Investigating the link between using a cup and pelvic prolapse
Having access to a menstrual cup can MASSIVELY improve your wellbeing during your period. The feedback we receive after distributing cups is overwhelmingly positive, and in my personal opinion, the benefits of using one far outweigh any negatives.
However, there are rumblings about safety issues surrounding the menstrual cup, so today I’ll be addressing pelvic prolapse, and what it has got to do with (probably) everyone’s favourite period solution.
What is pelvic organ prolapse?
This occurs when the pelvic floor muscles (i.e. the ones you activate when you do Kegels, or stop wee-ing mid-flow) become weakened. They therefore cannot hold pelvic organs in their usual position anymore, causing them to bulge into the vagina. It’s not life-threatening, and often doesn’t require medical treatment but it can be pretty uncomfortable.
According to the NHS, symptoms include:
- ‘a feeling of heaviness around your tummy and genitals’
- ‘feeling like there’s something coming down into your vagina’
- ‘discomfort or numbness during sex’
- ‘problems peeing’ eg feeling your bladder isn’t empty even though you’ve just had a wee
As ever, if you notice a change in whats going on with your vagina, pop to the doctor and get it checked out!
What does pelvic prolapse have to do with the menstrual cup?
Well, this is a good question, and the NHS doesn’t list cup use as a factor which can increase your chances of developing pelvic prolapse.
That being said, there is anecdotal evidence online which links cup use to experiencing pelvic prolapse. In 2020, the BBC published an article entitled Menstrual Cup Misuse ‘can cause pelvic organ prolapse’. The stories are told of two women who experienced pelvic prolapse, and the article, along with other online blogs and forums, suggests a link between pelvic prolapse and the use of a menstrual cup.
It’s important to point out that there is no conclusive evidence citing cups as the cause of a prolapse. There aren’t any peer-reviewed studies establishing a correlation between cup use and pelvic prolapse. That being said, some gynaecologists claim the misuse of cups could aggravate an already present problem.
How can I avoid pelvic prolapse when I’m using a cup?
The most important thing is to not repeatedly and excessively bear down on your cup when removing it. This means you shouldn’t try and ‘push it out’ with your pelvic floor muscles.
- your cup is designed to sit as low down in your vagina as possible. It shouldn’t be all the way up next to your cervix! This will make it easier to take out without pushing down on it
- the stem is there for a reason. Use it to gently pull the cup further down the vagina when you’re removing it
-break the seal! if you pinch the base of your cup, or slide a finger between your vaginal wall and the cup, you’ll release the seal holding it in place, meaning it’ll slide right on out without any pushing
-wiggle wiggle wiggle: move the cup gently from side to side during removal to prevent any weird suction on the way out
As with anything you’re buying with a view to using inside your body: do your research first! There’s TONNES of cups on the market - talk to your friends or scout round online to find a cup that’s medically certified and likely to be the best fit for you.
Author; Maria Bennett
Ditch The Rag Donation Manager