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Gov’t finally approves sale of menstrual cups

Dec 08,2017
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced Thursday that it officially approved the sale of menstrual cups in Korea.

The first menstrual cup to be allowed to distribute nationwide is Femmycycle, made by U.S. manufacturer Femcap. Sales will start next month at roughly 40,000 won ($36.40)per unit. The ministry added that one domestic product and two imported ones are undergoing evaluation as well.

“The permit [of Femmycycle] will expand consumers’ range of choices for sanitary products, allowing them to select according to their respective living patterns,” the Drug Ministry said in a statement.

Made of medical grade silicone, menstrual cups are bell-shaped feminine hygiene products that can be inserted into the vagina to stop menstrual blood leaking outside the body. They are reusable for over a year and are already widely used in the United States, Europe and Canada.

There has been a push to permit sales in Korea since last year, as positive reviews from consumers who actually tried the product surfaced online. Doubts over the cost of sanitary pads, which carry one of the highest prices in Korea among OECD countries, and their safety fueled the demand for alternatives.

One women’s organization, the Methodist Women’s Leadership Institute, tried in March to purchase 500 from France, but the delivery was stopped at the airport, as the ministry cited a lack of safety regulations.

Despite campaigns to make menstrual cups available, the Drug Ministry refused to concede on the grounds that it could not permit the sale of sanitary products that have not been tested. Thursday’s statement, however, showed that the ministry had finished its first inspection of menstrual cups and concluded they are safe and useful.

The ministry’s safety tests evaluated Femmycycle in terms of cytotoxicity, skin stimulation, product durability and the emittance of metal substances. The menstrual cups were also tested to see if they caused toxic shock syndrome, an extreme form of staph infection that causes blood pressure to rapidly drop and can lead to death.

The ministry officially approved the cup’s usefulness, saying that a case study of three menstrual cycles using the product proved its effectiveness in blocking bleeding, allowing more ease of movement for the user, reducing odor, and being handy to use and comfortable to wear.

It also warned that people who are allergic to silicon, have experience of suffering from toxic shock syndrome or have symptoms of vaginitis should refrain from using menstrual cups.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]