“I have found the answer to a problem as old as Eve,” said Leona Chalmers, advertising her 1937 invention of the first modern menstrual cup.1 Menstruation is nothing new, but for women with symptomatic uterine fibroids, can these discreet cups provide protection from the heaviest of periods?
For decades, menstrual cups have been used throughout Europe and Finland, and yet, for many US women they’re a brand new way of handling menstruation.1
Made from medical-grade silicone, these soft and flexible cups are inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect blood—instead of absorbing it like pads or tampons. But whether menstrual cups work or not depends entirely on a woman’s body—especially if she has uterine fibroids.
According to Dr. Elisa Ross, MD, an OBGYN at the Cleveland Clinic, individual anatomy can affect how a cup fits inside a woman’s body. Women with fibroids, she notes in a Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials article, could make a menstrual cup “not fit in place properly.”2
Fibroids are the most common tumors of the female genital tract and can cause symptoms like heavy painful periods.3 And although over 99 percent of fibroids are noncancerous, they can grow in a number of shapes and sizes anywhere in the uterus, including the cervix.4
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, uterine fibroids can push on other areas, such as the vagina or pelvic wall.5 This added pressure could pose a problem since menstrual cups work by forming a seal between the cup and the vagina. In cases like these, the cup might not be able to stay in place.
For women whose fibroids don’t inhibit wearing a menstrual cup, doing so could offer many advantages.
Women with fibroid-related heavy periods know that changing tampons and pads throughout the day (and night) can seem endless. Menstrual cups, however, don’t have to be emptied as often. Several popular menstrual cup manufacturers instruct emptying a cup at least every 12 hours depending on flow versus every 4 to 8 hours as seen with tampons.6,7,8
Disposable menstrual cups are available for purchase but so are reusable cups that can be used safely for several years—two to three years according to the FDA—before needing to be replaced.9 This can mean more money in your wallet and less waste in landfills. To get the most use out of a menstrual cup, always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Using menstrual cups can also help keep track of changes in menstruation. For example, if a woman notices changes in the amount of bleeding per period or the passing of clots, she can quickly discuss these changes with her doctor.
Made in different sizes to accommodate a woman’s changing body, menstrual cups offer an innovative way to manage that time of the month. The only way to know if a menstrual cup works—with or without fibroids—is to try it out. And who knows? It might turn out to be the perfect fit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Health Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering within her community.
- Lunette. (2015). Short History of Menstrual Cups. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.lunette.com/blog/short-history-of-menstrual-cups.html
- Cleveland Clinic. (2015). Tired of Tampons? Here Are Pros and Cons of Menstrual Cups. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/02/tired-of-tampons-here-are-pros-and-cons-of-menstrual-cups/
- Society of Interventional Radiology. (2016). Uterine Fibroids, Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved July 17, 2016, from http://www.sirweb.org/patients/uterine-fibroids/
- UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2016). Fibroids. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from http://obgyn.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=302&fr=true
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine—Reproductive Facts. (2016). Fibroid Tumors. Retrieved July 19, 2016, from http://www.reproductivefacts.org/fibroid_tumor_video/
- The Diva Cup. (2016). Care and Cleaning. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from http://divacup.com/how-it-works/care-and-cleaning/#Care
- Intimina. (2016). How a Menstrual Cup Can Change Your Life—Infographic. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.intimina.com/blog/whats-new-menstrual-cup-infographic/
- Lunette. (2016). How To Use. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.lunette.com/us/how-to/how-to-use.html
- Lunette. (2016). Menstrual Cup Safety. Retrieved July 19, 2016 from https://www.lunette.com/about/faq/safety.html