Are Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis Related?
Shaped like a bell, menstrual cups are either made up of rubber (The Keeper Cup) or medical grade silicone (The Diva Cup, or Moon Cup to name only two examples). These are worn inside the vagina during menstruation. They are designed to hold the menstrual fluid. There are numerous advantages to menstrual cups over other sanitary products like tampons or pads. Some of them include:
- Cheaper over the medium to long term
- Better for the environment
- Less hassle because of the higher capacity
- A product you can feel good about using!
- No more worrying about having sanitary supplies on hand, or on the road.
- Imagine the possibilities for women in developing countries? No more missing school!
The good news is that you can use one cup all the way through your periods. However, you will need to remove and rinse it frequently on heavy flow days to guard against leaking. Ideally, you should remove and rinse your cup every 12 hours. You will have to do it more often during your times of heavy flow. However, you will have to do this earlier in case of heavy flow days or when it starts leaking. The good news is that menstrual cups have 2-3x more capacity that jumbo tampons.
Despite many women choosing these cups, a debate has been raging for quite some time now about how safe these period cups are. A short answer to that question: Yes, they are extremely safe! Let’s explore this question in more detail.
Menstrual Cup Safety: Not in Question
Overall, the safety of menstrual cups is not being called into question. There are numerous menstrual cups on the FDA approved list. The top-quality ones are made from medical grade silicone in North America or Europe. Manufacturing standards are of the highest grade. Menstrual cups are certainly safer than tampons when you take into account the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). They are also free from harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Period cup usage is now widely accepted. There are no reports of TSS being caused by menstrual cups. There are also very few negative side effects mentioned anywhere that we could find. Scientific studies also support the safety of this product. It’s likely the safest product you could put inside your body during your period!
However, there is some question as to whether or not menstrual cups and endometriosis are linked. The quick answer is: no, they are not linked. But, let’s look at the question in more detail. Keep on reading to find out more.
Why the Debate about Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis?
Some people think that there’s a high chance of these cups causing endometriosis. In 2003, APT’s President – Armand Lione, Ph.D., filed a petition with the American Food and Drug Administration. He asked the FDA to revoke its approval for the marketing of menstrual cups. His petition mentioned that his actions were driven by his belief that these cups run a high risk of causing endometriosis. Like Lione, some other people too think that the retention of menstrual fluid by menstrual cups encourage the backflow of endometrial cells into the pelvic cavity from the uterus. This is theorized to increase the risk of endometriosis. However, it’s mostly just theory at this point, even 15 odd years later! No studies have ever linked the two conclusively.
In their response, the FDA noted the rationality of the petitioner’s concern. It does make sense that there could be an increased risk of endometriosis among menstrual cup users. However, they said they were unable to act on the petition. There was no clinical data available to reveal a link between endometriosis and the use of the menstrual cups. 15 or so years later, there is still no clinical evidence that these things are linked. This is despite many, many more people using menstrual cups due to increased popularity. If there was a link, there would certainly be more reports of this.
One further point worth mentioning. Menstrual fluid flows through a tiny hole in your cervix down into your vaginal canal. The opening is so small that it would require a lot of force to push back up there. Under normal conditions, it’s impossible.
Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis: Two Sides of the Debate
Opponents of menstrual cups say that the use of these cups creates a barrier to the flow of menstrual fluid out of the uterus. The fluid is redirected into the peritoneal cavity through the Fallopian tubes (retrogade menstruation). However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you regularly empty your menstrual cup. The current maximum recommended time is 12 hours if your flow is light. When your flow is heavy, you’ll want to cut this time in half to six hours maximum.
Proponents of menstrual cups say that most women experience retrograde flow of endometrial tissue. However, few develop endometriosis. This is because the abdominal cavity has its own defence system of macrophages and killer cells. These defences minimize or eliminate the invading endometrial cells. These people also believe that other factors are at play too. These factors may include a woman’s immune function, her previous choices of sanitary protection products (like pads and tampons which may have toxic elements) etc. All these things could have triggered endometriosis apart from the use of menstrual cups. It’s not well understood what actually causes this condition. Menstrual cups should certainly not be made into a scapegoat! They really are very safe to use.
Menstrual Cups and Endometriosis: The Final Words
A majority of women and girls suffering from endometriosis have never used menstrual cups, so the connection certainly isn’t a strong one. Again, not all women who use these cups end up developing the disease. The FDA too reported in its reply to Lione’s petition that they couldn’t find or identify adequate evidence to say that the risk of developing endometriosis with the use of menstrual cups is more than theoretical.
The onset of endometriosis is influenced by various factors, about which nothing much is known to date. Until we have precise knowledge of what those factors are, and have adequate data and research results to show a link between the disease and menstrual cups, these devices can be used safely without increasing the risk of endometriosis.
Even if you do suffer from endometriosis, you can use a menstrual cup. There is no evidence that it’s not safe to do so. Of course, talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, etc.
Menstrual cups and endometriosis: there is no conclusive link between the two. There are even only a few reports of anecdotal evidence linking the two. Thousands and thousands of women use period cups. If there were a link, surely there would be far more reports of this. There would also be far more clinical studies to back up this claim. In short, you have nothing to worry about! Menstrual cups are safe, and easy to use. In terms of your health, are probably the safest sanitary protection you can use.
Menstrual cups and endometriosis: a concern? In short, no!
Buy a Menstrual Cup Today
Interested in buying a menstrual cup? There are plenty of reasons why you might want to. Check out this article for help in choosing the one for you:
You are sure to find the menstrual cup that will work for your body type. Low cervix to high cervix, pre-childbirth to post-childbirth. There are also cups in a range of prices to suit your budget.
Or, just check out our top-rated menstrual cup today. The Diva Cup is manufactured in Canada according to the strictest quality standards. It’s the cup to which all others are compared. Most women find it easy to insert and remove and that it doesn’t leak. You can easily buy it on Amazon today: