Choosing what sanitary product works for you and your body can be challenging. With pads, period pants, tampons, fabric pads, and menstruation cups, knowing where to begin is difficult. Although pads and tampons are still leading favourites, newer, cheaper, and more eco-friendly products like menstruation cups are growing in popularity. But they are still leaving some to have reservations. Now new research is proving that menstrual cups are leak proof, just like the other leading sanitary products, as the BBC reports.
Menstruation cups are usually made from soft medical grade silicone and are folded and inserted into the vagina, where they create a seal. Unlike pads and tampons, they collect blood rather than absorb it. The cup is then removed emptied every four to 12 hours, cleaned and reused. They come in different sizes depending on what fit your body needs. Yet, a big concern for people regarding menstrual cups is whether they are leak and accident proof, if they are comfortable, and if they are difficult to remove, insert, and clean.
The review published by the Lancet Public Health Journal examined groups of adults and adolescents from, low, middle, and high income countries and how they found using menstruation cups. The report explained that whilst menstruation cups were growing in popularity, they found awareness around the products were still very low.
The study found that there was no increased infection risk compared to other menstruation products, and leakage was no worse or less than other products. The study also concluded that participants still reported menstrual cups needed a "familiarisation phase over several menstrual cycles" and that peer support was also helpful. Using menstrual cups successfully and effectively does take some patience, but once you get the hang of it they could be the ideal sanitary product. 13 of the studies found that around 70% of participants wanted to continue using menstrual cups once they had familiarised themselves.
Menstrual cups are reusable, unlike tampons and pads; the latter aren't the best products for the environment as both are disposable. And surprisingly, tampons and pads both actually contain single-use plastic. The BBC reports that some pads can be made with up to 90% plastic, which is the equivalent of four supermarket bags. And according to OrganiCup, people with periods use 11,000 disposable pads and/or tampons in a lifetime. Tampons also present a small risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
And in the the long run, more money is saved using menstrual cups. They retail around £15-£25, which is considerably more than tampons and pads, but one menstrual cup can be used for around 10 years. This does mean you have to have the money to begin with however. Luckily companies like Ruby Cup have "Buy One Give One" schemes addressing this.
Sanitary products and menstrual cups in general still have cultural, social, and economic challenges across the world. For people that don't have access to clean water for sanitising the product, or privacy, using menstruation cups might be challenging. Yet menstrual cups could still prevent infections even if water facilities aren't the best
Menstrual cups really could address period poverty globally. Overall they work out cheaper, last longer, and are greener. And the report reiterates that menstruation cups are just as effective as the common favourite sanitary products.