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Can using a menstrual cup cause UTI?

Worried about menstrual cups causing urinary tract infection? We tell you if there is a connection between menstrual cups and UTI.
View All Images A woman holding menstrual cups
Menstrual cup may cause UTI if you are not careful. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 30 Mar 2024, 18:00 pm IST
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Medically Reviewed by

A menstrual cup is a popular period product that is reusable and easy to handle. You don’t have to worry about stains and leaks while using a menstrual cup. Unlike sanitary pads, menstrual cups are placed into the vagina to collect period blood. But putting anything down there can make you worry and have a lot of questions about it. One of the common concerns is if menstrual cups can cause urinary tract infection or UTI.

What is urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infection or UTI is very common among women. A bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and starts growing in the urinary bladder. The symptoms often include burning and frequent urination. According to a 2016 study published in the Singapore Medical Journal, it is brought on by tiny bacteria and, very infrequently, fungi. These bacteria enter the kidney, uterus, and bladder through the urethra and can cause serious infections in these organs. A urinary tract infection (UTI) in the lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and urethra, can be very uncomfortable, but it can also have major health consequences if it travels to other organs like the kidneys.

A woman putting a menstrual cup in a pouch
If you don’t clean your menstrual cup, it may cause UTI. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What are the causes of UTI?

A urinary tract infection is mostly due to poor intimate health and hygiene habits. Using perfumed personal hygiene products, douching, touching your genital area with unclean hands, not washing it once a day, using a pad or tampon for an extended time, and engaging in unprotected sex with an infected partner are some of the notable causes of UTI. But genetics can also play a role in UTIs, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Aruna Kalra.

Can using a menstrual cup lead to UTI?

When you touch the vagina or introduce something into it, you run the danger of introducing bacteria into the vagina. In other words, yes, a UTI can be brought on by everything from dirty hands to a tampon to a contaminated menstrual cup to an unclean vibrator, says the expert. However, one’s cleanliness and how the cup is used play a role in the level of UTI risk linked with a menstrual cup. Using a dirty cup, inserting it incorrectly, wearing it for extended periods without emptying and cleaning it, and improperly emptying the cup can all significantly increase the chance of contracting UTI.

How to avoid getting UTI while using a menstrual cup?

Here are some ways to prevent UTI while using a menstrual cup:

1. Use a sterile menstrual cup at all times

Just like your skincare habits, your cup cleansing regimen is also crucial. The cup needs to be sterilised once before use, once or twice throughout the menstrual cycle. All you have to do is place your cleaned menstrual cup in a clean pan of boiling water and leave it there for five to ten minutes. For added convenience, you may also use a cup steriliser.

2. Clean your menstrual cup every day

Wash your cup once a day with water and a mild, unscented cleanser to keep infections at bay. To avoid bacteria from growing in the blood collected in the cup, you also need to empty it every three to four hours. Moreover, it’s safer to give it a quick rinse in clean water to get rid of any bacteria before reinstalling it after emptying.

A menstrual cup
Make sure to insert the menstrual cup properly when you use it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Insert the cup properly

After inserting the cup, always do a quick “walk test” to make sure it feels secure and doesn’t move, suggests Dr Kalra. Incorrect placement of the cup may obstruct the urine flow. This can make your condition worse if you are already prone to UTIs because holding the infected urine in, can cause the infection to move further up the urinary tract.

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4. Wash your hands

It is advisable to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before taking out or putting in your menstrual cup. By doing this, you can prevent any bacteria on your hands from getting into the menstrual cup and infecting your vagina or urinary system.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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