Aiming For A Plastic-Free Period: My Tryst With The Menstrual Cup

Sanitary pads cause rashes, and leak! Why not try menstrual cups for a smoother experience, and save the planet while you're at it?

Sanitary pads cause rashes, and leak! Why not try menstrual cups for a smoother experience, and save the planet while you’re at it?

“Blood, pain, discomfort, natural, mood swings”. These were the words that the young girls of Delhi’s Prahladpur village used, during a workshop where they were asked what came to their minds when we spoke of periods.

Meanwhile, in the corner, a young girl named Prachi quietly murmured, “Plastic. Didi, sanitary pads are made of plastic, haina?” she asked me.

The plastic waste of pads

According to the Clean India Journal, 432 million sanitary pads are used in India annually. This amounts to 900 tonnes of waste. The plastic component in this waste takes over 500 years to decompose.

These numbers were a rude shock to me. I mean, pads cause rashes and discomfort. They are difficult to dispose off. They don’t really prevent stains (we all know even the maxi pads fail on the second day!) And now we learn they’re such a big threat to the environment as well!

What could be the alternative to pads?

An Instagram post I came across suggested the menstrual cup. These are bell shaped and made of medical grade silicone or rubber. And are inserted inside the vagina during menstruation. They collect the blood instead of absorbing it, and can be reused for up to five years or more!

But in a country where women hardly use tampons and masturbation is a ‘no-no’, the idea of putting a cup inside my vagina seemed ‘dirty’.

Menstrual cup and the pharmacy

Somehow, I reasoned with myself and went to a pharmacy to buy the cup. The pharmacist hadn’t even heard of it. I explained, “It is a cup which is inserted in the vagina and collects period blood

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The aunty standing next to me, who was there to buy some pain meds, judged me. She looked at me like I had ruined her shopping experience. At that, the pharmacist hurriedly said, ‘Aisa kuch nahi hai’.

I asked a few friends if they had used the cup but no one had. So, I turned to the all-knowing Internet to find out what cup size I needed and if it had any side effects.

My first encounter with the menstrual cup

After two weeks of speculations, I ordered a medium sized menstrual cup. As I received the order, my first thought was, ‘Why is it pink in colour?’ This was followed by a more important question, ‘How will this go inside?’
I tried the different methods mentioned on the instruction leaflet.

It took me 45 minutes to finally get it right. And by then, my fingers had blood on them. But you know what? It did not feel dirty. At

It was my blood and I was taking a step towards improving my menstrual hygiene. Neither did it leak, and I slept like I wasn’t even on my period.

Yes, I slept on my back and woke up without a stain!

Use the menstrual cup, please?

For all those women who have never heard about the cup, it’s time to research. It’s time to read up and ask questions and see if it can work for you.

For all the women who have heard about it but haven’t tried it, do try. It will change the way you look at your periods. As for those who have tried it, please talk about it.

Tell it to your friends, your sisters, your brothers and even your parents.

Other than the comfort and feasibility, the cup is cost-effective as it lasts longer. Not to forget, your period will be plastic-free.

A version of this was first published here.

Picture credits: Pixabay 

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