Female groin cup for combative sports

Where can one find a good female groin cup?

A lot of female combative sports practitioners opt to go without groin protection due to (1) lack of good product availability (i.e., groin cups that don’t fit the female body well), (2) sense of security (i.e., don’t have organ hanging between our legs), and (3) maybe they just haven’t gotten seriously attacked around that area…yet. In my quest to find a good female groin cup for myself, I tried four different groin protection, two made for females, two made for males. Two that fits inside a compression short, and two that is self-sustainable (same brand).

Groin protections

Top row (made for male) left to right: RDX gel groin cup, Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0. Bottom row (made for female) left to right: Shock Doctor Pelvic Protector, Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female..

I think the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0 is my go-to if I’m sparring, and I am keeping the Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female for Krav Maga everyday training. Both of them (1) provide good protection, (2) stay in place, and (3) don’t impede my movements. I’ll give an overview for each of these groin protector, and the reason I opt for the Lo-Bloo despite the slightly higher price tag (although if you include the cost of a compression short for the other two, the prices are actually similar). 

What is the job of a groin protector:

To quote the US patent of army-type groin protection (1929), a good groin protection should: “First, to provide means for protectum, which do not impede the freedom of: movement of the pugilist,–second, to preserve the wearers comfort and to avoid bruises or cuts,-third, to offer full protection for the groin,fourth, to divert the force of foul blows over a large area of the abdomen and the legs.” So that is for the apron-type armor protection for the groin. On a similar vain, sports-type groin protection should do the following:

  1. Provide cover for the groin: Its simple, provide direct cover for the groin. Most protector will do this just fine. (NOTE: I will skip on evaluating this as all the protectors I tried at least did this part just fine.)
  2. Force diversion: The groin protector should divert the force directed to your groin towards less sensitive area (rest of the hip, between the thigh).
  3. Does not impede movement: Not wearing groin protection will always feel more “comfortable”, however, a good groin cup/protector should give maximum protection with minimal interference to movement.

What are actually out there?

What you get if you do a google search.

What you get if you do a google search.

Quick Google search of “groin cup female” or “groin protection women” will bring up two types of results: the traditional boxing/martial-art type protector or the Shock Doctor pelvic protector (originally designed for hockey, but used by many for other sports). To avoid bulkiness, I crossed out the traditional boxing-type groin protector. So what I have left was either the pelvic protector (that fits in a compression short), or male groin cup.

Shock Doctor Pelvic Protector (need to use with compression shorts)

ShockDoctor

Shock Doctor Pelvic Protector (front and back). Basically a piece of foam.

A piece of foam that covers the pelvic area with little force diversion

The Shock Doctor Pelvic Protector is basically a piece of hard foam (dual density foam) with hard plastic in the front. Although it added a layer of foam between the groin and the attack, due to its shape, it is not the best at diverting the force towards less sensitive area. In other words, I still feel the direct impact on my groin.

Not the most comfortable due to its width (body-shape dependent)

Also, it is quite wide, and made the movement quite awkward for me. (NOTE: I’m 5’5, medium built female. So this might fit really well for someone else, but just not me). The pelvic protector was $9.71 on Amazon. The Shock Doctor compression shorts that has a pocket for the protector costs from $25-35. Total cost = $35-$45

RDX Gel Groin Cup Guard (need to use with compression shorts)

RDX

RDX Gel Groin Cup (front and back). Gel (in blue) along the edge absorbs more force.

Well constructed and provides good force diversion

For me, it does the job way better than the “for-female” pelvic protector. Its construction with the concave shape (intended for the male-specific organs) means that there was little to no direct impact on my groin, instead, the force is diverted to my inner thigh. The edge of the RDX cup is lined with gel (in blue), which enhances its ability to absorb even more force.

Free movement but will shift slightly throughout usage

It is narrower than the pelvic protector, which interferes less with movement. I wore this for Krav Maga and sparring, and it protected me well during both an unforeseen groin kick in sparring, and during actual groin-kick drills in Krav. I liked the protection I was getting, and I was moving about just fine. However, since it was held in place by compression shorts, it does move around slightly from time to time. I’ve found myself adjusting its position through an hour-long or 2-hours session.

RDX gel groin cup in compression shorts pouch

RDX gel groin cup in compression shorts pouch

I bought the RDX groin cup with the compression shorts for $25 on the RDX website, which makes it also cheaper than the Shock Doctor combo. *The great thing about this type of athletic groin cup is that there are so many brands producing them. If this is slightly too big, too wide, too narrow, another one is bound to fit better 🙂

Lo-bloo Thai Cup 2.0

Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0 (front and back). Softer rubber along the edge.

Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0 (front and back). Softer rubber along the edge.

A polymer version of a Thai steel-cup that doesn’t tie a cord along the butt crack

This is basically a high-tech and more comfortable version of a Thai steel-cup. The Thai steel-cup is the most protective groin protection you could find for combative sports. It is made of steel, and it is tied in place so it won’t shift. The Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0 was designed for people who don’t like having a string along their butt-crack (Thai steel cup is tied that way, which means every time you put it on, it has to be tied again; the Lo-Bloo can just come on-and-off because of its elastic bands).

Clever design and strong construction

The Lo-Bloo Thai Cup doesn’t need a compression shorts, and is secured by their patented system to hold the cup (NOTE: the Patent No. on Amazon is incorrect, 1050598-0 is the application number, but as of May 15, 2015, US 9032559 B2 is the Patent No.) The system is an elastic waistband and an elastic cord used as leg straps. By using the leg straps to hold the cup around the thigh, Lo-Bloo avoided the string that goes along the butt-crack in traditional Thai steel-cup. Watch this video to see how it is assembled. The edge of the cup is lined with rubber that absorbs forces diverted to the hip/thigh. The cup itself is made out of polymer, and tested to withstand 4 tons of pressure (good enough for me). “The leg straps are woven out of textured polyester/lycra to prevent allergic reactions and rashes”-description on Amazon. That, is good product design. The Lo-Bloo comes with a drawstring cord lock so the length of the elastic cords can be adjusted around the legs. Once a good length is reached, the a knot can be tied on top of the cord lock to ‘save the setting’.

Cord lock to secure the elastic cords for the legs.

Cord lock to secure the elastic cords for the legs.

Pricey, but for a one-shot investment, worth it

It is pricey at $50 (I got it with a coupon code for $7 off), but I figure if it will shift less than the RDX gel grion cup I was using, I’ll give it a try. It is now my go-to groin protection for sparring, because it stays the place the whole time. The last thing I want to worry about during sparring is bringing my hand down to adjusting a groin cup… Tip: Lo-Bloo’s distributes in the USA on Amazon for $44.99 USD. It is listed for $39.95 euro on the Lo-Bloo’s website (free shipping world wide). Depending on the conversion rate at the time, that can be a better deal 🙂
Here are some other reviews on the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0: The Fight Nerd, My Muay Thai, Muay Thai Authority.

Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female

LoBloo_AeroFemale_front_back

Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female (front and back).

I was going to just settle with the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup, but as of July 2015, Lo-Bloo introduced a new line of groin protection, the Aero. It has a model specifically designed for female, and I just got to try it. I was told the release date, and clicked ‘buy’ the day after. It arrived in 6-days (pretty fast given it was mailed from Sweden).

Shape and material

The shape of the Aero Slim is similar to the Shock Doctor pelvic protector, with the same patented attachment system as the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup (elastic washstand + elastic cord leg strap). The Aero Slim is very comfortable because it is narrower around where the thighs meet (compared to the Thai Cup and the pelvic protector). It also doesn’t shift around due to the Lo-Bloo attachment system. I was afraid that it will also have very little protection due to its ‘flatness’. I was pleasantly surprised that when I was wearing the Aero Slim, even though it doesn’t divert force as well as the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup or the RDX gel cup, it did a significantly better job than the Shock Doctor. Given their similar shape, I was surprised.

Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female stacked on top of the Shock Doctor pelvic protector. Very similar shape, but the Aero Slim is narrower.

After some experimenting, I realize it was due to the rigidity of the Aero Slim (or the lack thereof from the Shock Doctor). I could easily squish the Shock Doctor, which means more force is transferred to me right from the center of the protector (instead of dissipating to the side, which will transfer the force to my hip/thigh). Whereas the rigidity of the Aero Slim keeps it from collapsing (see pic below). The table top seems to exaggerate the effect because the foam at the end of the shock doctor is the main part that is bending. I did a similar test with the protectors between my hand, where I’m supporting all sides of the protector. The Aero Slim keeps its general shape, whereas the Shock Doctor almost completely flattens out.

pressured_height

The Aero Slim (top) will still budge a little, but no where near as bad as the Shock Doctor (bottom).

Note that the Aero Slim does not come with a cord lock for the leg strap like the Thai Cup 2.0. However, a simple knot can lock in the preferred length of the leg strap. Also, a cord lock can easily be added if preferred.

Leg strap can be secured by tying a knot after the preferred length is dialed in.

Leg strap can be secured by tying a knot after the preferred length is dialed in.

I’m glad I gave the Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female a try. It is the most comfortable of all the groin protectors I tried. It has less protection than the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup, but its design provide even better accommodation for movement of the female body built. The Aero Slim is going for $29.95EUR on the Lo-Bloo website with free shipping worldwide (plus a 20% discount if you use the code “RELEASE2015”, as posted on their facebook page).

*UPDATE* After a few weeks of use, I realize that having the cord lock on the Lo-Bloo works way better. If you just depend on the legstrap (made of shockcord) to tie a knot, it is more likely to get loose and also stretches out the cord (see pic below).

Leg strap cord became stretched out if fasten without a cord lock.

Leg strap cord became stretched out if fasten without a cord lock. (in this pic, I already added a cord lock and it didn’t stretch out more after that)

So the simple solution is a to get at $0.50 cord lock and add it to the Lo-Bloo Slim. I hope in the future if Lo-Bloo updates this product, a cord lock will come with it. But a < $1 modification is not that hard for me. They might have taken away the cordlock (which was in the original Thai Cup 2.0) to decrease the bulge, but it honestly doesn’t add much more than tying a double knot in place.

Added cord lock to lo-bloo aero slim

Adding a cord lock and then tying a knot over it just like how the Thai Cup 2.0 is secured. It doesn’t really add more bulge, and is definitely much more secured.

Conclusion

I decided to keep the Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female for general use during Krav Maga and maybe rolling in BJJ (heard that the shin on the groin could be pretty bad). And use the Thai Cup 2.0 mainly for sparring. It seems an overkill, but hell, I can’t return groin protectors (no one really wants to buy a used one…). And their utility is maximized with this arrangement. Maximum protection during sparring, and enough protection + best comfort during everyday practice. One last thing I want to stress is the ease of use for both of the Lo-Bloo groin protectors. After the initial adjustment. it is literally like slipping on another pair of shorts (hold both the waist band and the elastic cords around the legs together, put two legs through, pull up :D). I don’t have to fiddle around with stuffing the cup into velcro-ed sleeve in the compression shorts. Not a big deal, but efficiency is always great. =========================

Lastly, for those who ask why females need a groin protector?

For males, the external organs around their groin area gives the obvious reasons why groin strikes would cause crazy amount of pain. Female also have their genitalia in the groin area, which has a very high density of nerve endings. This means a hit to the female groin will also cause a lot of pain (watch these videos). A big knee or groin kick is definitely enough to take you out of the fight for the round if not longer. Bigger injuries such as a bone bruise to the pubic bone or a fracture may occur as well (might happen if you seriously got stomped on or kneed while clinched down). I’ve been hit a few times throughout my 8 years in marital arts, but I didn’t dive into looking for some good groin protection (that won’t interfere with my practice) until one incident…where I got toe-kicked (by someone with shoes on) straight into my groin. I was out for the rest of the night in terms of practicing, and went straight to google that night looking for a decent groin protector…

Be a good partner

For Krav Maga, I highly recommend any female students past the first level to get a groin protector of some sort. There are a lot of groin-attack in Krav Maga. If we want to be a good partner, having groin protection lets our partner practice their technique without worrying too much about pulling their kicks as much. It gives us the peace of mind that it won’t hurt as much (even in non-full force scenarios), and gives our practice partners the peace of mind that they are not hurting us.

Hopefully more companies will innovate on female groin protection

I’m glad that Lo-Bloo came out with a female groin-protector that is well-designed. As mentioned by other female athletes in combative sports, there are really too few choices. When I first looked for a groin protection, Aero Slim wasn’t released yet, so I went through the several groin protectors I listed in this post. Hopefully with more females getting into combative sports, more companies will see that the market is flooded with male groin cups but has literally no choices for female (just because the Aero Slim worked well for me, doesn’t mean it will work well for everyone else with different body types). Different brands competing will improve designs, and provide options for individuals with differing body built and preferences. Disclaimer: I paid for all of these groin protectors myself.

11 thoughts on “Female groin cup for combative sports

    1. Thanks! And yes, when I first saw the Lo-Bloo, I could not help but applaud their naming scheme 🙂

  1. Thanks for that! I’ve been looking for a decent groin guard for a while now and all those traditional boxing ones just don’t fit krav maga. Glad that I found your article. I’ve just ordered Lo-Bloo 🙂

    1. I’m glad I never had to use the really bulky ones. I could also see it become problematic if you also incorporate ground techniques (in Krav or other ground-related sports) with those boxing-type protector. Lo-bloo works really well.

  2. Hello!

    I have just started Krav and have been told that need a groin guard for sparring. Thanks for the review you have written, quite helpful.

    I am more on the chunkier side, so as a curvy lady i wanted to know:

    1) if the Lo-Bloo come in sizes or it’s one size fits all? and 2) Would you suggest the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0 Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female for someone who is chubbier with regards to hip-waist ratio?

    I am stuck in between buying the Lo-Bloo or a traditional one..

    Thanks so much!!!

    1. 1) Lo-Bloo comes in one size for adults. When you see bigger guys (chubbier or muscular), the groin area is ultimately a pretty generic triangle. Youth or children may need a different size (which Lo-Bloo makes), but most adults should fit in one size.
      2) For sparring, I think the Thai Cup 2.0 gives a little bit more protection against full-on kicks that “accidentally missed” the inner thigh, or push kicks that went way lower than the waist line. The Slim Female is a bit more comfortable, but when I only doing stand-up sparring (no rolling/ground take-down/submission), I prefer the Thai Cup 2.0.

      I’m never going back to the traditional groin protectors that needs to fit inside a compression short. They shift a lot and are actually less protective 🙂

  3. You review is great! I just bought the lo-bloo Aero and I have the worlds silliest question: do you wear yours on top of your pants? It seems like it would go well under most things, and it is quite comfortable. I was planning on wearing it over compression shorts (to minimize chafing) and under loose shorts. I guess I could wear it over yoga pants, but I feel like it’s “underwear” and that it should be under something? What do you do?

  4. I am starting cane techniques and was informed that I would need protection. What would be the best to purchase? This will be long term training.

    1. The Lo-Bloo would be my go-to. For maximal protection, the Thai-Cup 2.0, but if you want a more comfortable fit, then try the aero.

  5. Hello!

    Just wanted to say I ended up buying the Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female, I can’t stress how comfortable it is, although the elastic band for around the waist can hang at times, goes up into the waist area and then down into the hips, and I made sure I have adjusted the size of it, still don’t seem to be able to get it completely fixed. I don’t wear compression shorts cause it’s summer and it’s just to hot to do so! But I would still recommend this product. It is easy to clean and practical, protects well and it’s purple, kinda girly 🙂 ( I think it only does come in this one colour!) So glad I got this for my sparring. I can see the Lo-Bloo Aero Slim Female lasting me a long, long time to come!

    Special thanks to sciencepenguin24, this post helped me a lot and your recommendation was awesome.

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