Menstrual Cups Should Be Used More Widely, Study Concludes

©. Saalt – One brand that sells reusable menstrual cups

They are safe, effective, affordable, and reduce waste – an all-around great solution.

A small menstrual cup may not look like much, but it is a powerful tool in helping women to manage their periods, regardless of where they live and what their income level is. A group of researchers just published a major meta-analysis on the safety and efficacy of menstrual cups in The Lancet Public Health journal and say they would like to see more of a push to explain, provide, and incentivize menstrual cups worldwide.

Women face a range of challenges when it comes to dealing with their periods. In some parts of the world, it's lack of water, privacy, and access to disposable products, both through low supply and high cost. Others experience vaginal irritation and are prone to leakage.

A menstrual cup can resolve many of these issues, the analysis shows. Women report fewer leaks and thus greater peace of mind. In two studies, women reported that "use of menstrual cups saved water because of less leaking and washing of cloths." Many women can go longer between changes (4-12 hours), which allows them to wait until they're home to empty, rinse, and reinsert the cup. Significant monetary savings are another benefit, with the average menstrual cup lasting ten years:

"If compared with using 12 pads per period, use of a menstrual cup would comprise 5 percent of the purchase costs and 0.4 percent of the plastic waste, and compared with 12 tampons per period, use of a menstrual cup would comprise 7 percent of the purchase costs and 6 percent of the plastic waste."

The biggest obstacle is initial adoption. Many websites that instruct young girls on menstrual health do not mention menstrual cups, despite their availability worldwide. Of 69 such sources, only 30 percent cited reusable cups as an option. Many women are leery of the initial learning curve; it takes a few period cycles to become comfortable with using a cup and there can be slight pain at the beginning. But once they figure it out, most women are hooked for life. The number who continue using it is around 75 percent, with one retailer saying it's even higher, at 90 percent.

If you haven't tried a menstrual cup yet, you really should. I've heard numerous women say they wish they'd started using it years earlier. It has certainly been life-changing for me.

Good brands to check out include Saalt, DivaCup, Moon Cup, and Lunette. There are lots of others on the market, too, so shop around.