Menstrual cups are fast gaining a reputation for being one of the best types of period care product. They’re greener, more cost-efficient, and they’re better for your health. But some women are wondering if, despite their many advantages, there are cons to be aware of.
This post aims to uncover all the risks involved from using period cups. Also, we’ll be sharing how women can avoid most of these risks with a few simple steps. We hope this serves as a guide for anyone interested in knowing more about menstrual cups and their possible dangers.
While we won’t argue that menstrual cups are a life changing product, there are still dangers to be expected. This is due in part to the very nature of menstrual cups as an internally worn period care product. And anything that goes inside us carries the chance of bringing in some harmful bacteria and chemicals as well.
Note: We’d like to make it clear that the information you read here is not meant to be medical advice. It does not replace a consultation with a qualified medical professional. Please approach a physician or gynecologist for any questions related to vaginal health.
The first menstrual products were not used internally. During that time, they were referred to as ‘rags’. These were pieces of cloth tucked inside women’s undergarments to absorb menstrual fluid. As you can imagine, they weren’t very effective but were still the best option at the time. Today, women now have several types of period management products to choose from. Menstrual cups, sanitary pads, and tampons are now also available in different sizes, from different brands.
Any time you place a foreign object in your vagina, there’s a chance you’re introducing some unwanted bacteria in there as well. This is why it’s crucial to wash your hands before handling a period cup.
One of the most common problems with internally worn sanitary products is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). To understand why this is, let’s first take a look at what causes TSS in the first place.
WebMD describes TSS as a potentially fatal condition caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, or staph. The bacteria itself is already present in our skin and mucous membranes. However, it can seep into our bloodstream via broken skin, thereby causing TSS.
One source states that the use of a menstrual cup satisfies the conditions needed for TSS to develop. The accumulated blood plus the higher pH, combined with carbon dioxide and oxygen during menstruation creates the ideal environment for staph to grow.
To put it bluntly, menstrual cups can be just as likely to cause TSS than tampons. In fact, another study even finds that cups may be more likely to cause TSS than tampons. This study claims that the environment created from using menstrual cups can produce even more staph.
Aside from TSS, there are other dangers women need to consider when using a menstrual cup. They are the following:
Some manufacturers warn against using a menstrual cup if you have an intrauterine device as a contraceptive. You may accidentally pull on the string or dislodge the IUD when removing the menstrual cup.
Feminine products can contain a series of questionable ingredients and materials. This may lead to allergic reactions in some women, especially if the cups are not washed properly. Some allergic reactions, however, can be from a sensitivity to the cup’s material.
Menstrual cups come from either medical-grade silicone or latex. Because latex-sensitivity is fairly common, most companies produce their cups from medical-grade silicone.
Note: If you think you are having an allergic reaction to your menstrual cup, discontinue use immediately. Seek advice from a medical professional about treating the allergies. If you’d like to try a different cup, wait for your allergies to completely clear before using another cup.
The fact that menstrual cups are so comfortable is a clear advantage. But, because they can also be forgotten, they also pose a serious risk to users.
Candidiasis is a common problem for women on their period. Itchiness, a burning sensation, and vaginal discharge are among the symptoms experienced. But these symptoms are also similar to other diseases, such as STDs and other infections. Women under 16 and over 60 years of age should see a doctor if these symptoms appear.
Technically, there is no “FDA approved” menstrual cup in the US. The reason for this is because menstrual cups are classified as Class II medical devices. This means that general controls cannot guarantee their safety and effectiveness.
When brands state that their menstrual cups are “FDA approved”, they most likely mean that they are cleared by the FDA for sale in the US. If a brand’s menstrual cups are not cleared by the FDA, there’s a chance these cups contain harmful chemicals or do not pass safety and health standards. The poor quality may also cause rips, cracks, or collapse that make the cups dangerous for internal use.
The bottom line is that all menstrual products come with their own set of risks and dangers. And menstrual cups are no exception. Yet even though using menstrual cups can be risky, they are still better and safer compared to other period care products.
Also, many of these risks can be avoided. Below, we’ll share with you what you can do to enjoy a safer and more comfortable menstruation with minimal risks:
Drain your menstrual cup regularly and always wash your hands before handling period products. Not only do you prevent most diseases and infections, but you also improve your body’s health.
Not all cleaning products are safe to use on menstrual cups. Remember that the vagina is far more sensitive than our epidermis. And more than that, it needs a balanced environment of good and bad bacteria.
Some cleaning products kill off bacteria indiscriminately, eliminating both good and bad. This can make you prone to infections and diseases.
Also, when you use a harsh soap for cleaning period cups, there’s a chance that the residue doesn’t get rinsed off completely. And imagine this going inside your vagina. Several problems may occur afterwards, such as yeast infections, TSS, and even cancer.
Note: Avoid using cleaning products that contain phthalates and fragrances. Also, avoid anything with bleach, oils, and alcohol. These are considered harmful to your vagina’s health.
Menstrual cups are not meant to be used as a contraceptive and they should not be treated as such. If you use a disposable period cup, you may have intercourse. But remember that the cup itself does nothing to reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
While there is no known link between yeast infections and menstrual cups, it is best to discontinue using them if you notice signs of an infection.
You may find it hard to believe, but yes, you can forget your cup for days, or even weeks. One smart way to remind yourself that your cup needs draining is to use an alarm. It can be an app on your smartphone, or a physical alarm clock.
If you don’t have an alarm, you can also write down a memo and stick it on the fridge. These simple precautions can go a long way to help you avoid infections and TSS.
All period products carry risks. The same is true for menstrual cups.
The good news is that using a menstrual cup doesn’t have to be risky. In fact, if you practice good hygiene and follow the steps above, menstrual cups can be life-changing!
There’s a reason why the majority of women who of have used menstrual cups have not switched back to their old methods. Menstrual cups give you more freedom, more savings, and better health. From a larger picture, they can help people in so many ways. One of which is by reducing the hazardous effects of pollution on us and the environment.
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