June is the plastic month of the year where every one of us are talking about how to remove plastic from our life. This one product- man-made product has taken our world into a whirlwind. It has become an evil necessity, which we can’t live with or without. But its ok, I have a plan to make it more sustainable. Let’s embark on this plan together.
So, ladies (and you gents if you are reading me, but I highly doubt it) let’s do this together. Let’s make a list of disposable plastic materials we use in a month. Let’s recycle some from the list. And then let’s try to replace some in the list. For example, my list was-
- 1. Plastic water bottles, especially for my avengers’ 5 year-old-fan.
- 2. Plastic tiffin boxes
- 3. I have replaced most of my carry bags from plastic to cloth, but its still available for most.
- 4. Sanitary pads.
Now with great persuasion, I have taken my 5-year-old to like matt finish steel bottles. Today he happily takes that to school, while his plastic spider-man bottle bit the dust a few weeks ago. If nothing works for a mom, it’s the safest bet to take- out of sight is out of mind.
My husband could take glass tiffin boxes, but the little son still wants some cartoon on it. So, this time I bought a plastic on outside, but steel on inside tiffin box for him. Once the school reopens, we will find out whether I was successful or not in this attempt.
Now for the last and the final bit, I can now very confidently claim that I have replaced most kinds of sanitary pads in my house. And instead have started using a miracle silicone-based product, called Menstrual Cups.
If you truly want to do something for the environment, then with shaky baby steps, go towards this product. Let me begin by first tackling some myths surrounding this product-
- 1. ‘it feels unhygienic to insert something inside my vagina.’ Now this is the most classic myth that I hear from most of my friends when I approach them to talk about menstrual cups. It is the other way around when it comes to hygiene issues. Menstrual pads are unhygienic. They come in contact with air, and hence germs get a moist warm place to breed. Instead the menstrual cup seals the cervix, and in the limited air supply nothing substantially harmful can breed inside your body. By far it is the safest and the most hygienic sanitary products available in the market.
- 2. ‘too big to manually insert it.’ That’s a fair concern, it is a bit big, especially if you have had a child and you need to use the larger size like I do. But when you have a very natural lubricant flowing out of vagina(aka- blood, no yuck pls), it just slides inside with no effort. I tried it and then only am I writing about it. Even if you are scared, just try it out once. If you don’t like it, its ok. All I request is to not give it up entirely. After all, let me remind you that removing plastic from your life is and should be a goal you feel dearly for.
- 3. ‘reusing poses to be a greater problem. I feel yuck to boil it all the time.’ Well, for this one let me start with an example. Do you think Swara Bhasker’s character in Veere de Wedding was concerned about boiling the toy in the Masturbation scene? Or do you as a mom or wife or a girl boil each fruit and vegetables before putting it into your mouth? Both these answers tend to go towards a 'no', so similarly, you don’t need to boil the cup every time you tip its contents out. Just wash it in clear water and its ready to be inserted again. When you open a new pack, its just then that the boiling is mandatory. After that, it’s up to you to boil or not to boil.
- 4. ‘the thought of pulling out a cup full of menstrual blood … naaahhh’ on this one I have nothing to say. This is a reality and using a cup does make you come closer to your body. It is to see and witness this amazing system which is the reason life sustains in this world.
- 5. ‘I won’t feel comfortable to exercise in the cup.’ Another myth, our vagina is mostly a very sensitive opening, but once you get snugly past that, there is no feeling. You won’t feel something in your legs if you have a tampon or a cup inserted inside. You wont even realise something is inserted until the body gives you the sign that it is full. Any physical exercise would be much more comfortable if compared to pads. Pads with friction and the moistness would lead to a delicate rash. This would never happen with a cup.
- 6. And saving the best for the last- ‘would the vagina stretch too much if I use it’ well after having a baby and still enjoying a happy sex life, I don’t think inserting a cup would change anything to do with parameters of the holy grail. This is not such a big thing, that your vagina has to stretch out to accommodate. So, fear not. I think I safely can put this out as a myth.
I think I have covered most of the myths about this wonderful product. Silicone is a highly elastic material which gets folded quite small and can be quite comfortable to take a shape once inside. If you get past the initial hitch, trust me you too would love the product. The sanitary pads that we use are 90% plastic with super absorbent polymers and non-woven plastic components. Some even come laced with much harmful chemicals which promises to turn blood into gel and keep it locked. This is not natural. And something that is causing so much of harm to environment, can’t be safe for us to use. If plastic bothers you, stem it out of our systems first. The picture below depicts a dump yard, full of diapers and sanitary pads from one small area of a metro city, for a week. We can truly take baby steps to change this reality.
Akshay Kumar starrer Pad-Man has gotten India to talk about periods and menstruation. I salute Arunachalam Muruganantham for what he achieved out of a simple emotion of love. Sir, however difficult your name is for me to pronounce, as much difficult is for me to comprehend you deed. I am just taking your fight on the urban level, a bit farther. Hope we do understand and more and more people join me in this fight! Cheers!!
Maybe I started the article mid-way. But as the greatest non-conformist in the world, I chose to end it. Actually, I started this article with an assumption that everyone would know about this product. But I stand corrected as the amazing girl gang of my niece bombarded me with very relevant questions about this product. So here are some excerpts from all of my conversation from last night-
1. Define Menstrual Cup- A menstrual cup is a hygiene product which needs to be inserted in the vagina during menstruation. It is made of flexible medical grade silicone and shaped like a bell with a stem. Its purpose is to prevent menstrual blood containing uterine lining from leaking onto our clothes. The stem is used for insertion and removal. The bell-shaped cup seals against the vaginal wall just below the cervix, hence making the process extremely leak proof. Every 6 to 12 hours, depending on the amount of flow, the cup is to be removed, emptied, rinsed, and reinserted.
After each period, the cup should be boiled for at least 5 minutes and stored in a clean box for use the next month.
2. Menstrual pads vs cup- yes one cup costs 600 INR average, while a pad costs 10 INR. But, you can’t reuse the pad as you would with a cup. And the cup is completely chemical free and is made of food grade silicone which is great in reusing and is quite biodegradable unlike pads.
3. To be used only after marriage or after the girl has had sexual intercourse- no even young girls can use it, completely safe and won’t interfere in the reproductive system later on. Its just that you need to be eased on to this product. Talk to friends, family and doctors and then decide whether you are ready to try this revolutionary product or not.
4. Size issues- a general rule of thumb would be to opt for small before you have had a baby. Opt for large if you have had a baby.
5. Leaking? - Negligible, in fact you will get to know when its time for it to emptied out. Trust your instincts.
I feel now my article is complete. If you have any other question, drop in a comment or mail me at email@example.com, with a subject title- ‘menstrual cups’.