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How to use Kegel weights

How to use Kegel weights

Do you have concerns about your pelvic floor muscles? If so, you’re not alone. Pelvic floor issues are common among women. The muscles of the pelvic floor serve a number of functions: They help with bladder control, bowel control, and sexual function. They also support the pelvic organs — which include the bladder, uterus, cervix, vagina, and rectum — and help keep everything in the proper place. Strong pelvic floor muscles also help you prepare for and recover from childbirth. So it’s important to keep your pelvic muscles strong no matter what stage of life you’re in! 

If the muscles of your pelvic floor become weak, it can lead to problems such as urinary incontinence (leaking urine), bowel dysfunction, reduced vaginal sensation, and difficulty wearing tampons. Severe cases of pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when the muscles can no longer support the organs in the pelvic region, and the organs become weak or loose. In some cases, the organs can even drop into or outside of the vaginal canal.

how to use kegel weights

Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles

Fortunately, you can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with targeted exercises. We wrote a whole blog post about pelvic floor exercises here! 

You’ve probably heard of Kegel exercises. Developed by a gynecologist named Arnold Kegel in the 1940s, Kegel exercises involve repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urinating midstream. This is the same action you’ll perform to contract during Kegel exercises. Once you’ve identified the action, you can do Kegel exercises anywhere. Try holding the contraction for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. For best results, aim for three sets of 10-15 reps every day. 

To further strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you can add weights to your Kegel exercises, just like you would use for any other strength training routine. Think about it — you can do biceps curls without dumbbells, but you won’t get the same results. In the same way, Kegel weights help you achieve even better results from your Kegel exercises.  

What are Kegel weights? 

Kegel weights, also known as vaginal weights or Kegel balls, are small weights designed to be used inside the vagina. The idea of inserting a weight into your vagina may sound strange, but stay with us! The weights can actually make doing Kegel exercises easier: they give your muscles something to contract around, and provide resistance that will help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles faster. Plus, they help you make sure that you’re doing your Kegel exercises correctly, because you’ll be able to feel the weight being squeezed and lifted. 

How do Kegel weights work? 

Using Kegel weights for the first time may seem a little intimidating, but they’re easy to get the hang of! Kegel weight sets, like our Pixie Cup Kegel Weights, often come with several different weights so that you can increase the weight as you get stronger. 

How to insert Kegel weights 

To use Kegel weights, insert the weight as you would a tampon. You may find it easier to lie down, or you can rest one foot on the side of the tub or a chair. Insert the weight slowly. If you like, you can use a little bit of lubricant, like our Pixie Cup Lube, to make insertion easier. As you tighten your pelvic floor muscles to support the weight, you may notice that it’s naturally drawn into the vagina and away from your fingers. Some weights have a handle or a cord to make removal easier; this should remain outside the vagina. 

how to use Kegel weights

How to remove Kegel weights

When you’re finished with your exercises, lie down in a comfortable position. You can add more lube to the vaginal opening to ease discomfort if desired. Relax your muscles and slowly pull on the handle to remove the weight. After removing, clean your weight thoroughly and allow it to air dry. 

Kegel weight tips

To get the most out of your Kegel weights, follow these tips: 

1. Find your pelvic floor muscles

Before you try using Kegel weights, you’ll want to make sure that you’re inserting them properly. If the weight is placed too high or too low, you won’t get an effective workout. To determine the proper placement, try inserting a finger into your vagina and then contract your pelvic floor muscles, just like you would when you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. You’ll feel the muscles contracting around your finger. You want to insert the weight so it sits just above this muscle. And don’t worry about the weight getting lost inside you; there’s only so far it can go before it reaches your cervix

2. Choose a good position

If you’re new to Kegel weights, you may want to try them while lying down. That’s because gravity can make lifting the weights more challenging. As you progress, you’ll be able to use the weights while sitting, standing, or even walking around. Whichever position you choose, make sure you’re comfortable and not distracted, so you can focus on doing your exercises correctly. 

3. Start small 

When you’re just starting out, use the lightest weight, and try holding the contraction for just two seconds at a time. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to hold the contractions longer and work up to heavier weights. 

4. Make it a habit

One of the best ways to stick to a new habit is to add it to a habit you’re already doing — a technique known as habit stacking. Chances are, you’re already spending time every morning brushing your teeth and washing your face. Try adding your Kegel weight exercises to this part of your morning routine a few days a week, and soon it’ll be second nature. 

5. Be patient

Like any workout routine, using Kegel weights will take some time to deliver results. To get a clear picture of your progress, keep track of your workouts in a designated notebook or a note on your phone. Write down which weight you used, how long you held the contractions, and how many reps you completed. After a while, you’ll be able to look back and really see how all your effort has paid off. 

6. Keep your weights clean

Anything you’re using inside your vagina — whether it’s Kegel weights or a menstrual cup — should be clean and sterilized to prevent any bacteria from passing into the vagina. Wash your weights with a pH-balanced cleanser after each use. Our Pixie Cup Wash is perfect for this! It’s made from 100% all-natural plant-based ingredients and is safe for your weights and anything else that comes into contact with your genital region. 

Kegel weight FAQs

Still not sure if Kegel weights are right for you? Take a look at some of these frequently asked questions about Kegel weights. 

How long can you leave Kegel weights in? 

Kegel weights are intended to be used for roughly five-ten minutes a day, three days a week. As you get stronger, you can work up to longer sessions and more reps. 

Can I leave Kegel weights in all day? 

Kegel weights are not designed to be worn all day. Using them for too long can overexert the pelvic floor muscles, potentially leading to injury. Ouch! Don’t try to rush the process. Again, start with shorter contractions and a lighter weight, and work your way up as you get stronger. 

How long does it take to see results?

Your individual results will vary depending on the current state of your pelvic floor muscles, but some people report noticing a difference after just one week of using Kegel weights. When using Kegel weights regularly, most people will notice benefits within a few weeks to a few months. 

Who can benefit from Kegel weights?  

Kegel weights are often helpful for women who: 

  • Have had any sort of pelvic surgery, such as fibroid surgery, and need to restrengthen their pelvic floor
  • Have symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, such as urinary incontinence or a prolapsed uterus
  • Are pregnant and want to strengthen the pelvic floor to make labor and delivery relatively easier
  • Have given birth vaginally and want to tighten vaginal muscles that have become loose
  • Have gone through or are going through menopause, which increases the risk of uterine prolapse 
  • Frequently lift heavy objects, which can strain the pelvic floor muscles

Ready to give Kegel weights a try? Sign up to be notified when our NEW Pixie Cup Kegel Weights are available!

Eco-friendly stocking stuffers for 2020

Eco-friendly stocking stuffers for 2020

Are you looking for the perfect gift for the eco-conscious adventurer who is passionate about reducing waste? Here’s a list of gifts that will fit right inside a stocking and make any adventure — and everyday life — a little bit easier!

If you are an eco-minded individual looking for presents for your friends, these small gifts are a great way to introduce your pals to the zero-waste life! They’re also a perfect Secret-Santa size so you can pick out a no-brainer gift for that friend or coworker who’s impossible to please!

Collapsible Water Bottle

You can find a space-saving collapsible water bottle in virtually any color! It’s perfect for the friend who is a minimalist (collapsible), lives a zero-waste lifestyle (reusable), and stylish (totally cute)! This water bottle is great for trips to the gym or sipping on the go! Shop Que water bottles.

Fair-Trade Reusable Face Masks

Single-use face masks have become one of 2020’s biggest sources of pollution. Get your squad some stylish and sustainably made reusable masks that won’t end up on the ground — or in the ocean. We like these masks from Tonlé, which are made from fabric remnants discarded by larger manufacturers, and use three layers of quilted cotton — the recommended practice for cloth masks. Plus, the masks are made by Cambodian workers, who receive fair wages, free lunch, vacation pay, and other benefits.

Pixie Cup

It’s astounding how many pads or tampons we can go through over the course of our lives. Fortunately there’s another option: a menstrual cup. Ours comes with a 100% happiness guarantee! The Pixie Cup is the ideal stocking stuffer and is the perfect gift for the adventurer who loves to live in freedom! Our small Pixie Cup is a safe bet for most people, or you can gift your bestie our combo pack, which comes with a small and a large. Feel weird about picking out a menstrual cup for someone else? We got you, boo. You can still give the gift of period freedom with a Pixie Cup gift card.

eco-friendly menstrual cup

UV Sterilizer

Our UV Sterilizer kills over 99% of germs and harmful bacteria using UV-C light, and its small size makes it perfect for travel. No more boiling your menstrual cup on the stove! (Plus, you could even pop in your reusable mask to kill germs between washes!)

Pixie Cup Sterilizing Container

This little sterilizing container is cute, compact, and multi-functional. You can use it for a quick rinse in a public restroom, or a deep clean boil in the microwave! Bonus: it’s collapsible, so it takes up hardly any space in your purse or backpack. It’s the ideal gift for any Pixie Cup user!

Kula Cloth

These handy cloths are perfect for the girl who is always headed off on her next adventure! They replace toilet paper (for pee only) and snap onto your backpack, so “Leave No Trace” can be realized fully in the great outdoors! Shop Kula Cloth.

GoGirl

While we’re on the subject of pee… we may as well talk about this fantastic device! It makes “doing your business” while out in the wild a breeze! This is the perfect gift for the girl who is always out adventuring in the great unknown where a bathroom is an unknown luxury! Shop GoGirl.

Collapsible Straw

Is your friend passionate about reducing the number of straws that end up in the ocean? Help her reduce her environmental footprint with this super cute collapsible straw! It comes with a cleaning brush and a sleek carrying case, which makes it the perfect size to keep in a purse… and slip in a stocking on Christmas morning! Shop on Amazon.

Best of luck on your gift-giving excursions this year and we hope you find the perfect item for everyone on your list!

Happy shopping!

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Period poverty in the U.S.: how you can help

Period poverty in the U.S.: how you can help

Combating period poverty is a big part of our mission at Pixie Cup. In fact, you could even say it’s why we exist. We believe that no one should have to go without the basic supplies necessary for managing their periods with dignity. Unfortunately, many people all over the world don’t have access to period products, which can negatively impact their development, health, and economic opportunities. 

You may have heard the term “period poverty” before, but what does it really mean? Who is affected by period poverty? And how can we work together to stop it?

period poverty in the U.S.

What does period poverty mean?

Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual supplies and education. This includes menstrual products such as pads and tampons, as well as access to clean water and washing facilities. 

Many people who menstruate have to choose every month between buying menstrual supplies or buying other basic necessities, including food. People who can’t afford menstrual products may resort to using rags, toilet paper, socks, or paper towels to collect menstrual fluid.

Why is period poverty important? 

Period poverty isn’t just an economic issue; it’s also a health issue. Lack of access to period products can lead to major health consequences. Some people, in an effort to extend the life of their menstrual products, may wear pads and tampons for far longer than recommended, which can be dangerous as well as unsanitary. Wearing tampons for too long, wearing a tampon that’s the wrong size, or using other materials internally — such as toilet paper — can lead to toxic shock syndrome — a serious and sometimes fatal health condition. 

When women and girls don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products, they may have to miss work or school. Nearly 1 in 5 girls in the U.S. has had to miss school or leave school early due to a lack of access to menstrual products, and 36 percent of women surveyed said they had missed work because they did not have access to period products. 

Nearly 1 in 5 girls in the U.S. has had to miss school or leave school early due to a lack of access to menstrual products.

Missed school means missed opportunities for people who menstruate, and the accompanying emotional toll can cause mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. 

“Adequate menstrual hygiene management is not a luxury,” says Anne Sebert Kuhlmann, an associate professor in the College for Public Health and Social Justice at St. Louis University. “It’s a need. It affects a woman’s sense of self, her sense of dignity and her ability to participate in life.”

Who is affected by period poverty? 

Period poverty affects people all over the world. We often hear of women in developing countries who lack access to menstrual products, but period poverty very much affects people in the U.S. as well. 

In the U.S., 1 in 5 women struggle to afford menstrual products every month, according to a 2019 study conducted at St. Louis University. Forty-six percent of low-income women have had to choose between a meal or buying period products. 

In the U.S., 1 in 5 women struggle to afford menstrual products every month.

Women in the U.S. are already 38% more likely than men to live in poverty, according to the National Women’s Law Center, and low-income women with children face additional challenges. For moms, kids’ needs take priority. Many women will purchase diapers first, and may not have money remaining for menstrual products.

Period poverty among incarcerated women

Period poverty is also a major issue among incarcerated women. As of August 2017, women in federal prisons have access to free tampons, pads, and pantiliners. But state and local jails — where women are more likely to be sent — have yet to pass similar laws. 

Women in state prisons may be allocated a certain number of menstrual products each month, and may be forced to beg or barter if they need more. While menstrual products may be available for purchase at the commissary, many prisoners can’t afford to buy more on a salary that amounts to less than a dollar per hour. To make matters worse, menstrual products provided in state prisons are often of such poor quality that inmates may have to use multiple pads at once, and they may be punished if they bleed on their uniforms. 

If inmates are forced to improvise, the results can be life-threatening. One incarcerated woman in Maryland got toxic shock syndrome after using toilet paper as a makeshift tampon, and required an emergency hysterectomy.

Period poverty among women experiencing homelessness

More than 216,000 women experience homelessness on any given night in the U.S., and women and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. The increased demands on homeless shelters mean that shelters can’t always provide menstrual products to all menstruating residents.

COVID-19 has made period poverty worse

The COVID-19 health crisis has made period poverty even worse. At the height of the pandemic, marginalized populations who were already struggling to afford period products began to face additional challenges as people lost their jobs and store shelves emptied of basic supplies. For many people, the pandemic has created additional hardships such as loss of income, potential homelessness, and a lack of access to basic care, which can make it harder to access menstrual supplies. 

Many people who may have had access to menstrual products in schools or public facilities before the pandemic lost that support as schools and other facilities have closed. And social service organizations that rely on volunteers to package and deliver donations to people in need saw their operations come to a halt as volunteers were forced to stay at home.

One in four people between the ages of 13 and 35 reported that it has been harder to manage their periods since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey conducted in May. Fifty-eight percent of participants stated that they had less money to spend on menstrual products due to COVID, and 50% reported that it has been harder to access menstrual products. 

The tampon tax

Another issue contributing to period poverty is what’s known as the “tampon tax.” In the United States, individual states have the ability to decide how sales tax is levied. Certain necessities, such as prescription medications, are usually exempt from sales tax. But most states do not consider menstrual products to be necessities, and thus they are subject to sales tax. In some states, menstrual products are taxed at the highest rate.  

Some states have abolished tampon taxes, and advocacy groups are pushing for similar tax changes nationwide. Click here to find out if your state taxes menstrual products

Sales tax on menstrual products may not seem like a big issue, but for someone already struggling to afford basic necessities, that sales tax is an additional burden. And, it’s a burden that only affects people who menstruate. Also consider that many non-essential items are tax exempt across the U.S. For example, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax in Texas, and bingo supplies are tax exempt in Missouri. 

Period products also aren’t covered by health insurance or Medicaid, and they can’t be purchased with government-assistance programs such as WIC and SNAP.

How can we stop period poverty? 

Making sure that everyone has access to menstrual products requires big changes through health and policy initiatives, like global removal of the tampon tax and free menstrual products in schools. Currently only three states — New York, California, and Illinois — provide free menstrual products in schools. Many healthcare providers, organizations, and elected officials are advocating for policy changes related to menstrual hygiene. 

While we wait for these legislative changes to make their way through government, there are plenty of things we can do to support people experiencing period poverty in our communities and around the world. 

1. End period stigma

A big part of addressing period poverty is ending the stigma that surrounds menstruation. The UN reports that on any given day, 800 million people are menstruating, yet menstrual health remains one of the most taboo topics in the world. The stigma and taboos surrounding menstrual health continue to harm people who menstruate every day. 

If people are unable to talk openly about periods and the challenges they face in accessing menstrual products, they are less likely to ask for or receive help.

It’s crucial that we work to normalize conversations about menstruation. Periods are a normal biological function that can tell you a lot about your overall health. Open and honest conversations about menstruation are crucial for arming people with the knowledge they need to manage their periods comfortably, with confidence and dignity. 

Language that refers to periods as gross or shameful is very much ingrained in our culture. If you noticed yourself or your friends treating menstruation as if it’s disgusting or something to be ashamed of, challenge yourself to reframe how you look at or talk about periods, and encourage your friends to do the same. 

Open and honest conversations about menstruation are crucial for arming people with the knowledge they need to manage their periods comfortably, with confidence and dignity. 

2. Join the tampon tax protest

Visit taxfreeperiod.com to learn more about the tampon tax. The Tax Free Period campaign was created by the organization Period Equity, which is calling on all U.S. states to eliminate the tampon tax by Tax Day 2021. When you sign up on their website, they will send a letter to your governor asking for the tampon tax to be abolished in your state if it isn’t already. 

3. Donate menstrual supplies

If your budget allows, donate menstrual products to those who need them through organizations like I Support the Girls, Days for Girls, and Happy Period.

You can also make a donation on our website, which will provide two menstrual cups to people in need through one of our various partner organizations!

4. Educate yourself! 

Always strive to learn more about the cause by listening to different people’s experiences and expanding your understanding of the impacts of period poverty. 

Some great resources include the book Periods Gone Public by Period Equity co-founder Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and the documentary The price of getting a period in America from CBSN Originals. 

5. Buy menstrual products from brands committed to helping women facing period poverty

Many menstrual supply companies, including Pixie Cup, are committed to helping those in need. For every Pixie Cup sold, we donate one to a woman who doesn’t have access to menstrual products. One menstrual cup can last up to 10 years, eliminating the need to buy expensive disposable period products every month. For a woman experiencing period poverty, a menstrual cup can be truly life-changing. 

Our Buy One, Give One program recipients

Since we launched our Buy One Give One program in the summer of 2017, we have donated 100,000 menstrual cups to women in need. In 2020, our cups have been distributed to organizations helping women such as: 

Pixie Cup founder Amber English also recently traveled to Tanzania with WorldServe International, where she distributed 400 menstrual cups to female leaders and teachers in rural areas. Learn more about our work in Tanzania

Your Pixie Cup purchase helps a woman in need

We’re on a mission to empower every woman in the world with a life-changing period by putting a Pixie Cup in their hands through our Buy One, Give One program. It’s a big mission, but with your help, we can do it. As of today, we’ve given over 100,000 cups to those in period poverty — and we won’t stop until every single woman or girl in need has the resources to manage her period with dignity. Visit our online store.

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Pixie Cup helps with menstrual health management in Tanzania

Pixie Cup helps with menstrual health management in Tanzania

Pixie Cup founder Amber English recently traveled to Tanzania, where she was able to distribute 400 menstrual cups to female leaders and teachers in rural areas. I sat down with her to talk about her experience there and what menstrual hygiene means for women in Tanzania.

woman in Tanzania

Karen: First of all, how were you able to travel overseas during COVID?

Amber: Tanzania actually has no travel restrictions right now. They recommend that people avoid nonessential travel, but I was able to join a group with WorldServe, who were traveling there to help build wells. We had to fill out a form and have a health screening, but travel was actually pretty easy. I was originally supposed to go to Tanzania in April, but that trip was obviously cancelled, so I was super excited when this opportunity came up!

400 menstrual cups en route to Tanzania

Karen: Tell me more about WorldServe.

Amber: WorldServe is a really great organization, and they’re also based here in Springfield. They work to eliminate water scarcity in Africa by building deep, solar-powered wells in areas where access to water is scarce. In Tanzania alone, 25 million people still don’t have access to clean water. People often have to walk miles for water, and even then it’s not clean.

We went to one village where a well was being drilled, and we got to see their current water source. Some of them walked an hour to get there, and many women came to the hole four times a day to get water for their families and cattle. It was so exciting to be there when the new solar-powered well was installed and to see how happy they were that they wouldn’t have to walk so far for water anymore!

Women in a village in Tanzania walking to their old water source for the last time

Karen: How do water scarcity and menstrual hygiene issues affect women in Tanzania?

Amber: Water scarcity everywhere disproportionately affects women and girls. When adequate restroom facilities, clean water, and menstrual products aren’t available, it can make it difficult or impossible for girls to attend school when they have their period. In Tanzania, most girls stop attending school after they start their periods. We met only one girl on our trip who was still attending school after starting her period. She was 15. Even if girls do stay in school, they may have to miss 3-4 days every month while they have their period, and they can fall way behind on their lessons.

The task of collecting water for the family also falls on women and girls, so if they have to walk miles to a water source, that’s another factor that can prevent them from attending school.

Karen: What was the response like to the menstrual cups you distributed?

Amber: They were so excited! The response has been outstanding and they’re already asking for more. We started by educating the female leaders and teachers, so they can get comfortable using a cup themselves, and then they can educate the girls in their community on cup use and menstrual hygiene. They are saying that it’s truly life-changing.

Lydia, a teacher in Tanzania, talks to a young woman about menstrual cups.

Karen: What do women in Tanzania usually use for menstrual hygiene?

Amber: Schools will sometimes have a small budget for sanitary pads, but it doesn’t go very far. Many women and girls can’t afford menstrual supplies, so they have to use pieces of cloth. Because of cultural taboos, these have to be kept out of sight. And if there’s no clean water, they can’t be properly sanitized. Some women may not even have underwear, so they can’t use pads or cloth. But since menstrual cups are worn inside, lack of underwear isn’t a problem. As long as they have clean water to clean their cup with, they can use a menstrual cup. It was great to be a part of a project that is helping to alleviate both those problems.

Karen: That’s incredible. What’s next for Pixie Cup?

Amber: Next month we’ll pass 100,000 cups donated to women in need around the world. So far we have donated over 91,000 cups. For every cup we sell, we donate one to a woman in need. Many of them go to women in developing countries like Tanzania, and we also partner with organizations that are working to address menstrual equity issues in the U.S. We’re always looking for new donation opportunities!

Karen: How can people get involved?

Amber: If you buy a Pixie Cup, you’re automatically giving a cup to a woman in need! And if you buy a Combo Pack, which contains two cups, we donate two. You can also sign up to help fundraise for WorldServe on their website, or even travel to Africa with them. They’re planning a Mt. Kilimanjaro climb for summer 2021!

Your Pixie Cup purchase helps a woman in need

We’re on a mission to empower every woman in the world with a life-changing period by putting a Pixie Cup in their hands through our Buy One, Give One program. It’s a big mission, but with your help, we can do it. As of today, we’ve given over 90,000 cups to those in period poverty — and we won’t stop until every single woman or girl in need has the resources to manage her period with dignity. Visit our online store.

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Can menstrual cups cause TSS?

Can menstrual cups cause TSS?

If you’ve ever used a tampon, you’ve probably heard and feared the words toxic shock syndrome, or TSS. Every tampon box contains a warning that wearing a tampon for too long or using the wrong absorbency can increase the risk of this serious health condition.

One of the questions we often hear is, “Can menstrual cups cause TSS?” It’s important for anyone who menstruates to understand what TSS is, why it’s connected to menstrual products, and how to use your menstrual products safely.

can menstrual cups cause tss

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Most people don’t realize that toxic shock syndrome is not strictly associated with menstruation! TSS is a complication caused by a bacterial infection, which can affect anyone. According to WebMD, TSS “can happen to men and women who have been exposed to staph bacteria while recovering from surgery, a burn, an open wound, or the use of a prosthetic device.”

TSS is a medical emergency that can lead to death. If caught early, TSS can be treated, but symptoms often mimic the flu, and those who have TSS may not seek help right away.

What causes TSS?

The main cause of TSS is an overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus, or staph bacteria. Staph bacteria is normally present in the vagina, along with other naturally occurring bacteria, but doesn’t usually cause an infection. In order for an infection such as TSS to occur, two things need to happen. First, the bacteria need an environment that allows them to grow rapidly. Second, the bacteria must then enter the bloodstream.

Menstrual fluid is one such environment in which rapid bacterial growth can occur. If tampons are left in for too long, the bacteria can grow to dangerous levels. This is why tampons — or any menstrual product used internally — should never be left in for longer than recommended.

How do the bacteria then enter the bloodstream? This can happen a few different ways. The insertion or removal of a dry tampon can scrape the inside of the vagina, causing small abrasions that could allow the entrance of bad bacteria into the bloodstream. Using a super-absorbent tampon, especially when your flow is light, can cause vaginal dryness, which can also make small tears more likely.

In the 1970s, a particular brand of super-absorbent tampons was linked to several deaths from TSS. That brand was later taken off the market, but cases of TSS do still occur today. While the number of reported cases of TSS from tampon use has declined considerably since the 1980s, the risk still exists, especially for anyone who uses tampons improperly.

More than one third of TSS cases happen in women under the age of 19, and up to 30% of people who get TSS will get it again.

If you are menstruating and you experience a high fever and vomiting, seek medical help right away, especially if you have been using tampons. If you are using a tampon and you become ill, remove it immediately.

Are menstrual cups dangerous?

Everyone once in a while, a new article pops up claiming that menstrual cups can cause TSS or are otherwise unsafe. However, research overwhelmingly shows that menstrual cups are very safe when used properly. A comprehensive review of 43 different menstrual cup studies found that not only did menstrual cups leak less than pads and tampons, but menstrual cups also posed no increased health risks and had no negative impact on vaginal bacteria.

The study found five reported cases of TSS from menstrual cup use, but it’s unclear whether the cups were used properly.

A 2018 study conducted in France sparked a slew of negative press after claiming that menstrual cups were more likely to increase production of the bacteria that causes TSS. But the study wasn’t actually conducted on humans. The researchers had placed menstrual products inside plastic bags, which is clearly a different environment than inside the vaginal canal.

It’s also important to remember that menstrual cups have been increasing in popularity over the past decade. If menstrual cups were more likely to lead to TSS, we would be hearing of far more reported cases linked to menstrual cup use. That simply hasn’t happened.

Can menstrual cups cause TSS?

The simple answer is yes, menstrual cups can cause TSS if used improperly or left in for too long. The truth is, anything left in the body for too long can encourage the growth of bacteria. If you were to leave your menstrual cup in for an extended period of time (we recommend changing and rinsing your cup every 12 hours), bacteria could begin to grow in the fluid that is trapped inside your cup. If that bacteria is then able to enter your body, that could potentially be very dangerous.

However, in order for that to happen, you would have to leave your cup in for a very long time. Of the known cases of TSS linked to a menstrual cup, at least 2 occurred because the menstrual cup was inserted and not emptied or cleaned for more than 7 days.

TSS with a menstrual cup is unlikely because…

  • The silicone will not break down or leave pieces behind. Tampons are especially dangerous because pieces of the tampon can break away and get stuck inside the vaginal canal. These tiny fragments can be imperceptible and become a feeding ground for staph bacteria. Your menstrual cup will not break apart and is always removed in its entirety, leaving no particles to feed bacteria.
  • The menstrual cup is gentle and easy to insert and remove, so it’s not likely to cause tears in the sensitive skin of the vaginal canal.

How can I avoid TSS with a menstrual cup?

First, just your decision to use a menstrual cup in the first place significantly decreases your risk of toxic shock syndrome! That being said, you still need to be careful to make sure your vaginal canal is kept free of bad bacteria overgrowth.

With any menstrual product used internally, the important thing is to follow the instructions, keep it clean, don’t leave it in for longer than recommended, and use a trusted brand.

Follow these tips to stay healthy while using a menstrual cup:

Keep your Pixie Cup clean and sanitized

We can’t stress this enough! Cleaning your menstrual cup properly is probably the most important thing you can learn in your menstrual cup journey.

To keep your cup in the best shape, rinse and wash your cup – preferably with a gentle, natural soap or Pixie Cup Wash – at least once every twelve hours. Make sure you sanitize your cup by boiling or steaming it before and after each cycle.

Empty your Pixie Cup often

We get it… your Pixie Cup is so comfortable that it can be easy to forget you’re wearing it! We are guilty, too! If you know you are prone to forgetting, set a timer on your phone, or leave your Pixie Cup Wash out on the bathroom counter to remind you. It’s important to remove and clean your cup at least twice each day, even on your lighter flow days.

If you can’t get to a bathroom or otherwise can’t remove your cup within 12 hours, don’t freak out! It’s something that’s happened to many menstrual cup users without any harmful effects. Just don’t make a habit out of it!

We hope this blog post helps you feel more comfortable about using menstrual cups safely. If you have any more questions at all, drop them in the comments or send us a message. Our mission is to help every menstruating human live free. We are here to help you achieve success with your menstrual cup… every single time.

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Please note: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation and vaginal health. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician.

This content was originally written on July 29, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.