Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lifestyle: Menstrual Cups and Toxic Shock Syndrome

They're the latest rage in women's hygiene, especially in North America.  Menstrual cups. Everyone seems to be jumping on the band wagon for this new menstrual hygiene product that promises convenience, environmental friendliness, and is cost effective. I can't argue the fact that my menstrual cup has changed my monthly menstrual routine entirely. 

So what exactly is a menstrual cup?  Basically its a silicone cup that a woman inserts into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual fluid.  Manufacturers claim the cup can be left in for up to twelve hours.   Cups are easy to use and once inserted properly, sit low in the vaginal canal while the wearer is unaware of its use.  There are many different brands of menstrual cups on the market.  It can be difficult to chose a cup when you're first doing your research.  I spent quite some time researching all my options before deciding to go with the DivaCup.  Some of my research consisted of comparing Amazon reviews, watching YouTube videos of women talking about their experiences using the cup and offering tips for insertion, and reading through all the product websites.  I decided on the DivaCup mostly because it was convenient for me to go to a local store and purchase.  The brand is one of the only brands that are available at actual stores.  I have yet to see any other brands selling reusable menstrual cups at local retailers.

Instead Softcup
Prior to choosing the DivaCup, I had tested the waters with the Softcup brand disposable menstrual
cups. I found the Softcups to be easy to use and a new discovery that had changed the game of my monthly routine entirely.  I'd been considering using the DivaCup for quite some time and was well aware of them for many years through a pole dancing community forum where many women had talked about how wonderful they were for the pole athlete.  If you're a female pole dancer or aerialist then you know the struggles of dealing with a menstrual cycle when it comes to classes, training, and performances.  Menstrual cups are liberating when it comes to all nuances women can experience with their menses. 

Menstrual cups have many benefits which I previously listed above as many of the appealing reasons for a cup versus traditional methods of female hygiene products.  One of the benefits that had been a huge reason for many women to make the switch was the claim for no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life threatening complication from a bacterial infection most commonly associated with the use of highly absorbent tampons. A case report released in July 2015 has spread troubling news in the women's health world to the realization that Toxic Shock Syndrome can still exist with menstrual cup users.   Although there aren't any other confirmed cases at the time I am writing this, this single case alone does not mean anything more than it happened when we had thought it wouldn't.  There is still a lot more data and research needed to be collected to conclude that yes, TSS can happen with menstrual cup users.  Was this a rare situation where all the factors were just right?  Absolutely.  The case report states the patient acquired a small abrasion to the vaginal canal upon her first time inserting the menstrual cup.  As a health care provider, I know all too well that some people can have frequent staph infections or be carriers for bacteria that if given the proper elements can turn into an infection in the body at any given area where the bacteria can enter skin or mucous membrane barriers.  It certainly will be interesting to see how the data portrays the use of menstrual cups and the risks associated for Toxic Shock Syndrome.  I don't think the release of this confirmed case should be any cause for alarm.  I do think that it will point researchers in the direction for further studying of women's health issues in hopes that we can better understand how Toxic Shock Syndrome develops and if there are certain factors that exist that would make certain candidates more at risk whether they use a tampon or menstrual cup. 

No comments:

Post a Comment