Updated: Sep 1, 2020
What is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups are silicone shaped cones that help menstruating individuals collect their period fluid. Because they are not a one-time use product, they are eco friendly. The silicone material makes it flexible so you can fold it for easy insertion and depending on your type of flow you can leave it on for a more extended period of time than you would a tampon.
There is no denying that cups have arrived to make our lives easier, with them we can do just about any physical activity without worrying about spillage or rashes. They are comfortable, eco-friendly, easy on the buck and you can even pee with it. But these devices aren't new at all, in fact, the first prototype was patented in 1860, but the design was never actually produced or launched into the market, throughout the years there have been many attempts to introduce this hygiene product by varying its design and materials, but it wasn't up until 1980 that we finally get the cup we used today and with new technologies, at the beginning of the 21st century we were able to include new materials like medical grade silicone, helping individuals allergic to latex.
We can agree that the cup is great, it comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and materials, so it's just a matter of choosing the correct one for you. Many companies sell menstrual cups nowadays, so our recommendation is to check that your cup is cleared for sale by the FDA to ensure it is produced in medical silicone or TPE (thermoplastic elastomers). This all sounds amazing and it has many of us transitioning to a more self-conscious and environmentally safe menstruation. With all the hype it should be perfect by now, right?
It's not perfect!
One thing that we must understand is that with the cup, we are introducing a foreign object in our vaginal canal which means we need to have excellent hygiene to stop any bacteria from entering with it. Having said this, it is a misconception to say that nothing can go wrong with the cup, yes we are less at risk from toxic shock syndrome, but it is not impossible. We must remember to take care of our bodies and the things we use to take care of our menstrual hygiene, so let's go through a few misunderstandings very common regarding the cup:
It can't cause allergies
Menstrual cups are made of different materials depending on the brand you decide to purchase yours from, and many of them are made from latex and about 1 to 6 percent of people in the U.S. have a latex allergy, so while for some people it can be completely safe, for some it isn't.
It doesn't cause infections
While the cup itself won't cause you an infection, chances are if you are not washing your hands properly and taking the proper precautions when inserting and emptying your cup, you are at high risk of one. This is why personal hygiene is very important, giving yourself a proper hand wash and keeping the cup to yourself, as well as trying not to empty it in public restrooms, all of this will help you keep your cup clean and your vagina safe.
It doesn't cause toxic shock
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is typically associated with tampons, when leaving them for a long period of time you can experience a bacterial infection that can be life-threatening. Even though the cup can handle a good amount of liquid it is not recommended to be left on for more than 12 hours. If you or anyone you know think they may have TSS, please refer to a doctor immediately.
The most important thing is that you research thoroughly to see if this device is right for you. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as needed when purchasing, ask about the size, what the right fit for you would be, and most importantly don't rush into making a decision, let your body tell YOU what's right for you. And if you are ready for the transition, than we have nothing more to say than:
Johnson, Traci C. “Menstrual Cup: How It Works, Pros, Cons.” WebMD, WebMD, 19 Apr. 2019, www.webmd.com/women/guide/menstrual-cup
“Toxic Shock Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355384
North, Barbara B., et al. “Preclinical, Clinical, and Over-the-Counter Postmarketing Experience with a New Vaginal Cup: Menstrual Collection.” Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, 13 Feb. 2011, www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jwh.2009.1929
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