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Once you use a menstrual cup, you’ll never feel like using a sanitary napkin or tampon again, says this author. Here is everything you need to know about them!
Let me start by talking about my relationship was with sanitary napkins. For about 15 years of my life, I used sanitary napkins thinking that they were ‘’the only option’’ I had.
Like every other girl/woman, I suffered from rashes and itching due to the chemicals in sanitary napkins. And the biggest pain was removing the napkin and discarding it by rolling it in a newspaper or paper bag.
Buying a sanitary napkin pack every month without fail before it was “that time of the month’’ was again a task, you see. God alone knows as to how much money I spent on it in the last 15 years.
Every month I would grab a pack or two to mark the beginning of my monthly friend – my periods. Even worse was the moving and the tossing around the bed at night in order to get a good night’s sleep.
The fear of staining the dress if the sanitary napkin was not in the right position, the fear of getting up to a stained bed-sheet… and the fear of someone seeing the spotted bed sheet was absolutely profound.
Those nocturnal visits to the washroom just to see if everything was in place gave me sleepless nights. Including using the best pads available, I did it all. But somehow the fear of red spots or stains gripped me every now and then.
However, one fine day, I came across a lady who was into sustainable menstruation. I spoke to her at length about a menstrual cup. In fact, she was the one who introduced my friend and I to the menstrual cup. She even gifted us cups, by the way. We interviewed her for our period movement series to spread the word.
I understood how helpful the usage of a menstrual cup could be for a woman and the environment, but had absolutely no guts to insert it. The thought of inserting anything in the vaginal cavity was scary.
But! But! But! Picture abhi baaki hai.
In my case, the use of a menstrual cup was born out of need. I was on my way to Pune for work and all of a sudden felt like my periods had arrived. It arrived five days before the actual date and to my dismay, I wasn’t carrying a sanitary napkin along.
Plus, on my way, I could not find any medical stores and all I could do is sit and regret or curse myself for not carrying a pad along with me. But I realised that the menstrual cup was still lying in my bag. However, all the way I was wondering as to how I would insert the cup! And what if the cup did not go as per plan?
Finally, I reached the place which had absolutely nothing around. No medical shops, no restaurants, NOTHING! I headed to the washroom straight and found that they had a supply of hot water and a clean bathroom! OMG, it was such a relief.
First, I washed my hands thoroughly with a mild hand wash that I carry whenever I head out. Then I quickly removed the menstrual cup and washed it under warm water. I washed it again with some hand wash, wiped it with wet wipes and now came the toughest task…the insertion!
I gathered courage and remembered the ways a menstrual cup can be inserted into the vaginal cavity and it was inside within the first attempt. It did not hurt, neither did I feel uncomfortable while or after inserting it.
The only thing that I felt was the opening up of the cup inside the cavity, post which I continued my work without any discomfort, emptied and cleaned the cup before reinserting it once again.
I traveled to Mumbai with the menstrual cup inside me and felt so good about it. It was inside me as if it were a part of my body.
So based on my experience and the knowledge I have gathered so far on women’s health, here is a low down on the menstrual cup.
It is a bell-shaped or funnel-shaped cup made of medical grade silicone.The menstrual cup has a stem below and needs to be inserted into the vaginal cavity during menstruation. The cup collects the menstrual blood and stores it which needs to be emptied every 6-8 hrs or at the max 12 hrs.
I completely understand that the idea of inserting something with your bare hands into your vaginal cavity would sound like, “Ewwww how can I do it?!” but believe me there is nothing dirty about it.
The vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism and the blood you see isn’t dirty. Plus, while inserting you aren’t likely to have your hand full of blood, so let that thought go away. It is pretty simple to insert the cup and “Practice makes a man perfect,” – woman in this case.
While removing it, do not pull the stem, rather use your thumb and middle finger to pinch the bottom of the cup in order to release the vacuum. Do not panic, just relax when you need to remove it.
Menstrual cups are primarily of two types-
1) A cup which is designed for women under 30 years depending on the size of their vaginal cavity and this is usually a small-sized cup.
2) The one designed for women above 30 years. It is bigger than the under 30 years cup. This is because women post 30 years are often married and have given birth to kids and a bigger cup can be easily accommodated into the vaginal cavity.
Some brands also have a smaller sized cup for girls who have just started menstruating. I use the Diva cup which has 3 different sizes and I usually use the model for women under 30 yrs i.e model 1.
The average menstrual blood holding capacity of the menstrual cups is usually till 20-25ml and some might also go up to 30ml depending on the brand.
YouTube has a number of videos on how to fold a menstrual cup. Look for those videos and check which fold works for you the best.
Also if you find it difficult to insert while on your period, use a water-based lubricant that is mild. You can find them online.
Before you use a menstrual cup, please sterilise it by boiling it in water for 5-10 minutes. Do not leave it unattended as it might stick to the bottom and damage the cup.
Every time you remove it, empty the blood in the toilet bowl. Then wash it thoroughly with a mild soap, wipe it with intimate wipes and then reinsert.
Once your periods are over, sterilise the cup, wipe it and place it in the pouch that comes along with the cup.
You get menstrual cups online as it is difficult to source from a nearby medical store. Most of the medical stores are unlikely to keep menstrual cups because very few women out there use it.
In short, menstrual cups aren’t wildly popular yet. You might find brands like Sirona, Shecup, Mooncup, Myecoperiod, Stone cup, Silky cup, Rustic art and so on. You can select your size or consult a gynaecologist before doing so.
While it does not have any side effects you might find it messy at times, may not find the right fit or may find it difficult in inserting the cup.
However, you can easily overcome all this! If you are not at home and have to use a public toilet, then carry wet wipes or intimate wipes with which you can wipe the cup and reinsert.
For the right fit, you could consult your gynaecologist and look for the different sizes and brands online. As I stated above, practice makes a woman perfect.
Look at the different folds online and try inserting it. Once you know how to insert it the entire process is going to be hassle-free. You would never look back at sanitary napkins or tampons all your life.
So simply leave your fears aside and go, give it a try. You won’t regret it ever.
Picture credits: Pexels
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A Nutritionist,Clinical Dietitian,Speaker,health/fitness blogger who runs a nutrition website named NutriBond
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