I have been menstruating for fifteen years now and there are two things about it that have irritated me the most:
1. Using a sanitary pad
2. Discarding a used sanitary pad
I find sanitary pads totally uncool for the following reasons:
- Even when I use the best-quality pads, they emit an awful smell after a few hours
- In case I missed re-stocking them in my bag / purse, I had to ask my female colleagues using gestures or code words and whispers
- If I was visiting someone, discarding a used pad appropriately was a mind-numbing task and for me, it was extremely indecent to put such waste in my host’s waste box
- Changing pads in office, where in order to reach a rest room you have to pass through countless cubicles comprising of male colleagues â€“ one hell of a situation!
- Itchy rashes
- With each cycle of periods, I was adding more and more imperishable waste to the environment
My need for some instrument other than sanitary pads grew significantly when I started swimming. Pads just wouldn’t let me swim during those five days of the month. As an alternative, I chose to use tampons but tampons have two big disadvantages:
- They cannot be used for more than 3-4 hours, so one has to change them frequently and
- They absorb the essential moisture inside your vagina making it dry, allowing cases of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) to be frequently reported.
Oh, and of course tampons definitely did add to imperishable waste.
About a year back, I stumbled upon a product called Menstrual Cups which I read about on Menstrupedia. I purchased it to try it out and there has been no looking back since then.
Let me quickly brief you about a few key aspects about this product:
What is a Menstrual Cup?
It is a conical-shaped cup made up of medical grade silicone. Silicone itself has anti-bacterial properties which makes this product completely safe for usage.
Usage: Just like tampons, menstrual cups are also used by inserting them inside the vagina.
Purpose: Collects menstrual fluid during menstruation. Unlike other menstruation management products like sanitary pads, tampons and cloth pads, menstrual cups do not absorb the discharge, but collect it. The collected menstrual fluid has to be emptied at certain intervals and cleaned for reuse.
Comfort: I don’t feel anything. I guess that is the highest comfort quotient that any menstruation management product can offer to a user.
Duration: Can last for 6-8 hours at a stretch very easily. In case of heavy flow, it might require to be emptied more frequently.
Cost: Menstrual cups in India are available from Rs. 700/- onwards but that is a one time cost which is easily recovered in less than a year’s time.
Usability: Menstrual cups are reusable products and hence do not create waste. Unlike pads and tampons, you need not discard them after usage.
Since menstrual cups collect the discharge inside our body, it does not come in contact with oxygen and hence bacterial growth does not occur in discharge. It saves me from bearing that awful odour that sanitary pads cause as they absorb the discharge exposed to the outer air, which results in bacterial growth.
It can be reused in three simple steps:
- Remove the cup from the vagina
- Clean the cup thoroughly after discarding the discharge
- Re-insert it
But I would also say this that getting accustomed to these steps might take 2-3 cycles, so a pad or a panty-liner is advised to be used along with menstrual cups during this initial learning phase.
More details about menstrual cups can be found here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cup)
I have been using menstrual cups for the past four months now and it has completely changed my experience of menstruation. It is so far the most amazing menstruation management product that keeps me stain free and does not add a single piece of imperishable waste to environment.
It has also helped me enjoy a green and a pad-free menstrual experience. I no longer have to worry about replenishing monthly stocks of sanitary pads or worry about itching rashes or think twice about how to carry new pads when the need to change pads arises in the office.
Above all else, I am not responsible for adding any non – decomposable waste to the environment. Imagine the huge heaps of sanitary pads of different brands that we see at any shopping mall eventually getting converted into imperishable waste that is later dumped in landfills.
Having said all this cool stuff about menstrual cups, I must also add that they may not be absolute replacements to sanitary pads or tampons for many people.
I completely realize that any product that requires insertion inside one’s vagina will not be easily acceptable for unmarried ladies, especially those who are virgins. Married women, however, can certainly opt for this product. It is easy on the pocket in the long run and definitely saves Mother Earth from getting polluted.
All it requires is for you to at least TRY to use them, coupled with a slight change in our attitude towards menstruation.
Watch Anupriya giving a talk and a live demo on how to use a MENSTRUAL CUP, where they can be bought from. Get answers to your doubts regarding a menstrual cup, here:
Contributed by Anupriya Pande Marar. An IT professional since past 8 years, Anupriya says her mantra for life is ‘Awareness is the key to wellness’. Always eager to learn more and spread the knowledge.
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