So the unthinkable has happened - you look down and your menstrual cup is floating in the toilet bowl.
Yep, it happens. If you aren’t careful, it can be easy to lose your grip on a menstrual cup and accidentally drop it in the toilet. On rare occasions, cups have also been known to be pushed down lower in the vaginal canal and even fall out when doing a poo (this is usually because the menstrual cup is too small).
Is there any way to salvage it? Can your menstrual cup be disinfected and reused if you drop it in the toilet?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that some very nasty pathogens such E. coli and Staphylococcus, as well as other viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis, may be present in and around toilets. These are likely to be more prevalent in public toilets that have not been cleaned regularly.
There are many accounts from people who have dropped their cups in the toilet, boiled them and then reused them without experiencing any adverse effects. However, this is a very personal decision and depends on your level of comfort with doing so.
Personally, I would not reuse a cup that had been dropped in the toilet; even in my home toilet, nor would I eat food which may have fallen on the floor, whilst other people may be fine with doing this.
What are the options?
We recommend replacing your menstrual cup if it has been dropped in the toilet, as this is the safest option. If you are unable to replace your cup due to the cost of a new cup being out of reach or because you may be travelling and don’t have access to order or purchase a new cup, you may choose to reuse your cup as a last resort - but be aware this may compromise your health.
If you choose to disinfect your cup after dropping it in the toilet, the recommended method is to boil it to kill germs. The recommended boiling time to kill germs seems to vary greatly depending on the resource (anywhere from 1 to 3 to 10 minutes) so, be sure to do your own research. It should also be noted that boiling duration is only timed from when the water has reached a ‘rolling boil’ (when the water is boiling rapidly with lots of bubbles). Using a UV steriliser for menstrual cups is another way to kill germs after a mishap.
It is not recommended to soak your cup in alcohol or disinfectant, as this may damage the silicone and leave harmful chemical residue behind.
Preventing future mishaps
To avoid dropping your menstrual cup in the toilet in the future, you can remove and insert it off to the side or front of the toilet rather than when sitting on the toilet. If you are sitting on the toilet, make sure you use two hands: one to remove the cup and the other as a safety net below to catch the cup if it is slippery. If you know your cup tends to move lower when you poop, it is a good idea to remove your cup prior to going to the toilet.
And remember, always follow good hand hygiene before and after inserting or removing your period cup by washing your hands with soap and warm water to avoid transferring bacteria or viruses.