Are Menstrual Cups Better and Safer Than Pads and Tampons?

Written by: Natalya Patolot | 9 months ago

Menstrual cups are becoming more popular lately because people claim that it is more cost-effective, convenient, and environmentally friendly than pads and tampons. However, are they really better and even safer than other disposable menstrual products? A new study tries to provide some answers for us.

Many people consider menstrual cups to be environmentally friendly. Disposable pads and tampons are preferred over other menstrual hygiene products by those who are committed to decreasing waste generated by the plastic, non-recyclable, and non-biodegradable components found in disposable pads and tampons. However, it has remained unclear if they are as safe, less safe, or safer than traditional disposable pads and tampons.

A study of medical studies and grey literature was undertaken by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, in partnership with other researchers from the United Kingdom, Kenya, and India. To learn more about the use and safety of menstrual cups, they looked into conference papers, reports, and doctorate theses about this. Here's a brief summary of their findings:

Leakage Rates

Similar to disposable pads and tampons, it's still possible to experience leakage with the menstrual cup. Three of the researchers' studies revealed that leakage rates between menstrual cups and other items were comparable, while one study found that menstrual cups leaked much less. Moreover, about 70% of those who used menstrual cups in the research were glad to continue using the device once they had learned how to use them correctly. Familiarization seems to be the most challenging component for many first-time users, which may have even contributed to the leakage for some. Furthermore, six qualitative investigations found that for many people, it took several cycles of using the menstrual cup before finally becoming comfortable with them.

Potential Side Effects

The researchers also investigated how safe menstrual cups were to use. They did this by looking into the negative consequences indicated by European, North American, and African populations. Only five people in the available research reported having toxic shock syndrome after using a menstrual cup. The researchers do warn, however, that it is unknown how many women truly use menstrual cups. As a result, they were unable to assess the risk rates for this incident for menstrual cups with disposable menstrual devices.

According to the research, using menstrual cups had no effect on vaginal flora. A study that looked at the vaginal canal and the cervix after a woman used a menstrual cup found that it did not cause tissue damage. However, there may be certain dangers for women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs). The researchers found 13 occasions when removing the menstrual cup after usage dislodged the IUD. In addition, five persons who used a menstrual cup complained of discomfort, three suffered vaginal sores, six developed an allergy, and nine had urinary tract difficulties.

Other Benefits

Other researchers have claimed that women do not have to worry about unsightly odors billowing out at inconvenient times with menstrual cups since the fluid isn't exposed to air like it is with disposable pads and tampons. Vaginal pH and healthy microorganisms remain in situ as well. Tampons absorb vaginal fluid along with blood, potentially disrupting the vagina's delicate pH and bacterial balance. Additionally, women are given more time before emptying and cleaning their menstrual cups. Tampons and pads should be changed every four to eight hours, depending on flow. Meanwhile, users may use a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours before needing to empty it.

Final Thoughts

Although menstrual cups are cost-effective, eco-friendly, convenient, and easy to use, there are still some risks like other menstrual products. However, based on already existing studies, the researchers still believe that menstrual cups are at least as safe and dependable as other menstrual hygiene devices, and they encourage educators to include them in their presentations as there are not enough studies about it.

With all of this in mind, are you still hesitant to use a menstrual cup? Who knows, maybe you would enjoy your experience and completely ditch disposable tampons and pads altogether! Just don't forget to choose the right size and sterilize it properly.