This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sunanda Jalote. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Using Menstrual Cups Helped Me Explore My Body Better

More from Sunanda Jalote

Menstrual cups are the new up-and-coming trend among environment-friendly menstrual products, and it’s easy for anyone who’ve used them to understand why. I started using menstrual cups about 6 years ago, when they weren’t exactly common, and it has been the best decision for my periods ever. However, I want to talk about the impact using menstrual cups has had on me, and some of my friends, beyond that on our periods.

Considering that even in schools, teachers tend to leave the chapter on reproductive systems up for self-study, it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that people, in general, tend not to know much about how our bodies work, especially the reproductive parts of it. Women especially are actively encouraged to not explore their bodies, or even talk about it. We’re socialised extremely young to consider various body parts as “private” (read: not to be touched or talked about).

Though my teacher did teach us the reproductive system chapter, I was still one who didn’t really understand my own body and was somewhat hesitant to explore my groin and vaginal area. Without ever clearly remembering being told that touching myself in those parts was wrong, I was always keenly aware of the forbidden nature of it, and hence, when I did, it must be kept a secret. Add in puberty, and there’s a completely new aspect added to why our vaginas are secretive and some version of impure: periods.

Using pads and tampons, the grossness which I (and almost everyone else) have been socialised to feel about menstrual blood, would kind of get reinforced. From the black bags in which we were given our products, to the whispers in which we were expected to ask for menstrual products in public…it is all oriented around the idea that menstrual blood is not just impure, and hence makes the person impure, but also that it’s inherently shameful. That shame, that grossness could be retained with pads and tampons because I didn’t have to touch the blood, I could easily wrap up the products super quickly and avoid even looking at it.

Using a menstrual cup changed all of that. Firstly, to use the cup, you have to get comfortable with entering your fingers inside the vagina. I’ve met many women who are not only uncomfortable with the idea of fingering themselves, but are acutely uncomfortable with the idea of anything but a penis penetrating them.

When I started using the cup, I wasn’t particularly uncomfortable with fingering myself, but there was also a societal shame which I felt. Initially, the cup was a good excuse to have to put my fingers up my vagina; I had a reason not to feel the shame. The more I used it, the less it became an excuse, and I became more comfortable. It did the same for the other women I know.

Not only do we have to get comfortable with putting our fingers up our vaginas, but also feel around in there, feel where the cervix is. I only learnt what the cervix actually is, what it feels like, after I started using the cup. Because I was the only one I knew who was using the cup at the time, I didn’t have anyone to ask questions to, so I spent a lot of time watching videos online and reading what other people had written, and through them what the purpose of the cervix is, how to identify it and so much more.

The interesting thing about feeling inside your vagina to figure out where your cervix is, to see if the cup is fully opened, and all that… you may also get an idea of what some erogenous areas of your vagina are. Many women feel hornier and have higher sensation in their vaginas during periods. It’s a great time to feel around in there to see what gives you pleasure, what’s just so-so, and what you may just not like.

Using the cup also helped me overcome that ‘socialised’ grossness about menstrual blood. While taking the cup out, it is quite inevitable that you’ll get some blood on your hand, and often, it won’t just be a little drop. It’s amazing how comfortable I have gotten with having blood on my hands and feeling absolutely no weirdness or grossness about it.

For a country where there are many families where the women aren’t even allowed to enter their own kitchens or bedrooms during menstruation, having that blood on your hands is a big way of understanding how absolutely natural it is, and how convoluted it is that we’ve been made to feel so gross about our own body functions.

Using menstrual cups didn’t just make my periods so so much easier to deal with (which it totally did), or just make me lessen the damage I was doing to the environment (again, a big plus for menstrual cups)…it also helped me get to know my body better.

You must be to comment.

More from Sunanda Jalote

Similar Posts

By Penguin India

By Love Matters India

By Priyank Sharma

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below