Gregory Lee/Fotolia

Can You Use A Menstrual Cup As A Form Of Birth Control? Not Exactly

Women of today are lucky to be living in an age of innovation. If it hadn’t been for the genius inventions of super absorbent pads and tampons, women may have still been using sheep’s wool or grass in their undies. A more recent innovation, the menstrual cup, is gaining popularity due to its convenience and environmental sustainability. But because of its similarity to a diaphragm, women may wonder, can you use a menstrual cup as a form of birth control?

It’s important to first know how menstrual cups actually work. According to the Cleveland Clinic, menstrual cups are flexible silicone cups that you place inside your vagina, where they collect menstrual blood. The article explained that once the cup fills, or looks like it’s leaking, you remove it, rinse it, and place it back in. The best part is that menstrual cups can eliminate the costs and waste that tampons and pads generate, so they're good for the environment and your wallet.

While menstrual cups are similar in design to diaphragms, however, menstrual cups should never be used as a method of birth control, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood explained to Teen Vogue. She suggested that while menstrual cups are safe to use during sex, you should only use methods specifically designed for birth control if you are trying to prevent a pregnancy.

You can always use a diaphragm. Planned Parenthood explained that a diaphragm is a flexible cup that covers your cervix and is only effective when used with spermicide, which stops sperm from moving towards the egg. The article further noted that diaphragms are only about 88 to 94 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, so a menstrual cup, which isn’t designed for birth control, would probably be less effective.

If you're trying to avoid getting pregnant, stick to more safe and effective methods versus depending on unreliable, untested approaches. It’s better to leave the innovations to the scientists, while you reap their effective rewards.