I like to wander the exhibit hall at the annual meeting of the American Congress of OB/GYN (ACOG). It’s always interesting to see what company paid the most money for the choice position right at the entrance – this year it was daVinci, the makers of the robot that does nothing but make GYN surgery more expensive. Sadly, the lack of evidence for the daVinci robot did not seem to sway people playing with the toys on display.

Sometimes there are interesting presentations at the exhibits – the CDC had a great booth on the HPV vaccine with lots of information for health care providers to hand to their patients. Studies suggest that if doctors can answer more questions and more strongly recommend the vaccine uptake would increase.

Occasionally there are dodgy products, like the face cream with no chemicals, however, every now and thenIMG_1620 (1) there is a cool little product that I would probably never have seen and this year for me it was Intimina’s Lily Cup Compact – a collapsible menstrual cup.

It’s a silicone menstrual cup that collapses (see video) into a tiny little case that could be stashed in even the slimmest of purses. Perfect for travel or a night out and a great to keep on hand for those who get tired of digging around for a stashed tampon in a purse, backpack, or glove box only to find it has bloomed out of its wrapper.

Never tried a menstrual cup? They pay for themselves in about a year (sooner if you go through more pads/tampons than average), are more friendly for the ecosystem, and have very high user satisfaction compared with both tampons and pads. With good care (washing with a gentle soap) a silicone cup can last several years.

What about using them with an IUD, could digging around to pull out a menstrual cup increase expulsion? One study addressed that issue and found no increase in the IUD expulsion rate between pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. The study only had 96 women who were cup users, but still the results are reassuring. I have performed many different kinds of vaginal procedures on women with IUDs and all I can say is inadvertently pulling one would actually take some skill. It’s also hard to see why this would be more likely to happen with a menstrual cup than a tampon.

I can’t review the Lily Cup Compact personally as I am, ahem, not in their age demographic, however I have an extra one so if someone wants to try it and send me a review (you would be my very first field reporter!) contact me on twitter and we can direct message.

Join the Conversation


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. I just LOVE mine! I use the small Iris cup (only cost like $12-$15 on Amazon!) and, if I get it in at the right time, I have no spotting and can completely forget I’m on my period! And, lucky for me, I only need to empty it once a day (my flow is SO much lighter than all the pads and few tampons I’ve used over the years said it was), which is fantastic when I’m going to a concert or doing something else that keeps me out all day. If you’re still looking for someone to test the collapsible one, I’m happy to volunteer (if it’s the smallest made size)! Mine needs a break to air out. I forgot it was in on the last day of my last period and it kinda smells…And it doesn’t hurt to have a backup!

  2. Hi, can the menstrual cup make the cervix dangling? befor I put my cup inside, my cervix was much higher than after taking it out (I checked it)…I know that I had some problem with the suction during the removal – so maybe the suction pulled down my cervix a little bit? The cup works great but I’m afraid it can cause any trouble inside..

  3. I would think it would be handy. I used whatever the cup was that one could buy back in the 90s. One caveat, it is not great in bathrooms with stalls, far better when you are in the bathroom with it’s own sink, for obvious reasons. Also, a caveat, at the risk of TMI, if it gets too full the ‘seal’ seems to break 😦

  4. I wish I knew you were there! I could have had a fan girl meetup. I also liked the collapsible cup, but that would only work in between uses, of course. You dump it and put it back in when you’re out and about, and I don’t think collapsing it would be a good idea unless you were able to clean it completely between cycles.

    I used a diva cup for 9 1/2 years with a ParaGard IUD and didn’t have any problems. One more anecdote of no issue.

  5. I’ve been using a menstrual cup for the past 6 months and it is amazing. Wish I had discovered it years ago. A bonus, and no clue if it’s related, but I have no cramps since I began using the cup. I highly recommend trying one. I use a Diva Cup and have no complaints.

  6. I used one of these back in the day and I really liked it. MUCH more comfortable than a tampon.
    Just a note on the previous comment: There’s a lot more contact with blood when using the cup, as opposed to tampons. Women will have to have access to plenty of clean water and soap for their hands and also for the cup when they are done with it for the month. If that’s an issue (for someone on the street, for example) the cup probably wouldn’t be a good idea. But other than that, having the cup really simplifies the supply problem.

    Funny story: the day I left an abusive situation, I had nowhere to go and nothing but the clothes I was wearing. So naturally that’s when my period decided to start. All the money I had in the world was a 20 dollar bill I’d found in the laundry once. Had to find a 7 11 and spend a few precious dollars on a box of tampons. THEN I could proceed with finding shelter and putting my life back together!

    1. I think menstrual cups are a great option. ACOG doesn’t have a position statement. They are not well studied, but there seem to be no health concerns from the available data for silicone cups. They have been around for many years.

  7. Hi – I run a donation drive called Time of the Month Club here in Milwaukee. We collect a lot of tampons and pads for homeless women. It’s been proposed a couple of times that we think about menstrual cups. I’ve got a nursing student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who is interested in working on such a project and some shelter people who are at least open to the idea. Storing all that product is a hassle but no one has a sense of how women will receive the idea of a menstrual cup. So I’m curious — what do you think? Is this something that is so easy to use that the conversion is a snap? Or will it take a lot of education and support? What do you think?

    1. I for one love my menstrual cup, but it took almost two cycles before I could use it confidently (the first few days, I could either remove it pain-free or mess-free, not both). There’s a steep learning curve, and some people are too squicked to try at all. But I’ll never go back to pads and tampons.
      On the other hand, if I were homeless and didn’t have a good place to wash out the menstrual cup, or to store it where it won’t get dirty between cycles, I would rather stick with one-use items.

      Hope that helps

    2. While avoiding the recurring cost of disposable menstrual hygiene products is attractive, I would be very concerned about relying on a “wash and reuse” product if I didn’t have a reliable way to wash it.

      After 12 hours, a cup is as gross as a tampon. With no way to clean the cup properly, it’s not really better than wringing out and reinserting a used tampon. At that point, a wad of fabric used as a pad is safer since it doesn’t go inside the body.

      Helping women in resource-poor environments is very important, and I’m glad it is something you are involved in. That help must carefully consider the limitations they face and how to meet those needs without additional risk of harm.

    3. Absolutely not. I recently heard about someone wanting to organize a cup drive for women affected by the recent hurricanes as well, and that’s an even worse idea. I love the idea of supplying cups to women who need them (and I absolutely love my cup), but using one safely depends on being able to clean it reliably and correctly, which is likely to be a stretch for a lot of homeless women, let alone women impacted by a natural disaster – it absolutely needs to be washed out several times a day, and it should really be boiled at the end of every cycle.

%d bloggers like this: