Have you ever missed school, postponed a meeting, avoided travel plans, hidden behind your best friend from class to the parking lot, constantly asked your friend to check your back, waited to get out of the bed until everyone leaves the bedroom, felt bad to walk inside your own house until the dustbin, preserved four black thick synthetic salwar to wear especially on those days, all this just because you have periods?
I have experienced them all. I hope most of you have also. Is Mensuration a taboo to talk about? Is menstruation a sign of something uncommon or a mistake in our body? Definitely Not. Menstruation is a sign of a healthy individual; a source of life for the embryo.
All the above situations is now history to me. It’s been almost 9 months and I haven’t had a single experience of this sort. In these nine months, I have gone hiking, swimming, racing, sporting and travelled constantly during my cycle without any accidents (leakage) or even minor discomforts. I have never been this confident or comfortable ever during my periods. Thanks to menstrual cups.
What is Menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a type of cup (barrier) worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid.
How to use it ?
Here is the video to explain. Additionally, there is a lot of information on the internet and on the pamphlet (which comes with the product) on how to use it.
Why did I switch ?
1. Plastics – Most sanitary napkins are made from LDPE plastic polymers, bleached wood pulp, and super-absorbent gel (polyacrylate). The plastics are sandwiched between different materials making it even more complex to biodegrade. An average women discards approximately 150 kg sanitary waste every year which eventually clogs waterways and landfills for more than 500 years.
Menstrual cups are made of reusable non-toxic, non-allergic medical grade silicon. They do not react or leach into your system.
2. Waste Management – We consider sanitary napkins as a private item, but do you know how many people touch our used pads? Rag pickers often mistake our newspaper rolled up or plastic cover wrapped napkins to be plastic until they open to see it. The blood becomes host to bacteria like e-Coli, streptococci and staphylococci. Ragpickers who do not wear any protective gloves and mask come in contact with these pathogens get affected by allergies, infection and diseases. Until now there is no proper system of governance for segregation and disposal of sanitary waste. It’s neither being labelled as biomedical waste or household waste. Incineration is the latest that’s possible. But the amount of heat and dioxins that the system emits isn’t the best for the environment.
Menstrual cup – Empty the collected blood by flushing it. Wash the cup in warm ph neutral soapy water or just hot water and reuse it. Basically, there is nothing to throw in the dustbin.
3. Health – Apart from polymer BPA’s , the organic material (wood pulp and any cotton present) often contain dioxins and furans; dioxin is a byproduct of the chlorine-bleaching process that makes organic materials white and furans are present in organic materials that have been sprayed with pesticides. These chemicals cause issues anywhere between small allergies to cervical cancer.
Menstrual cups simply catch the period flow on its way out. It does not interfere with the secretions happening on the walls of the vagina, thereby reducing the risk of infections or irritations.
4. Convenience : The Minimalist in me always thinks of ways to minimise, the number of products and time involved in an act. On the days of periods, getting ready is a Himalayan task – to handwash stained bed sheets, dress and innerwear, change clothes often, discard the soiled napkins secretly and to dry the innerwear in the last row of the balcony drying rope so that neighbours don’t see. And to carefully stock them every now and then and in every secret spot as possible.
Menstrual cups hardly leak. All that I own to go through my menstruation cycle is a cup, a period panty (high-quality bamboo, no stain panties, I highly recommend this brand) and a pack of soap sheets (incase of travelling. Available in any duty-free shop). It hardly takes any extra time from my normal routine to get ready.
5. Cost: An average sanitary pack per cycle would cost Rs. 60 and thus Rs. 720 per year.
Menstrual cups cost somewhere between Rs.500 to Rs.1000 and lasts about 10 years. If cared properly, they last up to a lifetime.
6. Comfort: Menstrual pads/tampons due their high absorbency nature absorb the menstrual flow and also the essential moisture & secretions of the vagina thereby interfering with the natural normal functioning and cleaning process, thus causing irritation and infection. If not changed for long hours pads/tampons can cause the life-threatening Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Menstrual cup – Of all the above attributes, comfort is what sold me. My period is hardly a point of concern anymore. After the second day, I hardly remember that I am on my cycle. Menstrual cups can hold upto a quarter of the average monthly discharge. It needs to be emptied only once in 12 hours.
The positive affirmation of no leakage, no discomfort of moving pads, constant visits to the bathroom and irritation has even resolved few degrees of anxiety related to menstrual cramps.
7. Other eco-friendly options – are the readymade cloth napkins, which according to me is not suitable for my active and minimalist lifestyle. Since many layers of cloth are stitched together, I doubt if all layers will be exposed to the sun to sanitise properly and they last only for 3 or more years.
1. Menstrual cups (MC) can be used from teenage to menopause.
2. MC may stretch or break the hymen. For more info.
2. MC is worn low at the base of the vagina and away from the cervix. This means that it should not interfere with an internal birth control device. However, please be cautious when using any internal feminine hygiene product with an IUD as there is the possibility that they can be dislodged. Please consult your Gynaecologist before use.
3. It is not necessary to remove MC for urination.
4. A friendly comic book in all regional languages on menstruation is very useful and informative to educate children.