Menstrual cups are devices that collect menstrual blood internally. Unlike tampons, they do not absorb blood but collect it in a silicone or soft plastic cup. If used properly they are safe to use. But just like tampons, menstrual cups have certain disadvantages if not used in the correct way.
Are menstrual cups dangerous?
Mostly menstrual cups are not dangerous if users follow the given instructions. According to research conducted on the safety of menstrual cups involving 3,319 participants, it was found out that menstrual cups are a safe way of managing the phase of periods.
The risky matter
There are some potential risks of using menstrual cups which is quite rare.
The following identifiable risks are-
- Pain or minor injuries
- Allergic reactions
- Urinary problems
- Dislodging an intrauterine device(UD)
- Toxic shock syndrome(TSS)
Menstrual cups can leak during use like other menstrual products. This leakage takes place if the cup is full or does not fit well. One should empty the cup regularly and use a proper fit which will reduce the chances of leakage. A menstrual cup that fits well will make a ‘seal’ around the vaginal wall and it will not move much during the day.
PAIN AND MINOR INJURIES
Inserting any object in the vagina can cause pain or small injuries. The injuries are likely to take place if the menstrual cup is inserted roughly, if the person inserting it has long nails, or an oversized cup is being used.
RASHES AND ALLERGIC REACTIONS
Generally, any product can cause a skin allergy or allergic reaction like using menstrual cups. Because the materials that are used by companies may vary, some of the companies may be ranked higher than others based on quality.
Inserting any object in the vagina can irritate the urethra and make way for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. This has happened in some cases where menstrual cups were used. And adding to the problem the cup may push up against the urethra blocking it which can lead to problems in urinating. Nine people were found to have such urinary issues, three out of whom developed Hydronephrosis, a serious condition that causes swelling in the kidney when urine cannot escape.
IUD DISLODGEMENT OR EXPULSION
According to evidence, menstrual cups can dislodge IUDs, which means that they are not effective anymore to prevent pregnancy. IUD expulsion occurs naturally in about 1 in 20 people with or without the use of menstrual cups. It occurs commonly during the phase of periods.
It has not been found that menstrual cups pose more risk of infection than compared with other period products. But they can be dangerous if the cups are not kept clean.
TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME
Toxic Shock Syndrome(TSS) is a serious and life threatening bacterial infection caused by a strain of bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus. It is commonly associated with tampons but rarely it can occur when using menstrual cups.
Menstrual cups vs tampons and pads
As compared to tampons and sanitary napkins menstrual cups are-—
1.Reusable which creates less waste.
2.Comfortable and convenient as they can stay in the vagina for a longer time than tampons.
3.Most cost effective than other disposable products.
4.Less likely to contribute to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
5.Less likely to cause leaks once a person gets comfortable and accustomed to using them.
People with any kind of vaginal injuries and those who have given birth should not insert anything into the vagina.
How to use a menstrual cup safely
To use a menstrual cup for the first time-—
1.You should find a cup that fits the body well and is neither too hard nor too soft.
2.Sterilize the cup by adding it to a pot of clean boiling water for 10 minutes.
3.Or it is possible to buy sterilization tablets which can be useful if clean and hot water is not available.
4.Wash your hands with soap and water.
To insert a menstrual cup-—
1.Wet the outside of the cup with water or apply water-based lubricant.
2.Press the rim of the cup together so that it forms a straight line. Fold it in half so that the rim forms a ‘C’ shape.
3.Hold this cup in this shape and insert it rim-first in the vagina.
4.Once inside, the cup should open up and form a seal around the vaginal wall. A person can test this by running their finger around the edge.
A person can wear the cup for 8-12 hours at a time. It should then be emptied and rinsed out thoroughly before reinserting it again. It should not be worn for longer than 12 hours at a time without emptying and washing even if it is not full.
To remove the menstrual cup—
1.Wash the hands with soap and water.
2.Insert the fingers carefully in the vagina and pull gently on the stem of the cup.
3.When the bottom of the cup is within reach, pinch it to break the seal.
4.Remove the cup and empty the contents in the toilet or sink.
After each period is over, a person should sterilize the cup again before storing it in a clean container until the next period phase. The menstrual cups should not be shared with others.
Do the menstrual cups affect virginity?
The term ‘virgin’is used for someone, a boy or girl who has not had proper sex. Using a menstrual cup doesn’t mean that a person has lost their virginity. But these items can occasionally stretch open the Hymen, which is a thin piece of tissue that some women have around their vaginal opening.
Menstrual cups are safe to use as long as the person follows the safety guidelines. There is no proof that they are more dangerous than tampons. These cups can cause pain or other given problems so one must speak to a doctor or gynecologist if experiencing any such symptom immediately.