For most of us, a menstrual period is not the best time of the month. It usually begins with checking on our supply of sanitary pads, looking for comfortable clothing to get through the day and trying to remain calm despite the mood swings, which always tag along! Mentally deleting those 5 days from your life is enough of a mood elevator!
Have we missed anything that can change all of this?
Most of us have read articles and attended talks about sustainable menstruation. In principle, we agree and often discuss so many fleeting terms like eco friendly, zero waste and biodegradable.
I am a practising gynaecologist, in this field for the past 12 years. Like most women, I have also been using sanitary pads for nearly 25 years. I have spoken about menstrual hygiene and sustainable menstruation at several platforms. As always, it is easier to give others advice, than to follow it yourself.
Let me share my journey of beginning to use the menstrual cup. I was extremely reluctant and not open to any change. A close friend, also a gynaecologist, convinced me to try it out at least once. I examine so many gyanec patients every day and I am so familiar with the vaginal anatomy, yet I was so hesitant to use the menstrual cup. I told my friend ‘I don’t think I will comfortable in inserting and removing it.’ She convinced me that if I tried it even once, I would never go back to using pads and finally even ordered one for me! I finally decided to take the plunge!
I was so unsure that I started using it from the 3 rd day of my periods which was a Sunday, so I was at home without much work! I was very cautious for the first few hours after I first inserted it. I decided I will not be too active because I didn’t know what was in store for me. But believe me after 4-5 hours, I had completely forgotten that I had my periods at all! I couldn’t believe that I had not done this earlier. What more can you ask for? A comfortable and stress free period!
A menstrual cup is made of medical grade silicone and is foldable. It is easily available. It has to be sterilized in boiling water for 5 minutes before insertion. It has to be inserted into the vagina in squatting position or by sitting on a toilet seat. You can keep it in place for 8 to 12 hours and then wash and reinsert. You can use one menstrual cup upto 5 years.
Believe me, it does not come out on its own, does not leak and it is not painful! The cup has a capacity of 20-30 ml and we do not bleed more than 15-18 ml per day! There are no major side effects and it is one of the most sustainable forms of menstruation.
Now some of you might wonder, if we have been using sanitary pads for so many years, then why change? The disposable sanitary pads contain mainly plastic and chemicals like dioxin, styrene, petrochemicals and fragrances which maybe toxic and even carcinogenic. Are we really exposing our private parts to such toxic products?
Another important aspect is waste disposal. One sanitary pads is equal to 4 plastic bags. Once we throw a used pad in the dustbin, we forget about it.
It takes approximately 500-800 years for one sanitary pad to decompose as the plastic is not biodegradable. On an average, one woman uses 10-15 pads per menstrual cycle. It doesn’t need a genius to comprehend how much waste is being generated. Is this the kind of world we want to leave behind for our future generations?
We all know that money saved it money earned. You will be shocked with the amounts you can save by switching to menstrual cups. The money spent by using sanitary pads for 10 years is between Rs. 12,000-45,000/- By using menstrual cups for 10 years you spend only Rs. 700-3000/- I am sure most of us would prefer the latter.
All of us need to do our little bit to contribute to green menstruation and in turn a greener earth. Menstrual cups are here to stay. Undoubtedly, all of us would want to look forward to a comfortable and less messy period. I have been cupverted! I hope all of you will also be soon!