I wanted to address this issue, as it seems to be relevant in many cases of the newer cup brands that keep popping up, and I wanted to make consumers aware of the possibility of this practice.
I found this interesting cup quiz! It asks a few questions and suggests a cup that might be suitable for you. (I got Lena when I did it).
That site also has a great video of inserting a menstrual cup, using an anatomical model.
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 – 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.
|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)
|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.
|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.
|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?
|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.
|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.
|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.
|1952 – Inventor: Gordon
This cup was designed to fit “sideways” like an Insteads Softcup does.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
1988 – Inventor: Cattanach (“Gyneaseal” – No patent image available) An Australian balloon-like menstrual flow collection device. Referenced at the Powerhouse Museum & Museum of Menstruation. https://www.google.com/patents/EP0236457A4 & http://worldwide.espacenet.com
|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.
|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
|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.
See original submitted patent (in Chinese) here.
|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.
2000 – Mooncup UK
|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
2004 – Lunette
2006 – Moon Cup USA
2007 – Femmecup & Yuuki
2008 – Alicia/Hygina, Diva Cup, Lady Cup, Miacup, MPower
|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)
2009 – Fleurcup, Green Donna*, MeLuna, Cheers Cup Concept Design.
2010 – Iriscup, Miss Cup/Inciclo, Naturcup, Shecup
|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.
|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.
|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.
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 – 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
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
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
|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.
|2014 – Inventor: Shihata
Designed for Femmycycle. Non-spill rim design that prevents spillage when emptying as well as helping prevent backflow of menstrual blood.
|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.
|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.
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
Want to find an actual physical (“Bricks and mortar”) store that sell menstrual cups, anywhere around the world? Well now you can!
The map shows stockist information from the official cup brand websites, with identifying logos for each brand to help you see which cups are available where.
Regardless of the brand/type of cup – thinking only of the colour. What colour (or colours) would you most want to have your ideal cup made from.
I’ll give options of just colour name, feel free to elaborate on the type of shade (dark, light, “grass green”, “aqua blue” for example) in the comments.
For clarification, by “clear” I mean completely clear – no colouring. The other colours I’m assuming to be coloured but still transparent. If you prefer an opaque (non-see thru) cup, please comment to specify that
— I thought this might help cup manufacturers get an idea of what colours are popular.
Mademoicell was designed to collect menstrual blood to be used for stem cells. Where you would ship the full cup to a lab to have the stem cells extracted and stored.
It is not clear whether these were actually ever commercially available, or if they were a conceptual design only
A menstrual cup is form of reusable menstrual protection. It is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluids. Once in place it forms a seal, preventing blood flowing out of the vagina by collecting it in its “cup” shaped reservoir. Unlike a tampon which absorbs the blood along with the vagina’s natural secretions, a menstrual cup simply holds the fluids until you remove it – so they do not dry out the vagina and do not hold the TSS risk that tampons do.
They hold around 20-30ml, which is for most women will cope with a full day without emptying, and at most perhaps you would need to empty it a few times a day for a very heavy flow. A menstrual cup will last (with proper care) for around 10 years, perhaps longer, so while the initial outlay is high, it pays for itself with savings pretty quick.
This is a sister site to www.ecomenses.com. For information on cloth pads, please check that website.
This blog is a place to find information about the different cup brands I know about. All the brands I am aware of, are listed in the menu – Clicking on these brand-name links will take you to a page of information I have about them.
InfoMaster Cup List
Cups with no details
Nameless (cheap) cups
Cheap Cup Safety/Ethics
Coloured Cup Safety
My Cup Ratings
Cup Comparison Charts
Open letter to Cup Companies
Cup Cleaning & Cleaning products
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Cup Brands – Unique Designs(These brands are either the first or only cups to feature their particular style, which is visually unique enough they would not be mistaken for another brand)
Dans ma Culotte
Eco-cup / Lybera
Green Cup of Maine
InCiclo / Miss Cup
Luv Ur Body
Moon Cup (USA)
My Own Cup
Cup Brands – Non-unique(Cups that look similar to other designs in that they could be difficult to tell apart, as well as suspected "rebranded" cups that are the same design but named differently)
Afreecup, ALX Cup, Amulette, Aneer, Anytime, Aphrodite, Athena, Ava Loona, A Zen Cup, BeCup, Beianyi, Biointimo, Blossom Cup, Casco Cup, Cerene, Charlene, Claricup, Cleo Cup, ComfyCup, Continuon, CozyCup, Crystal Cup, Cup'ax, Cupissima, Cuplette, Daisy Cup, Diamond Cup, Dream Lover, Dutchess Cup, Eco Clean, Easy Cup, Easy Cups, Ella Cup, Eve Cup (Femfulness), Femalecup, Femallay, Femcup, FemiCup, Feminesse, Femma's Cup, Femme Essentials, Girlies Cup, Goddess Cup, Green Donna, GynCup, Happy Girl Cup, Hengsong, Holy Cup, Hygina, iCare, iClean, Improving Birth Cup, Intimate Rose, Ivita, Jasmine Cup, Klivee, Korui, Intima / La Maleta Roja, Leasen Cup, Liberty Cup, Lil Cup, Lincup, Lis Cup, Lola Cup, Luna Cup #2, Luna Cup #3, Luno Cup, Mahina / La Luna, Mcup, Melody Susie, Menocup OB, Menstro Cup, Mi Cup, Mina Cup, Nabelle, NaturalMama, Nez Bling, Nude'up, Pelvi, Pixie Cup, Playtamx, PrettyWoman, Princess Cup, Puramour/Inticup/Dream Lover, Rainbow Cup, Rustic Art, Smartcup #2, Sunsmiler, Sure Cycle, The Flower Pot, Vida Cup, Vijay Cup, Vubino, WellDone, Wow Eva, Xabian
DisclaimerInformation provided here is believed to be accurate, but please contact me if you find a problem.
Images used are either from the official websites or are taken of my own cups (or other sources used with permission) If you represent one of the official sites and would like images of your product removed, please let me know and I will do so.
Information on care or use provided here is for reference purposes only, and the author is not responsible for any harm caused by use of this information.
Please don't ask for advice - I am offering information here based on what I have found online or experienced myself. I am not a professional and I cannot give advice to you about what would work for your personal situation.
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All images of menstrual cups taken by Obsidian and the text on this website are copyright Obsidian 2008-2016 and may not be reproduced without permission. Photographs used from brand websites/listings are done for informative/review purposes and the rights remain with their respective owners.
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