Are there dangers to using Menstrual Cups?
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. With proper use, they are safe to use.
However, similar to tampons, menstrual cups do have some potential risks, particularly if a person does not use them correctly.
This article looks at some of the potential dangers of using menstrual cups.
In most cases, menstrual cups are not dangerous, as long as people follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
Although many people use menstrual cups without experiencing any complications, there are some potential risks to using them. Many of these risks are similar to those of using other internal menstrual products.
ResearchersTrusted Sourcehave identified the following risks:
- pain or minor injuries
- allergic reactions
- urinary problems
- dislodging an intrauterine device (IUD)
- toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
As with any other menstrual product, menstrual cups can leak during use. Leakage is more likely if the cup is full or does not fit well.
Emptying the cup regularly and using one that fits well reduce the chance of leaks. A menstrual cup that fits well will create a “seal” around the vaginal wall, and it will not move much during the day.
Pain and minor injuries
Inserting any object into the vagina can cause pain or small injuries. A person is more likely to experience these issues if they insert a menstrual cup roughly, have long nails, or use a cup that is too large.
The comprehensive review in The Lancet only found
five peopleTrusted Source(0.15% of the participants) who experienced severe pain or injury while using a menstrual cup. The researchers suggest that this could be due to differences in anatomy or the cup being in an incorrect position.
Rashes and allergic reactions
Any product can cause a skin allergy or allergic reaction. In rare cases, this can also occur in people using menstrual cups. The Lancet review found only
six casesTrusted Source(0.18% of the total) where cups caused an allergic reaction or rash.
As the materials that companies use to make menstrual cups can vary, some people may find that certain brands work better for them than others.
Inserting any object into the vagina can irritate the urethra and introduce bacteria to the urinary tract. A small number of people find that this occurs when they use menstrual cups.
Additionally, in rare cases, the cup may push up against the urethra and block it, leading to problems urinating.
The Lancet review identified
nine peopleTrusted Source(0.27%) with urinary symptoms, three of whom developed hydronephrosis — a serious condition that causes swelling in the kidney when urine cannot escape.
Medical scans showed that in all three of these cases, the menstrual cup was not in the correct position, which may have been the cause.
IUD dislodgment or expulsion
Some evidence suggests that menstrual cups can dislodge IUDs, which can mean that they are no longer effective for preventing pregnancy. The Lancet reported that menstrual cup use led to an IUD becoming dislodged or coming out of the vagina in
13 participantsTrusted Source(0.39% of the total number).
However, IUD expulsion naturally occurs in about
one in 20 peopleTrusted Source, with or without the use of menstrual cups. It commonly occurs during a period, so it is not possible to confirm that the menstrual cup was the direct cause of expulsion.
2012 studyTrusted Sourcefound that the risk of IUD expulsion was no higher when people used tampons, pads, or menstrual cups.
However, people who use an IUD may wish to avoid menstrual cups if they are worried about the potential risk of expulsion.
The Lancet review did not find evidence that menstrual cups pose an increased risk of infection compared with other period products. Some of the included studies indicated that cups are less likely to cause infections than tampons or pads.
However, there is still a small risk of infection when using cups, which increases if a person does not keep their cup clean.
Toxic shock syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a serious and potentially life threatening bacterial infection that a strain of Staphylococcus aureus causes. It is most commonly associated with tampons, but in very rare cases, it also occurs in people who use menstrual cups.
Some advocates for menstrual cups cite
older researchTrusted Sourceas proof that TSS only occurs when people use highly absorbent materials internally, such as those found in tampons. However, more recent research shows that TSS is possible in menstrual cup users too.