The impact of menstrual cups around the globe: key learnings from the Menstrual Cup Coalition online event

The event successfully highlighted the impact that menstrual cups are having across the globe, how results are being measured, and how we can leverage such findings for global advocacy on menstrual cups. If you missed it, a recording can be found on YouTube.

There were 5 speakers who spoke brilliantly:

Dr Garazi Zulaika, a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, gave a presentation on the impact of menstrual cups on girls’ reproductive health.

She discussed her in depth findings from the Cups or Cash for Girls Trial and the Cups and Community Health Sub-study. The study showed that girls who used a menstrual cup saw a 33% reduced risk of HSV-2. Having HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, triples an individual’s risk of becoming infected with HIV. Girls also experienced a 24% reduction in bacterial vaginosis and a 37% increase in ‘good bacteria’. Not only this, but there was a 80% uptake in cup use.

One girl said “When using moon (menstrual) cup you are so comfortable, even if you are in class, you are not afraid that it will leak unlike pads, so you concentrate in class you and are not worried.”

A group of girls in school uniform sat on a grass area smiling

Jennifer Rubli, the Research and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Director at Femme International, presented on her findings around measuring menstrual health and menstrual cup programmes for Non-Governmental Organisations.

Jen discussed why measurement and capturing accurate data matters, the role of good MEL practices to ensure that projects are undertaken successfully, and how different adaptations need to be considered for different groups and communities. She shared some key tools already available which can be used for measuring the impact of cup programmes:

Kofi K. Nyanteng, the MEL Specialist at ‘CouldYou?’, discussed his experience distributing menstrual cups in Ghana.

He talked through the organisations experience of using a data driven approach and how this has contributed to the success of the project. They used CUP TRACK which provides real-time feedback from cup users. This ensured that data was frequent and reliable, and feedback could inform future decisions. They offered capacity building support to their partners to ensure they were trained in the latest data approaches, and also used physical verification methods such as random field visits and call backs.

Ajwang’ Wanday, the Project Officer for Kakamega’s Menstrual Cup Programme, shared her experience coordinating the pilot project funded by Dorcas International.

She highlighted the technical and programmatic challenges faced, together with the key adaptations and learnings from this project. For example, many women and girls were worried about the health risks and misconceptions of cups and questions around virginity, so it was important that the trainers provided basic reproductive health training to combat these misconceptions.

Watch this short video to hear more about how menstrual cups are changing women and girls’ lives in Kakamega.

A group of women stood in front of a classroom building holding menstrual cups

Ira Guha, the founder of Asan Cups, shared how the cups have been adopted in Kanakapura city in India, and the impact they have had on women and their mental health.

Ira spoke about the key learnings from the project so far. This included the importance of menstrual cup trainers being from within the communities in order to create a high level of trust and willingness of women and girls to try the cup for the first time. More key learnings include ensuring a good quality cups is used, that the project covers the entire community/village area, and collaborating with local networks to advocate for the use of menstrual cups.

Overall it was an insightful event, and discussions went beyond the impact of menstrual cups across the globe to really consider the way in which uptake is collected and verified.

As part of our follow up to the event, we are working with Naseema Noor, who is carrying out her Phd on menstrual cup programming, to gather information and lessons learnt. If you are working on a menstrual cup programme, please complete her survey.

If you would like to receive updates about the Menstrual Cup Coalition, or become a member, please fill out this form and we will get back to you.