It’s that time of the year again when humanity gladly chooses to acknowledge the crimson flow, draw attention to some of its dire issues and even celebrate all its whimsy. Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated annually on May 28th and on this blog, any reason to discuss menstruation is good enough.
Last year I wrote a blog post titled “A few cool menstrual milestones”, which happens to be one of my favourites. Since then, within the past several months, something that I’ve been keenly intrigued by is the concept of sustainability as a lifestyle and conscious living. So for today, let’s talk about sustainable menstruation and why you should try the menstrual cup if you haven’t already.
When it comes to being environmentally-conscious, no longer does the focus lie solely on promoting the use of biodegradable and recyclable products, but also on producing less waste in general because waste collection and disposal is not monitored and executed correctly, which results in these products not decomposing or recycling successfully. This is why the concept and advocacy of sustainability exists. It promotes extending the life of an item by re-using or re-purposing instead of adding to the pile of waste. In the context of menstruation, commonly used period products, such as pads and tampons, are not sustainable as they are single-use, disposal items that contribute to environmental pollution significantly.
Sustainable menstrual products mainly include cloth pads and menstrual cups. These are reusable, thereby having little to no negative impact on the environment. Cloth pads are, you guessed it, pads made out of cloth that can be washed after each use. As this can become impractical over time, menstrual cups have the added advantage of convenience and have consequently become the face of sustainable menstruation.
So why should you try the menstrual cup? Let’s get into it:
1. Great for the environment
As discussed above, the menstrual cup is the superstar product that the environment loves. The Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India reported that there are at least 12 billion sanitary napkins disposed of every year. Picture the number of black plastic bags that carry that amount — it’s a dangerous amount of waste that India cannot and is not able to manage efficiently and it evidently contributes to pollution.
Moreover, ordinary pads and tampons are not biodegradable (this includes Whisper, Stayfree and Sofy). In addition to the peel-off strips and packaging that’s plastic, the main materials of composition are essentially different forms of plastic as well. A sanitary napkin is in fact almost 90% plastic with several chemicals. Manufacturing companies do not state the ingredients on the packet as it is not required by law and so it’s claimed that the chemicals present in conventional pads and tampons are not only bad for the environment but also potentially unsafe for the human body. Check out these articles from HuffPost and Times of India for more.
Therefore, today there exist several companies that offer eco-friendly pads that make their products only from biodegradable materials that are better for the environment and your body.
2. Great for your wallet
Period products are not cheap. It’s one of the biggest reasons for period poverty across the world, not to mention consumers in several countries still carry the burden of paying the extra period tax. Being a reusable product, the menstrual cup does wonders for your wallet. Let’s do some money-saving math, which is the best kind of math there is:
Hence, ergo, thus and therefore — you spend at least 10 times more by not using a menstrual cup. Read footnote of the image above.
3. Great for comfort
Contrary to popular belief, using a menstrual cup is not a daunting task. The initial concern is simply the fear of the unknown, which is temporary and worth getting over. It’s easy to get used to the cup even if one has only ever used pads.
Using the menstrual cup during menstruation is a significantly comfortable experience because you can’t feel the cup inside you. Pads are notoriously annoying for obvious reasons and both pads and tampons pose the issue of needing to be changed every 3-4 hours. The menstrual cup needs to be removed and cleaned twice, maybe thrice, every 24 hours. You remove it, clean it, wear it again and you’re good to go for the next 8-12 hours. You can walk, run, swim, sleep, do anything with the utmost ease and comfort. You simply do not realise your vagina is leaking fluid and that is incredibly mind-blowing for someone that has used pads for years.
There you go! The menstrual cup really is a remarkable little thing.
Here are some of my personal suggestions that may be useful for anyone looking to try it out:
– Remember that it’s physically impossible for the cup to get “lost” or go higher up the vagina.
– Before trying the cup for the first time, many people watch YouTube videos on how to use it and gather other people’s thoughts and experience. It’s what I did and you should too. You may note that everyone speaks very highly of the cup.
– Practise using the cup before you get your period so that you’re familiar with it once you do need to use it.
– It’s alright if you don’t get it right the first, second, third… nth time, do not give up. (‘get it right’ refers to inserting and removing the cup properly)
– This may sound silly, but you need to root for the product to work. If you get too apprehensive, you may give up easily. Also, being tensed about it tightens up your muscles which need to be loose and relaxed for the cup to go in smoothly. So take a deep breath, relax and keep trying.
Finally, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that many of us probably forget to be grateful for the easy access we have to clean toilets and menstrual products. With our privilege, we can do our best to support sustainable menstruation, but it’s also important to help fight period poverty – a topic especially highlighted on Menstrual Hygiene Day. So during this time, please consider donating to GiveHer5, a charity that tackles period poverty in India by providing menstrual products to those in need. Only ₹200 can help one person deal with their periods safely and hygienically for a whole year. You can read more about them and donate on their website: GiveHer5.org.
Thank you so much for reading!
All photos/gifs are taken/created by me. This blog post is not sponsored and contains no affiliate links.