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A menstrual cup is a type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood). About every 4–12 hours (depending on the amount of flow), the menstruating woman removes the menstrual cup from her vagina, empties the collected menstrual blood into a toilet or sink, washes the cup under running water and inserts it again. At the end of the monthly period, the cup can be sterilized, usually by boiling in water. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it.
Manufacturers have different recommendations for when to replace the cups, but in general they can be reused for five years or so
menstrual cups are safe when used as directed and no health risks related to their use have been found, no medical research was conducted to ensure that menstrual cups were safe prior to introduction on the market.
One case report in the journal Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation noted the development of endometriosis and adenomyosis in one menstrual cup user Additionally, one survey with a small sample size indicated a possible link; Associated Pharmacologists & Toxicologists and the Endometriosis Research Centre issued a combined statement that urged further research However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to remove menstrual cups from the market, saying that there was insufficient evidence of risk
One case report in the Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases & Medical Microbiology noted a confirmed case of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) associated with the use of the DivaCup menstrual cupThis report is the first to detail the association between a menstrual cup and menstrual TSS, making it very rare.
In 1962, Karl John, M.D., evaluated 50 women using a bell-shaped cup. He obtained vaginal smears, gram stains, and basic aerobic cultures of vaginal secretions. A vaginal speculum examination was performed, and pH was measured. No significant changes were noted. This report is the first containing extensive information on the safety and acceptability of a widely used menstrual cup that includes both preclinical and clinical testing and over 10 years of postmarketing surveillance
Since they are reusable, menstrual cups help to reduce solid waste. Some disposable sanitary napkins and plastic tampon applicators can take 25 years to break down in the ocean and can cause a significant environmental impact. Biodegradable sanitary options are also available, but for these to decompose in a short period of time they must be composted, and not disposed of in a landfill.Reusable menstrual products (including menstrual cups) are more economical than disposable ones; in the long run a user will save money by using a menstrual cup.When using a menstrual cup, the menstrual fluid is collected away from the cervix and held in liquid form as opposed to it being absorbed and held in semi-coagulated form against the cervix, as is the case with tampons.Menstrual cups collect menstrual fluid inside the vagina and may not leak (if emptied often enough). However, some women do experience leakage due to the improper use or size of their menstrual cups.You may experience leakage when using a menstrual cup if the cup is not inserted correctly and does not pop open completely causing a suction.
If a user needs to track the amount of menses she is producing (e.g. for medical reasons) a cup can allow her to more accurately estimate this quantity. Some cups even have measuring marks on them.Some women report that they bleed less or have shorter periods or fewer cramps when using a menstrual cup as opposed to tampons.
The menstrual cup has been explored as a means of menstrual hygiene management in developing countries, including Kenya, Uganda, India and South Africa, where access to affordable sanitary products may be limited. Menstruation can be a barrier to education for many girls, as a lack of effective sanitary products restricts girls involvement in educational and social activities. Often they do not attend school due to fear of leaking, shame or embarrassment, period pain or inadequate sanitation facilities that do not allow them to wash or change in privacy.This applies mainly to schoolgirls from middle and low-income families, since disposable hygiene products are a monthly expense that many females simply cannot afford.A lack of affordable hygiene products means inadequate, unhygienic alternatives are used, which can present a serious health risk. Menstrual cups offer a longer-term solution than other feminine hygiene products because they do not need to be replaced monthly. The quality of the material also makes them a reliable and healthy menstrual hygiene solution if there is access to clean water.
Cultural, religious and traditional beliefs can lead to different restrictions that women or girls face during their period. Some of them do not wash their bodies, shower or bathe. In some communities they are not allowed to use water sources during menstruation. Even if they have access to toilets they might not use them because of the fear of staining them. This impairs the use of menstrual cups.
In developing countries, solid waste management is often sorely lacking and therefore menstrual cups do not contribute to the solid waste issues in the communities.
Adequate sanitation facilities and menstrual hygiene products are just one part of the solution to menstrual taboos impeding womens progress in many developing countries. Knowledge is critical for girls to feel comfortable with menstruation and to gain a positive body awareness.


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