Menstrual Cups and IUDs: Are they Compatible?
As more individuals move to sustainable and eco-friendly menstrual cups there is often questions concerning their compatibility with intrauterine devices (IUDs).
In this blog, we will explore the use of menstrual cups with IUDs, addressing common concerns and providing evidence-based information for individuals considering this combination.
Understanding Menstrual Cups and IUDs
Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are flexible, bell-shaped devices made of medical-grade silicone that are designed to collect menstrual fluid. They are inserted into the vagina, where they form a seal and collect blood rather than absorbing it like tampons or pads. Menstrual cups are reusable, lasting many with proper care and maintenance. They are eco-friendly, as they reduce the amount of waste generated compared to disposable sanitary products.
IUDs: Intrauterine devices, commonly known as IUDs, are highly effective, long-acting reversible contraceptives. They are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional. IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal, and they prevent pregnancy by either releasing progestin or creating a hostile environment for sperm. IUDs are a preferred choice for many individuals due to their effectiveness, convenience, and low maintenance requirements.
Concerns and Safety Considerations
There are two primary concerns associated with using menstrual cups alongside IUDs: dislodgment and expulsion.
Dislodgment of IUD
Some individuals worry that the suction or the act of removing the menstrual cup may dislodge the IUD from its proper position. However, studies and medical professionals indicate that there is minimal risk of dislodgment if the IUD is correctly inserted and the menstrual cup is used correctly.
According to a study published in the Journal of Women's Health, no significant increase in IUD expulsion rates was observed among women who used menstrual cups compared to those who used other menstrual products. The study concluded that menstrual cup use does not interfere with IUD placement or increase the risk of expulsion.
Expulsion of IUD
IUD expulsion refers to the unintentional removal of the device from the uterus. While expulsion can occur, it is rare and often unrelated to the use of menstrual cups. IUD expulsion is more likely to happen shortly after insertion, typically within the first few months.
A review published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care analyzed multiple studies and found no evidence to suggest that using menstrual cups increases the risk of IUD expulsion. The review emphasized the importance of proper IUD insertion and regular check-ups to monitor the device's position.
Tips for Safe Use of Menstrual Cups with an IUD
To ensure the safe use of menstrual cups with IUDs, consider the following tips:
- Consult with a healthcare professional: Before using a menstrual cup with an IUD, discuss your decision with a healthcare provider. They can assess your specific circumstances and provide personalised advice based on your individual needs and may trim the IUD strings for you if you wish to use a menstrual cup.
- Check for proper IUD placement: Ensure that your IUD is correctly inserted and positioned by scheduling regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. This will help identify any potential issues and give you peace of mind.
- Follow the manufacturers instructions: Familiarise yourself with the manufacturer's instructions for inserting and removing the menstrual cup.
- Insert your cup low: Fold, insert and allow your cup to open low in the vaginal canal (i.e. just inside the vaginal opening). Then, gently slide it up into place. This will ensure the IUD strings sit above or inside the menstrual cup rather than being trapped between the menstrual cup and vaginal wall.
- Break the seal: Always ensure you pinch the menstrual cup with the index finger and thumb to break the suction seal of the menstrual cup prior to removing it.
- Take it slow: Remove your menstrual cup slowly and gently. Be careful not to tug on the IUD strings when removing the menstrual cup.
Using menstrual cups with IUDs is generally considered safe and compatible. Research and medical evidence have shown no significant increase in IUD expulsion rates or dislodgment when menstrual cups are used correctly.
As with any menstrual product, it is recommended you consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it is the right solution for you and maintain regular check-ups to ensure the proper placement and effectiveness of your IUD.
Peipert, J. F., Zhao, Q., Allsworth, J. E., Petrosky, E., Madden, T., Eisenberg, D., & Secura, G. M. (2011). Continuation and satisfaction of reversible contraception. Obstetrics and gynecology, 117(5), 1105–1113. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31821188ad
Farley, T. M., Rosenberg, M. J., Rowe, P. J., & Chen, J. H. (1992). Intrauterine devices and pelvic inflammatory disease: an international perspective. The Lancet, 339(8796), 785–788. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(92)90839-8
Peipert, J. F., Madden, T., Allsworth, J. E., & Secura, G. M. (2012). Preventing unintended pregnancies by providing no-cost contraception. Obstetrics and gynecology, 120(6), 1291–1297. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e318273eb56