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First scientific review of menstrual cups - expert comment

New research published in The Lancet Public Health suggests that menstrual cups are safe and may be as effective as other products.

The first scientific review of menstrual cups also found that they are a safe option for menstruation management and around 70% of women wanted to continue using menstrual cups once they were familiar with how to use them. Practice, peer support and training were found to be key to initiation.

Reacting to the findings, Helen Weiss , Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group, said: “This is a much-needed review of the use of menstrual cups globally.  An increased choice of menstrual products is needed, especially products which are more environmentally friendly than disposable pads and tampons. This study is the first to systematically review experiences of using cups in terms of leakage, cost and safety, and showed that they are an effective and safe alternative to other menstrual products.

“Notably, most studies reported a positive effect of use of the menstrual cup on participants’ lives, with decreased stress around leakage. The cup holds more blood than a tampon, and cup usage was associated with less frequent changes per cycle compared with tampons or pads in one UK study. This could be a major advantage for girls and women in settings where adequate water and sanitation facilities are not readily available.

“The review highlighted the general lack of high-quality research on this topic, and the need for further monitoring on product preferences, cost-effectiveness and environmental impact as cups become more widely used.  The need for more evidence on how to improve menstrual health in the UK and globally was the theme of a recent meeting held at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – ‘Ending period poverty by 2030: from research to impact’.

“Participants included funders, researchers, government, policy makers and the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid (who runs a menstrual cup charity). Discussion focused on both the need for informed product choice and ending the stigma around menstruation.”