Disclaimer: Words like vagina, menstruation and period are used in this article. If you’re immature about this, please skip.
For a depressingly long time, periods were meant to be gross. The ads still use the pristine blue liquid instead of, you know, blood (eww!), chemists wrap the sanitary pads in ugly black poly bags, so no one gets to know (a national secret even though half the population goes through it every month) and in many parts of India, women are still “impure” and cannot enter the kitchen “in that time of the month”!
But something is shifting, and it might be thanks to menstrual cups or the mooncups. For the uninitiated, these are bell shaped cups made from non toxic silicon, you insert in the vagina to store the menstrual blood. Once full, it can be emptied into the toilet, washed and re-inserted. Unlike pads or tampons, they can be left in there for 12 hours.
Now if you haven’t heard of menstrual cups, you’re probably picturing nymph-like hippies cultivating their inner goddess around a campfire and bleeding in unison. Relax. It’s not that overwhelming. Read below:
Cups vs. Pads/Tampons
These cups are available online (for Rs 600- Rs 1200) and in two sizes; for women who have given birth and those who haven’t and last for around a decade.
Greening Your Period?
In her lifetime, an average woman has periods for 2470 days, that’s 7 years straight! Imagine the waste created by women using disposable pads or tampons! It’s about 12,000 tampons equal to 136 kgs!
So tampons and pads are as good for the environment as vodka is for Lindsay Lohan! The environment impact alone is reason enough to switch to cups (bonus: less chance that your dog will drag a bloody pad into your living room during a dinner party). Just saying.
If a pad or a tampon is left for too long after getting soiled, it becomes a breeding spot for bacteria and in rare cases causes a fatal infection; Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Cups, on the other hand, hold blood rather than absorbing it, so there is no chance of an infection. There haven’t been any reported cases of TSS in menstrual cup users. Also, since cups don’t absorb the natural moisture of your vaginal walls like tampons do, they don’t cause dryness and you can insert them even before your period starts.
Will India Give Up Pads for Good?
In the spirit of full disclosure, I bloody love tampons. I think they are a great invention. They go in, they get what they want, they come out. You wrap it up and move on. And I’m not squeamish about blood, so I don’t see why my body should hold on to it any longer than required.
But in India, affordability is a big issue. Given that only 12% of the country uses sanitary pads, 70% can’t afford them. So comparatively, these cost a bomb! But it is a one time investment, and if used properly can last for a woman’s menstrual lifetime. However, in the current scenario, it doesn’t look like it will become mainstream in India.
Gynaecologists have deemed these absolutely safe but they have to be sterilised after every wash. That’s some commitment but so is protection against all sexually transmitted diseases.
If you’re still confused about these cups, watch this super fun video of 3 clueless, blindfolded men, trying to figure out the product and its use: