Benefits and Dangers of Menstrual Cups: Are They Safe?

By Abeera Maham
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published October 29, 2021.

Woman holding menstrual cup

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible funnel-shaped cup made of rubber or silicone that you insert into your vagina to capture and collect period fluid. Menstrual cups can store more blood than other methods and are environmentally friendly, thus many women prefer them as an alternative.

Once you know how to use a menstrual cup, you'll never turn back.

Pros and Cons of Menstrual Cups

The Pros of Using a Menstrual Cup

Many women prefer to use menstruation cups for the following reasons:

  • They are reusable Many menstruation cups can be used for a long time. You can save money (budget-friendly) by using menstrual cups instead of tampons or sanitary napkins every month.
  • They can be worn for long hours A menstrual cup can also be worn for up to 12 hours before it needs to be emptied. When compared to a tampon's typical time of 4 to 8 hours, that's a significant amount of time saved.
  • There is no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome Because menstrual cups collect blood rather than absorb it, you are not in danger of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare (bacterial) yeast infection linked to tampon use.
  • You are protected from bacterial infections Unlike tampons, they do not dry out the vagina. This protects the beneficial bacteria that keep you safe from vaginal infections.
  • Menstrual cups do not contain toxins Chlorine and dioxin are found in tampons and pads. Some dioxins are known to cause cancer in humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source.
  • They are environmentally-friendly According to the Women's Environmental Network, about 400 million pounds of sanitary pads, tampons, and tampon applicators wind up in landfills each year.
  • They may lessen period cramps Although no scientific studies have been conducted to confirm this, many women claim to experience less acute cramps when using menstrual cups.
  • There's no odor When menstrual fluid is exposed to air, it acquires an odor. Cups solve this problem. The majority of women indicate that they don't even notice the cup when it's in place.

The Cons of Using a Menstrual Cup

  • Menstrual cups may be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution, but there are a few factors why menstrual cups are bad:
  • Cup removal can be a hassle You may find yourself in a situation or position where removing your cup is difficult or inconvenient. It could be difficult to reach the cup, release the suction, and draw the cup down and out.
  • They can be difficult to insert When inserting your menstrual cup, you may discover that you are not receiving the proper fold.
  • It's possible that you're allergic to the material Most menstruation cups are made of latex-free materials, making them an excellent choice for persons who are allergic to latex. However, there is a potential that the silicone or rubber substance will trigger an allergic reaction in some persons.
  • It has the potential to induce vaginal discomfort and infection If you don't clean and care for your menstrual cup properly, it can irritate your vagina and may cause yeast infections. Therefore, make sure you know how to clean a menstrual cup.

How Dangerous Are Menstrual Cups?

Are Menstrual Cups Healthier for You?

Menstrual cups, like other sanitary products, are safe and healthy. You won't acquire toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare bacterial infection linked to tampon use, because menstrual cups collect rather than absorb blood.

Do Menstruation Cups Cause Pain?

Many individuals can't feel their cups after they're in and inserting them shouldn't be uncomfortable (though it might take more practice to use than a tampon or pad).

The only time an individual may experience pain is if they do not know how to correctly remove the cup. This happens when the suction around the cervix is not released before tugging at the bottom of the cup, and the tug pulls on the cervix, causing pain.

How Can You Tell When Your Menstrual Cup Is Full?

You will feel as though your cup is about to fall, yet it will not. And you will also feel the pressure. That is when you should change the cup.

In general, the cup-using community agrees that you should empty your cup every 10-12 hours at the longest. If your periods are heavy or the first few days are heavy, you will need to empty your menstrual cup more frequently to avoid leaks.

What Happens if You Leave It in Too Long?

According to Dr. Roskin, the chances of infection or toxic shock are relatively low while using a menstrual cup. However, if you leave it in for too long, though, you risk acquiring other illnesses.

The following are symptoms of a menstrual cup kept in too long:

  • Pain
  • fever
  • foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Be sure to check in with your healthcare practitioner if you forget to remove yours on time and start to experience illness.

Menstrual Cups vs. Other Sanitary Products

Menstrual Cups vs. Tampons

Menstrual cups are preferred by some women because they are a tampon substitute that may be safely worn for up to 12 hours.

According to one study, women had to change the cup 2.8 times less frequently than when using tampons (or pads), and it leaked 0.5 times less frequently. Cups can also stay in place for longer periods of time, making them ideal for overnight protection. There's no need to wear a backup pad or liner after you've mastered inserting it

Menstrual Cups vs. Pads

Menstrual cups produce less smell compared to pads. They also leave you feeling comfortable and always feeling fresh, even if it is a sweltering hot day. There is no need to around with a packet of pads in your bag or deal with sticky wings, shifting pads, or spillage.

Do Doctors Recommend Menstrual Cups?

Menstrual cups are usually viewed as safe by the medical community. As long as you use the cup as instructed, the chance of adverse side effects of menstrual cups is negligible.

The cups are classified as class II medical devices, which means they are not FDA approved but rather FDA registered—that is, the FDA must be aware of and register the specific product (the cup), as well as the organization that makes it.

According to a gynecologist's opinion of menstruation cups, "it is not suitable for women with severe clinical uterine prolapse, but all women with normal anatomy should be able to use a menstrual cup comfortably. Cups should not be used in any situation where there is a risk of infection, such as immediately following surgery or giving delivery."