You don’t have to spend much time on the internet to see that there are a lot of common fears surrounding menstrual cups. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find friends who are familiar with menstrual cups and knowledgeable enough to advise you on whether those dangers are facts or myths. All of this uncertainty and unfamiliarity can make switching to sustainable menstrual products that much harder.
That’s why we’ve compiled some of the most common fears and supposed menstrual cup dangers for you! We want you to know what you’re getting into so that you can be confident in your preparedness without having to sift through a whole lot of misinformation and horror stories that are far more the exception than the rule.
Menstrual Myth : You Can Get TSS From Menstrual Cups
The facts: It’s actually super rare to get toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from menstrual cups because unlike tampons, menstrual cups and discs only collect blood, they don’t absorb it. The materials that they are made from (medical grade silicone, TPE, or natural latex rubber) just don’t function the same as the absorptive materials found in tampons. The bacteria that most commonly causes TSS, Staphylococcus aureus, isn’t quite as comfy in this environment. While not impossible, unlike tampon users, there are only two reported cases of menstrual cup users contracting TSS.
TSS is one of the most talked about menstrual cup fears and dangers, (really, menstruation dangers in general) as long as you make sure to remove and clean your menstrual cup at least once every 10-12 hours before reinserting it, it is extremely unlikely that you will get TSS on account of your cup.
While studies into the safety of menstrual cups specifically are not as robust as we’d like (as is everything in this arena, it seems) menstrual cup use has been proven to be no more risky than any other menstrual hygiene products. One study of note, by The Lancet Public Health shows just that, which we also have a breakdown of here.
The risk of TSS is already quite minimal in general but following best washing practices (using gentle soap without fragrances or other possible toxins or harsh additives) is key to preventing infections of any type. If you’d like more peace of mind, boiling your menstrual cup before and after every cycle can also help ensure that your cup is sterile for every use. Still have questions? Check out our article all about menstrual cups and TSS.
Menstrual Myth : You Can’t Use A Menstrual Cup With An IUD
The facts: It is safe to use a menstrual cup with an IUD as long as you use caution and care. The fear here is that the suction created by a menstrual cup to hold it in place would interfere with or even pull out your IUD. In actuality, the general consensus is that the suction created is not nearly enough to remove your IUD. That being said, you should always make sure to take care to break the seal while removing your menstrual cup. Otherwise the suction can cause a tugging sensation or mild pain in your abdomen regardless of whether or not you have an IUD.
Along with this the other fear is that you could accidentally pull the IUD’s strings when you remove your cup. It’s important to be aware of your strings as not to accidentally pull on them, which is why we recommend pinching and holding the base to remove the cup after breaking the seal. Use the stem only as a guide (not a pull string!) and you may also find it helpful to fold the cup slightly while removing to eliminate any risk of suction created from pulling down the cup.
Again, nothing is impossible and expulsions have happened, so to be safe, you should also make sure to note the height of your cervix and length of the IUD string before using a menstrual cup. Your doctor can trim your strings and it may be best to use another form of period care while your body adjusts, as expulsion is most common in the first few months after placement.
But, if you still don’t feel confident using a menstrual cup with an IUD you can always try a menstrual disc instead. Menstrual discs are another great reusable period product that don’t create a seal with the vaginal wall in quite the same way as a cup. It instead rests more at an angle between your cervix and your pelvic bone.
Menstrual Myth : You Can’t Exercise With A Menstrual Cup
The facts: This is just a big ol’ myth. There is nothing you can’t do with a cup that you can normally do without. You can run, bike, practice yoga, swim, and do so much more with a menstrual cup in! Periods can be a major inconvenience to your schedule no matter your plans. Swimming especially is a big concern for tampon and pad users, for obvious reasons. Ask anyone who’s gone swimming with a tampon and they’ll tell you the second you get in the water, the tampon is done for.
Which is why menstrual cups are the clear winner for swimming and water sports. They have less of a chance to leak, last longer than tampons, and are much less likely to fill with water thanks to their seal. Plus, menstrual cups come in a variety of sizes and firmnesses so you can choose a cup that has the right firmness, softness, or capacity that’s right for you and your activities.
Of course, get to know your menstrual flow so that you can empty when necessary to prevent any leakage (keep in mind that this may be more often if you’re not typically super active). Cloth sanitary pads, liners, and period underwear are also great options for backup if you know you’ve got a long day ahead where access to a toilet may be minimal.
Menstrual Myth : You Can’t Empty A Menstrual Cup In A Public Restroom
The facts: You can absolutely remove and empty a menstrual cup in a public restroom without it being weird, messy, or embarrassing (even if you live in a communal bathroom dorm).
We’ve all heard the fears or horror stories about cups flying out of stalls but the reality is it’s really not an aggressive process so that chance of this is super unlikely. Slow and easy is the name of the menstrual cup removal game, but that’s not to say accidents don’t happen. Just know that it’s really uncommon and we know plenty of people who have used a cup for 10+ years and have never had to deal with this.
As one of the most common menstrual cup removal fears and worries, changing your cup in public can be the last straw when it comes to considering swapping from tampons to a menstrual cup. While it’s true that you can more easily plan your cup changes around your schedule than you can tampons, sometimes it can’t be avoided so we have a few tips for you.
First, always wash your hands before removing your cup, no matter what your bathroom situation is. But if you can, try finding a private or family bathroom if you can so you have more room to yourself. Since that’s not always possible, you can bring a water bottle into the stall with you, carry menstrual cup cleansing wipes in your pocket or bag, or try out a collapsible shaker cup for on the go easy cleaning so you can rinse your cup before reinserting.
But honestly, if you don’t have a way of cleaning your cup on the go, you can skip the rinse altogether. With clean hands you are highly unlikely to get bacteria on your cup or in your vagina, so you shouldn’t have any menstrual cup removal dangers to worry about. Although you’ll still want to remove and clean your cup once you’re home or in a more private place.
Still have questions about menstrual cup dangers or looking for more information about menstrual cups in general?
Feel free to browse through our beginners guide to menstrual cups, frequently asked questions page, or check out our blog for other resources and guides to sustainable period products.