I found the concept to work but in practice, it takes me less time to fully remove, dump the contents of my cup, and reinsert it.
I get asked to do a valve menstrual cup review often. Until recently I’d never tried one. I always cautioned people to have a healthy dose of skepticism about the promised outcome and the FDA status/safety of the brand.
Now there is an FDA registered valve menstrual cup brand. Well shoot, I guess I have to finally try one.
I purchased Femallay Valve Cup online in their large size and gave it a go.
How it works:
This valve cup has a large “bubble” midway through the stem. Inside the bubble is a pearl (not real, sadly.) While wearing the cup the pearl needs to be pushed downward into the tip to stop the blood from leaving the stem.
When it’s time to drain the blood out over the toilet you need to reach in, find the stem, squeeze the stem at the base which pushes the pearl into the larger bubble. This allows your fluids time to drain. You might need to squeeze the stem to move any larger clots through.
In theory you don’t need to remove the cup at your bathroom break. That’s an appealing option for anyoe with busy daytime jobs or school that has to dump their cups multiple times in public restrooms.
You cannot trim the stem length at all. Before you buy make sure you can wear it comfortably from rim to tip. For any cup to be comfortable the entire stem needs to fit in your body. None of the stem should be outside of the labia minora (inner labia lips.)
Warning: This particular brand does promote “up to 24 hours” of wear during which time you can simply release blood without removing the cup and washing it. DO NOT DO THIS. Menstrual cups of all styles should be worn 12 hours or less. It’s quite irresponsible for the brand to promote misuse of their product.
The reality isn’t as marketable an experience but I do hope I present a fair look at the product.
The first few hours…
The Femallay valve cup arrived the very day I started my period full force. I sanitized it properly and went for it but probably should have read the directions more attentively. I absolutely bungled my first few hours of testing, because get this: I didn’t have the stopper pearl pushed down to actually STOP the blood from leaking. My impressions of the cup until that first removal was that it leaked… a lot. It was more of a test for my period underwear than anything! I remember thinking “how is that supposed to stop anything?” and I still didn’t see the mistake I was making. I blame the pandemic wall I hit.
The actual test…
After realizing my mistake I tried the product with the pearl in the stopper. I almost lost my pearl during the first wash. The product includes one spare pearl. If using this product be aware that it’s quite easy to lose a pearl to the sink drain.
I wore the valve cup the rest of Day 1, washed, and put in for overnight. On Day 2 of my period I did have some lighter leaks; it wasn’t clear if the cup wasn’t a good fit or if the valve was leaking.
On the morning of Day 2 when it was time to remove, I first pushed the pearl into the space to see how those mechanics all worked. I got messier than expected. Next, I removed the cup after releasing some of the blood to film and see for myself how the valve worked with viscous blood. Would larger clots move past the pearl? Surprisingly, my period blood did move through the stem with relative ease but it was slow going to allow it time to just drain. I don’t have time for that. I “milked” the valve and things moved faster.
Conclusions from my trial
I am not dedicated enough to try this thing for a full period and had the experience I wanted. For the test I tried the cup long enough to determine that it works. It fully drains period blood and the valve works with the cup inside the vagina. I was able to unseal, drain, and reseal the cup without ever leaving the toilet seat.
Sounds promising, but there are caveats to this.
The draining takes a long time. Assuming you are taking bathroom breaks to drain your cup it’s a long process. It takes me less time to fully remove, dump the contents of my cup, and reinsert it. While in public you can do this without taking your cup to a sink outside of the stall. Most people simply dump and replace, others bring cup wipes or wipe the cup clean with toilet paper. Either way, milking your valve cup or fully removing and dumping a cup, you need to wash your hands afterwards. I got messier than I expected manipualting the valve (that could change with more practice) and in fact, got messier than I ever get when removing and dumping my cup.
Simulated Clot Test: When I simulated larged sized clots with fake blood for my video review one of those fake clots got lodged in the stem and clogged it up. I used very soft and squishy pieces of silicone leftover from my projects. While these aren’t real clots it does present a possibility that could happen. I didn’t pass any larger clots during my own trials. This is shown in the video.
I don’t see a valve cup as being faster, easier, or less messy than dumping and re-inserting a menstrual cup.
Alternatives to Valve Cups
To avoid having to empty your cup during the day in public you have a few options that aren’t valve cups.
- A higher capacity cup. If you switch to a cup that holds more then it’s likely you will get several more hours of wear time, depending on your flow. Cups like Merula XL and Tieutcup have higher capacities. Sort by capacity on The Menstrual Cup Comparison Chart to find other options.
- A Menstrual Disc. Reusable menstrual discs, in their design as a “bowl” shaped product, have a far higher capacity than any menstrual cup. To be fair, mileage varies based on how it squishes and fits in your body. Nixit, for example, holds 70 mL.
Menstrual Discs have a possible additional selling point – they automatically dump contents during bathroom visits for some wearers. This is caused by the combination of muscles working to empty your bladder or bowel and your position of sitting. I have a full video on this phenomenon but if you have a heavy period the prospect of emptying your disc without the time and manual expression it takes to do so with a valve cup is mighty, mighty appealing.
Related Article: Menstrual Disc Auto-Dumping Explained
While this product definitely didn’t do it for me I did want to finally put out a valve menstrual cup review for those who have asked. If you ever have other requests I try my best to honor them. Leave a comment and let me know what you want me to try!