Menstrual cups safe, practical and cheap

Menstrual Cups Are Safe But Questions Remain About'Toxic Shock Risk Review Finds

Menstrual Cups Are Safe But Questions Remain About'Toxic Shock Risk Review Finds

The good news for menstrual cup users is that they seem to be a safe and effective alternative to other feminine hygiene products, according to an article published July 16 in The Lancet Public Health. Common misconceptions include: the idea that cups are hard, uncomfortable and inconvenient to use; belief that cultural attitudes linked to notions of virginity, body-shame, or disgust create insurmountable barriers to menstrual cup acceptance; and that in poor, water-scarce communities, using menstrual cups is likely to lead to infections.

Four studies within the review (293 participants) compared leakage between different sanitary products. Preliminary evidence on the cost and waste savings associated with using menstrual cups suggests that over 10 years, a single menstrual cup could cost much less than pads or tampons, according to the study.

In a linked comment, Dr Julie Hennegan from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA, says: "For consumers purchasing menstrual products, the results highlight cups as a safe and cost-effective option".

Menstrual cups are gaining popularity, but many remain apprehensive about using these over concerns for pain, difficulty in fitting and removing the cup, leakage, and chafing.

They found studies that showed a positive effect associated with the use of menstrual cups such as decreased stress around leakages.

The majority (70%) of people who menstruate in the study who tried menstrual cups wanted to continue using them once they were familiar with how to use them.

But with growing resources dedicated to tackling "period poverty" - including a £2 million investment from United Kingdom aid - experts have long called for more research into the safety of reusable menstrual cups.

How do menstrual cups work?

Menstrual cups collect blood flow rather than absorbing it like other products and are inserted directly into the vagina.

The two types include a vaginal cup, bell-shape and sits lower in the vagina, and a cervical cup which is placed higher up, like a diaphragm. Most of the studies depended on self-reporting, which might have overestimated the use of the menstrual cup.

Given the limited number of reports on the use of menstrual cups, the authors also caution that other potential issues can not be excluded, including use of menstrual cups in combination with IUDs.

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Taylor suggests making sure both the menstrual cup and your hands are clean, then hold the base of your cup and flatten the opening. She said the experience inspired her to start The Cup Foundation. "Check the cup has fully opened by giving the stem a gentle pull - if you feel some resistance then you're good to go". Removed by squeezing the bottom of the cup, it must be rinsed after each use and sterilized between periods.

Researchers said menstrual cups could provide a significant advantage for users in settings where sanitation facilities and adequate water are not readily available.

Are menstrual cups better for you?

"So it's rare even if the tampon is left in for a longer period of time".

"A menstrual cup takes the blood and leaves everything else".

The outcomes from more than 40 research of the reusable devices discovered little robust proof to recommend they pose a safety risk, as has been advised in earlier news reports linking their use to uncommon cases of toxic shock syndrome.

Is a menstrual cup eco-friendly?

A cup could cost roughly 5% or 7% of the cost of using 12 pads (on average $0.31 each) or tampons (on average $0.21 each) per period.

For estimations on costs of disposable pads and tampons, the study explored prices for commonly used products in six countries (the USA, the UK, India, Spain, China, and Canada).

She points out that most sanitary pads are also 90 percent plastic (who knew!?) and tampons are made from the world's thirstiest crop - cotton.

There's the money saving aspect as well.

Over 10 years, a cup is estimated to create 0.4 per cent of the plastic waste generated by single-use pads or 6 per cent of that produced by using tampons.

"With proper care and cleaning, a menstrual cup can last over a decade, saving women thousands of pounds on sanitary products over its lifetime", Taylor adds.

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