The first scientific review of reusable menstrual cups has revealed that these products are as safe and effective as sanitary pads and tampons.
Menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect the fluid in the cup instead of being absorbed. Cups are ideally emptied every six hours, but they can be used for a longer time.
Menstrual cups are gaining popularity, but many remain apprehensive about using these over concerns for pain, difficulty in fitting and removing the cup, leakage, and chafing.
Safe And Effective
A new study published in the Lancet Public Health journal found that complications associated with using menstrual cups are rare. Researchers also found they can be a safe and effective alternative to other menstrual products.
Anna Maria van Eijk, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK, and colleagues looked at the data of 3,300 women and girls in 43 earlier studies.
They found studies that showed a positive effect associated with the use of menstrual cups such as decreased stress around leakages.
Cost-Effective And Convenient
They also found that using menstrual cups cost less than other sanitary products. On average, the cups cost 7 percent less than the price of tampons or pads.
One study showed that cups also hold more blood and require less frequent changes per cycle than tampons on pads.
Researchers said menstrual cups could provide a significant advantage for users in settings where sanitation facilities and adequate water are not readily available.
"This is a much-needed review of the use of menstrual cups globally," said Helen Weiss, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the study. "An increased choice of menstrual products is needed, especially products which are more environmentally friendly than disposable pads and tampons."
Proper Training On Correct Use Of Menstrual Pads
Based on their findings, the researchers recommended the use of menstrual cups, albeit they noted that providing information and training on how to correctly use this sanitary product may be needed.
"This systematic review suggests that menstrual cups can be an acceptable and safe option for menstrual hygiene in high-income, low-income, and middle-income countries but are not well known," the researchers wrote in their study.
"Our findings can inform policy makers and programmes that menstrual cups are an alternative to disposable sanitary products, even where water and sanitation facilities are poor."