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Can Menstrual Cups Cause Prolapse

June 12, 2024

Woman holding menstrual cup, concerned expression, pelvic organs diagram in background.

Menstrual cups have gained popularity as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional menstrual products. However, concerns have been raised about whether their use can cause or exacerbate pelvic organ prolapse. This article aims to explore the relationship between menstrual cups and prolapse, review current research, and provide guidelines for their safe use.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no conclusive evidence linking menstrual cup use to pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Proper insertion and removal techniques are crucial to avoid any potential risks.
  • Current research and expert opinions generally support the safety of menstrual cups.
  • Misconceptions and media reports have contributed to unnecessary fears about menstrual cups causing prolapse.
  • Consulting healthcare providers can help in choosing the right menstrual cup and using it safely.


Understanding Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Definition and Types of Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken, causing one or more of the pelvic organs to descend into or out of the vagina. There are three primary types of prolapse:

  • Cystocele: Prolapse of the bladder into the vagina.
  • Uterine Prolapse: Descent of the uterus into the vaginal canal.
  • Rectocele: Prolapse of the rectum into the vagina.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can vary widely. Some women may not notice any symptoms, while others might experience:

  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic region
  • Spotting from the vagina
  • Constipation
  • Urinary problems

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and may include imaging tests to assess the extent of the prolapse.

Risk Factors and Causes

Pelvic organ prolapse is often caused by factors that increase pressure in the abdomen. Common risk factors include:

  • Childbirth, particularly multiple or difficult deliveries
  • Aging and menopause
  • Obesity
  • Chronic coughing or straining

According to Harvard Medical School, about 50 percent of women experience some degree of prolapse. Understanding these risk factors is crucial for prevention and management.

Mechanics of Menstrual Cups

Design and Function

Menstrual cups are bell-shaped devices made from medical-grade silicone, rubber, or elastomer. They are designed to be inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid rather than absorb it. The primary function of a menstrual cup is to provide a reusable, eco-friendly alternative to disposable menstrual products. Unlike tampons and pads, menstrual cups do not disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina, making them a healthier option for many women.

Insertion and Removal Techniques

Proper insertion and removal of a menstrual cup are crucial for both comfort and effectiveness. To insert the cup, it is typically folded into a smaller shape and then inserted into the vagina, where it unfolds and forms a seal against the vaginal walls. Removal involves pinching the base of the cup to break the seal and gently pulling it out. It is important to follow these steps to avoid any discomfort or potential complications.

Common Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions about menstrual cups that need to be addressed. One common myth is that menstrual cups can cause pelvic organ prolapse. However, research indicates that menstrual cups do not create enough suction or downward force to cause such damage. Another misconception is that menstrual cups are difficult to use, but with proper guidance and practice, they can be as easy to use as other menstrual products. For those who prefer an alternative, period underwear can be a viable option. 

Current Research on Menstrual Cups and Prolapse

Woman holding menstrual cup, thoughtful expression, medical research symbols in background.

Review of Existing Studies

The relationship between menstrual cup use and pelvic organ prolapse has been a topic of interest, particularly following a BBC article that suggested a potential link. However, current peer-reviewed studies do not establish a direct correlation between menstrual cup use and prolapse. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet Public Health examined the safety and acceptability of menstrual cups, but did not find conclusive evidence linking them to prolapse.

Expert Opinions

Medical experts, including Dr. Crouch, have weighed in on the discussion. Dr. Crouch emphasizes that while the act of bearing down to remove a menstrual cup could theoretically strain the pelvic floor, there is insufficient evidence to confirm this as a cause of prolapse. Experts recommend proper techniques for insertion and removal to mitigate any potential risks.

Gaps in Research

Despite the available studies, there are notable gaps in the research. More longitudinal studies are needed to fully understand the long-term effects of menstrual cup use on pelvic health. Additionally, research should focus on diverse populations to ensure comprehensive findings. Until then, women are advised to follow best practices for menstrual cup use and consult healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Proper Use of Menstrual Cups to Prevent Prolapse

Proper insertion of a menstrual cup is crucial to prevent any undue strain on the pelvic floor muscles. Users should ensure that the cup is folded correctly before insertion. The most common folds are the C-fold, punch-down fold, and 7-fold. It is essential to relax the pelvic muscles during insertion to avoid any unnecessary pressure. Once inserted, the cup should unfold completely to form a seal against the vaginal walls.

Safe removal of the menstrual cup is equally important. Users should avoid bearing down with the pelvic floor muscles to bring the cup within reach. Instead, it is recommended to pinch the base of the cup to break the seal and gently pull it out. This method minimizes the risk of straining the pelvic floor muscles. Proper hygiene should also be maintained by washing hands before and after handling the cup.

Health professionals emphasize the importance of choosing the right menstrual cup size and material. A cup that is too large or too rigid can cause discomfort and may contribute to pelvic floor issues. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help in selecting the most suitable cup. Additionally, incorporating pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, can strengthen the muscles and reduce the risk of prolapse. For those who prefer an alternative, period underwear can be a viable option.

Comparative Analysis: Menstrual Cups vs. Other Menstrual Products

Balanced scale comparing menstrual cup with other menstrual products, highlighting pros and cons.

Tampons and Pads

Tampons and pads have been the traditional choices for menstrual management for decades. Tampons are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood, while pads are worn externally. One key advantage of menstrual cups over tampons and pads is their reusability, which makes them more environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run. Additionally, menstrual cups can hold more fluid than tampons, reducing the frequency of changes.

Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs are similar to menstrual cups in that they are both internal devices designed to collect menstrual fluid. However, menstrual discs sit higher in the vaginal canal, near the cervix, and can be worn during sexual intercourse. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, sit lower in the vaginal canal and cannot be worn during intercourse. Both options offer a longer wear time compared to tampons and pads, but the choice between the two often comes down to personal preference and comfort.

Environmental and Health Impacts

When comparing menstrual cups to other menstrual products, the environmental and health impacts are significant considerations. Menstrual cups are reusable and can last for several years, drastically reducing the amount of menstrual waste generated. In contrast, tampons and pads contribute to a substantial amount of single-use waste. From a health perspective, menstrual cups do not contain the chemicals and bleaches often found in tampons and pads, making them a safer option for many users.

Product Type Reusability Wear Time Environmental Impact Health Considerations
Menstrual Cups Yes Up to 12 hours Low No chemicals/bleaches
Tampons No 4-8 hours High Contains chemicals
Pads No 4-8 hours High Contains chemicals
Menstrual Discs No Up to 12 hours Moderate No chemicals/bleaches

For those seeking an alternative to traditional menstrual products, period underwear offers a reusable and comfortable option. 

Addressing Concerns and Myths

Balanced scale with menstrual cup and myth bubble, symbolizing weighing facts and myths about menstrual cups and prolapse.

Debunking Common Myths

Health myths develop because, sadly, many people feel embarrassed or ashamed talking about problems “down there.” Because we are committed to helping people learn more about how their own bodies work and menstrual health, Ruby Cup is all about busting menstrual cup myths. Today we’re talking about pelvic organ prolapse and dispelling the myth that using a menstrual cup can cause prolapse. Don’t let some menstrual health misinformation stand in the way of you discovering Ruby Cup’s comfortable, long-lasting, and sustainable benefits.

Understanding Media Reports

Media reports often sensationalize health concerns, leading to widespread misinformation. For instance, articles with titles like "why menstrual cups are bad?" can create unnecessary fear. It is crucial to rely on scientific research and expert opinions rather than sensational headlines. Accurate information helps in making informed decisions about menstrual health products.

Personal Experiences and Testimonials

Personal experiences and testimonials can provide valuable insights but should be considered with caution. While some individuals may report negative experiences, these are often due to incorrect usage or pre-existing conditions. Consulting healthcare providers for personalized advice is always recommended. Additionally, exploring alternatives like period underwear can offer different solutions for menstrual management.

Guidelines for Women with Prolapse Using Menstrual Cups

Choosing the Right Cup

Selecting the appropriate menstrual cup is crucial for women with prolapse. Many women with a prolapse have used menstrual cups without any problems, but it may take some trial and error. You want a cup that’s comfortable, doesn’t cause pain, fits properly, and does what it’s supposed to do. If prolapse is too severe, you might be unable to insert anything into the vagina without pain or discomfort. In such cases, consider using period underwear for women as an alternative.

Consulting Healthcare Providers

Before starting to use a menstrual cup, it is essential to consult with healthcare providers, such as a pelvic floor therapist or a gynecologist. They can provide personalized advice and ensure that the chosen menstrual cup is suitable for the individual's condition. Always check in with a Pelvic Floor PT first before starting any exercises.

Adjusting to Menstrual Cup Use

Adjusting to the use of a menstrual cup may require some time and patience. Incorrect practices, such as using pelvic floor muscles to bring the cup lower in the vagina or bearing down on the cup to push it within reach of your fingers, should be avoided. These actions can counter the advice given to avoid prolapse. Instead, follow safe insertion and removal techniques to prevent straining the pelvic floor muscles. If you suspect that you have prolapse or are worried about whether or not your unique anatomy is compatible with a cup, please consult your doctor or a pelvic floor therapist.

Proper use and consultation with healthcare providers can help women with prolapse use menstrual cups safely and effectively.


In conclusion, the current body of evidence does not support the claim that menstrual cups cause pelvic organ prolapse. While concerns have been raised, particularly following media reports, there is no peer-reviewed research that establishes a direct link between menstrual cup usage and prolapse. Proper usage, including correct insertion and removal techniques, is essential to ensure safety. Menstrual cups remain a viable and safe option for menstrual management, even for those with existing prolapse conditions. As with any health-related product, users should consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can menstrual cups cause prolapse?

There is currently no conclusive evidence to show that menstrual cups can cause pelvic organ prolapse. Proper insertion and removal are key to safe use.

How should I insert a menstrual cup to avoid prolapse?

To avoid prolapse, make sure to insert the cup gently and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Relax your pelvic muscles during insertion.

Is it safe to use a menstrual cup if I already have a prolapse?

Many women with prolapse have used menstrual cups without issues. However, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What are the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse?

Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse can include a feeling of pressure in the pelvic area, discomfort, and a sensation that something is falling out of the vagina.

Are there specific menstrual cups recommended for women with prolapse?

Some menstrual cups are designed to be more comfortable for women with prolapse. Consult with your healthcare provider to choose the right one for you.

What should I do if I experience discomfort while using a menstrual cup?

If you experience discomfort, remove the cup and consult your healthcare provider. They can help determine if the cup is the right size and fit for you.

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