Pregnant With The Idea Of A Menstrual Cup

Period Paath logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC, to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management among menstruating persons in India. Join the conversation to take action and demand change! The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
Representational image. Photo Credit: Michelle Tribe/Wikimedia Commons.

The objective of this written piece is that you send it to someone who is pregnant, the idea of a menstrual cup,
and that it helps them.

    1. You read about the cup, it sounds like a great product. What does it have to do with you? You are comfortable with the pad.
    2. Come across it again, maybe you could give it a try too. But it’s mostly available abroad and has to be ordered online. Plus, it’s expensive. A one-time investment, but a big investment, and not too sure if it will work for you.
    3. Okay, you really want to give it a try. Do research. All this sizing chart and measuring your cervix confuses you. Very tedious. Close window.
    4. Discover Indian brands that are affordable and come in a single size. But what if gets stuck inside and never comes out? Inter-vaginal, hmm. All videos show white women using it. “I don’t know anyone who uses it. Let me ask the gynaecologist.”
    5. Damn, a friend of a friend legit uses the cup. And she is Indian. And lives in India. Okay, let me order the cup and see.
    6. It arrives. And the classic self-doubt acts up. “This is not for me. I’ll keep it aside for a few months and then figure” (or, you are the other category where you want to try it on the moment you hold it even if you aren’t on your period and find it difficult to insert as there is no lubrication that the blood mucosa usually is and it is difficult to break the suction as there is no blood inside the cup to ease it). However, you try the cup once for token trial and hold it at the bottom or don’t do a firm fold and convince yourself that you aren’t ready for the cup yet.
    7. Few weeks pass. After meeting/ reading from someone how much they love the cup, you retry. And this time, you actively watch videos, read blogs, talk to cup users and get the insertion right. Then you do that thing where you lock the door but come back again to check if it’s locked or not. You use a backup pad on day 1 and run to the loo in two hours to check if it has leaked already (cause you are sure it ain’t gonna work for you). And somehow, miraculously, it hasn’t.
    8. Removal is difficult but you keep at it for the second cycle. In between, you tell everyone now how you don’t completely hate your period, the cup is great but removal is umm, tricky. Though the experience that you don’t feel the cup at all inside and it is almost leak-proof has won your heart and you wear the cup to work, to the gym and wear white trousers/ skirts/ sarees.
    9. Two cycles pass. You are closer to mastering the art of using the cup- insertion, removal, cleaning, everything. You only get better and faster at it with every use. The baby is out (considering you thrust the cervix while pushing out a 3.5kg baby AND when pushing out a 10mg cup)and you are IN LOVE WITH IT. You will recommend the cup to EVERY menstruating person you know.
“Within two months of using the cup in 2015, I started a ‘100 Women Project’ where I ‘cupverted’ 100 women.” Representational image.

Obviously, not everyone takes 9 whole months but ya get what I mean. It’s a process, and it’s fun. To read my favourite (and hilarious!) accounts of using the cup, see Lavanya Mohan’s and Rhea Mukerjee’s blogs.

Within two months of using the cup in 2015, I started a ‘100 Women Project‘ where I ‘cupverted’ 100 women (I spoke to 200+, duh) in 100 days (3.5 months approximately). I was obsessed with the cup, so much so that my then-boyfriend suggested I write a blog about it to save time and not spend time saying the same thing over-and-over, and I did. You can read it here (I published this on a youth blog in India where it garnered close to half a million reads). I also spoke at length about my unfortunate friendship with menstrual health disorders that played a key role in my life that I was constantly fighting.

Some women I spoke to wanted to try the cup but couldn’t afford it. The whole ‘build/think-for-masses and inclusivity‘ got me researching why cups cost as much as they did, what the profit-margin was that the companies making these ‘noble’ products required. This lead to looking to start an enterprise that would bridge the affordability gap.

Image provided by the author.

During the process of looking to source silicone and understanding the manufacturing process, I met an acquaintance (she was couch-surfing with me at my house in Pondicherry) who put me in touch with a lady who had a vision similar to mine.  She was ready with a prototype and had sent me a sample. We connected further and decided to explore working together. That was May of 2016 and fast forward, Boondh today has thousands of users in India and a few hundred spread across the globe in countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mexico, USA, UK, and the Netherlands.

It sells at ₹ 590 (plus tax, ugh) when most cups are sold in the range of ₹ 1000 and above, and Boondh uses zero-waste packaging (comes in a drawstring pouch. That’s all, yes). There’s the Together Cup Program where for every cup bought at ₹ 1180, Boondh donates a cup to an economically less privileged menstruator. The focus is on menstrual literacy and dissolving stigma in communities where cultural beliefs encourage oppressing practices.

It’s a fun challenge every day, convincing people in the government and corporate offices to work with us on long-term social-change projects and dealing with struggles of packaging, sealing, couriers, taxes, regulations in India. At the end of the day, I am a happy person who sees value in how she spent 10 of her 24 hours that the earth took to complete one rotation.

I often challenge my lady friends to do the 100 Women Project too—could be for cups, to break stereotypes or to overcome a socially-constructed oppressive practice! My favourite person who is doing the 100 Women Cupvert Challenge now is this traveller from Sri Lanka that I met in Himachal last year. Watch her story here.

I hope you enjoyed reading this piece of my Cup Chronicles as much I enjoyed living it. I also hope you are not as lazy as I am. I wrote the above thoughts in November of 2018. Connect with me at sonal@boondh.co

Note: The above blog is a personal account of Sonal Jain who works at Boondh and is based on their personal experience of talking to people about menstrual cups. In no way does it summarize or generalize the experience of using menstrual cups. 

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