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Questions About Getting a Menstrual Cup

Published: August 23, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Hello, I'm 17 and thinking of buying a menstrual cup. Are there any risks connected that I need to know about? Is there a way to reduce the risk of TSS? Should I consult a doctor before getting one?
Signed: Questions About Getting a Menstrual Cup

Dear Questions About Getting a Menstrual Cup,

For our readers who may not know, a menstrual cup is an alternative to using tampons or pads while you are menstruating. The cup is inserted just before your period starts, collects menstrual flow in the cup, and then the cup is removed and cleaned at least every 12 hours while you have your period. Many cups are made to be reusable and can be sterilized in boiling water at the end of your cycle for use during your next period.

Pros:

  • Reusable menstrual cups are good for the environment because it means less waste in landfills.
  • Reusable menstrual cups are helpful financially since a reusable cup that costs $30-$40 can last up to 10 years with proper care.
  • You can leave the cup in for 12 hours, which is longer than you can leave in tampons.
  • If you are using the cup as directed, you should not need to wear pads or panty liners with it as you would with a tampon.
  • It holds more menstrual fluid than a pad or tampon.
  • There is less odor because the menstrual fluid is sealed inside the cup.
  • There is a significantly lower risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome) compared to tampon use.

 

Cons:

  • It can cause irritation for some women. However, any irritation seemed to lessen for most women the more it was used.
  • It can take some time to find the right fit.
  • Removing the cup without messy spills can be difficult as you are getting used to using it.
  • If you use an IUD (intrauterine device) there is a chance (though low) that the cup could pull on the string of the IUD or dislodge it. If you have an IUD and are considering using a menstrual cup, best to check with your doctor first.

 

Menstrual Cups and TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome):

Research has shown TSS caused by menstrual cup use to be extremely rare.

 

Tips when using a menstrual cup:

  • Read the directions carefully before use.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before inserting or removing the cup.
  • Rotate the cup 360 degrees in either direction to make sure the cup is fully open.
  • If your cup is leaking, it has not been inserted properly. For young women this is generally because it hasn’t been rotated or inserted at the right angle.
  • Remove and clean out your cup every 4-12 hours depending on the amount of menstrual flow.
  • Remember that using your cup with become easier and more of an automatic thing with time and practice!

 

If you are using an IUD, it is recommended to check in with your doctor about starting to use a menstrual cup. If not, it is not a necessity. However, if you have questions or concerns about menstrual cup use, including finding the right size, you can certainly check in with your primary care physician, adolescent medicine specialist or gynecologist. If you have questions about how to use one, you can also speak to your mother or another female relative, or even your school nurse.

For more information, read the article, Everything You Never Knew You Should Know about Menstrual Cups.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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