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What is Silicone?

Libby Cup is made of medical-grade platinum silicone—aka, it’s safe and soft. But what does ‘medical-grade platinum’ *actually* mean?


What is silicone made of?

Silicone is a human-made rubbery material. It’s named after the main ingredient, silicon. Silicon is a chemical element, and silicone is the product used to make most menstrual cups.

Silicon is extracted from sand—it’s actually the primary component of quartz sand. The sand is heated to around 1,800°C to extract the silicon. The silicon is combined with a natural gas (known as methyl chloride) and heated again. It is then processed into a polymer silicone, a structure that people can mould into different shapes and forms.

Silicone is essentially a chemical compound including silicon, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon.


There are different types of silicone

Libby Cups are made in the UK by a small and reputable company. We use only the best quality medical-grade platinum silicone.

Platinum-cured silicone has a high quality, long life and is non-reactive with bodily fluids and skin. It meets or exceeds global standards, such as ISO 10993, European Pharmacopoeia 3.1.9, and FDA CFR177.2600.

Not all forms of silicone are the same quality. Essentially, the higher the quality of silicone, the less porous the material. The ‘platinum’ label also refers to the clean standard of the room where the product is manufactured.

When choosing a menstrual cup, it’s important to make sure that it’s made from medical-grade silicone. Certified medical-grade silicones are considered safe for internal use. Anything less than this could be dangerous to insert into the body.


Is silicone safe to use?

Medical-grade silicone is not harmful to people and is safe to use within the body or with food. Additional benefits of silicone include:

  • Silicone does not decompose or biodegrade. Therefore, it lasts much longer than plastic and is considered a sustainable alternative. High quality menstrual cups should last for more than 5 years.
  • It does not break down into ‘microplastics’, which are teeny tiny bits of plastic that pollute the environment.
  • Silicone is resistant to extremely high temperatures and can withstand exposure to sunlight and many kinds of chemicals.
  • Silicone does not encourage bacterial or fungal growth.


Is silicone porous?

Permeable mucous membranes in the body can absorb fluids and chemicals. They exist in the mouth, nose and vagina. Therefore, it’s important to use non-porous materials inside the vagina. Some silicones can be porous, and not all silicones are safe to use inside your body. Thankfully, medical-grade silicone is non-porous. It’s specifically made this way and will not grow germs or leach nasty things inside you!


How do I know if my menstrual cup is medical-grade silicone?

1. Colour

Silicone should not turn white when it’s stretched! If it does, then it contains fillers—a cheap alternative to medical-grade materials. Be careful to avoid any menstrual cups that might have fillers.

2. Smell

When you first get a new menstrual cup, it should not smell. You know that pungent plastic ‘new car’ smell? Avoid any menstrual cups that smell like plastic—it probably has some dangerous chemicals in it.

3. “Weeping”

If your menstrual cup starts to develop a sticky film on the outside, throw it out! This is a sign that the plasticisers are beginning to leak out. It’s not made from medical-grade silicone and should not be used in your vagina.


If you’re not 100% sure that your menstrual cup is made with medical-grade silicone, then don’t risk it!

Is it safe to boil your Libby Cup?

Yes! It is safe to boil medical-grade silicone products.

We recommend boiling your cup for sterilisation. Because Libby Cup is made from the highest quality silicone, it can handle very high temperatures. But be careful not to use a frying pan and always make sure your menstrual cup is completely covered with water. Never expose your cup to an open flame—silicone can be flammable!

To clean your Libby Cup, first, rinse off the blood with cold water. Warm water will react with the blood and increase the discolouration of your cup. Second, pop your cup in a deep pot, cover with water and boil for 3 minutes. After you've boiled your menstrual cup, rinse it in clean cold water – this will help seal the silicone and prevent any discolouration or smells building up over time. Dry the cup off and store it somewhere safe and clean so it’s ready for your next period!

Can I use lube with my menstrual cup?

Some women need to use a lubricant when inserting their menstrual cup—I do! Always make sure you use a water-based lubricant. Silicone lubricants and other kinds of lubrication may damage the silicone of your cup.

What kind of soap should I use to wash my menstrual cup?

It is not entirely necessary to use soap when washing your Libby Cup. If you want to use soap, then make sure it’s a mild non-perfumed soap. Perfumed soaps can affect the pH levels in your vagina and cause yeast infections or other health issues.

Remember to use cold water when you rinse your cup. This will prevent stains from developing on the silicone.

We suggest boiling your Libby Cup for 3 minutes to ensure sterilisation.


Why is my menstrual cup changing colour?

If your cup starts to show stains or discolouration, don’t worry! This is just what happens over time because the cup is regularly exposed to your period blood. Check out our blog on Keeping Your Libby Cup Clean for some tips on how to remove stains or smells from your menstrual cup.

If you have any more questions about silicone or how to look after your Libby Cup, feel free to contact us.  


Written by Nina Giblinwright

Oct 24, 2020