Saving Menstrual Cups as Effective as Tampons

A single cup costs about $40

A single cup costs about $40

Scientists also discovered that there was no increased risk of infection associated with using menstrual cups.

"In any impoverished set of circumstances be it in Liverpool, or London, or anywhere in low-middle-income countries, people really struggle - women and girls really struggle to be able to manage their menstruation", and menstrual cups can be a part of the solution, said Penelope Phillips-Howard, senior author of the study, which analyzed 43 worldwide papers.

In recent times, menstrual cups have emerged as a potential alternative to traditional products. "In common with other members of the Menstrual Cup Coalition, I have found that lack of knowledge and misconceptions about menstrual cups prevent worldwide NGOs and governments from including cups in their menstrual health programming, typically offering only disposable or cloth pads".

Menstruation is part of life for 1.9 billion girls and women across the globe.

Menstruation can affect girls' schooling and women's experience at work, increasing their disposition to urogenital infections if they use poor quality sanitary products.

Although there are 199 brands of menstrual cups available in 99 countries, awareness is low - cups were only mentioned in 21 of 69 websites containing educational materials on puberty from 27 countries.

Menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina when a woman is menstruating, but fluid is collected in a cup, rather than absorbed.

To avoid the risk of TSS, Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn with Orlando Health System in Florida, tells Health that it's best to empty your menstrual cup every four to six hours, like you would with a tampon.

The first scientific review of reusable menstrual cups has revealed that these products are as safe and effective as sanitary pads and tampons.

The cups also get around the need for women to continuously purchase disposable products - such as tampons or pads -because they're made with medical-grade silicone, rubber or latex and can last up to 10 years.

So much so that average monthly searches on Google for "menstrual cup" are up a huge 174 percent in just four years.

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Christine Metz is director of research in obstetrics and gynecology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. She said some female participants in research she's conducting "use menstrual cups and have provided positive feedback".

They selected 43 studies involving 3,319 participants in both low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) - 15 studies, and high-income countries - 28 studies. However, some of the studies included in the analysis were ranked as low quality and some had not been peer-reviewed.

Menstrual cups have been having a moment.

Yet, even in rich countries, only a fifth of women on average knew about the new devices, three of the studies found.

Commenting on the study, Dr Julie Hennegan from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: "For consumers purchasing menstrual products, the results highlight cups as a safe and cost-effective option". Critically, findings indicate that menstrual education resources are not providing a comprehensive overview of products to support informed choices.

All in all, researchers encourage more women to look into this alternative.

A cup could cost roughly 5-7 per cent of the cost of using 12 pads (on average $ 0.31 each) or tampons (on average $ 0.21 each) per period.

Women can also reduce plastic waste by using a menstrual cup. Over 10 years, a cup is estimated to create 0.4% of the plastic waste generated by single-use pads or 6% of that produced by using tampons.

The authors note the cost and waste estimates are only illustrative, and do not account for the combined use of menstrual products, inflation, or production costs.

Water can also be saved. The investigators called for more and better quality research in this area. She said the experience inspired her to start The Cup Foundation.

For Wirseen, this meant that girls need a solution - one that's immediate and durable.

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