Cup of Joy - is the menstrual cup a better and safe alternative?
Menstrual cups are becoming popular among women – here’s why.
My colleague happened to mention she had taken to using a menstrual cup on her teenage son’s insistence. Today, she strongly recommends and says they are comfortable, and easy to use. In fact, most women who use menstrual cups tend to swear by it, but then the question is, if they are so easy to use, why aren’t more women using it?
We delved deeper to understand why some women are turning to menstrual cups, and the others seen hesitant or reluctant to try them.
Why menstrual cups?
Aditi Gupta, the Founder of Menstrupedia, a guide to explaining menstruation and the issues around it, shares that the menstrual cup allows her to go swimming, and a comfortable and easy-to-use product. To ensure hygiene, Aditi uses a fresh one for each day of her periods. All those wondering what to do when they travel, carry multiple cups with you.
Aditi discovered menstrual cups when she and Tuhin, her co-founder and husband, were launching Menstrupedia. “We were researching about menstruation, and discovered menstrual cups. Tuhin ordered them for me but then I had a mental block about it. But since Tuhin had read about it extensively and kept on insisting, I gave it a shot. It is one of the best gifts he got me,” says Aditi.
Sahana, who lives in Wellington, and has blogged about menstrual cups and how to find the one that fits you the best, shares her experience. “The first time I heard about menstrual cup was on a random post on Instagram. This weird looking thing, which seemed unimaginable to be inserted into a vagina then, in a matter of four months, became one of the best things that happened to me. Having used pads for the last 15 years, quite blindly, never knowing how harmful it is to my body and this planet, it was obvious to switch to eco-friendly cups. Insert – Remove – Rinse – Repeat - Forget stains or rashes. It is a breeze, trust me. These cups have changed my life for better and I have never stopped raving about it since then.”
IT professional and standup comedian, Sowmya, who resides in New Zealand narrates how she moved to tampons and then to the cup. “With so much being discussed about menstrual cups, bleached pads, sanitary waste, etc on social media, I decided to give it a shot. In my excitement, I bought one, and for a change waited for my periods. It was pretty easy to insert and remove, however, the size wasn't right, so to get it right I cut the stick that is used to pull the cup and tried it on. Some days it was leak-free, and other times I had a few leaks, nothing that a panty lining cannot manage.”
Sowmya hasn’t let her experience stop her from finding the right fit. “I am still determined to get it right and experiment with another brand, size and shape, there is much information available online. We didn't learn to run the day we took our first step. I would say, read about the cup options available and go for it.”
Getting over the mental block
Aditi feels most women are put off by the cup because they look uncomfortable. Most women also have the mental block around having something inserted in their vagina.
She says, “Since most women don’t understand the anatomy, they think using if they use a cup they will have to take it out every time they urinate. But that is not the case.” However, Aditi does point out that some women still find it painful, and for some it is difficult to use because of the size of their cervix.
Hygiene a priority
Priyanka N. Jain, the Founder of Hygiene N You, says that over the past year, she has seen a rise in the purchase of menstrual cups. More and more women talking about it on social media and multiple WhatsApp groups on the subject are helping break the mental blocks too. “More and more women are definitely ready to give it a shot,” and the reason for this, Priyanka says, “is because women have become more hygiene conscious.
And while women figure out and spread the word about menstrual cups, those still not comfortable with it, but looking for more environment-friendly options have alternatives too.
Tanvi Johri, Founder and CEO of Carmesi, that makes natural sanitary napkins from natural ingredients, such as corn starch and bamboo fiber points, out that synthetic sanitary napkins take anywhere between 600-800 years to decompose, while natural products like theirs start to decompose within 6-12 months of being disposed.
In a country where most women don’t have access to hygiene products or sanitary napkins, it will take time for the menstrual cup to become popular. With increasing conversations around female hygiene and products, will help spread more awareness, helping women be more conscious about their personal hygiene. Meanwhile, a big win for this movement was the government abolishing GST on sanitary napkins.
This is the first step to acknowledging that female hygiene products are a necessity and not a luxury, and surly, there are more to come.