The history of the menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are all the rage right now and are becoming more popular each day. But where do menstrual cups come from and how long have they actually been around? I’m sure many of us feel like they’ve just popped out of nowhere, but there’s actually quite a bit of history behind them with the first “cup-like” device created as early as the 1860s! Most of these early designs look like something from a torture scene in a movie, include some sort of sack to catch the blood and a belt to keep the device in place. Some of them were also made from metal and had wires attached to it. Thank goodness for modern technology today!

The first menstrual cup was bullet shaped and patented in 1932 by McGlasson and Perkins a midwifery group. In 1937, American actress and singer Leona Chalmers patented her version of the menstrual cup which was the first cup commercially available in the US. Her cup was made out of rubber and didn’t need anything to hold it in place as it was designed to be secured by the pelvic floor muscles. Most cups today still look very similar to her cup design. World War 2 created a shortage of rubber so Leona was forced to stop production of the cup, but once the war ended she resumed production again. Due to stigma surrounding putting things into their vaginas as well as touching their vaginas many women stayed clear from using menstrual cups. It was also seen as taboo because it was believed that women could lose their virginity from using the cup.

From the 1950s to 1973, Leona partnered with a large corporation in the US called Tassette and created a new cup including a disposable cup called the Tassaway to try and compete with the popularity of disposable pads and tampons at the time. Again, the cup was unsuccessful and the partnership ended in 1973.

About a decade later in the 1980s a new company introduced their version of the menstrual cup called The Keeper, which was inspired by Leona’s original design. The Keeper was made of latex rubber and sold in the US and internationally. It’s still very popular as many people still use it today and it can be found online.

In the 2000s medical-grade silicone gained popularity and started being used as the primary material to produce menstrual cups because it’s softer, hypoallergenic and bacteria resistant unlike rubber. In 2001 the Moon Cup in the UK was the first company to use silicone as the standard material to produce menstrual cups. In 2003 the Diva Cup was introduced to the market and in 2005 the Lunette Cup was introduced, and today there are hundreds of brands to choose from! When choosing a menstrual cup it’s important that it’s made from medical-grade silicone, is antibacterial and hypoallergenic. There’s a lot of cheaper options on the market which look and sound appealing but their quality is extremely poor.