When I first heard about menstrual cups I was intrigued. I was very young and like every other teenager I was terrified with the idea of placing an object inside my vagina! I came across a post one day by a friend who made the change and that’s when I began my extensive research. I watched a ton of videos daily and read blogs on the subject. How did I finally make the switch? I was at my friend’s place and she told me how she made the transition and how great it felt. I had an extremely comfortable and open conversation with her that helped me understand more about the menstrual cup. For a long time I’ve tried to minimize my plastic consumption but personally, it’s impossible to completely eradicate plastic and other forms of non-biodegradable products from our daily lives. So when I do have an affordable alternative and option, I do not hesitate!
A menstrual cup is so affordable and easy on the pocket! A packet of tampons or sanitary pads will cost you anywhere from 200-400 Rupees. A cup on the other hand which is a one time investment for around 10 years will cost you anywhere between 500-2000 Rupees. So yearly you spend approximately 2,400 – 4,800 Rupees just on sanitary pads! in 10 years that would amount to 24,000 – 48,000 Rupees!!! One of the many reasons why I call the menstrual cup magical. For sanitary purposes it would be a good idea to invest in two cups because there might be days when you probably won’t have access to clean running water.
It’s easier to try something new when you personally know someone that’s tried it. This is exactly why talking about menstruation shouldn’t be a taboo! In fact the word “taboo” comes from the polynesian word tapua, which means both “sacred” and “menstrual flow.” So the very word that is regarded as a forbidden discussion and association with a place or person is derived from the ordinary bit of blood that every women deals with monthly.
We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about a completely normal and natural occurrence for billions of women, that women miss out solutions that can change their lives for the better. Lets face it, haven’t you wondered where do all your disposable menstruation products end up? How often have you walked across a garbage dump and come across a used sanitary pad or seen an animal run away with one in its mouth? In 2015, 27,938 used tampons and sanitary pads were collected by The Ocean Conservancy around the world in a single day! While the correct manner to dispose off used sanitary pads is in a bin, many people flush it down a toilet which eventually enters water ways and causes a huge detrimental affect in our water bodies. It even poses a great threat to our marine life!
What motivated me to finally get over my fear of using a cup is the impact a single woman can make on the environment using disposable sanitary pads and tampons. Yes, there are organic tampons and washable cloth pads but lets face it, how many of us actually would prefer scrubbing a cloth pad given our busy lifestyle and as for organic tampons, even they take several years to breakdown and run a risk of toxins and pesticides. An average women menstruates for 38 years and in this time uses approximately 150 kg of disposable products. According to data, 432 million pads are disposed every month worldwide! These disposable products end up in landfills for at least 800 years!! On the other hand, a single menstrual cup is non toxic, Eco-friendly and can last you for at least 10 years if used correctly with the provided instructions and care.
Using the cup has been a dream! I personally use an iCare menstrual cup but there’s a plethora of products to choose from. I have never felt so free during my menstrual cycle. It has even helped me stop cramping. The cup definitely teaches you a lot about your body. You can see how much you bleed, on what days and the viscosity of your blood. There might be an ick factor for most of you but remember, it’s your body and you must learn to understand it, accept it and above all; love it.
So, what is a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups have been around since the 1980’s and is slowly gaining popularity among-st the masses. It’s a flexible cup made of high quality medical grade silicone designed for use inside the vagina during your period to collect menstrual blood directly. The cup actually collects the menstrual blood rather than absorbing it like a tampon or sanitary pad does. A menstrual cup can collect 3 times more menstrual fluid as compared to an ordinary pad or tampon! Which means ladies, depending on your flow it can hold anywhere between 5-6 hours to 8-10 hours! Menstrual cups can be used all day and from personal experience, I’ve had to clean my cup once in the morning and once in the night. Switching to a cup has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my 19 years of existence on this planet. What a dream!! Right from strenuous exercising to swimming and dancing, you can do everything and anything you want to while using your menstrual cup.
How Does One Use a Menstrual Cup?
Firstly, always wash your hands before touching your cup. Your cup needs to be sterilized before and after your menstrual cycle ALWAYS! To sterilize your cup boil it in bubbling hot boiling water for 5-7 minutes and then let it cool before using. Keep this container aside from your other utensils and use it only for the purpose of sterilizing your cup.
Find a fold that suits your anatomy.
There are several folds one can try. Here is a list to help you.
Use the fold that proves easiest to insert your cup. Always insert the cup holding onto the fold firmly. This prevents premature opening which can result in difficulty while placing the cup.
Always keep your pelvic muscles relaxed.
If your pelvic muscles are tensed it will be challenging and sometimes even painful while inserting the cup. Therefore always remain relaxed. its always hard to insert the cup for the first time. eventually in time, you will master it.
Find a comfortable position to help you insert your cup.
Some prefer sitting while others find it easier squatting. You can also try standing with one leg resting on your shower tub.
Insert your cup with the stem facing down.
Insert your cup slowly while making sure your muscles are relaxed. The cup should pop open inside. Make sure your cup is open completely by feeling the base of the cup. The cup forms a vacuum around the cervix and will collect your menstrual flow. If you feel uncomfortable then you’re most likely not wearing the cup correctly.
Removal of your cup.
Since there’s a vacuum formed, it is of utmost importance that you do not tug the stem of your cup. You can gently rotate it and pinch it at the bottom to break the vacuum, this is what helps me the best. Rinse your cup thoroughly with clean water. You can use V wash or any mild unscented water based soap free from any oil to wash your cup.
If you’re using a public restroom make sure you have access to clean running water but honestly, always carry a reusable bottle of drinking water in case of emergencies. Always make sure you’re carrying a hand sanitizer as well.
The menstrual cup can be used for young girls as well as older women. It’s never too late to make the switch! A lot of you asked me questions on the lines of,
Can my hymen break?
Your hymen is elastic and is gradually worn away with time due to several activities that you may perform, ranging from sports, dancing or even briskly walking! The hymen is not attached to your virginity. That’s just a myth.
2. Will I be able to pee and poo?
We have three output holes: The urethra, the vagina and the anus. The menstrual cup is placed in the vagina, so there is no interference with urination. Although, the cup can apply little pressure to the bladder which can be discomforting since you’ll want to pee frequently. Adjusting the cup correctly will rid you of that problem.
3. What cup size should a virgin use?
Usually there are two sizes. Size small is for women with light to normal flow who are up-to 25 years of age. size large is for women post child birth or with an extremely heavy flow.
4. Can the cup be washed with any soap?
No! It’s necessary that you use mild unscented water based oil free soap to wash your cup. Using v wash is helpful. A menstrual cup is completely hygienic and safe if used as per instructions. The uterus of a woman isn’t as delicate and clean as we think it is. Always make sure you have access to clean water when using your cup.
5. Isn’t it uncomfortable?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!! I swear, shifting to a cup has been the best thing ever! I have even stopped cramping. I sometimes forget I’m on my periods. There’s no dampness, rash nothing! It is obviously difficult the first time you try it, but after several attempts you will eventually master it! I also sleep like a log without worrying about leakage or tossing around. It’s like using lenses. the first time is difficult but then you reach to a point where you don’t even need a mirror. Remember, the anatomy of every woman is different, if a menstrual cup doesn’t suit you for any reason you could switch to a reusable washable cloth pad. The idea is to decrease your waste and go easy on the planet.
6. I’m scared to put it inside, how can I get over that fear?
I understand it’s difficult but you have to attempt it at least once. You won’t regret it I promise. Keep trying and take breaks in between if you get frustrated. A lot of women are beginning to use the cup. overcome that fear.
7. Can the cup get lost inside my vagina?
No. The cup can never get lost inside. It might go a little up ahead but you can always use your finger and gently pull on the stem.
8. Can I use the cup when I’m not on my period.
Well, I don’t really know. When you’re on your period your vagina is lubricated thereby it’s easier for insertion and removal if you aren’t on your period, I’m assuming it would be painful.
9. My mother is conservative and shuns the idea, what do I do?
If it helps, even my mother was very reluctant about me using the cup but at the end of the day, it’s my body and my personal choice. Our parents are children of their generation. Since then things have changed drastically. . I’m sure if you stand your ground and patiently talk to them they will try and understand, after all You’re a woman.
My challenge to you all is to talk to your friends, parents kids or whoever else will give you an ear. There’s a plethora of options and sources to learn from. This isn’t just for women, if you’re a guy and you’re reading this, talk to your women. The more we talk, the less of a taboo will it be.
DISCLAIMER : I am not a medical practitioner and all the views expressed in this post are based on my personal experience and a few friends I know that are users of the menstrual cup. Kindly use your own discretion while purchasing a hygiene product.
Happy Green Periods!!