Research

FAQs

Does menstruation make girls miss school?
Menstruation has a negative effect on girls’ education, especially if they have no pads or cups. More research is needed.
Read: http://womena.dk/does-menstruation-make-girls-miss-school

What is the environmental impact of menstrual cups?
Menstrual cups are far more eco-friendly than other menstrual products.
Read: http://womena.dk/what-is-the-environmental-impact-of-menstrual-products

Can you use a menstrual cup when also using a contraceptive IUD?
Yes you can. Read this for more details: http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-can-use-menstrual-cup-also-using-iud/

Are menstrual cups acceptable for Muslims?
Yes, women of Islamic faith are using cups in Kenya, Pakistan, Jordan and Syria.
More information: http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-menstrual-cups-acceptable-muslims/

Can a virgin use a menstrual cup?
Yes. A menstrual cup can be used from a girl’s first period. When the menstrual cup is first inserted into the vagina, it may stretch the hymen, which is the skin around the entrance of the vagina. At puberty, the hymen becomes more elastic and stretches. A stretched hymen does not mean a girl is not a virgin; a girl only stops being a virgin when she has had sexual intercourse.
For more details see:
WoMena: http://womena.dk/do-menstrual-cups-affect-hymens-virginity/

Can menstrual cups cause vaginal infections?
No, the menstrual cup will not give you vaginal infections. The vagina makes protective secretions that help prevent infections. Unlike tampons, menstrual cups do not absorb your natural secretions, so the vagina remains healthy during your periods. Always rinse your menstrual cup with plenty of clean water, as soap on the cup can irritate the inside of your vagina.
For more details see: http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-use-menstrual-cups-increase-risk-toxic-shock-syndrome/

Could I get Toxic Shock Syndrome while using the cup?
Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome (mTSS) is a rare event that occurs among menstruating girls and women. The symptoms are high fever, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, which can lead to severe illness, coma, and even death. About 3 per 100,000 tampon users suffered from mTSS in the 1980s when they used highly absorbent tampons. Since then, only 5 suspected cases of mTSS have been reported among many millions of cup users. Two of these women also used a contraceptive coil, and one had auto-immune disease. mTSS is very rare, but be aware of the symptoms. If they occur, immediately remove the cup and seek medical advice.
For more details see:
http://womena.dk/womena-faqs-use-menstrual-cups-increase-risk-toxic-shock-syndrome/

Reports

Menstrual Health Management in East and Southern Africa: A Review Paper
Siri Tellier and Maria Hyttel, UNFPA, 2018.
http://esaro.unfpa.org/en/publications/menstrual-health-management-east-and-southern-africa-review-paper

First Menstrual Cup Summit, Kenya
Camilla Wirseen, 2018.
(Link to pdf)

Break the Barriers: Girls’ Experiences of Menstruation in UK
Plan International, 2017.
https://plan-uk.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Resources/plan-uk-act-for-girls-break-the-barriers-report-032018.pdf

Menstrual health in Rhino Camp refugee settlement, West Nile, Uganda
Pilot project intervention report, Gade A, Hytti L. WoMena Uganda and ZOA, 2017.
http://womena.dk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/WoMena-ZOA-Rhino-Camp-Refugee-Settlement-MHM-Pilot-Intervention-Report.pdf

Successes and Lessons learned from the Twaweza Program, Kilimanjaro Region, (Tanzania) Monitoring & Evaluation Report
J Rubli, Femme International, 2017.
https://www.femmeinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Femme-International-ME-Report-2017.pdf

Research

Phillips-Howard P, Zulaika G, Lencher M, Nyothach E, W, Under H, Laser K Mason L, Sivakani M, van Eijk, Laserson K.
‘Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis’,
The Lancet Public Health, July 16, 2019
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(19)30111-2/fulltext

Alam M, Luby SP, Halder AK et al,
‘Menstrual hygiene management among Bangladeshi adolescent schoolgirls and risk factors affecting school absence: results from a cross-sectional survey.’
BMJ Open 2017;7:e015508. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015508
https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/7/e015508

Alexander K, Zulaika G, Nyothach E, Oduor C, Mason L, Obor D, Eleveld A, Laserson KF, Phillips-Howard PA.
‘Do water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in primary schools consistently support schoolgirls’ menstrual needs? A longitudinal study in rural western Kenya,’
Int J Environ Res Public Health, 15(8); 1682, doi:10.3390/ijerph15081682, 2018.

Gade A, Hytti L.
‘Menstrual health in Rhino Camp refugee settlement, West Nile, Uganda. Pilot project intervention report.’
WoMena Uganda and ZOA, 2017.
https://www.issuelab.org/resource/menstrual-health-in-rhino-camp-refugee-settlement-west-nile-uganda-pilot-intervention-report.html

Hennegan, J.M.
(2017)
‘Menstrual Hygiene Management and Human Rights: the Case for an Evidence-Based Intervention’,
Women’s Reproductive Health, 4(3), pp. 212-231.

Hyttel M, Faldt Thomsen C, Luff B, Storrusten H, Nyakato VN, Tellier M.
‘Drivers and challenges to use of menstrual cups among schoolgirls in rural Uganda: a qualitative study.’
Waterlines, Practical Action Publishing. 2017;36(2):16.
http://www.developmentbookshelf.com/doi/full/10.3362/1756-3488.16-00013.

Juma J, Nyothach E, Laserson KF, Oduor C, Arita L, Ouma C, Oruko K, Omoto J, Mason L, Alexander K, Fields B, Onyango C, Phillips-Howard PA.
‘Examining the safety of the menstrual cup provided to rural primary school girls in Western Kenya,’
BMJ Open, 0:e015429. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2016-015429, 2017.

Mason L, Nyothach E, Alexander K, Odhiambo FO, Eleveld A, Vulule J, Rheingans R, Laserson KF, Mohammed A, Phillips-Howard PA.
‘”We keep it secret so no one should know” – A qualitative study to explore young schoolgirls attitudes and experiences with menstruation in rural western Kenya.’
PLoS ONE, 8(11):e79132, 2013.

Mason L, Laserson K, Oruko K, Nyothach E, Alexander K, Odhiambo F, Eleveld A, Isiye E, Ngere I, Omoto J, Mohammed A, Vulule J, Phillips-Howard P.
‘Adolescent schoolgirls’ experiences of menstrual cups and pads in rural western Kenya: a qualitative study.’
Waterlines special MHM edition, 34:1; doi: 10.3362/1756-3488.2015.003, 2015.

Nyothach E, Alexander K, Oduor C, Mason L, Oruko K, Odhiambo F, Vulule J, Laserson K, Phillips-Howard PA.
‘Handwashing for menstrual hygiene management among primary schoolgirls in rural western Kenya.’
Waterlines,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3362/1756-3488.2015.027; 34(4),279-295, 2015.

Oduor C, Alexander K, Oruko K, Nyothach E, Mason L, Odhiambo F, Vulule J, Laserson K, Phillips-Howard PA.
‘Schoolgirls’ experiences of changing and disposal of menstrual hygiene items and inferences for WASH in schools.’
Waterlines,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3362/1756-3488.2015.037; 34(4),397-411, 2015.

Phillips-Howard PA, Nyothach E, ter Kuile FO, Omoto J, Wang D, Zeh C, Onyango C, Mason L, Alexander K, Odhiambo FO, Eleveld A, Mohammed A, Tudor-Edwards R, van Eijk AM, Vulule J, Faragher B, Laserson KF.
‘Menstrual cups and sanitary pads to reduce school attrition, and sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections: A cluster randomised controlled feasibility study in rural western Kenya’,
BMJ Open; 6(11):e013229. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013229, 2016.

Phillips-Howard PA, Olilo G, Burmen B, Otieno F, Odongo F, Oduor C, Nyothach E, Amek N, Zielinski-Gutierrez E, Odhiambo F, Zeh C, Kwaro D, Mills L, Laserson KF.
‘Menstrual needs and associations with sexual and reproductive risks in rural Kenyan females: a cross-sectional behavioural survey linked with HIV prevalence.’
J Womens Health, 24 (10), 1-11, Doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.5031, 2015

Sommer, M.
(2011)
‘An Early Window of Opportunity for Promoting Girls Health: Policy Implications of the Girls Puberty Book Project in Tanzania’,
Global Journal of Health Education and Promotion, 14(1).

van Eijk AM, Laserson KF, Nyothach E, Oruko K, Omoto J, Mason L, Alexander K, Oduor C, Mohammed A, Eleveld A, Ngere I, Obor D, Vulule J. Phillips-Howard PA.
‘Use of menstrual cups among schoolgirls: longitudinal observations nested in a randomised controlled feasibility study in rural western Kenya,’
Reproductive Health, 15:139
https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-018-0582-8

More research on menstrual cups:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Penelope_Phillips-Howard

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296680807_Menstrual_hygiene_management_among_adolescent_girls_in_India_A_Systematic_review_and_meta-analysis

Websites

Our Bodies Ourselves develops and promotes evidence-based information on girls’ and women’s reproductive health and sexuality.
https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/


Sexual health and well-being for under 25s.
https://www.brook.org.uk/

The Menstrual Cup Coalition supports the safe use of affordable menstrual cups by sharing knowledge and good practice globally.

All photos © World Menstrual Network unless otherwise stated.