A not-so-new menstrual product is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Retail stores and pharmacies are now making shelf space for Softcup and The Diva Cup, reusable plastic devices that “catch” monthly flow instead of absorbing it. Why are consumers attracted to this technology, and is it safe?
From the moment a young woman experiences her first period to the time she sees it fade away during menopause, she asks the same question each month, “Isn’t there a better way?” Thankfully, the increased absorbency of pads and tampons have improved the monthly, “situation,” but now, Softcup and The Diva Cup have arrived with the promise of increased period protection.
The idea of a menstrual “cup” is not new, they’re just not as heavily marketed as pads and tampons. Made from a silicone material, the cup is inserted into the vagina past the cervix. Body heat allows the cup to soften and mold to a woman’s vaginal canal, creating a barrier. Menstrual flow is collected in the cup and rinsed away after removal. Softcup offers both a reusable and disposable option while The Diva Cup is completely reusable, allowing it to be used for years with proper care.
This video from Softcup shows a diagram detailing proper insertion.
- Can be worn longer than tampons or pads
- Eliminates menstrual odor
- Can be worn during sexual intercourse
- The Diva Cup is reusable
- Mastering insertion can take a few tries
- Because there are no strings or other removal tools, the cup requires a woman to be more hands-on with her body, a point for consideration in women who still find their periods to have a significant, “ick” factor.
- Some women have reported a strong or “weighted” feeling in the area near the rectum and urethra. Others find the suction too strong.
The Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus and/or group A streptococcus bacteria. TSS is associated with menstruating women because it has been linked to super absorbent tampons. Both Softcup and The Diva Cup websites make the claim that zero incidences of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) have been reported with their use, though a gynecologist we spoke with, remarked that he would be curious to see the complete scope of their studies.
Before purchasing any type of menstrual cup, consult with your gynecologist about whether the product is right for you or your daughter.