UTIs are a common health issue basically affecting women due to the nature of the female urinary system.
Traditionally associated with factors such as sexual activity, use of certain contraceptives, and menopause, the question arises about other potential sources, such as menstrual cups.
Menstrual cups have become more popular because they save you money, are good for the environment, and are not linked to serious health dangers like tampons and pads. However, some users worry about the possibility of them causing UTIs.
As these cups are inserted into the vagina during menstruation, their usage poses questions about hygiene, appropriate use, and potential interactions with the urinary tract.
This article seeks to explore this topic in a thoroughly. We’ll delve into whether menstrual cups can indeed be a cause of UTIs.
Understanding Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections UTIs are common illnesses that occur in any part of the urinary system, including kidneys, bladder, tubes that carry urine (ureters), and the tube to pee (urethra). They are mostly caused by bacterial infections and are more common in women than men.
The main types of UTIs include infections in the urethra (urethritis), kidneys (pyelonephritis), and bladder (cystitis). Symptoms vary depending on which part of the urinary system is affected.
Common symptoms include a strong urge to urinate, frequent urination with small amounts of urine, pain or burning during urination, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, and a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen.
If left untreated, UTIs can lead to severe complications, affecting the kidneys and overall health. Diagnosis and treatment are usually straightforward.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, pain relief medication, and recommend that you drink plenty of fluids to flush out bacteria.
Taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of UTIs is also important; like maintaining proper hygiene, staying hydrated, and practicing safe sex.
Can menstrual cups cause UTI?
Menstrual cups themselves do not directly cause UTIs. However, improper use and cleaning of the cup can raise the risk of developing one.
It’s important to wash your hands before inserting or removing the cup and to empty the cup at least every 12 hours.
Another point to know is that tampons and menstrual cups can introduce bacteria into the urethra, which can increase the risk of infection.
That being said, the use of menstrual products does not guarantee a UTI, but rather, it is the improper management of these items that can raise the chances of an infection.
It’s paramount to follow best practices, use the correct cup size, clean it thoroughly, and replace it when necessary to limit any risks, including the development of UTIs If you’re worried or have any questions, it’s worth talking to a healthcare provider.
Myths and misconceptions surrounding menstrual cups and UTIs
As these cups get more popular, there are some myths and misunderstandings about how they may be linked to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
It’s important to know the truth so that you can use them safely. Here are some common myths:
#1. Menstrual cups always cause UTIs:
No scientific data proves that they can directly lead to UTIs. UTIs are primarily caused by bacterial infections. However, improper use of these discs like infrequent cleaning or ill-fitting cups might potentially increase the risk of UTIs.
#2. UTIs are only caused by the menstruation products you use:
There are many reasons why people can get UTIs, like sexual activity, a weak immune system, using certain types of contraceptives, or going through menopause. Saying that only menstrual cups cause UTIs is not true.
#3. All menstrual cups are the same:
These blood drawers come in different sizes and are made from different materials. The size and type of cup you use can make a difference in the risk of getting a UTI, so it’s important to choose the right one for you.
#4. Cleaning them isn’t important:
Not cleaning your menstrual cup the right way or not cleaning it often might make germs grow. These germs can increase the chance of getting a UTI. So, cleaning it properly is very important.
#5. They will stretch out your vagina:
The vagina is a highly elastic organ and returns to its original shape after the removal of the cup. Therefore, the use of these will not lead to a permanent change in the size of the vee vee.
Factors contributing to UTI Development with menstrual cups
There isn’t any proof that using menstrual cups will automatically cause a UTI. But, there are some things to do with how you use it, that might increase the chance of getting a UTI:
- Poor Hygiene Practices: Proper cleaning of a menstrual cup before insertion and after removal is crucial. If a cup is not cleaned properly, it could harbor bacteria which, upon insertion, could potentially cause a UTI.
- Prolonged Usage: It is typically recommended to empty and clean a menstrual cup every 4 to 12 hours, depending on the flow. If the cup is left inside for longer, it can potentially increase the risk of bacterial growth leading to a UTI.
- Incorrect Fitting: If a cup is too big, or if it’s not put in correctly, it could press against the tube where urine comes out (the urethra). This might stop all the urine from coming out when you “go,” which can increase the chance of a UTI.
- Being Allergic to the Cup: If you’re allergic to the material of the cup, your body might respond by causing inflammation, and this could also increase the chance of a UTI.
Remember, it’s always important to have a healthcare provider explain how to use menstrual cups safely, and to discuss any concerns related to UTIs or other health issues.
What are some strategies for safe and hygienic menstrual cup usage?
- Choose the right size: Picking the correct size is essential for comfortable and secure use. The right size will feel snug and prevent leaks
- Learn how to use it: Follow instructions on how to properly insert, remove, and clean the cup. Some websites offer step-by-step guidance
- Clean it well: Make sure to clean the cup thoroughly before inserting and after removing it. Some of them can last up to 10 years, but they need proper cleaning.
- Material Check: If you experience any sort of discomfort or allergic reaction, you may be sensitive to the material of the cup. In such case, switch to a different brand or material.
- Change it regularly: Empty and clean the menstrual cup about every 4 to 12 hours, depending on the flow. Reinsert it after cleaning.
- Replace when needed: If you notice any signs of wear and tear, it’s essential to replace it.
FAQS – Can Menstrual Cups Cause UTI?
Using a menstrual cup during a UTI may lead to discomfort and a greater risk of heightening the symptoms. Always consult your healthcare provider in such situations.
There is currently no scientific evidence linking the usage of menstrual cups to urinary incontinence. However, if the menstrual cup is not inserted correctly, it may press on the bladder and create an urgency to urinate.
Yes, if inserted incorrectly or if the specific cup model is too large, a menstrual cup may press on your bladder which can cause discomfort and increased need to urinate. If this occurs, you may need a different size or brand of menstrual cup.
Menstrual cups themselves cannot cause yeast infections. However, if not kept clean, they can potentially lead to an increased risk of such infections. To minimize this risk, clean your menstrual cup thoroughly before and after each use.
Many gynaecologists recommend menstrual cups as a safe, eco-friendly, and cost-effective alternative to tampons and pads, provided they are used and cleaned properly.
It’s important to know that there is no clear proof that menstrual cups directly cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). The main risks usually come from not using the cup the right way, and not from the cup itself.
The issues that might cause UTIs are often related to not cleaning the cup well, leaving it in for too long, putting it in wrong, using the wrong size, or being allergic to the cup material. These factors, instead of just using a menstrual cup, might help lead to a UTI.
When used the right way – with the correct size, cleaned properly, and emptied often – menstrual cups are a safe, Earth-friendly, and money-saving choice for handling periods.
It’s also a good idea to talk to a doctor if you have any worries or questions about using.
References: National Institute of Health (Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis)