I never thought I would do a menstrual cup applicator review but after many messages, I decided to take the plunge (get it?) and order one. They’re surprisingly hard to locate in the US. I had to order through an IG follower in Brazil who then sent the package to me in the US. I chose to order the Fleurity menstrual cup applicator with the intention of trying it with another menstrual cup brand, the Flex.
Why use a menstrual cup applicator?
Initially, I didn’t see a reason for a cup applicator until considering the use cases for people with disabilities or reach issues who struggle to insert a menstrual cup. I was still concerned that a menstrual cup applicator wouldn’t solve the issue. Another consideration was removal – if someone struggles to insert a cup removing one is going to be just as difficult when it comes to breaking the seal. That’s why I really only wanted to test this applicator with a Flex cup – as the only cup designed to break the seal it made sense that this combination may be useful. It’s not my lived experience and so I can’t review this applicator and cup from that POV but I wanted to at least see if the applicator physically worked to insert a cup. I already have a Flex Cup review so this post is only focusing on the applicator.
How does it work?
A menstrual cup applicator works by securing a folded cup with a “clothespin” like 2-prong tip. A plunger, just like a tampon applicator, will push the folded cup out from the tip. You’ll remove the entire applicator and with any luck, the cup will be securely placed in your body and fully open. The user will want to wash the applicator after each use.
Immediately, one of the drawbacks of this product became evident – you will need two hands and a fair amount of hand strength and dexterity (or a lot of practice) to fold and insert your cup in just the right way. For users who only have one hand, or use of one hand, a reusable menstrual disc might be a better alternative to consider (especially the new Hello Disc.)
The combination of the Fleurity applicator and the Flex cup only worked for me well using the Punchdown fold. If I tried a C-Fold the cup would immediately unfold. The 7-Fold or Triangle Fold can also work.
Related Video: How to Fold Menstrual Cups
My 1st try with the menstrual cup applicator
My first try with the cup applicator went swimmingly from an insertion standpoint. The insertion was easy enough – like inserting a tampon. I will note that the tips of the applicator are hard plastic and don’t feel the best against internal vaginal tissue. It’s not painful but it’s an experience the first time.
I was wearing press-on nails which added a new level of difficulty. Since I couldn’t tell when I reached inside if the cup was open or in correctly so I decided to go with it and let the leaks clue me in.
I wore period underwear and throughout the day experienced light leaks. At the end of the day when I went to remove the Flex Cup I couldn’t find the stem. Odd… after feeling around and getting frustrated I ripped off two fingernails and discovered the issue. The cup was practically sideways in my body and not fully unfolded. It was a good thing I was on a light period day.
My 2nd try with the menstrual cup applicator
The next afternoon I felt a determination to get this to work. I spent 10 minutes trying other folds because I had seen videos with the cup folded and inserted straight, unlike when you use it with a punchdown. For the life of me, I couldn’t make any fold work in that applicator that looked straight. I decided to use the Flex again with the punchdown fold but I very intentionally put the cup in as straight as possible in the hopes that it would insert straight and open with the cup completely straight in my body this time.
This go went much better – when I checked (no nails on my fingers!) I could feel that the cup was open and straight. This experience highlights the key role that touch plays in using a menstrual cup. Being able to feel how the cup is positioned in your body and if it’s open is a big part of inserting. When I couldn’t feel the cup inside I had leaks. I don’t think it’s crucial but it does seem to be a lot harder to use a cup when you can’t feel and manipulate it as needed.
After a few hours I removed the cup and wouldn’t you know, it worked! I was having a heavier day so a few hours gave me enough time to make sure it was working.
I’ve tried more folding angles/attempts and can now get the cup inserted straight with the punchdown and the stem “squished” in the middle.
Menstrual Cup Applicator Limitations
As noted in the video, the applicator has a few limitations
- It needs 2 hands
- You have to be able to fold and insert the cup
- Certain folds and/or cups won’t work with the applicator
- It only aids with insertion, it doesn’t aid with removal, so using just any cup may present removal/suction breaking challenges
- The cup is wider at insertion without the ability to angle during insertion
I was most interested in this product for the potential it could have for helping people insert a cup who can’t insert one manually. If you’re interested in a cup applicator because you’re not comfortable inserting a cup I would say that sure, it might be helpful, but using your hands to insert a cup is going to give you the best results. Most new cup users are a bit nervous about this aspect, especially Americans accustomed to applicator tampons, but it’s a process you will adjust to. I’d say it’s even a bonus of using a cup to get more comfortable with your own body.
Where to buy a menstrual cup applicator
If you’re in the US you’re currently out of luck. The brands Fleurity and Enna both make menstrual cup applicators but they’re hard or impossible to ship here. In theory, both will work with any brand, but each is designed to work best with their own brand of cup. I did hear a little rumbling about a US-based company working on a design (follow Menstrual-Mates on IG for updates) so if that happens I will be sure to share and update this post.