Medical grade silicone is a type of silicone that has been developed for safe use in contact with living tissue, a property known as biocompatibility.
TPE is a sort of rubber-like material.
Latex is a liquid material extracted from a tree, but the word latex also refers to the natural rubber produced from this extract.
|Cup material||Min. advertised lifespan||Max. advertised lifespan||Recyclable|
|Silicone||1 year||10 years||No|
|TPE||5 years||10 years||Yes|
|Natural rubber||N/A||10 years||No|
What is the lifespan of medical-grade silicone cups?
Life expectancy data for medical-grade silicone cups in the menstrual cup industry is a bit skewed - it ranges from 1 year all the way up to 10 years!
There's no consensus between the different brands.
Let me try to explain.
What did the mama cow say to the baby cow? "It's pasture bedtime."
Milk comes from cows and lasts a couple of weeks before it turns sour.
It doesn't matter if it's milk from a cow here in Sweden or from a cow in the United States.
It's the same type of milk, with the same type of properties.
The same principle should apply to menstrual cups (cow) made of medical-grade silicone (milk).
But it doesn't.
Instead, each individual menstrual cup brand (cow) has come up with their own recommendation (milk).
Let me clarify.
All silicone-based menstrual cup brands use the same type of raw material - medical-grade silicone.
But advertise completely different numbers in terms of how long their cups last.
(I've got my own ideas as to why, but let's leave my personal opinions aside.)
Which in certain cases is totally misleading - you'll see that later in this post.
If it's the same material (milk), then how come that number differs?
I mean sure, the actual expiration date on milk can vary by a couple of days, or maybe up to a week or two, depending on how you store it and other factors, but not years!
I think you get the point.
And no, milk is not used as an ingredient in menstrual cups, and no cows were harmed during the making of this article.
Other types of platinum-cured silicone rubber products and their "library-life"/"shelf-life"
Medical-grade silicone also referred to as silicone rubber, is a rubber-like material that can stretch.
It is known for its biocompatibility, durability, and versatility.
It's a useful material for everything from durable and safe cook-/bakeware, baby bottle nipples, scuba mouthpieces, to food and skin contact products.
There are different types of silicone rubber commercially available.
The type of material used for menstrual cups, and most medical parts, is called LSR (Liquid Silicone Rubber).
This is the stuff that is pumped directly into the molding machine.
There are different ways to "cure" the liquid silicone rubber.
Curing is a chemical process during which the material transitions from a liquid or gel to a solid.
For menstrual cups, platinum-cured silicone is recommended.
Library-life or shelf-life refers to how long a rubber mold lasts in your "mold library"/shelf.
Baking molds, ice trays, skin effects, and other movie special effects, for example, are also made of platinum-cured silicone.
These types of products last 30+ years.
What is the lifespan of TPE cups?
I know of three TPE menstrual cup brands:
- Hello Cup
- Me Luna
- Genial Day
There might be more but these are the most well-known in the menstrual cup business at the time of this writing.
The lifespan of these TPE cups is advertised as 5 years for the Hello Cup, 10 years for Genial Day, and 5-10 years for the Me Luna (On their future packaging the lifespan will be advertised as 3 years - see About the lifespan of Me Luna below).
About the lifespan of Me Luna
The lifespan on the current packaging is advertised as 5-10 years.
Due to FDA regulations, Me Luna can only claim service life that has been substantiated in third party testing.
Me Luna cups have been tested for 3 years.
And that's also the information that you'll find on their future packaging.
What is the lifespan of cups made of natural rubber (latex)?
There are two menstrual cup brands on the market that I know of:
- The Keeper Cup
- Fair Squared Period Cup
The lifespan of The Keeper Cup is advertised as 10 years.
And unfortunately, I couldn't find any info on the Fair Squared Period Cup.
But it should be about the same (?).
The lifespan of popular menstrual cups: In their own words
There are over 200 menstrual cup brands in the world.
And here is 21 of them and what they have to say about the lifespan of their cups.
16 of the 21 brands listed use medical-grade silicone for their cups.
3 brands use TPE.
2 brands use latex (natural rubber).
With proper care, The Blossom cup has a potential life expectancy of up to 10 years.
The Cora cup can last up to 10 years, but you should replace it if you see any tears or holes.
Because the DivaCup is a medical device we recommend that you replace it annually.
Your Dot cup can be safely used for up to 10 years!
With proper care, the EvaCup can last you for many years.
Fair Squared Period Cup
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any info on this one.
Femmecup is reusable and lasts around 5 years.
Reusable for up to 2 years.
Fleurcup has a lifespan of several years if it is well maintained.
It can be reused for five to ten years under normal use.
Lasts for years with proper care.
Lasts up to 10 years.
One cup will last five years.
With proper care, it can last from 5-10 years.
I couldn't find any information for this one either.
You can safely use your Lunette for several years — there's no need to replace it annually, however, the FDA recommends replacing the cup every two to three years.
Depending on appropriate use and maintenance, Me Luna have shown in a wear test conducted by a third party lab that they can withstand a minimum of 3 years of wear.
Even though our menstrual cups are made to last, it is advisable to replace your cup every 2-3 years.
It is reusable for up to 10 years.
The Saalt Cup is made of durable silicone that can last up to 10 years with proper care.
The Keeper Cup
The potential life expectancy of The Keeper – with proper care (ex: no contact with harsh chemicals) – can be up to 10 years.
When should you replace your cup?
You should consider buying a new cup if it has any tears, holes, it's ripped, torn, or you notice signs of wear or deterioration.
If it's severely discolored or has a strong odor try sterilizing it first, and/or soaking it in household 3-percent hydrogen peroxide and see if that fixes your problem.
How often you should replace your cup is ultimately up to you.
Use your discretion and common sense to decide how often to change your cup.
How to recycle your menstrual cup when it expires
Maybe you've had your cup for a very long time and it's time to replace it.
Or maybe you have more than one cup because it took you a couple of cups before finding the perfect cup for your body and now you don't need them anymore.
What to do with your menstrual cup once you stop using it is an entire post of its own so I'm just going to scratch the surface in this one.
Here are some of the things that you can do:
- Talk to your local recycling facility and ask them if they can take your menstrual cup.
- Check with your local hospital - they recycle/dispose of tons of medical devices/parts.
- Ask your local sex toy manufacturer.
- Use it for your next DIY idea.
- (Medical-grade silicone cups) Burn it. Burning silicone is rather safe.
TPE cups are cyclable.
Medical-grade silicone and rubber cups are not recyclable.
How often you should replace your cup, or how long it will last depends on a lot of factors.
With proper care, your cup can last up to 10 years.
Ultimately it's up to you to decide when to replace your cup.
And you saw the varying lifespan advice from each menstrual cup brand.
How often do you replace your cup?