The University of Illinois Chicago researchers project menstrual cups as the safest option for menstruating girls. This study was conducted on 436 Kenyan girls who go to secondary school. The findings of this study are published in the PLOS Medicine journal.
Half of the girls in this group of 436 were given menstrual cups. These girls were tested for a common vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis, every six months. Tests were also done for the detection of STIs or sexually transmitted infections for girls every twelve and thirty months.
Further, the researchers tested the vaginal microbiome of all the girls in the group to understand the ubiquity of harmful and beneficial bacteria.
At the end of all these studies, menstrual cups have been found effective in maintaining sound vaginal health. The reports of the study once again make it imperative to make essential menstrual products accessible to girls and women of low- and middle-income groups.
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The National Institutes of Health funded the study, and its report stated the following facts.
- Girls who used menstrual cups were 26% less likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.
- Girls with menstrual cups had 37% more optimum vaginal microbiome than other girls who did not use the cups.
- The menstrual cups did not lessen the risks of STIs or sexually transmitted diseases.
- However, with control for confounding factors like sexual activeness and age, these menstrual cups were found effective in transmitting STIs.
Supriya Mehta, adjunct professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health at UIC and principal investigator on the study, says, “The results showed that menstrual cups could be a game-changer in helping keep girls healthy.”
The principal investigator further explains that menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone, and when these bell-shaped cups are inserted into the vagina, they collect menstrual blood. Tampons do not collect blood from the vagina, creating an “iron-rich setting” prone to bacterial infections.
She even added that these cups are more effective in maintaining an acidic environment than tampons. And an acidic environment is important to keep vaginal infections away.
Followed by this research, Mehta is now likely to take on a study on the effectiveness of menstrual cups in ensuring better vaginal health of sex workers in Kenya. This study will also be funded by the National Institutes of Health.