Menstrual cups are insertable bell shaped vessels made of silicone, rubber, latex or elastomer and one can last up to 10 years. This innovation collects rather than absorbs menstrual blood, requiring emptying and reinsertion every 4-12 hours depending on flow.
Although first available in the 1930s they are only now being recognised as a cost-effective, non-polluting alternative to single-use sanitary products. Professor Phillips-Howard and team evaluated the acceptability, use and safety of these cups among adolescent schoolgirls in rural Kenya, supported by a grant from the UKRI’s Joint Global Health Trials Initiative.
Cups cost about 6% that of using 12 single-use sanitary pads per period, since one cup can last over 10 years, and create only 0.4% of the plastic waste generated by single-use pads. These environmental and economic costs will resonate with the 1.9 billion women of menstruating age globally, and among aid and development agencies providing products to replace unhygienic materials used by women and girls in impoverished settings around the world. The article prompted widespread press and social media interests, with over 140 news/media sites discussing the findings.