Can Menstrual Cups Cause Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
For many environmentally conscious folks—or simply financially conscious folks—menstrual cups have become a go-to period product. But some people are hesitant to use them because they’ve heard menstrual cups can cause or worsen pelvic organ prolapse. Is that true? Are menstrual cups bad for the pelvic floor? Can menstrual cups cause prolapse? Let’s talk about it!
What’s Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse happens when one or more of your pelvic organs–the bladder, urethra, rectum, uterus, or cervix–drop into the walls of the vagina. This might cause symptoms like:
- Vaginal pressure or bulging
- Feeling like your vagina is “falling out”
- Low back pain that gets worse throughout the day
- Pelvic heaviness that’s worse at the end of the day
- Difficulty emptying when going pee or poop
- Urinary leakage
- Discomfort during intercourse
While we most often hear about this condition in relation to pregnancy ,postpartum, or aging, other events can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse:
- Any vaginal or vulvar trauma
- Increased abdominal pressure
- Hormonal changes related to menopause
- Pelvic surgery
- Congenital factors or conditions
All of that sounds pretty intense, right? But there’s some good news!
First, if you have prolapse, you’re not alone. Pelvic organ prolapse affects up to half of all people with vaginas by the time we turn 80 years old. Eeek! But wait, keep reading because it’s not all gloom and doom.
Second, in most cases, pelvic organ prolapse is treatable without surgical intervention! More on this later.
In fact, one solution that may provide relief for prolapse is using the right period products. So, is a menstrual cup one of those products?
What’s a Menstrual Cup?
Menstrual cups are small, reusable cups, usually made from medical-grade silicone, that you insert into your vagina to collect menstrual fluids. They’re used as an alternative to tampons or other menstrual hygiene products. If inserted correctly–which admittedly has a learning curve–the cup forms a suction around your cervix to collect fluid throughout the day.
Can Menstrual Cups Cause Prolapse?
There’s some conflicting information out there about the safety of menstrual cups, especially for people who have a pelvic organ prolapse.
To date, there have been no peer-reviewed studies that show a direct relationship between menstrual cup use and damage to the pelvic floor. So, generally, as long as you use and remove it correctly, a menstrual cup is safe and shouldn’t damage pelvic floor. Even if you have a prolapse! But proper insertion and removal is key! Check out my IG Reel with tips on how to properly insert and remove a menstrual cup.
Note: If your prolapse is caused by congenital factors–like a connective tissue disorder–a menstrual cup might be too much suction for your pelvic floor. Try a menstrual disc instead!
What Should You Do If You Think You Have Prolapse?
First, it’s important to address the factors that may be contributing to prolapse in addition to working to correct it.
Check out these tips to start.
#1 Consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist.
A PT will do an internal assessment of your pelvic floor muscles and tissues. That, along with a thorough history, can help to diagnose the true cause of your pelvic organ prolapse. This will make sure you’re getting the right treatment!
#2 Pee the right way.
For those #1’s, don’t push the pee out. (Seriously.) Just sit and let your flow of urine begin on its own.
For #2’s, I highly recommend a Squatty Potty. This bathroom stool gets your pelvic floor muscles in a more relaxed position for pooping, so you’re less likely to strain to get the job done.
Improper breathing during activity is one of the top causes of pelvic organ prolapse. Like, when you’re lifting weights (or kiddos)! Holding your breath can increase pressure on your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Instead, exhale when lifting a heavy object or exerting effort to minimize pressure on your pelvic floor and abdomen.
#4 Relax your pelvic floor.
I know it seems counterintuitive, but incorporating activities that improve pelvic floor relaxation is an essential part of your pelvic organ prolapse treatment plan. If your pelvic floor is too tense you may find yourself training to push pee or poop out which can contribute to prolapse. (Check out the V-Hive’s Relaxation Series for workout ideas from a PT!)
#5 Use support devices!
Your pelvic floor PT might recommend some internal or external supportive devices. These are some of my favorites:
Period Products for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Is prolapse worse when you’re on your period? It can be! During our period, estrogen is at its lowest—which causes all our muscles, including our pelvic floors, to get weaker or more easily fatigued.
If you’re looking for the best menstrual cup for uterine prolapse, try this quiz from Put a Cup In It. Personally, I love the Cora Cup. But cups aren’t one-size-fits-all, so do some research and find what might work best for you!
Tampons with prolapse can also be an option during your period or for added support during workouts. They put adequate pressure back on those muscles, moving them into their proper places. I love Lola products because they’re made with high-quality, natural ingredients!
If your prolapse is too severe, you might be unable to insert anything into the vagina without pain or discomfort. Instead of menstrual cups or tampons, try period panties. Thinx is my favorite brand.
Need more support?
Looking to prevent or treat pelvic floor prolapse? The V-Hive might be your answer! These online, on-demand workouts for your pelvic floor and core can help you relax and strengthen those muscles to get you back on track! Check it out here.
Note: If you suspect you have a prolapse, please consult a pelvic floor PT before starting any workouts!
Iglesia, C. (2021, December). 5 things I wish all women knew about pelvic organ prolapse. ACOG. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/5-things-i-wish-all-women-knew-about-pelvic-organ-prolapse
Interested in more tips on how to prevent or overcome Pelvic Floor Problems?
Download this free guide for some simple, do-able, totally-not-weird tips to take better care of your down there.