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Fair warning this is a gross/embarrassing/complicated story that I'm mainly posting for awareness. I've been a long time cup user with an IUD. Roughly a week ago I must have put in my cup and forgot about it. I was cleaning my apartment when I started have sharp intense abdominal pain. I thought I had expelled my IUD. I went to the bathroom to check, were, horrified, I found my cup (that had been residing up there for a week). I honestly never thought I could possibly forgot one up there (but I work 50 hours a week and go to college full time soooooo.) Anyway, after dealing with that disgusting mess I started having worse abdominal pain and a yellow discharge. With no resolution of symptoms, I decided to go the ER. It was determined that I have serious bacterial infections (both anaerobic and aerobic) and fungal infections throughout my uterus and vaginal tract. They gave me morphine for pain. I see posts all the time about people who leave their cups in for 24-36 hours, and while this may be fine for some people, my doctor said that anything longer than 24 hours may cause infections like this. I was really close to developing TSS (because old blood/discharge is breeding ground for bacteria even though the silicone isn't) and the cup essentially back washes this over your cervix/upper vagina. I'm on 3 different kinds of antibiotics, an antifungal, and received IV antibiotics at the ER. I have to follow up with my gyno to make sure I haven't developed PID. I know these things get touted as being super safe and virtually TSS risk free, but this just isn't the case. Be careful ya'll.

*Note: I'm graduating in May with a BS in Medical Biotechnology and Chemistry to attend a PhD program in Infectious disease. I'm very conservative with medical treatment and quite good at reading lab reports and my own results. I don't think my doctors over-reacted or made any poor decisions.
xfdryadxfdryad on April 2nd, 2016 11:39 pm (UTC)
Glad you're okay!
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on April 3rd, 2016 08:10 am (UTC)
Yikes, this sounds like just about the worst case scenario :( I'm glad you found it in time.
tjstjstjstjstjstjs on April 3rd, 2016 11:14 am (UTC)
Glad you're ok! Hopefully no long term damage from PID or anything.
I can totally see how this could happen. After all, microbes exist everywhere. We can wash our hands and sterilise our cups, but there will always be *some* bacteria and fungi etc on our hands, our cups, and in our vaginas. Normally the body would deal with this because discharge and blood cleanse the vagina, but with the cup in there for so long, it became a little stagnant pond in the cup! I can see how tampons are worse, because they *absorb*, whereas the cup doesn't, so it's safer in that regard, but leaving the cup in for way too long is obviously going to be trouble! Your story is a warning to us all not to forget our cups completly, and to make sure that we change them regularly!
Perhaps you should see if you can publish a paper on this. I don't like the idea that it could be used as an argument against cups, but it is pretty fascinating :)
Fascination aside, I hope you're all right now!
tjstjstjstjstjstjs on April 3rd, 2016 11:20 am (UTC)
Also, I usually wear a re-usable pad for an hour or two each evening of my period (helps with cramps). I'm totally going to keep doing this now, just to give my body a bit of free-bleeding and cleansing time!
Look after yourself xo
mercy rainmercy_rain on April 3rd, 2016 08:34 pm (UTC)
1) you can't sterilize a cup, unless you happen to have a home autoclave.

2) one anecdotal experience does not make publishable data...
tjstjstjstjstjstjs on April 4th, 2016 08:02 am (UTC)
1) Exactly, i ain't taking my cup to work so I can use it in the labs autcolave. Hahaha. Awkward turtle. (would it melt? Certain Cannulas can't be autoclaved. I don't know, I don't actually work in the field that really uses the Autoclave)

2) It wouldn't be anecdotal evidence. It would be a sample size of 1, backed up with medical data. But if the hypothesis is, "there are no instances of X in case Y", and you have an instance of X in case Y, hence falsifying the hypothesis, then yeah, depending on how well the paper was formulated, that would be publishable. There are indeed papers of this kind that get published.

3) Can we not be condescending, and keep this friendly in our community :) Thanks
suptot on April 20th, 2016 06:40 am (UTC)
A sample size of one backed up by medical data is a coincidence. There may be papers like this that exist, but existing doesn't make them good.
mossmorton on April 3rd, 2016 05:27 pm (UTC)
Whoa, that is some heavy duty medication! I'm curious, have you had classes that addressed/discussed recovery after antibiotics and reestablishing a healthy balance of cultures in the body, or information about human microbiota? I have heard that it can take 6 months or more for microbial colonies to grow back to how they were before a course of antibiotics.

Do you think that the IUD compounded the situation? One would assume the that strings especially could facilitate bacteria more easily getting into the uterus, since usually there is a constant out flow of cervical mucus.

I have come across a surprising count of stories about a tampon being left in for a week or more at the end of bleeding, which makes me assume that it is far less uncommon than one would think.
..::bella vita::..por_que_no on April 3rd, 2016 08:51 pm (UTC)
Speaking of tampons-left-in stories...a friend of mine once worked in a doc's office where they had an elderly lady come in...she had left her last tampon in for TWENTY FIVE YEARS. Apparently she'd then hit menopause and forgotten about it. And when they removed it, it pretty much smelled like death. So this stuff totally does happen. :s
devaughn_wifeydevaughn_wifey on April 3rd, 2016 09:57 pm (UTC)
Oh my GOSH!!! :-O Now I don't feel so bad about forgetting the last tampon over night... and inserting a 2nd one. Never felt it, #1 came out when I pulled #2... was freaking out real bad.
mossmorton on April 4th, 2016 03:09 am (UTC)
Scary to think she also never had a pelvic exam for 25 years or thought to see anyone about the smell for that long, and didn't have any serious complications... The body is unfathomable.
..::bella vita::..por_que_no on April 5th, 2016 01:11 pm (UTC)
I know right?!
devaughn_wifeydevaughn_wifey on April 3rd, 2016 09:58 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm really glad you're OK!
..::bella vita::..por_que_no on April 10th, 2016 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm also curious if you know if you are a carrier for Group B strep and if maybe girls who carry it are more likely to have complications like this (and/or TSS). I'm prone to yeasties (used to be anyway) and apparently yeast and bacteria don't really coexist in the same environment, or at least yeast overgrow when there's a shortage of bacteria, so I'm probably not one of those people--but it could be helpful to know your individual level of risk.
suptot on April 20th, 2016 06:26 am (UTC)
I'm glad that you caught the infection and that you're making a recovery! That being said:

"I know these things get touted as being super safe and virtually TSS risk free, but this just isn't the case. Be careful ya'll"

They are super safe and virtually TSS risk free... with proper use. The key words are "with proper use". Most companies state that cups can be used for up to 12 hours, if not less. This is their upper limit, not their average usage time. No one ever said that clogging up a bodily orifice for 168 hours was safe or a good idea. You, in particular, should know this because of your education.

It's strange that barely anyone has touched on the responsibility of using an internal menstrual product. I see these stories online, tampons or cups, and I don't know how common these occurrences actually are, but the stories suggest that these products aren't being treated with diligence by some people. Internal menstrual products have to be taken seriously enough to at least make time for removal, which doesn't take time at all, and to make removal a priority.

Some people may get away with pushing 24 hours of using an internal menstrual product with no problems. Some may just notice strong smell. Others yet may actually get an infection. With our differing bodies and bacterial florae, we don't know how our bodies will react to negligence until it happens, and a week would be extremely risky for everyone.

Anyway, I hope this comment isn't seen as an attack, because it's not. It serves the same purpose as the original post: to spread awareness. These infections are awful, but can be avoided with proper use.