Every year India produces approximately 9000 tonnes of sanitary waste, which is about 90% as heavy as the famous Eiffel Tower. Just like the famous French structure, our sanitary “footprint” is going to far outlive our own lives, and remain there for the generations to come.
It is now becoming common knowledge that our pads will spend the next hundreds of years breaking down in landfills or oceans. Contrary to what you may think, this is not the end of the story.
Unbeknownst to many, from the landfills and the oceans, the pads make a return in our lives in the form of microplastics and chemicals. In this way, hidden from our sight, we find them in our homes, food, air, and water. At the end of the day, the final destination of disposable pads is in our own bodies.
In such a scenario, menstrual cup hold utmost importance.
Let us know why.
What Is A Menstrual Cup?
It is a small, flexible, funnel-shaped reusable feminine hygiene product which is made of rubber or medical grade silicone. It is a cup inserted into the vagina to collect period fluid during the menstrual cycle.
Cups can hold more blood than other products, leading many women to use them as an eco-friendly alternative to tampons. Depending on your flow, you can continue wearing a cup for as long as 12 hours.
How to know the right Menstrual Cup Size for you?
To know the right menstrual cup size, you should consider the following:
- your age
- length of your cervix
- whether you have a heavy flow or not
- firmness and flexibility of the cup
- cup capacity
- the strength of your pelvic floor muscles
- if you’ve given birth vaginally
Small sized menstrual cups are usually recommended for women younger than 25 years who haven’t delivered a child.
Larger sizes are often suggested for women who are over 25 years old, have given birth vaginally, or have a heavier period.
How to put in Menstrual Cup?
Follow these steps to use a cup:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Fold the menstrual cup in C-fold or punch down fold.
- Hold the folded sides firmly in between your thumb and forefinger so that the curved edge is facing away from your palm
- In a comfortable position (while standing or squatting) and with your vaginal muscles relaxed, gently insert the cup into your vagina. It should be at a few inches below your cervix.
- Rotate the cup once it is in your vagina. It will spring open and create an airtight seal which stops the leaks.
How to take a Menstrual Cup out?
To take a menstrual cup out, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- After placing your index finger and thumb into your vagina, pull the stem of the cup gently until you can reach the base.
- Pinch the base of the cup lightly to release the seal and pull down for removal of the cup.
- Once the cup is removed, empty the contents into the sink or toilet.
Advantages Of Menstrual Cup
Many women use menstrual cups because of the following pros:
- Budget-friendly. You pay only once for a reusable menstrual cup — unlike tampons or pads, which have to be continually bought. Some cups last for as long as ten years.
- Safer: Since menstrual cups do not absorb but collect blood, you’re not at risk of getting a toxic shock syndrome (TSS) associated with tampon use.
- Can hold more blood: A menstrual cup can hold about one to two ounces of menstrual flow. Tampons, on the other hand, can hold up only third of an ounce.
- Eco-friendly: Tampons, pads and panty liners along with their packaging and individual wrapping generate more than 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year – pads are around 90% plastic! Reusable menstrual cups can last as long as 10 years, which means you’re not contributing more waste to the environment.
- Enables you to swim even during periods
How to Clean a Menstrual Cup
It is recommended that you sterilize your menstrual cup before and after every cycle. To sterilize, simply rinse it normally and then, place it in a pot of water and boil it. Ensure it does not sink to the bottom (as it could melt if it comes in contact with the saucepan base). Boil for 2-10 minutes and then remove and allow it to dry.
During your cycle, after removing the cup and emptying its contents, wash the cup under cold or warm water and then re-insert it. You may try using a scent free, water-based (oil-free) soap or one of the specially designed menstrual cup wipes or wash options.
Once it is dry, store the cup in the accompanying carry pouch.
Sanitary Pads vs Tampons vs Menstrual Cups
Yes! The dilemma is real. As tampons and menstrual cups are entering the great Indian market, women increasingly want to know what would be better for them. Here, we are going to answer the question you’ve been asking for long: What is better tampons or pads or menstrual cups?
Indian women have stayed dependent on them for long. Let’s know why.
Advantages of using sanitary napkin are:
- Doesn’t involve any vaginal insertion.
- Have been in use for long
- Easily available at any pharmacy store.
However, in an environment-friendly society, these are a thing of the past. Disadvantages of sanitary pads include:
- Generation of tonnes of plastic every year
- Pesky rash due to constant chafing between your legs.
- Addition of chemicals to scented pads which can cause irritation.
- Prolonged use can lead to infertility.
- Usage for long hours in a day would mean an overgrowth of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in your vagina.
Thus, it is recommended by doctors to change pads during your periods after every 8-10 hours.
They have long been in use in the western world.
Advantages of tampons include:
- The biggest advantage of a tampon is that women can even go swimming wearing a tampon.
- This menstrual product is not as messy as sanitary napkins.
- Lets you sleep in any position you like during your period.
- No fear of getting lost as it has a string attached to it.
- Removing a tampon is easy as it involves pulling a string only.
- You don’t have to remove a tampon to pee, though it’ll make the string wet.
Recent studies have shown some of the biggest disadvantages of the tampon, which are:
- Once it starts absorbing the blood, its size expands which can make it difficult for some women to pull it out if they are not relaxed.
- Women who do not change such absorbency tampons frequently are at risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:
- low blood pressure
- a headache
- muscle aches
- a sore throat
They have been hailed by environment-friendly and eco-friendly people as one menstrual cup can last for as long as ten years, thus helping in the prevention of tonnes of plastic waste.
Advantages of menstrual cups are:
- Lasts longer, thus, saving your money
- Doesn’t cause TSS
- Chances of a leak are next to zero when put carefully
- Can hold more quantity of fluid
- No rashes
- Lets you sleep better as compared to sanitary pads
- Enables you to swim even during periods with no strings whatsoever
- You can pee with your menstrual cup in. Yes, that’s possible.
Now, a common question you may all be wondering is what are the disadvantages of using a menstrual cup. So, its disadvantages include:
- Beginners may find it hard to use
- Finding a right fit may be difficult
- Removal can be a little tricky
- If you’re in public, remember you’ll need to wash out the cup in the restroom sink. As an alternative, you can also bring a bottle of water with you into the stall and rinse it out.
At this juncture, our choice of menstrual products need not only be driven by discretion and convenience but they can become informed acts about the world we want to live in. So, ladies, this was all you needed to know to make an informed choice. Choose the product which makes you feel most comfortable and good about yourself.
Don’t Let ‘Those Days’ Stop You From Being You