How much does an average menstrual cup hold?

Menstrual cups have become an increasingly popular alternative to pads and tampons in recent years. As reusable products made from medical-grade silicone, rubber or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), menstrual cups collect menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. This makes them an eco-friendly and cost-effective option for many menstruators. But how much can the average menstrual cup actually hold? Let’s take a closer look.

What is a Menstrual Cup?

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Once in place, it collects and holds menstrual blood rather than absorbing it like a pad or tampon.

Menstrual cups are usually shaped like a bell or cone and have a stem at the bottom for easy removal. They are made of soft, medical-grade materials like silicone, rubber or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) which allows them to conform to the shape of the vagina.

Here are some key features of menstrual cups:

– Reusable – Can be used for up to 10 years with proper care
– Cost-effective – Much cheaper than buying pads/tampons in the long run
– Eco-friendly – Produce far less waste compared to disposable products
– Comfortable – Can’t be felt when inserted correctly
– Holds more – Up to 3x the amount of fluid compared to a tampon
– Safe – Made of non-toxic materials and do not cause TSS

Menstrual cups collect fluid in the cup itself, rather than absorbing it. When full, they are simply emptied, rinsed and reinserted. This makes them a convenient and reliable option for many menstruators.

Measuring Menstrual Cup Capacity

The capacity or volume of a menstrual cup refers to how much menstrual fluid it can collect before needing to be emptied. This is usually measured in milliliters (ml).

Menstrual cup capacity can range from 10ml to 40ml, depending on the size and style of the cup. Here are some general guidelines:

– Low capacity – Approximately 10-20ml
– Medium capacity – Approximately 20-30ml
– High capacity – Approximately 30-40ml

Low capacity cups are recommended for light flows, while medium and high capacity cups are better for heavy flows. Capacity is also related to cup size – smaller cups hold less fluid than larger cups.

It’s important to note that menstrual cup capacity does not correlate exactly to absorbency. For example, a cup with a higher capacity may not necessarily last longer before leaking compared to a lower capacity cup. Factors like cervix height, flow rate, and cup shape also impact effectiveness.

Average Menstrual Cup Capacity

The average capacity of a menstrual cup falls within the medium range – approximately 20-30ml.

To put this into perspective, here is how the average menstrual cup capacity compares:

– A regular tampon holds around 5-10ml
– A super tampon holds around 10-15ml
– A regular pad holds around 10-60ml depending on thickness

So on average, one menstrual cup holds about 3-4 times as much fluid as one regular tampon. This means it doesn’t have to be changed as frequently – usually every 4-12 hours.

According to, the average woman’s menstrual flow over a whole period is around 2-4 ounces (60-120ml). So an average capacity menstrual cup can hold roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of a full cycle’s flow before emptying.

Keep in mind every woman’s flow is different. Lighter flows may only partially fill even a low capacity cup over the course of a whole period. Heavier flows may require emptying high capacity cups more frequently.

Comparing Menstrual Cup Sizes and Capacities

Menstrual cups typically come in two sizes – small and large. The size corresponds to both the diameter of the cup as well as its capacity:

Cup Size Diameter Average Capacity
Small 1.41″ – 1.61″ (40mm) Approx. 20ml
Large 1.57″ – 1.77″ (45mm) Approx. 30ml

As shown in the table, small cups generally have an average capacity around 20ml, while large cups have a capacity around 30ml.

The small size is recommended for those under 30 years old who have never given birth vaginally. The large size is better for those over 30 or who have given birth as the vaginal canal is wider.

However, some brands offer a third size option as well:

– X-Small – For teenagers or petite women who need a narrower diameter
– XX-Large – For those who need very high capacity

When selecting a menstrual cup, considerations like flow level, age, and childbirth can help determine the ideal capacity.

Menstrual Cup Capacity by Brand

While small cups average 20ml and large average 30ml, capacity can vary slightly by brand and style.

Here is a comparison of capacity ranges for some top menstrual cup brands:

Brand Small Capacity Large Capacity
DivaCup 21ml 30ml
Lunette 20ml 30ml
Saalt 23ml 30ml
Lena 20ml 30ml
SckoonCup 20ml 30ml
Super Jennie 15ml 30ml
Tampax Cup 15ml 25ml

While there is some variation, most major brands fall into the average small capacity range of 20ml and large capacity range of 25-30ml. So you can expect a typical small cup to hold around 20ml and a typical large to hold 25-30ml regardless of brand.

Variables that Impact Menstrual Cup Capacity

It’s important to note that menstrual cup capacity doesn’t tell the whole story. How often a cup needs to be emptied will depend on several variables:

Flow Level – Heavier flows will fill up cups faster than lighter flows, requiring more frequent emptying. Those with a very heavy flow may need a higher capacity cup.

Cup Style – Bell shaped cups may have a higher capacity than a “V” shaped cup even if branded the same size.

Cup Firmness – Softer cups tend to conform better to the vaginal walls so may hold slightly more.

Positioning – If a cup is not fully open or positioned correctly under the cervix it will not fill to maximum capacity.

Activity Level – Active wearers may experience some splilling/leaking if cup is very full.

Cervix Height – A low cervix takes up space in the cup, reducing overall capacity.

So while size and milliliter measurements can offer a general guideline for cup capacity, real-world results will vary based on individual factors like these.

How to Determine Your Ideal Cup Capacity

With so many variables involved, how can you determine what cup capacity is right for your flow? Here are some tips:

– Track your flow – Note how often you usually change tampons/pads (every 2 hours, 4 hours etc). More frequent changes indicate a need for higher capacity.

– Consider flow consistency – Stringy, thick flows may require more capacity than more liquid flows.

– Determine cervix height – A very low cervix will reduce overall cup space so you may need higher capacity to compensate.

– Start with average – Try a standard 20-30ml cup first before sizing up or down.

– Consider activity levels – If very active, a slightly higher capacity can help prevent spills.

– Read reviews – See what other users with similar flows prefer in terms of cup capacity.

– Pick adjustable capacity – Some cups like the Lily Cup One have adjustable suction holes to modify capacity as needed.

– Monitor results – Pay attention to leaking, overflowing and how often you empty to determine if your capacity is sufficient. Adjust as needed.

The ideal menstrual cup capacity is unique for each person. While the averages give a good starting point, being aware of individual factors can help determine the perfect fit.

Tips for Using a Menstrual Cup to Capacity

To get the most out of your menstrual cup’s capacity, here are some usage tips:

– Ensure proper insertion so cup seals fully open under cervix

– Angle cup toward back wall of vagina rather than straight up

– Rotate cup to fully unfold and spread out inside

– Push cup up firmly so it’s not hanging too low

– Check stem is inside vagina – trimmed stem takes up space

– Break seal before removing to avoid spills; pinch cup to release suction

– Empty cup when 3/4 full; don’t wait until completely full

– Rinse cup thoroughly between uses and sanitize at end of cycle

Following insertion, care, and emptying best practices will help your cup live up to its maximum potential capacity. Testing different folds, angles, and positions can also make a difference.


Should I choose menstrual cup capacity based on my age or if I’ve given birth?

Cup capacity is not dependent on age or childbirth status – focus more on matching it to your flow. However, vaginal width does increase with age and childbirth, so larger cups may fit more comfortably if you are over 30 or have given birth vaginally.

Is a higher capacity cup better?

Not necessarily – higher capacity cups are only needed for very heavy flows to reduce emptying frequency. Otherwise, an average capacity cup is sufficient for most. Too high capacity can make cups cumbersome to insert and open.

Can I use a low capacity cup even if I have a heavy flow?

It’s possible, but you would need to empty it very frequently to prevent leaking, which reduces the convenience factor. It’s recommended to choose a cup that fits your flow level.

How does cup capacity compare to tampons?

On average, a regular tampon holds 5-10ml while an average menstrual cup holds 20-30ml – so cups hold 2-3x as much fluid as tampons before needing to be changed.

Do cups leak when full?

A properly inserted cup should not leak, even when full. Leaking is usually caused by incorrect positioning, weak suction, or a cup that is too small for your flow rather than being too full.

The Bottom Line

The average menstrual cup capacity ranges from 20-30ml, with small cups around 20ml and large around 25-30ml. This holds about 2-3 times as much fluid as a regular tampon before needing to be changed.

While the average capacities can provide guidelines, the ideal amount varies based on individual factors like flow level, activity, cervix height, and positioning. Tracking your own cycles and experimenting with different cup sizes can help determine the perfect capacity match.

Remember that cup capacity is just one factor in finding the right menstrual cup. Assessing aspects like shape, firmness, ease of use, and comfort is also key – a cup that fits your body well is the most important consideration, regardless of the milliliter measurement.

Leave a Comment