Let's start at the beginning... Is the menstrual cup as new as we think?
Not at all, it's not as new a product as you might think. In fact, it has been around since the beginning of the 20th century.
Is the menstrual cup really safe?
The menstrual cup is a type of small container that is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. A meta-analysis published in The Lancet in August 2019 concluded that the menstrual cup is a safe alternative.
Can I develop toxic shock syndrome if I use it?
First of all, let's not raise unnecessary alarm. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) has been described both in women who use tampons and in women who use menstrual cups. However, there is no need to panic, as this is extremely rare.
And what is TSS or toxic shock syndrome anyway?
Toxic shock syndrome is a serious illness caused by toxins released by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes.
Staphylococcus aureus is usually found on the skin and mucous membranes of humans without causing problems, or sometimes causes minor skin infections that are not serious. At other times, however, they can cause life-threatening problems if they enter the bloodstream and damage organs.
Streptococcus pyogenes is a pathogenic germ that often causes mild infections such as pharyngotonsillitis. Like Staphylococcus aureus, it can also cause other serious and life-threatening infections.
How does an infection occur?
Infection with these bacteria can occur in both men and women through the skin (wounds, burns, or surgery), vagina, or throat. However, most exposed individuals do not develop toxic shock syndrome, a very serious condition caused by the toxins released by these bacteria.
What about the menstrual cup?
The explanation for the occurrence of toxic shock syndrome as a result of the use of tampons and cups is that the accumulated menstrual blood favors the overgrowth of these bacteria, which can then enter the bloodstream through the vaginal mucosa and release the toxins responsible for this very serious condition.
Nowadays, it is recommended to change tampons frequently and to pay attention to proper hygiene of the cup to avoid the risk of overgrowth of these bacteria in the accumulated menstrual blood.
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