The Truth About Menstrual Cups: Not All Are Created Equal

The Truth About Menstrual Cups: Not All Are Created Equal

Have you ever wondered what menstrual cups are made of and whether it’s safe to have this material inside your body for up to a week each month?

A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup made of silicone or natural rubber. As with tampons, it is inserted into the vagina, and once in place, creates a light suction over the cervix to catch and collect the flow. Unlike tampons and pads, cups collect menstrual fluid rather than absorb it.

Menstrual cups are usually shaped like a bell with a stem, which is used for insertion and removal. The bell-shaped cup seals against the vaginal wall just below the cervix.

Every 4–12 hours (depending on the amount of flow), the cup is removed, emptied, rinsed, and reinserted. These menstrual products are reusable if washed thoroughly between uses.

Even though the use of menstrual cups is considered a safe option relative to other forms of menstrual hygiene, not all menstrual cups are created equal. The materials they are made of do matter quite a lot, because they play a role in how the cup will react with your body and the comfort of the product.

Safer than tampons, but…

You might be wondering what menstrual cups are made of, and whether it’s safe to have this material inside your body for up to a week each month.

Menstrual cups are surely safer for your body than tampons, which, gynecologists and environmental specialists say, can contain bleach, chlorine, aluminum, fragrance, alcohol, and other frightening ingredients you probably don’t want in your vagina.

By switching to a menstrual cup, you can reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, and also lower your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. The material won’t leak chemicals into your bloodstream, including in your reproductive organs.

Natural, gum-rubber based menstrual cups are not linked to such concerns. But they usually contain latex, so are not appropriate for people with sensitivities to latex.

This has the distinct advantage of being almost indestructible. However, some people are allergic to it or develop an allergy after repeated exposure. There are some reports that latex menstrual cups smell quite bad, even after serious cleaning.

Unlike other feminine protective products that use a host of ingredients from questionable sources, most reusable cups are typically BPA-free, made from body-safe silicone. Anyone with a latex allergy is safe.

However, so far, there has not been much research into the safety of silicone menstrual cups. Some studies suggest they may leak hormone-disrupting chemicals into the highly-absorptive vaginal area, which may, in turn, seep into the bloodstream.

Traces of other materials

In the United States, the most stringent standards for heavy metals in items are reflected in legal standards for heavy metals in toys. As far as we are aware, there are no heavy metal standards for cadmium in medical grade silicone, but some independent environmental activists did call the FDA to ask about it and are still waiting for their response.

Tamara Rubin, green lifestyle activist and an internationally recognized, award-winning lead-poisoning prevention advocate and documentary filmmaker, is looking at lead in the areas like pottery, crystal, toys, food, plastic items, dishes and kitchenware.

Widely regarded as the foremost expert on lead in consumer goods in the USA, as a trained and certified XRF operator, Tamara was asked to test someone's menstrual cup with an XRF, and she found trace levels of cadmium.

When cadmium is present in small amounts, it is not because it was added to the silicone mix on purpose. It most likely piggybacked in with the raw materials used to make the silicone or the pigment used to color the silicone. None of the companies whose products underwent the test are intentionally putting cadmium in their menstrual cups.

However, health specialists are concerned this much of heavy metal is present at all in an item intended to be inside your body for such an extended period of time – especially so close to such a vital feminine organ. In any quantity, it is not something you would want to put inside your body next to a sensitive organ for basically a full week at a time.

Is silicone safe for everyone?

It is extremely rare for anyone to have silicone sensitivity, as for decades silicone was considered one of the most inert materials in the world. But now it has been shown that a few individuals may even be allergic to this inert substance.

There are many people allergic to silicone items worn on or inside their bodies, such as contact lenses, breast implants, or even condoms and watch straps.

Oils, chemicals and fragrances can cling to your cup’s silicone and cause premature wear and odor development, as well as irritation when your cup is in use.

Yes, some allergies are more common than others, but that doesn't make those rare allergies any less annoying. Silicone allergies are not known to be fatal, but there are chances that the case may become so severe that it may require hospitalization.

Heavy metal free and hypoallergenic

We are proud to inform our customers that healthy lifestyle experts at Creative Green Living, a blog on greener options for home and family, whose activists also tested many brands of menstrual cups, has titled us the "holy grail" of menstrual cups – one that tests non-detect for any heavy metals with an XRF.

Genial Day menstrual cup “is latex free, phthalate free and we weren't able to find any trace heavy metals with the XRF. This is the FIRST reusable menstrual cup we've tested that meets those criteria”, healthier choices blogger and author Carissa reported.

GENIAL DAY® menstrual cup is made of medical-grade TPE (Thermoplastic elastomers), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubbers. This particular elastomer is made in Europe following very strict guidelines imposed on medical devices.

Pharmacological and medical studies have determined that elastomers are non-toxic, hypoallergenic and won’t irritate your skin. This material is suitable for direct contact with blood and is widely used in the production of medical devices that have direct contact with the human body.

Our menstrual cup is made with Medical Grade TPE. It is hypoallergenic, free of silicone, latex, BPA and phthalates. Rigorous Total Quality Management System based on 21 CFR 820 – QSR Quality System Regulation from US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guarantees the highest quality of Genial Day menstrual cup.

The factory is also ISO 9001: 2001 certified (quality managing system). Products have been tested as hypoallergenic ‘non-irritant’ by external labs.

Thermoplastic elastomers perform well in the acidic vaginal microflora. Genial Day menstrual cup does not contain any phthalates, heavy metals, lead, PVC, or latex, and is soft, durable and tear-resistant. You can find more detailed information on safety and practical tips for optimal use of our menstrual cup here.

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