Menstrual Cup - A Social Project
Natural Foundation has come up with the menstrual cup campaign with the goal of spreading awareness about the eco-friendly and pocket friendly menstrual cup which can prove to be a better alternative for many to manage the blood flow during one's period.
Our aim is to connect with women from all walks of life and spread light upon this menstrual product and the good it can do to the environment and oneself. We will be providing the cups on a minimal, subsidized cost and giving our full support in terms of finance for those who cannot afford it.
Below, you will find an article written by us. Do go through it to understand more about the menstrual cup.
Menstruation — i.e. having your period — is when blood and tissue from your uterus come out of your vagina. In women, it roughly occurs once a month and lasts for about 5 days. Transgender men and genderqueer people who have uteruses, vaginas, fallopian tubes, and ovaries also get their periods.
When one thinks of menstrual hygiene products used to manage blood flow, sanitary pads or tampons are what comes in the mind. However, there has been a recent shift in this, with menstrual cups quickly gaining popularity due to their cost-effectiveness and numerous benefits.
Menstrual Cups are small, flexible cups with a funnel-like appearance that are intended to collect blood when properly inserted into the vagina during menstruation. They have a small stem-like structure to help in the insertion and removal process and are primarily made of silicon, rubber, or plastic. These can be reused for up to 10 years depending on the brand and the material used to produce them.
One of the lesser-known, yet important merit of using Menstrual cups is that there are no chemicals involved, it is extremely safe and the blood is collected within the cup, rather than being absorbed. On the other hand, when it comes to most pads and tampons, pollutants and toxins such as Dioxin, pesticides, and plastic are used in the harvesting and manufacturing of these products. Their use is often associated with undesirable side effects in the long run and is harmful to health. They may even progress to the point of causing major illnesses such as cancer. The skin around the vaginal area is highly sensitive and permeable, so one would definitely want to be careful of what they use.
Working of Cups
The cup is to be inserted into the vaginal canal while making some kind of fold, and once inside, it will unfold and open up, forming an airtight seal and keeping it intact in place. It can be used for 6–12 hours, depending on the menstrual flow, before you remove, empty, rinse and re-insert it. At the end of each menstrual cycle, sterilize the cup in boiling water for about 5–10 minutes and use a clean container to store it for the next cycle.
Insertion and removal of the cup can feel messy and unpleasant when one has no before-hand experience of it but once the cup is inserted properly, you won’t even feel it and there won’t be any kind of discomfort. It might take a few trials to get completely accustomed and comfortable with the process but in the end, this might prove worth it. Most physical activities like exercising, swimming, etc. can be done without worry.
Finding the right size of cup for you is a crucial step. Most brands sell them in sizes small and large. Usually, small cups are for those who are under the age of 30 and haven’t given birth yet and large for those who have given birth vaginally.
Statistics of Usage
A 2011 randomized controlled trial in Canada investigated whether silicone menstrual cups are a viable alternative to tampons and found that approximately 91% of women in the menstrual cup group said they would continue to use the cup and recommend it to others.
The comparative analysis shows that a sanitary pads user uses an average of 6,120 disposable pads in their lifetime compared to a cloth pad user (136 reusable cloth pads) and a menstrual cup user (only 7 reusable menstrual cups over lifetime). This evidently points towards cost reduction and more importantly the lesser trash generated in the environment.
The situation of usage of cups in India
Despite its rising popularity globally, it is still unknown to most in India because of various reasons like lack of knowledge, myths, religious and cultural beliefs. People are often skeptical about trying it out after knowing the process since the cup has to be inserted into the vagina and some might find this unpleasant.
Then there’s the significant stress placed on a woman’s virginity in Indian culture, as well as the myth that using a cup will cause her to lose her virginity. Even though, this can occasionally stretch open the hymen, which is a thin piece of tissue that most women have around their vaginal opening. This is very normal and can even happen due to various physical activities like running, swimming, dancing, etc. Most people won’t feel it happen at all, and has no relation with virginity.
Media also plays an important role in this aspect. The lack of general awareness programs and advertisements shown on television with respect to Menstrual Cups can also be considered as one of the reasons why the public is unaware of the same.
Menstrual Cups: Merits and Impacts
Reusable — Menstrual Cups are reusable and can be used for an extended period of time. Unlike most menstrual products, these can be used again, lasting up to years, provided that we take proper care of them.
Eco-friendly — One cup produces an estimated 0.4% of the plastic waste that single-use pads build-up or 6% of that created by tampons in the span of 10 years according to a study. So they are safe and environment friendly.
Convenient — They can be kept for up to 6–12 hours before being emptied and reinserted, which is typically longer. It is also convenient because you don’t have to buy disposable pads or tampons every month.
Affordability — This saves a lot of money in the long term as they last for years. The cup can be a lifesaver for individuals who are unable to afford sanitary products when needed.
Less leakage — According to most users, once a person gets comfortable with it and uses it properly, it is comparatively less likely to cause leakage.
No odor — Since the menstrual fluid doesn’t get exposed to air as it does with pads and tampons, periods are odor-free.
Health — There is no exposure to any sort of chemicals so even the Vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria are not disrupted. It is often reported that when using cups, the cramps and pain are reduced though there are not any studies to prove it yet.
A menstrual cup can feel uncomfortable if it is of the wrong size or not inserted properly in the vagina. It is important to be hygienic with the cleaning of the cup so that you don't contract any kind of infection. These are a few points one must keep in their mind during the usage of the cup.
A few times, it’s possible that a person might have to try out different cups before finding the one that’s perfect for them. Menstrual cups can be difficult for some people to use. This can be due to anatomical differences or some other conditions. They can very rarely cause pain, urinary problems, or other infections if used inaccurately. In any of these cases, it is better to consult a doctor or gynecologist.
Menstrual cups are a simple yet pretty incredible innovation. There are many women out there who have little-to-no access to good menstrual hygiene products which puts them at risk of Urinal Tract Infection. This can prove to be a very safe, affordable, and long-lasting solution for them, thus changing millions of lives in a better way.
It takes a learning way, which might feel a little tedious in the beginning but trust the process, it gets better. It is important to get to know and be familiar with one’s body while beginning to use the cup. If you are doubtful about the cup, it’s pretty understandable. But, it never hurts to give it a try since the merits and testimonies seem to give off a good impression and outweigh the hassles.
Even though they may not be apt for some, many of the users have described them as something of a ‘life-changing’ practice. Thus, the only way to find out is to give it a shot.
It’s also important to consider that all menstrual products carry some degree of minimal risk. In the end, it comes down to what is most comfortable and makes one feel better during those crucial days.
You can do your own little research and do check out the visual videos on how to perform the insertion, removal, and safety guidelines. This will help you have a smooth and better overall experience.