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Women’s health needs have evolved over time. Some alternate menstruation products that are comfortable, affordable and help maintain hygiene during periods.
By Melanie Lobo
Most urban Indian women use only sanitary pads during their periods. However, there are several alternate menstruation products available today which are far better and even cost effective. One of the main reasons why women are now switching to alternate menstruation products is due to the growing awareness that the environment needs to be protected. It is a well known fact that the manufacturing process and the disposal of certain menstruation products pose a hazard to the environment. That being said, there are other benefits of using alternate menstrual products as well.
Here are three alternate products to maintain health and hygiene during periods.
These are reusable and are a good alternative to pads and tampons. Menstrual cups are made out of either silicone or rubber which makes the cup easy to fold. This cup is worn internally. It has to be inserted into the vagina as its job is to catch the menstrual blood, instead of absorbing it.
One advantage of using menstrual cups is that they are not linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, unlike tampons. This is due to the fact that they do not absorb menstrual blood, but collect it instead.
A menstrual cup will allow you to carry on with all extreme physical activities and you can even go for a swim while wearing one! Menstrual cups, like pads, come in different sizes.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of using menstrual cups is that they are environment friendly. This was one of the main reasons why Aparna George, a freelance writer in Bangalore switched to using them. She says that she had been concerned about waste management for several years, in particular bio waste management. She heard about the menstrual cup through a group on Facebook, looked it up online and ordered it. Despite using it only once she says that it is, “Brilliant – completely amazing and super. I thought it would take time to get used to but this has not been the case.” Shecup is a brand of menstrual cups that is easily available in this country.
This is one of the oldest forms of menstrual protection and one that has been used by menstruating women, even centuries ago. In days gone by, women simply used rags or cloth to absorb the menstrual blood. When one piece of cloth was saturated, it was replaced by another. The soiled “pad” was then washed and used again at a later stage. The reusable menstrual pads that are available today are designed keeping women’s health in mind. They come in a variety of styles, thickness and absorbencies that will ensure that you feel comfortable when wearing them.
Manufacturers generally use 100% organic cotton to make these cloth pads. In India, you can buy them from Ecofemme. Reusable menstrual pads may seem costly initially, but they are actually cost effective as you can use them for years. Further, you can do your bit towards saving the environment by using them.
Pallavi Sharma, 33, Technical Writer at Symantec, Pune has used all of the above mentioned alternate menstrual products. She admits to using home made reusable pads when she first started menstruating. She switched to branded sanitary napkins as they were easier to dispose of than homemade ones. But she found them uncomfortable and felt that homemade pads gave better protection, especially at night or for heavier flow. The bio health hazards of using branded pads made her switch to tampons, which were easier to dispose of and more convenient than napkins as well. She adds, “They also posed less of an environment hazard in terms of disposal.” Pallavi started using the menstrual cup about 5 months ago. She finds this, “More convenient than either a pad or a tampon. I also use them because they are the most environmental friendly menstrual product. All that waste is saved.”
Tampons are one of the most modern forms of protection for menstruating women. It resembles a slim tube, and is made out of either rayon, cotton (or even a mixture of the two). Organic tampons which are made out of 100% cotton are available as well.
A tampon is quite easy to use and if inserted properly cannot be felt at all. They need to be changed every 6-8 hours. Using a tampon takes away menstrual odour and you can be sure of no staining incidents as well. The only problem with using tampons is that you can put yourself at risk of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome. This is why tampon manufacturers advise changing tampons every 6 hours at least. However, if used properly, tampons do provide comfortable and secure hygiene during periods.
While tampons have been around for several years in India, not many women are keen to use them. This could be due to the common misconception that a tampon causes a woman to lose her virginity.
While tampons have been around for several years in India, not many women are keen to use them. This could be due to the common misconception that a tampon causes a woman to lose her virginity. Natalie D’Souza, a 25 year old Mumbai homemaker shies away from using them because she is bothered about getting an infection. “Personal hygiene is very important while using tampons, you must ensure that your hands are clean, you can cut yourself if your nails are too long. It’s too much of a bother for me.”
However, Dilys Nath, 45, a teacher in Mussoorie, has a different take on using tampons. “I’ve been using them for the last 20 years. I find them so convenient to use. They save me the hassle of having to change regularly. Further, they are easy to carry around too. They eliminate menstrual odour and the leaks and stains as well. Even the best pads cannot do that!!”
Check out the products mentioned above – you may find them better than the one you are currently using. In addition, if you decide to choose more eco friendly options, you will also be doing your bit to protect the environment.
*Featured image credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
*Menstrual Cup photo credit: menstruationstasse (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
*Reusable Pads photo credit: Ecofemme.
Melanie Lobo is a freelance writer. She grew up in cities across India but now
Lovely article, Melanie!
where does one buy these products ?
Hi Jaya, various menstrual cups and cloth pads are available at http://www.hygieneandyou.com
I have been using mooncup since 2006, it is a blessing. If you have any doubts or need any questions answered, you can join “Sustainable Menstruation India” its a support group on facebook that promotes sustainable menstruation..
@Jaya – for menstrual cups, Shecup seems to be what is available: http://www.shecup.com/home.html. For reusable pads, there do seem to be a few, but Ecofemme seems to be easy to order: ecofemme.org
Thank you Pallavi
nice article.Much of the information out here was new for me as i have never given this topic a second thought! so Thanks!
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