Can a menstrual cup give you an allergic reaction? This is a common concern and question that is frequently asked due to sensitivity or allergies that could be experienced due to materials used to make menstrual cups or products that may be associated with them.
You can react to a material or product without being allergic to it:
- Sensitivity does not involve the immune response.
- An allergy activates an immune system reaction.
A majority of menstrual cups on the market are made of silicone. There is a handful made of TPE, and only a few made of rubber (at the time of this article). While some individuals don’t have issues using one over the other, some people prefer their cup made of a specific material for one reason or another.
Silicone allergies are very rare. It’s one of the reasons that many medical supplies are now made with the material instead of rubber. Silicone is hygienic, odor-free, and hypoallergenic, which means it is non-porous and won’t harbor bacteria.
However, not all silicone is meant to be used inside the body. A menstrual cup should be made of medical-grade silicone, but that’s not always the case.
If you purchased a very inexpensive menstrual cup from an unreliable source, it may not be made of medical-grade silicone, even if the listing makes that claim. It also may be made of medical-grade silicone, but the curing process has been done incorrectly or skipped altogether to shorten manufacturing time and cost. These situations can make the menstrual cup questionable and may be the cause of any adverse reactions.
TPE or Thermoplastic Elastomer allergies are also very rare. It is another alternative to latex and natural rubber that is slightly cheaper than medical-grade silicone in large parts of the world. TPE can be a medical-grade and has replaced rubber-made medical items over the years. This material is non-allergenic and safe.
A person can be sensitive to latex and/or the chemicals that are used to process the latex which are allergens.
In the early years, all menstrual cups were made out of latex rubber. The Keeper Cup, which can still be found today, was made in the late 1980s. The same company released a silicone version of the same design in the early 2000s. Latex rubber allergies are the most common allergies when it comes to menstrual cups. Although there are not many cups on the shelves made of rubber, anyone with sensitivities or allergies to latex rubber should stay clear of them.
Allergies can occur within minutes, or up to a few hours after exposure. If you experience any of the following symptoms, remove your cup immediately and seek medical attention:
Allergic reactions include:
- Hives and Itching
- Shortness of Breath
- Swelling of the Throat
- Low Blood Pressure/Hypotension
- Stomach Cramps
Soaps or the ingredients in them can cause adverse skin reactions. These ingredients can include:
- Thickening Agents
Ingredients to Watch Out for in Soaps
A person can be affected the first time they’re exposed to them or after repeated exposure. However, once you develop an allergy it can affect you quicker and by exposure to smaller amounts.
Using soap that is both fragrance and dye-free may help. In the case of using soap with a menstrual cup, it’s also best to find a soap that does not contain antibacterial properties or various oils.
If you’re experiencing a rash, itching, blisters, bumps, burning or swelling when using a menstrual cup, try switching the soap to another brand that is allergen-free and hypoallergenic. If any of the symptoms continue, try washing yourself and the cup with just plain water.
If the symptoms still don’t subside, it may be the material that the menstrual cup is made of – silicone, TPE, or rubber. It may even be the additives used to soften/harden, or color the cup (which also need to be safe to be used inside of the body).
Some people claimed to have tried hundreds of soaps and washes with no luck and have opted to only clean their genital area and their menstrual cups with water. You can also speak to your gynecologist and dermatologist with regards to which soap to use.
No matter what, if you are someone who is allergy-prone, choose a high-quality menstrual cup and you should experience less problems with regards to allergic reactions.