Skip To Content

    These Women Went Viral For Creating A Menstrual Cup Applicator, And It's So Ingenious That People Are Rushing To Try Them

    It's just like putting in a tampon.

    In the world of period care, pads are the most popular product, followed by tampons. In recent years, however, menstrual cups have gained popularity. Thanks to their reusability, menstrual cups are more affordable and sustainable than tampons and pads, but having to insert them by hand makes them a less attractive choice for many people.

    woman is choosing between pad and tampon in the store
    Shotshare / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Cue: Sunny, a period care company that went viral for creating a menstrual cup with an applicator.

    Sunny menstrual cup on the right with the applicator standing on the left
    Sunny

    Instead of inserting by hand, with Sunny, you can use an applicator to insert a menstrual cup — just like you would a tampon. Check out their video (posted to their TikTok page, @sunnyperiod) to see how it works for yourself:

    demonstration of folding the Sunny menstrual cup, putting it into the applicator, then inserting it into a plastic, anatomical model
    @sunnyperiod / Via tiktok.com

    To learn more about the innovative product and the company behind it, BuzzFeed spoke with Sunny co-founders Cindy Belardo (l) and Drew Jarvis (r). Though both women appreciated the financial and sustainable aspects of menstrual cups, they realized — through personal experience and speaking with others — the difficult insertion process proved to be a common barrier to entry. "I thought, you know, there must be a better way to do this," Drew said, "especially because they were invented in the 1930s." Together, they created the Sunny menstrual cup and applicator — which are available for pre-order and expected to launch by the end of 2022.

    Cindy Belardo and Drew Jarvis holding a Sunny menstrual cup and applicator
    Sunny

    While pursuing an environmental studies degree, Cindy learned about menstrual cups as a way to reduce one's environmental footprint in 2018. After trying one herself — which took her 2–3 period cycles to get the hang of using — Cindy embarked on a grant project to Northern India to educate people with periods about menstrual cups. However, the insertion process proved to be difficult for many people. Using her notes from the discussions she'd had, Cindy decided to create a menstrual cup applicator and pitched the idea during an innovation competition.

    Similarly, Drew learned about menstrual cups during high school and faced a similar learning curve to Cindy when first trying one. Upon learning about the environmental, financial, and health benefits of menstrual cups, Drew pitched the idea of a menstrual cup applicator during a business pitch competition in 2018. After winning the competition, Drew graduated, went to college, and continued to develop her idea, leading her to meet Cindy, who was doing the same.

    Now, you might be wondering if the Sunny applicator works with other menstrual cups. Spoiler alert: It doesn't (but for good reason!). As Drew explained, "One of the cool things about the Sunny cup itself is that it's made out of a super soft, flexible material, and it's actually thinner than most other cups are, so it fits inside the applicator. Other cups are a lot thicker and a lot more rigid, so to make an applicator that would deploy a cup [of that size] would be [beyond most] people's comfort level."

    screenshots of TikTok video demonstrating thickness of other menstrual cups vs. Sunny menstrual cup
    @sunnyperiod / Via tiktok.com

    Watch the video demonstration on TikTok here.  

    If you're familiar with menstrual cups, you know that they must be properly inserted to prevent leakage. Fortunately, Sunny's applicator helps form a seal. "[Leakage] was one of the biggest user errors that we've seen in past research with menstrual cups," Cindy revealed. "One of the great things about the applicator is that it actually helps form the seal by itself. You can always double-check by pinching the base, but — through our research and development — we found that there's a much higher success rate for the seal forming without any additional maneuvering or adjusting with your hands."

    Drew pouring water into a cylinder with the Sunny cup inserted inside
    @sunnyperiod / Via tiktok.com

    In another video, Drew demonstrates the seal of the Sunny menstrual cup.

    What about the relative affordability and sustainability of menstrual cups compared to tampons and pads? Well, for starters, menstrual cups usually last for at least a year. (Healthline stipulates one may last up to 10 years with proper care.) Depending on flow, one can also wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours as it holds 2–5 times more liquid than a tampon. Conversely, the average person spends more than $6,000 on tampons and pads in their lifetime. On top of that, 7 billion tampons and 12 billion pads get discarded annually.

    Sunny

    While most tampons and pads end up in landfills, some end up in oceans, contributing to plastic pollution. More specifically, plastic tampon applicators can take more than 20 years to break down in marine environments. They can therefore be ingested by animals and cause health complications or death.

    However, to properly care for and reuse a menstrual cup, you'd wash it between uses with soap and water and boil it between period cycles.

    The response to Sunny on social media has been overwhelmingly positive. As of now, the Sunny menstrual cup and applicator are only available for pre-order, but, what's more, Cindy and Drew revealed that Sunny will release multiple sizes and colors in the future. For context, menstrual cups come in a few sizes to account for factors such as whether or not one's given birth, the length and diameter of the vaginal canal, and the position of the cervix. "It really depends on your anatomy, but size 1 is kind of standard, so we're starting there," Drew summed up.

    positive comments left on a Sunny TikTok
    @sunnyperiod

    In the meantime, many TikTok users have commented on Sunny's informative videos, sharing their excitement about the creation of a menstrual cup applicator and that they've already pre-ordered on Sunny's site.

    As a period care company, Sunny also focuses on period poverty and menstrual education. "A huge part of being in a period space is not just selling a product; it's educating people. It's making people comfortable about having the conversation in the first place," Drew stated. As such, Sunny's blog tackles common questions, provides context, and answers user-submitted questions about menstruation. "We always leave our email at the bottom," Cindy added, "so people can reach out. We want this to be a co-creation process."

    selfies of Drew Jarvis and Cindy Belardo
    Sunny

    To help combat period poverty, Sunny launched their End Period Poverty collection — consisting of merchandise like beanies, stickers, tote bags, and clothing — and donates 20% of the proceeds from it to people facing period poverty through the nonprofit Period.  

    Additionally, Cindy co-wrote the graphic novel June and the Menstrual Mates: A Young Menstruator's Journey and Guidebook to educate young readers about menstruation. The inclusive, stigma-free story was also reviewed by healthcare providers and teachers to ensure the language and information were useful and accurate. "Most parents don't think you should really start having these conversations as early as you should," Cindy noted.

    mother and daughter lying on bed reading a book
    Nortonrsx / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    "I got my first period when I was 10 years old," she continued. "Had my mom not been open about having those conversations when I was a young kid, I would have been terrified as to what was happening to me."

    As Cindy noted, given the internet and social media, younger people have more access to menstrual education and period care product options — like Sunny — than ever before. Ultimately, with Sunny providing menstrual information and a menstrual cup with an applicator, Cindy and Drew shared, "Our goal is for everyone to find the best product for them. We just want to present a user-friendly and eco-friendly option."

    What's your go-to period product? Have you tried menstrual cups before? If so, how do you like them? If not, has this made you more interested? Let us know in the comments below!