How to get rid of menstrual cup stains

How to get rid of menstrual cup stains

Menstrual cup stains are super common and are a badge of honor in a way… It shows a lot of use, how you’ve dedicated your cycle to less waste (think of all the products you’ve kept out of landfills!), and that you’re making healthy decisions for your body. Still, they can be an eyesore. So if you love your cup and want to keep it looking like new, don’t worry — it’s possible to remove menstrual cup stains and prevent them in the future!

menstrual cup stain remover

How do I clean off any staining?

If your cup is dingy or has staining, scrubbing it alone probably won’t be enough to get it looking fresh again. You’ll need to use a product specifically for stain removal. Fortunately, there are several stain-removing solutions that are safe to use, environmentally friendly, and easy on the wallet.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective stain remover for protein-based stains, which includes period blood. Hydrogen peroxide is simply water with an extra oxygen molecule attached. That extra oxygen molecule is what gives it its stain-fighting power. The 3% solution sold as a first-aid antiseptic can also be used to remove period stains from your cup, as well as from other materials such as cloth pads, sheets, and underwear (but test it on colored fabrics to make sure the colors won’t fade).

To clean your menstrual cup with H2O2, soak it at room temperature for an hour in a glass container or jar with 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide and 2/3 cup water. This should eat the stains away on its own, but if there is anything remaining, take a toothbrush or washcloth and give your cup a good scrub.

Sodium percarbonate

Sodium percarbonate, also known as sodium carbonate peroxide, is a salt that also contains active oxygen, which makes it excellent for stain removal and cleaning. Sodium percarbonate can be considered an alternative form of hydrogen peroxide; when added to water, it releases hydrogen peroxide. The Environmental Working Group gives sodium percarbonate a safety score of 1-2, meaning it has the lowest possible health hazard when used as directed.

We developed our new Pixie Cup Dust stain remover with sodium percarbonate for both its effectiveness and convenience. It’s a powder, so it’s easy to use, takes up hardly any space in your bathroom, and has a long shelf life. It also contains sodium carbonate, another gentle cleaning agent made up of sodium and acid. Sodium carbonate also has an EWG rating of 1, making Pixie Cup Dust safe for you, safe for your septic system, and safe for the environment.

Here is a video showing the before and after footage of using Pixie Cup Dust on a stained cup.

How do I prevent menstrual cup stains?

menstrual cup stains

Sterilize your cup regularly. The best way to keep your cup stain-free is to do your best to prevent staining! In addition to washing your cup each day and sterilizing your menstrual cup before and after each period, make sure you are giving your cup a scrub in the areas that often experience buildup such as around the rim and in the grooves of the stem. Also, try to minimize the amount of time the cup is exposed to the air without a thorough cleaning because this can lead to the darkening of the silicone.

Give it a good scrub. You may think your cup is beyond saving, but we want to assure you most stains can come off! Are you ready for one of our best stain-removal hacks? Here we go: grab an old toothbrush and scrub your cup with a little warm water and some silicone-safe cleaning solution! You will be surprised how much of the “staining” comes off with this technique!

Let it soak. We all need a steamy bath sometimes, even your menstrual cup! Squirt a little of the cleaning solution mentioned in Step 2 into a bowl or your Pixie Cup Cup with some hot water and let it soak for a few hours! Pair this with a good scrub and you can say goodbye to some tough stains!

Sunsoaking your cup. Placing your menstrual cup in a sunny location (preferably outside) for a few hours will do a world of good for any discoloration. Sun bleaching has been around for centuries and has never let anyone down yet.

Grab some Pixie Cup Wash and an old toothbrush and go to town scrubbing! Your cup will be sparkling in no time.

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Why using a menstrual disc will change your life

Why using a menstrual disc will change your life

Menstrual cups have taken the market by storm. They are easy to clean, reusable for up to a decade and one of the most comfortable things you’ll wear on your period. Period discs are rising in popularity because they are comfortable, easy to use, great for women with a low cervix and you can even wear them for no-mess period sex. We explore today why using a menstrual disc will change your life for the better.

How does a menstrual disc work?

A menstrual disc is designed to hug your cervix, but up by your vaginal fornix and then get tucked behind the pubic bone. This situation is ideal for someone with a low cervix  as there is nothing actually in the vaginal canal that could poke out or cause discomfort. No more having to worry about what menstrual cup will work for you!

Are menstrual discs better than menstrual cups?

In short, only you can answer that! They both have their perks, it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you. If you’ve struggled with feeling your menstrual cup and being uncomfortable, you might want to try a Pixie Disc. Because the disc is designed to touch your vaginal fornix, you shouldn’t be able to feel it at all. 

Another perk you will have with a disc that you physically don’t have with a menstrual cup is mess-free period sex. This fact alone is setting period discs apart in the period community! Discs are designed to hug the cervix and be tucked behind the pubic bone. Because of this, your disc is not obstructing the vaginal canal and shouldn’t be felt by either partner during sex. [insert mind blowing emoji here]

Another point for period discs is the fact that it’s one size fits all. No more worrying about what size menstrual cup will work with your anatomy. (Isn’t this getting better and better?)

What is the difference between discs and cups?

While the concept is similar to each other (silicone cup-like objects in the vagina) menstrual cups and discs do differ slightly. A menstrual cup is bell-shaped and sits in the vaginal canal, creating a seal to the vaginal wall. A menstrual disc is, well, a disc-shaped silicone catch that fits back into your vaginal fornix, where the cervix meets the vagina. 

Are menstrual discs safe?

The short answer to this is yes. The concept is similar to a menstrual cup – a medical-grade silicone cup-like device that is designed to be worn inside the vagina and collect menses. Pixie Discs are approved to wear up to 12 hours between emptying and washing! Washing your menstrual cup or disc is crucial to the life of the cup and also to your health. The Pixie Disc fits perfectly in our UV Sterilizer or Pixie Cup Steamer!

How do you insert a menstrual disc?

  1. Wash your hands, friend!
  2. Use your thumb and pointer finger to squeeze the rim of Pixie Disc so it looks more like a figure eight. 
  3. You’re going to want to position yourself so your cervix is easy to reach. This is best achieved by sitting on a toilet, one leg up on the shower ledge or in a squatting position. Use your pointer finger to insert the rim of the disc and push as far back as is comfortable. Angle the disc back and down so the rim of the disc tucks around the backside of your cervix. 
  4. Move your finger to the front rim, and push up, tucking the rim behind your pubic bone. This will secure the Pixie Disc and catch your flow.

What about removing a menstrual disc?

You can wear Pixie Disc for up to 12 hours. We recommend that you empty your disc no less than 2 times per 24 hour period. You might need to empty more frequently on your heavy flow days.

Make sure you wash your hands and sit over the toilet. (hint: a lot of us like taking it out in the shower!)

  1. Make sure your hands are freshly washed.
  2. Relax your body, and remember Pixie Disc is one of the few period discs on the market with a removal pull-string! Feel around for the thin silicone string and gentle pull. You should feel the disc dislodge.
  3. If you have cut off your string, insert your finger and hook it behind the front rim of the disc
  4. Pour your menstrual fluid into the toilet, wash your cup thoroughly with Pixie Wash, and reinsert. If it’s not possible for you to wash your cup, like you’re in a public restroom or camping, you may reinsert as long as your hands are clean. We recommend not going more than 24 hours without actually washing your cup though. This will keep bacteria, odor and staining at bay. 

Troubleshooting a stuck disc

First off, relax. If you’re tense, your vaginal muscles will be tense and will make the process difficult. I learned the term ‘Flabby Face, Flabby Fanny’ from @thenakeddula on Instagram. Meaning, if you purposely relax your jaw and face, your pelvic region will respond in a relaxed state as well. 

It’s natural to have a learning curve when adjusting to your Pixie Disc. 

If you find that you cannot find the pull string or the rim that you tucked behind the pubic bone, try squatting, as this will bring your cervix closer to your reach. 

Don’t forget! 

Pixie Disc comes with a silicone pull string! We totally understand that using a disc might be a new experience for you and we wanted to make it as stress-free as possible. 

You can cut off and remove this string if you find it bothers you, similar to trimming a stem on a menstrual cup. We recommend leaving the string attached until you have mastered removing your Pixie Disc by the rim. 

We’re confident that you’re going to absolutely love your Pixie Disc and we’re so excited you’re interested in making a switch to a mess-free, life-changing period! All of our products come with a 100% Happiness Guarantee, which means we are here on the journey with you every step of the way. 

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7 common period myths: what you need to know

7 common period myths: what you need to know

Is PMS all in your head? Are periods shameful? Is period blood dirty? So many questions surround something so normal as menstruation. We tackle 7 common period myths we are asked frequently in hopes of helping you live free and empowered! #breakthestigma

Always on our periods myth

First of all, it’s important to understand that a woman’s menstrual cycle is not the same as her period. The actual time that a woman bleeds is known as menstruation, but her menstrual cycle is the entire time from one period starting to the next. I didn’t know this until recently, and as a menstruating human, it goes to show there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation around the issue!

Although it’s assumed that a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, that’s only an average number and everyone is unique. 

Some women’s cycles are much longer, from 29 to 35 days, while others can be shorter. So many factors can change this. From woman to woman, but also from month to month. Things like stress, travel, weight fluctuation, stress, hormone changes, emotions, stress, birth control, medication (and did I mention stress?) can all affect when a woman’s period occurs.

Dismiss feelings during period myth

There’s a very real physical change in a woman’s body during this time. In the days leading up to a woman’s period beginning — this time has coined us the phrase “PMSing” — her levels of estrogen plummet, while her levels of progesterone sharply increase. Talk about an imbalance for a bit!

Estrogen is linked to serotonin, the “happy hormone,” and progesterone is linked to the part of the brain that causes fear, anxiety, and depression. The effects of hormones on mood are complicated, and while progesterone may depress some emotions, it has a mood-balancing effect.

During that time of the month we are tired and most likely overwhelmed. It’s super easy to dismiss what’s happening if we have an excuse like it’s “just hormones,” but mood changes caused by hormones are still real. It may happen on a more monthly basis for us, but it doesn’t invalidate our feelings.

Period blood is dirty myth

From the killer team of girls at the University of Texas, The Chatty Gal, “Contrary to that belief, the blood you menstruate is just as “clean” as the venous blood that comes from every other part of the body and it’s harmless as long as you don’t have any bloodborne diseases.”

It doesn’t mean conditions are less than ideal down there.

We’re taught that periods are dirty. (and grated they are messy, but not dirty) Period blood actually isn’t rejected body fluids or the body’s way of flushing out toxins. Think of it as an evolved vaginal secretion — there’s some blood, uterine tissue, mucus lining, and bacteria. It’s super important to keep up your water intake during your period as well. This helps flush everything that is happening during your period.

Rest during your period myth

Here’s another to include in our common period myths! If you feel like exercising, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. It’s actually a great way of controlling PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps because it increases the supply of oxygen to your muscles. Because exercise gives you a natural endorphin high, it can elevate your mood and actually make you feel better. One of the main benefits of exercise while menstruating is the endorphin release and workout “high.” Since endorphins are a natural painkiller, when they release during exercise, you may feel relief from uncomfortable periods. Here at Pixie Cup we love living free and pursuing whatever we love to do. We’re all about being outdoors and being active every day of the month. A menstrual cup is a great way of continuing your exercise and be active during your period. Because it can safely hold period blood for up to 12 hours, there is no hassle like you’d have with a tampon.

Virgins should use period cups period myth

Another big one among common period myths is that girls who haven’t had sex will find wearing tampons or a menstrual cup painful. This isn’t true, although levels of comfort depend on the person and general anatomy. For example, we recommend a young customer who might be apprehensive to try our Pixie Cup Slim Small. We have other helpful products like our Pixie Cup Lube to help things be as smooth and comfortable as possible. Another concern is that tampons or period cups can somehow “take away your virginity.” This myth has deep roots tied to all sorts of cultural upbringing and traditions. 

PMS is all in your head, period myth

This is a common period myth, especially when we’re trying to justify how we are feeling. Wrong! Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms are related to the way your hormones change through your monthly cycle. Symptoms can be emotional (like irritability, depression or fatigue, and physical (cramps or headaches). Check out the facts on PMS and get some tips for minimizing the very real symptoms of PMS. Take this time during the month to really log your symptoms 

are periods shameful

As a menstruating woman, I feel this one hard. Unfortunately, we have a long history of embarrassment to overcome. Whether that be cultural or otherwise. Hiding my period was what I was taught to do from the age of 12 when I first started my period. I even had separate waste cans for me to conceal any sort of evidence (or smell) that I was on my menses. I fell into the habit of apologizing for what my body did naturally, opting out of social events and beach days regularly. I’m so sorry if this is something you carry with you. Here at Pixie Cup, it’s our mission to break that shame and have a #lifechangingperiod. As we do that, we’re face to face every day with the cultural and mental boundaries that have been ingrained in us. Change starts with us! I know for myself, I’m daily striving towards that freedom, conquering that mental mountain. You can bet my daughter won’t be taught the same hiding techniques I was. Take space for you, embrace what your body does as an amazing thing. We’re right here with you.

For more information on using a menstrual cup, please contact us! We love to talk about all things period and love normalizing the conversation. If you’re interested in trying a Pixie Cup, head over to our store and get 10% off your first purchase.

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Can a virgin use a menstrual cup?

Can a virgin use a menstrual cup?

One of the questions we hear quite often from women all over the world is, “can a virgin use a menstrual cup?”

The short answer is, yes! You can start using a menstrual cup as soon as you get your period, no matter how old you are or whether or not you’ve had sex.

That said, we understand that many people who are virgins often have concerns about using a menstrual cup or other menstrual products designed to be worn inside the vagina. So don’t feel alone if you’re hesitant about using a menstrual cup as a virgin!

Let’s take a closer look at the concept of virginity and some of the questions we receive about using a menstrual cup as a virgin.

Understanding the concept of virginity

To start with, let’s make sure we have a shared understanding of what it means to be a virgin. By definition, a virgin is someone who has never had sexual intercourse. Conversations about virginity often refer to the hymen — a small piece of skin inside the opening of the vagina. The hymen is a very misunderstood part of the body. Many cultures view the hymen as an indication of virginity and believe that it remains “intact” until a person has sexual intercourse. 

Contrary to popular belief, however, the hymen doesn’t fully cover the vagina, and it doesn’t break or “pop.” The hymen naturally stretches and wears down over time, and may become stretched long before your first sexual experience. As you may know, many different activities can stretch the hymen, such as bike riding, yoga, dancing, or gymnastics. Some women are even born without hymens. So it’s important to not place too much significance on the state of your hymen. 

Will a menstrual cup take away your virginity? 

Your virginity is not based on a thin piece of skin, it is a simple fact about your life experience. You are a virgin if you have not had sexual intercourse, and that doesn’t change if you use a menstrual product such as a menstrual cup or a tampon. Using a menstrual cup doesn’t take away your virginity, and it does not say anything about your value as a person. 

For some people, and in many cultures, virginity is an important concept. Some people may feel like they can’t use the menstrual products they want because they are afraid it will take away their virginity, or that they will be judged for using these types of products. Women all over the world struggle with the question of whether or not it is acceptable in their religion or culture to use a menstrual cup. 

We deeply desire for each woman to have the freedom and the right to use a menstrual cup and experience the joy and ease that it can bring to her life. We need to be the voice that tells the world that the value of a woman is not determined by the state of her hymen, but by the existence of her soul.

Does using a menstrual cup break the hymen? 

As mentioned above, the hymen doesn’t actually break; it stretches. And yes, using a menstrual cup can stretch the hymen. But again, the hymen can be stretched by all sorts of activities, including something as simple as riding a bike. The cup won’t stretch your vaginal canal itself, but it may stretch your hymen. 

Are menstrual cups hard to use for a virgin? 

Menstrual cups take a little getting used to for anyone. So, don’t get discouraged if it all seems confusing! We’ve noticed two things that could cause someone to experience difficulty using a menstrual cup as a virgin: your own level of comfort, and your flexibility. 

Your level of comfort

Using a menstrual cup requires getting up close and personal with your body. You’ll need to assess your own mind and see if you feel comfortable with the thought of using an internal period product. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with your vagina and have never used a tampon, getting comfortable with a cup may take a little more time and effort. But we believe it’s worth it! Using a menstrual cup helps many people gain a greater understanding of how their bodies work, which can be incredibly empowering.

Take it slow and give yourself some grace to figure it out. It often takes people a few cycles to really get the hang of it. We believe in you, and we wholeheartedly recommend a menstrual cup to everyone who menstruates because it truly is a life-changer! Imagine 12 hours of leak-free protection and no more worrying about soaking through pads at night! Not to mention swimming, backpacking, and all of your other favorite activities without fear of leaks or stains.

Your flexibility

The vaginal muscle of virgins or young girls can be more tense, which may make inserting a menstrual cup more difficult in the beginning. But don’t worry! Your body is stronger and more resilient than you could imagine. Your vaginal canal was created to expand when needed, and then return to its normal state, without stretching out. Otherwise, how could women ever give birth vaginally?

If you’ve never used a tampon or inserted anything into your vaginal canal, it could feel a bit uncomfortable at first. We advise you to start with a smaller cup. We have two small cups: our regular Pixie Cup small, and the Pixie Cup Slim small. What’s the difference? The Slim is a softer and more flexible material, which some people find more comfortable. However, some people prefer the more rigid material of our regular cup because they find that it pops open more easily. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

We also recommend that you start with the punch-down fold. There are different ways to fold your cup so that you can insert it, and your preferred method may change over time. But the punch-down fold is a great one to start with. Place your index finger on the top of the rim and press inwards to the base of the cup, forming a triangle. This gives you a small point of insertion. You may also want to use a little lubricant to help make things a little more comfortable. (We sell a really smooth Pixie Cup Lube that is AMAZING).

Click here for more detailed instructions on how to use your cup.

Do menstrual cups hurt? 

If properly inserted, a menstrual cup should not hurt. In fact, most menstrual cup users say that they can’t even feel their cup once it’s in, and they even forget they’re on their period! If your cup hurts or feels uncomfortable, there could be a few different reasons. Your cup may not be inserted properly, or you may need a different size. Try taking your cup out and reinserting it. Make sure you run a finger around the top to check for folds. If you continue to have trouble getting your cup in comfortably, try a different cup or a smaller size. We offer a 100% happiness guarantee, so if your cup doesn’t work for any reason, let us know! We’ll help you find one that does.

Can you practice using a menstrual cup when you’re not on your period?

Yes! You can absolutely practice using your cup before your period starts. In fact, we often recommend this to new cup users. If you practice using your cup when you’re not on your period, you’ll be much less nervous when it comes time to use it. If possible, practice inserting your cup when you’re not feeling rushed and you have some privacy. Because wearing a menstrual cup is not associated with toxic shock syndrome, you can leave it in for a while if you want to see how it feels, but don’t leave it in for longer than 12 hours. 

Removing your cup properly is also important. Your cup forms a seal inside the vagina, which you must break before you can remove it. Don’t simply grab the bottom and try to pull it out! Read our menstrual cup instructions for more info. Finally, make sure you always properly clean and sanitize your cup after use, even if you’re just practicing.

Can my cup get stuck up there? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear from new cup users. Don’t worry! There’s only so far your cup can go before it hits your cervix. It cannot migrate into your uterus or get lost inside your body. However, there may be times when your cup forms a tight seal up against your cervix, and it’s hard to remove. If that happens, don’t panic! It’s important to always remove your cup correctly by first breaking the seal. Pinching the base of the cup often does the trick, but if that doesn’t work, you can insert one finger alongside the cup and push the rim in. Read our blog on menstrual cup removal tips for more info.

Ready to try a menstrual cup? Visit our online store and take 10% off your first order with the code 10FIRST!

This content was originally written on June 4, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What is the blood clotting during my period?

What is the blood clotting during my period?

If you’ve had your period for a number of years or even if you’ve given birth, blood clotting during your period is old hat! If you’re just starting your period, you need to know you’re normal, blood clots during your period are normal and you are PERFECT! We’re answering the common questions regarding clotting while menstruating for anyone who’s ever wondered or is curious.

What are blood clots during your period?

As you may know, during your period you shed the lining of your uterus because you had an egg that wasn’t fertilized and your body is ridding itself of that to make everything new and ready for the next ovulation. Crazy, right? During this time, it’s super common to see blood of almost all kinds: bright red, dark red, brown, and even different consistencies like water-like, thick and then clots. This wide variation is most present during your heaviest days (usually day 1-3).

IMPORTANT: You are normal and all the things stated are a normal part of your period!

What causes blood clots in periods?

So, you know when we get a cut and it starts to scab? Our body immediately releases “procoagulants” which starts the clotting process. This is our body’s way of trying to stop the bleeding or stop us from bleeding too much. Well, during our period we shed the lining of our uterus, it’s not a cut, but the clotting is still our body’s mechanism to regulate the blood loss. (Your body is amazing!)

When we see small clotting during our period, “anticoagulants” are also released, forming a balancing act that ensures the blood is thinned out enough. During the heaviest phase of your period, the anticoagulants can be get lost by your flow, so they don’t have time to kick in and break down the clots before they are released from the body.

That is why during the first few days of your period when your flow is at its heaviest, is the highest chance of seeing clots. Some women experience clotting the first few days of their period when it’s the heaviest and others experience it right up until the end of the menstrual phase. Don’t worry either way! Your body is doing what it’s comfortable with.

menstrual cycle

When should I be concerned about blood clots during my period?

As we’ve mentioned, clotting is a perfectly normal part of the menstrual process. If you notice significant changes or any of these following symptoms, it’s best to consult your physician in case there is any sort of medical condition that is lurking. 

  1. If your clotting is grey-ish
  2. You experience periods that are longer than 7 days
  3. The clots are consistently larger than a nickel 
  4. You pass a lot of clotting in a short period of time
  5. Excessive bleeding where you have to change your menstrual cup, tampon or pad every couple of hours.

Is my period blood normal?

Like every menstruating human, we are unique! This means our periods aren’t the same either. There are definite things to watch out for like we mentioned above, but in general, your period is fine. If you notice your period is bright red, it means your body is expelling it quicker. If you notice that your discharge is brown or darker, it just means it’s been ready to come out for a little while. One hint to help this is to keep incredibly hydrated during your period. Your vagina and uterus thrive off of water. Do you know when you’re thirsty? And your mouth is dry? Your uterus and vagina are similar because they too are always creating fluids. They need water to function properly and to continuously create a flushed and happy environment. 

How can I better manage my period?

Take it from us! Periods are messy no matter what, however, if you find that seeing clots on your menstrual pads is disturbing to you or you’d rather not, we highly recommend a menstrual cup. Have you ever tried one? A menstrual cup is a small cup with a stem that is made of medical-grade silicone. It’s inserted in the vagina and collects menses safely for up to 12 hours. Imagine the period freedom, right? Not having to change your pad or tampon only but a couple of times a day? Crazy! Once you master a menstrual cup and how your body works with it, you’ll find immense freedom in it. And if the natural clotting bothers you, you just dump, wash and go!

Here are some tricks for newbies!

Do you have questions regarding a menstrual cup and how it works? Or maybe which cup would be the best for you? We’ve got you covered! Comment below because we’d love to hear from you! Meanwhile, check out our 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 or menstrual discs 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.

menstrual disc

Can menstrual cups or discs 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 or menstrual disc?

First, just your decision to use a menstrual cup or menstrual disc 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 or Pixie Disc 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! Also if you’re wearing the Pixie Disc! 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 or disc 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.

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.