Lily Cup Compact
This seems to be the patent for the folding Lily Cup Compact.  The original patent is in Chinese, so the google patent page has a translation. You can see the diagram for this patent in the original submission here (in Chinese) here
http://www.google.com/patents/CN202235938U

2013 – Angel Cup, Copita, Eco Cup/Lybera, La Maleta Roja, Farmacup, Femicup*, Luna Cup, Luv Ur Body, Magga Cup, Sckoon Cup, Victoria Love

2013_Bouhadana_small 2013 – Bouhadana
This cup design was intended for menstrual use as well as for dispensing medications to the vagina. The cup can be emptied via the stem without removing the cup. The stem appears to loop back upon itself as a method for stopping the cup emptying, and straightening this section is how you would drain the cup. See original patent here
https://www.google.com/patents/WO2013108249A1
2014_amycup_small 2014 – Inventor: Pitacco & Coretti
This appears to be the patent for the Amy Cup menstrual cup with applicator. The original patent with artwork can be found here.
https://www.google.com/patents/WO2014015975A1
2014-femmycycle-US08795248_web 2014 – Inventor:   Shihata
Designed for Femmycycle. Non-spill rim design that prevents spillage when emptying as well as helping prevent backflow of menstrual blood.
https://www.google.com/patents/US8795248
2014_zhangyang_PCTCN2012083408_web 2014 – Zhang & TangPatented 2 lots of designs for a menstrual cup with hollow stem & stopper.  Also designs for what appears to be the  “Victoria Love” cup with openings on the sides of the stem to empty the cup from, with a ball to block those openings.
https://www.google.com/patents/WO2014056257A1
https://www.google.com/patents/WO2014056258A1
2014_shaviv_US20140012216A1-20140109-D00003_small 1903 – Inventor: Shaviv
This design talks of flexible resilient ribs connected to a reservoir bag that has an “absorbent element” on the internal walls. So I presume it is somewhat like the design of the Softcup, where the frame is harder and the material between them much softer.  Designed to be inserted with an applicator, this cup is disposable.
https://www.google.com/patents/US20140012216

2014 – Amy Cup, Aneer*, Belle Cup, Cerene/Continuon*, ClariCup, Daisy Cup*, Dutchess Cup*, Gaia Cup*, iCare*, Lamazuna, Melody Susie, Monzcare/Rainbow, My Own Cup, Pinkcopa, Silkycup,

2014/2015 – ALX*, Ava Loona*, Eva Cup, Eve Cup*, Ève Cup, Comfy Cup*, Cozy Cup*, Cup’ax*, Cupissima*,  Diamond Cup*, Dream Lover*, iClean*, Liberty Cup*, Mcup*, Playtamx*, Pretty Woman*, Well Done*, Tulip Cup, VCup,

2015 – Anytime, A Zen Cup*, Bassrose, BioIntimo, Blossom Cup*, Charlene*, Crystal Cup*, Evalina, LaLuna*, Lena, LilCup*, Luno Cup*, Smart Cup*, Super Jennie,

Unknown (suspect between 2013-2015) – Carrefour, Easy Cup, Natu, Smartcup

(*These appear to be existing/copied cups that have been given a new name)


Want to see more old patents for menstrual products (it’s fascinating!!) I’ve collected them here – https://catamenialpatents.wordpress.com

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August 1, 2015 - Posted by | Cup Related

7 Comments »

  1. Impressive work of yours !!! Big bravo ! ;D

    For the anecdote hé :
    “The company collapsed, but 20years later, the Keeper was developed by Ms. Crawford, who had owned a Tassette.”

    (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/04/health/menstrual-cups-at-age-66-begin-to-make-up-for-lost-time.html?pagewanted=1)

    Comment by Quitterie | August 1, 2015

  2. I would have been surprised if Crawford hadn’t owned a Tassette/Tassaway….. if you’re going to create a company selling cups, I’d expect you’d have at least tried ones previously available on the market, as part of research.

    It’s very likely that the Keeper (and Mooncup UK) used the Chalmers design as a basis for their cup design. If you look at the Chalmers/Tassette and Keeper together – http://www.mum.org/4cups.jpg You can see the Keeper is very similar – only the stem design and base of the cup is different.

    Interesting though….. that article says “Francine Chambers, who runs one of the largest Keeper distributorships at the Internet site http://www.keeper.com” – But a Francine Chambers was one of the inventors of the Diva cup – https://www.google.com/patents/US20080077097

    Why would someone who runs a keeper website, invent a Diva cup? And it would seem highly coincidental if they were 2 separate people with the same name. So maybe the article is wrong?

    Comment by obsidian | August 2, 2015

  3. Oh, in particular two sites about this…
    I couldn’t find the info from the first following site, as it looks full of them lol (?), but in the results searches :

    “Francine Chambers – Free Background Check for People in Canada
    http://www.yasni.ca/francine+chambers/check+people
    .. When DivaCup owner Francine Chambers worked in marketing at the Keeper.”

    And :
    “Francine Chambers saw an advertisement for the Keeper five years ago and decided to give it a try. She was so impressed, she bought the business and has been running it full time from her home in Ontario, Canada.”
    (http://www.salon.com/1998/11/30/feature949537669/)

    Comment by Quitterie | August 2, 2015

  4. Had the Keeper been made in silicone by then/ever? That was the main point of difference as I remember it between The Keeper and the Diva cups. The rubber was becoming an issue for anyone sensitive, and you didn’t want an allergy to rubber to stop you using condoms.

    Excellent list, thank you so much. I have used a cup for about 20 years now. I almost had the Australia and NZ license for the Keeper way back in 1999. It is so very awesome to see how far they have come, and how many women are truly shifting their relations with their menstrual flow.

    “Taking responsibility for one’s bleeding ways is part of the reality-based revolution founded between the soft luscious thighs of every woman on the planet!” Inga Musico.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cunt:_A_Declaration_of_Independence

    Viva La Revolution!!

    Comment by gentlylivinggently | August 2, 2015

  5. Quitterie – Very interesting! but it still doesn’t make sense to me……

    Francine Chambers who created the Diva cup is the President/Founder of Diva International Inc (http://divacup.com/about-us/our-story/) I don’t know how to search up details of Incorporated Associations (As the Keeper is) – but this site (not sure if it’s old info or up to date) still lists Lou Crawford as being the President of the Keeper Inc (http://the-keeper-inc.cincinnati.oh.amfibi.company/us/c/1384906-the-keeper-inc)

    That article was dated 1998… so 5 years prior to that would be 1993… Chambers submitted her Diva patent in 2004. If it is the same Francine Chambers, and if that article is correct, then she had already bought the Keeper company in 1993… so why start a new company to sell cups of that Diva design, if she already owned the keeper.

    Also, Francine Chambers of Diva is in Canada, whereas the Keeper website lists it as being in the US.

    Unless she bought the Keeper company after liking the Keeper cup….. then started working on her own design and sold Keeper before submitting the Diva patent and formed her own company to sell Diva? Maybe she had a falling out and went out on her own or something….

    Genlylivinggently – The Silicone cup brought out by the Keeper has an interesting history too… (https://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/mooncup-moon-cup-mcuk/)

    In 2002, Keeper submitted a trademark application for the term “Moon Cup” (as did Mooncup UK – which resulted in a trademark dispute) and registered the mooncup.com domain, and it appears they started selling it in 2006.

    So again, if Chambers had bought the Keeper company in 1993, and the Keeper trademarked the Moon Cup name in 2002….. then the process of creating a silicone version would have been discussed (perhaps even tested) by the time Diva submitted their patent in 2004…

    Comment by obsidian | August 2, 2015

  6. I may be in love. I need this research for a personal project of mine. Is it free to share? Please and thank you!

    Comment by Kate Hu | July 23, 2016

  7. You can share the link to it as much as you’d like, but please don’t copy and paste the actual information from the site.

    Comment by obsidian | August 5, 2016


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