Well, friends. This is really happening, I’m talking about something I literally never thought I’d discuss publicly — my period. More specifically, my Lily Cup compact review and why I’m switching to menstrual cups anyway!
Back in 2019, I finally made the switch to a reusable period cup. While I was in Target, I popped over and picked up the Lily Cup Compact to try out, and now here are — nearly 3,000 words of a review and guide!
I may be crossing a line on oversharing. However, this is the kind of excruciating guide and commiseration I was looking for when trying to figure out my newly purchased cup, so I hope some poor, struggling girl benefits from all this!
2022 Update: Just a heads up, I’m adding little updates to this lily cup compact review because I’ve now been using my lily cup compact for 3 years, and some things have changed. For starters, I tried switching to a different cup twice because I wanted something that held more, but I wound up coming back. I’m also on birth control now, so my periods are lighter. All this is to say, I still use the same combo as I did in 2019 – the lily cup and my THINX underwear for heavier days!
Why Menstrual Cups
Before I begin with this lily cup compact review, let’s dive into why on earth I’d want to switch to menstrual cups in the first place. Tampons have served me quite well for the last 16 years, why abandon them now? Here are my reasons.
Cups are obviously more eco-friendly.
The number one reason I even wanted to start using a menstrual cup is because of how wasteful tampons are. I mean, when I think of my favorite tampon, it’s the Playtex sport glide ones with plastic applicators. Even the tampon material itself takes a long time to decompose.
Tampons vary from country to country
Tampons are not always available in every country, and even when they are, they may not be the kind you’re used to. They weren’t available in Morocco outside of some Carrefours, so I had to pick up some pads at a pharmacy. Do you know how not comfortable it is to wear a pad in the middle of a Moroccan summer?!
Also, when I was in South Africa, I quickly realized what a non-applicator tampon was. Whoooooo-wheee that was a shock.
A cup is cheaper in the long run
You can buy the Lily Cup Compact for $30 USD and even less when there are sales going on.
From personal experience, I’ve used super tampons on my heaviest days and regular tampons on my lighter days. I probably swap them out 5-6 times in a 24 hour period, which for a lighter period means maybe 5 days of switches. At the absolute minimum, this means I go through 25 tampons per month. I found my favorite tampons, the Playtex Sport, in a multipack for $7 with a total of 36 tampons.
So if we do the math, I go through about one box of tampons about every 1 1/2 periods. A Lily Cup pays for itself after 4 months. Not to mention saves you 100 discarded tampons and applicators in the same time frame.
When well cared for, one of the Lily Cups can last up to a decade (the Ziggy Cup is thinner, so it’s only good for 2 years). That’s like 3,000 tampons you’d use otherwise!
It’s very comfortable once you’re used to it
I’m telling you, it’s easy sailing once you’ve learned to relax and have gotten used to inserting it. I’ve worked out in mine and obviously slept in it. I know I read some people were concerned about your period blood, like, sloshing against your cervix when doing yoga, but…. no. You’ll be fine. That sloshing is not a thing.
Also, I should point out for any younger readers whose overly zealous parents somehow think inserting anything into your vagina means losing your virginity… Just no. That is also not a thing. None of the creepy ways society has told us to look for virginity loss are real metrics. Please read up on it and then have your parents talk to a doctor.
The Lily Cup Compact Review
Like I said, I kind of got the Lily Cup Compact on a whim when I went into Target. I’d been meaning to pick up some sort of menstrual cup for over a year, and for one reason or another I just never got around to it. I fully planned on just getting the most popular Diva Cup, but when I went to look for it, I discovered quite the variety of cup brands!
After looking at all the packages, I decided to go with the Lily Cup Compact because it looked the nicest for travel. My research was limited to scanning the boxes quickly and doing one rough Google search.
2022 Update: Like I said above, I’ve since wound up trying two other brands. I *think* the first one was Salt but it’s been a while, so I don’t remember. The second was the original Diva cup, which I was excited for because it could hold so much more blood. I tried for a few cycles, and no matter what I did, the cup just never sealed properly. I was leaking constantly, which is truly annoying.
The Lily Cup Compact Itself
- Good For: travel, lower cervixes, lighter periods
- Size Options: A or B
- Holds: A holds 18ml, B holds 23ml
- Cons: Doesn’t hold nearly as much as others
- Buy here
So the cup, compared to other styles, actually folds up like an accordion and you can store it in this little pink container. I thought that was absolutely brilliant for travel since I could just put it in my toiletries bag.
The cup’s made with 100% medical grade silicone and comes in two sizes — Size A and Size B. I purchased a Size A as it’s meant for women who haven’t given birth vaginally. Size B is for women who have or women who have a weak pelvic floor.
Now that I have done a bit of research, I do wish I had gotten a cup that held more. It’d be nice not to switch things out 3-4 times on the heaviest days like I have to do now.
2022 Update: With birth control, my heaviest day is much lighter than it used to be. I probably swap it out 1-2 times max.
Other Types of Lily Cups
There are three other types of cups Intimina sells. Here are the quick facts for each of them:
Lily Cup Original
- Good For: light to heavy flows, beginner cup users
- Size Options: A or B
- Holds: A holds 28ml, B holds 32ml
- Cons: Not as travel-friendly as others
- Buy here
The original Lily Cup is supposed to fold as small as a tampon, which I think would have made my first cup experience much easier. If I try for a 4th cup, this is the one I’ll try.
Lily Cup One
- Good For: teens, beginners, travel
- Size Options: one size
- Holds: 21 ml
- Buy here
This is meant for younger teens and is a similar design as the Lily Cup Compact, though it holds more. It has a little loop at the bottom of the cup too, which makes it easier to get out.
- Good For: can use during sex
- Size Options: one size
- Holds: 76ml
- Cons: Shape is very different, so may be a learning curve, doesn’t last as long
- Buy here
The Ziggy Cup is supposed to hold the most and is supposed to the most comfortable. It only lasts two years though, which is 1/5 of the others!
How to Use the Cup
Before I get into my experience using the cup, here’s a quick guide on how you should use it.
1. Boil the cup in water
As the directions say, before you use your cup for the first time, put it in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes. (And obviously let it dry and cool off beforehand!)
2. Wash your hands
I hope this is really self-explanatory.
3. Get comfortable.
I mean comfortable. This is going to be a very invasive experience, especially if you’re not used to really dealing with your nether regions or are a virgin. I so, so do not recommend trying out the cup for the first time while traveling or in an unfamiliar bathroom.
Looking back, I realize part of why my first trial run with the cup was so difficult is because I was in my friend’s bathroom. The toilet is kind of in its own nook, so if you spread your knees too wide, you hit the walls on each side. At least for your first few days with the cup, you want to be able to spread out as much as possible.
4. Fold the cup to insert
There are two ways to fold it that work decently well. The first is called a C fold, where you fold it in half and then half again. The second, which I find myself doing more, is called the half V fold, where you kind of tuck in one side until it folds intoitself.
Anyway you do it should be okay. You just want it to be thin enough to get up there. It’s gonna take a lot of trial and error, I’m just warning you.
5. Insert it
They say insert it like a tampon, and, yeah, kind of like a tampon, but it’s going to be a lot trickier at first! In case you didn’t know, silicon is a little bendier than a plastic or cardboard applicator! And, I dunno, maybe a decade of tampons has made them easy for me, but you’ve gotta get way more intimate with your vagina using a cup.
2022 Note: Actually, funnily enough I finally went to an OBGYN to get a pap smear (I know, like a decade later than I should have), and I was so nervous it was going to hurt. However, it felt like nothing, and my OBGYN actually said, “Oh yeah, I should’ve told you! Because you’re used to using a period cup, this isn’t as much of a shock a sit is to someone who only uses tampons or pads.”
I guess, my best tip is to, again, relax as much as possible and instead of aiming up, aim it towards your back/spine a bit since that’s how the vagina canal is actually positioned. Aiming straight up will just result in you poking yourself.
If you’re struggling, I recommend trying a bit of water or actually going back to CVS or Target and getting some lubricant. Intimina does sell a feminine moisturizer. That’s what I was planning on doing if my second round didn’t get any better.
6. Make sure it’s sealed
I’m going to be honest, I still don’t really know how you can tell. After inserting it so many times, I figure it just is. Use a pad or THINX while you’re still getting used to the cup just to prevent any leakage.
Intimina recommends taking the bottom bit and twisting it a bit to make sure things are sealed. The first few times I literally did not have the space to do that, and even now I’m not sure how it helps me tell.
2022 Update: At this point, I still don’t know how I can tell, but I’ve used the Lily cup so many times I just know. With the Diva cup, it always felt sealed and then I’d be running and feel a leak, which is truly inconvenient when you’re a mile or two from home.
7. To remove
When it’s time to remove, you want to reach in and basically pinch the base to break the seal. Once you’re used to it, you should be able to smoothly pull it out and dump it in the toilet. If you’re in a public restroom, they say to just wipe it down with toilet paper if you can’t rinse it off in the sink. I’ve only changed mine at a private bathroom, so I’ve always immediately rinsed it off with warm water.
On the site it says it can be worn up to 12 hours, but I needed to change mine 3-4 times on my heaviest days pre-birth control and 1-2 times on birth control.
Also, for those wondering, yes, you can use the bathroom like normal with your cup in. It’s actually more comfortable than tampons. I never could go while still wearing a tampon because it grossed me out thinking something could get onto the string.
8. To Clean
During your period, you can just clean your cup with warm water and soap in between uses. At the end of your period, boil it in some water and baking soda to really cleanse and sanitize it. I definitely recommend NOT skipping this step. The light pink material gets stained quickly if you do skip.
My Experience with the Lily Cup Compact
My first round with the Lily Cup Compact was a hot, hot mess. When Autumn told me about using it in Morocco, she made it sound so easy and matter-of-fact, I was like, “Oh, okay, let me get on this.” After all, the thought of never using tampons or pads again sounded like a dream for me and for the environment.
It was not remotely matter-of-fact.
When I first got back from Target and was ready to use the cup, it took me at least twenty minutes to get it in. I could not relax enough. Like I genuinely sat in my friend’s bathroom and thought, “Do I have some sort of condition that I wasn’t aware of until this very moment?”
When I finally got it in, it was okay but I still wore my THINX as backup. I was not convinced it was sealed.
Anyway, when it came time to take it out, I decided to do this while in the shower because I was fully ready for it to look like a massacre had just occurred. I turned on the shower and then followed what I thought were pretty simple instructions to pinch the base and gently wriggle the thing out.
Except, I couldn’t really get my thumb and finger in there comfortably and even when I did manage to pinch something, nothing budged. This went on for so long, I turned off the water so I wouldn’t waste it! There was a good few minutes where I thought I’d end up in the ER with a menstrual cup stuck in me. Do you know what the US healthcare system is like? I can’t afford an ER visit!
Anyway, I finally got it out, and it obviously hurt because I definitely didn’t get it out the right way.
I’m just warning you guys, especially those of you who have not had to get so intimately acquainted with your vagina, the first week is actual hell. I cannot emphasize enough to not start using a cup unless you know you’re near a comfortable bathroom.
Luckily, I went home during my period, so I was able to try it out in my most familiar bathroom. I was ready to throw in the towel and just start looking up sustainable tampon brands, but I figured I’d try it out one more time.
What do you know? It went right up! I guess I relaxed enough, but my final try was smooth sailing both inserting and removing. I’ve since gone through a second round with the cup, and it’s been completely easy going. I’m even comfortable removing it over the toilet instead of the shower, knowing it’s not going to get everywhere.
2022 Update: Three years in, and using this cup is pretty automatic now! I’ve been all over the world with it in all sorts of random bathrooms, and never had an issue.
Final Quick Tips in this Lily Cup Compact Review
Use the shower
Until you’re comfortable taking the cup in and out, definitely use your shower. One of my friends, when she tried using a Diva Cup, had to take hers out in a public restroom and actually spilled it on the floor. Suffice to say, it scarred her from using it again. A shower is just a safe space to practice where if anything goes awry, it’ll just get all cleaned up easily and quickly.
Relax, relax, relax
I cannot emphasize this enough. This is especially important for virgins or anyone who doesn’t deal with their private parts too often. It’s going to be quite a shock trying to use it at first, but just breathe through.
Also, of course, don’t be afraid to get some sort of lubricant or “a feminine moisturizer” until you get used to things.
Get over the blood.
Just get over it now. I’m sure you’re going to deal with grosser things in life. If you’ve babysat or had a pet, you’ve dealt with poop. When or if you have kids, you’re probably going to have to deal with a whole slew of bodily expulsions. And at the very least, if you make it to old age, chances are you’re going to deal with adult diapers.
Period blood is not that bad and no one is asking you to collect it! Just wash it all off and go about your day.
Do better research than me
In retrospect, the Lily Cup Compact wasn’t the best cup to get for my first foray into menstrual cups. You know when you watch a review, and the girl who’s been using one for a year says she struggled, you picked a difficult one. I’m totally comfortable with the cup now, but I think a lot of my struggles with it the first week were because it’s a bit trickier to use.
And there you have it! My Lily Cup Compact review. Have you gotten aboard the menstrual cup train yet?
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