Menstrual Cups and Toxic Shock Syndrome (or TSS)

Recently, a new study has come out to say that menstrual cups may not be as safe as people are being led to believe.  While I do believe that menstrual cups are far better for your body than tampons, these findings cannot be ignored, and I think that gaining more knowledge and understanding of TSS and how to safely use and care for your Lumii Cup is a fantastic idea.

In reality, TSS is an incredibly rare occurrence - but it is serious. There have only ever been two documented cases of TSS linked to menstrual cup use and in both cases, the cups had been left in for SEVERAL DAYS without being emptied or cleaned. We have had a good look at the findings of the study and would like to point out that the study took place in a laboratory without real vaginas.

TSS is caused by the release of special toxins by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. To get Staphylococcal TSS you first need to have the toxin-producing form of S. aureus present in your vagina. Then the bacteria need to have the right conditions to grow and produce the toxin, so ensuring you use good hygiene practices can help immensely.

So, the question now, is how do we safely clean and look after our cups?

From the outset I will say that cups are still safe to use, as long as they are used correctly, so these are my recommendations:

  1. Empty your cup more often – we have been recommending you empty your cup every 12 hours, so I would suggest emptying every 8-10 hours instead.
  2. Practice safe hygiene! ALWAYS wash your hands before inserting or removing your cup.
  3. Have more than one cup to make sterilising your cup more practical. You can do this by having a cup that you've pre-cleaned that is ready to insert and switch it out for the used one (make sure you have a clean pouch and dirty pouch to prevent recontamination).
  4. Where possible, try to sterilise your cup every time you take it out/ reinsert to remove any bacteria that may be lurking. This is easily and discretely done with our sterilisers, but you could also try using the following:
  • Alcohol wipes.
  • Milton sterilising tablets. (A container of Milton solution - 1/4-1 tablet in an appropriate volume of water, can sterilise a cup in 10 minutes and will last at least 24 hours
  • Diluted Hydrogen peroxide, either as a wipe, spray and wipe, or soak (2 minutes is plenty) which can be reused repeatedly. Rinse the cup in water after.

If sterilising after each use isn’t an option, ensure that you are carefully cleaning your cup in hot water, and make sure that the suction holes at the top of your cup are clean and not clogged up, and sterilise as often as possible – making sure to at least sterilise before AND after each cycle.