“Can you wear a menstrual cup when you have an IUD?”
We hear this a lot and it’s about time we address some of the misconceptions surrounding this somewhat controversial menstrual cup question. While we have privately answered this questions countless times, and guided users to helpful articles, we have avoided addressing it in an official format for quite some time. Our biggest reason for not covering it is mainly because neither of us are trained medical professionals and we always want to present you with the best available information to make a truly informed decision — and this one really warrants a deep dive. We have been so fortunate to connect and work with Dr. Brooke Vandermolen, OB/GYN on this very important topic. She kindly looked over our video script, offered her expertise, and reviewed the final product to ensure our information is accurate to current medical standards and the best of our collective knowledge. In addition to this, we will also be linking other helpful resources for your research at the end of this article.
Before we go further, if you have concerns about using a menstrual cup with an IUD, we recommend discussing it with a trusted medical care provider. That said, we do understand that there are many OB/GYN’s with little or no knowledge of the menstrual cup. They will either give advice to be ultra safe such as saying you should avoid using a cup, or may have advice that goes against what more informed physicians know to be true. We do still believe you should seek advice, and also advocate for using your own best judgement. You can use the tools we are sharing here and common sense if you would like to use a cup while you have an IUD. Knowing your own body is a valuable asset on this journey, so find your cervix and your strings before you decide.
The Basics of the IUD [ aka Coil ]
If you are unfamiliar, an IUD, or coil, is a form of birth control. It is a very small T-shaped device that is placed inside of the uterus to prevent pregnancies, and it can be left in place for up to 10 years.
The IUD is inserted through the cervical opening by a medical professional. It has strings attached so that it can be removed easily by your care provider, either by choice when you’re ready to stop birth control or when it’s time for a new device.
The Menstrual Cup and IUD Myth
“Menstrual Cups Cause Suction That Can Pull Out An IUD” This is FALSE!
TRUTH: There is not enough suction to pull out and dislodge the IUD during the menstrual cup removal.
“Menstrual cups do create suction, but if inserted and removed correctly, it’s simply not enough to dislodge an IUD on its own. When removing the cup it is important to break the seal. If you feel any tugging or lower abdominal pain as you are removing the cup then let go of the suction and try pulling on a different part of the cup. If you are still unsure then stop and seek advice from a medical professional.” –Dr. Brooke Vandermolen, NHS doctor currently working and training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the UK
According to a recent article on Newswire.net that consulted with two different gynecologists, there is not enough suction to pull out and dislodge the IUD during the menstrual cup removal. This is a statement by Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, M.D a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Yale University’s School of Medicine and echoed by Dr. Conti, M.D of Stanford University, a clinical assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology and fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health.
The Actual Risks of Using a Cup with an IUD
The real risks of wearing a menstrual cup with an IUD in place is the accidental pulling of the IUD’s strings that hang out of the cervix and into the vaginal canal. When removing your cup, we always recommend that users pinch the base of the cup and keep it pinched while removing. If you have a cervix that likes to sit inside of the cup or is on the lower side, this could pose an issue — especially with longer strings or if you tend to pinch higher on the cup. We always recommend being aware of your strings. If you feel that they are too long, and could possibly be pinched and grabbed while removing your cup, you can always ask your gynecologist to trim them to help prevent that.
The other thing that can happen with, and without cup usage, is natural expulsion of the IUD. According to bedsider.com, the rates of IUD expulsion are somewhere between .05% and 8% and is most likely to happen within the first three months of placement. That’s a pretty big range. If you’re like us and in a group of more than 25k people who use a cup, many of which have an IUD, you’re bound to hear a horror story or two, or more. Unfortunately it is something that happens from time to time and there are a lot of reasons why it might happen, like age, how high the IUD was placed, pregnancy history, and more. Since there is a higher chance of natural expulsion in the first three months, some brands and physicians advise waiting to use a cup until after this time. It was also noted in the recent study just published in The Lancet Public Health that there simply isn’t enough data to say for sure if menstrual cups contribute to an increase of IUD expulsion but current information points to no.
So, Can You Use a Cup with an IUD?
Those with an IUD can use a cup effectively and safely if they use caution and care. While there is always a risk, it’s very small. There are thousands of IUD owners that are happy with their menstrual cups. It is a personal decision that you, and you alone, can make. If you think you’d like to us a cup, just remember to always be aware of your strings. And if you don’t feel comfortable with it then that’s okay, too. Still not sure? Talk to a physician that you trust to be knowledgeable about IUDs, and cups too, if possible.
We want to thank Dr. Brooke Vandermolen for working with us on this very important video. You can catch her on Instagram at @theobgynmum