Menstrual cup and toxic shock: what are the risks?

This subject made the buzz a year ago, in the spring of 2017. After the tampon, it is finally the use of a menstrual cup that leads to greater risks of causing Toxic Shock Syndrome. The cup, however much vaunted in recent years, is ultimately responsible for health problems? Despite the media hype, the answer is not so simple. So does the menstrual cup increase the risk of toxic shock or is it poisoning? We take stock in this article.

Menstrual cup?

Let’s start by clearly defining the terms and putting them in context: what is the menstrual cup?

This is an alternative to tampons and pads that comes in the form of a small plastic container. It is inserted directly into the vagina to collect period blood and is emptied once a day. Today there are many brands that design and sell cups in France like Meluna.

Its advantages over sanitary napkins and tampons have been widely praised. Indeed, being reusable, the menstrual cup is reputed to be more economical than these alternatives. A single cut can be used for ten years. Therefore, producing less waste it is also more ecological.

Toxic Shock Syndrome?

But this has been accused of promoting the onset of toxic shock. So what are we talking about?

Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS is caused by an infectious and potentially fatal disease of bacterial origin. It is linked to Staphylococcus aureus and can be triggered when a toxin caused by it enters the bloodstream.

The consequences can be serious: first of all, fever and nausea are observed. In the worst cases, TBS can lead to limb necrosis and require amputation as was the infamous case of American model Lauren Wesser, whose leg was impacted. In other more dramatic cases, it can cause death.

But we must be reassured and be right, these situations are extremely rare. In France, around twenty cases are reported each year.

What are the risks ?

But yet, the menstrual cup has found itself at the heart of a controversy. Why and what are the real risks?

It all started with the publication of numerous articles dealing with a study accusing the tampon of the same ailments, namely of being a risk factor for the appearance of toxic shock syndrome. Ultimately, this was not shown and the media accused the menstrual cup of the same dangers.

In reality, all this finds its source in a study conducted by the CNR of Lyon (National Reference Center for Staphylococci). It seems that the media enthusiasm comes from a misinterpretation of journalists since the head of the study himself wanted to clarify things:

His study did not work on this topic specifically, therefore, without a sample studied, it is not possible to come to such conclusions. Finally, there is nothing to suggest that the menstrual cup entails greater risks of TSS and no study has shown results in this direction.

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