Here are some quick stats. According to Census 2011 population data, around 336 million people in India menstruate. Out of which, only 36% have access to sanitary napkins, which is roughly 121 million. Let’s assume, you use four pads a month. That is 48 pads per year. Now the main point- each pad contains about 2.4g of plastic. That means, in order to deal with a very natural process of our body, we end up producing 13939200 kg of plastic waste every year!
How Do We Undo the Waste?
The first thing that comes into your mind when you hear ‘periods’ is probably sanitary pads; not even ovaries. Thanks to mainstream media, we are flooded with commercials of pads ensuring us ‘safety and protection’. The term was further normalized with the release of R Balki directed Padman. But what about the ‘safety and protection’ of our environment?
No worries. Many new startups have come to our rescue. From Peesafe to Sirona to Sparkle to Heyday to locally produced handmade pads, all encourage you to go green your next period. They produce pads made up of banana/corn fibre, or pure cotton. Apart from being plastic-free, these brands are also free from harmful chemicals that you have been feeding your little vagina since menarche.
These panties have a special absorbing sheet to soak your blood, similar to reusable cloth pads. They are comfortable like normal panties, but need to be changed often according to their soaking capacity. Read about the latest designs here.
You might have already heard of it. But never tried, right? I understand. I was scared too.
But I realized, a menstrual cup is not a part-time blogger’s ‘life hack’. It’s a scientifically designed product made up of medical-grade silicone and it’s not as complicated as one might think. All you need to do is, fold it, put it into your vagina, rotate a bit to pop it open, and done! You won’t even feel it. If you do, then you are wearing it wrong. Chill for the next 12 hours! Then pinch its bottom to get it out, wash it with water, and put it back in. After your cycle, just put the cup in boiling water for some time (don’t burn it!) and it’s ready to be packed until your next cycle.
My experience with the menstrual cup…
Pads were like a frustrating intruder into my fitness journey. I had to skip my workout for six days straight and another three days to recover from the horrible rashes. No need to rant about all the side-effects of pads. We all are well experienced. I ordered a cup hoping it would take away all my woes but, it just refused to go in!
MYTH #1: “A good girl never puts her fingers inside her vagina”
Oh please. It’s my vagina. I put my fingers out of curiosity or full-on masturbate, it’s all up to me! As a virgin, it was very difficult for me to get the cup in. First, I had to stretch my muscles which took me days. Initially, you put in one finger, then after a few days, it gets somewhat easier to get in another. Hurts a little (umm… actually more than a little) in the beginning, but all worth it. Don’t get tensed, your vagina is elastic enough to pull a baby out, a cup is just a little thing.
During periods, your vagina is naturally lubricated with blood and mucus. So, with a little effort, I finally made it. (Applause!)
It took me two periods to master the cup. I faced cup leaks (because I always forgot to rotate it inside), the stem hit my labia too much (so I cut it half it’s length) and I had to surf the internet to learn various folding styles.
Cup feels distressing in the beginning (I literally used to cry whenever it refused to go in or come out), but once mastered, it’s the greatest boon. Also, pads may seem cost-effective but wait! You need to get them supplied every month. Whereas a cup lasts up to 10 years. A good quality cup costs between Rs 400-500. On the other hand, a pack of 50 pads will dig up your 300 rupees every freaking year, which equals Rs 3000 in 10 years. (Just a rough estimate. Deep down, we know it takes way more.)
MYTH #2: “Hymen and tight vagina are signs of virginity.”
Do I need to explain this?
MYTH #3: “You can’t swim during periods.”
Get a cup in and you can swim, wear your favourite white dress, exercise like crazy, even have sex (Yup! Check out Ziggy Cups by Intimina.)
THE HUGE DRAWBACK: Silicone is NOT biodegradable.
However, it is reusable and far, far safer than single-use plastic. Its durability plays an important role in reducing waste. A single cup can last years, saving the energy required for its manufacture, as well as releasing less waste. The best we can do as concerned human beings is to send the cup to a specialized recycling service once it becomes unfit for use. We must cut off the use of silicone dinnerware and toys as they can be replaced with better sources such as bamboo. But when it comes to menstrual cups, silicone itself serves as a better and greener alternative (at least for now).
A taboo breaker, an environment protector, and the giver of the best period experience ever- that’s why I call the menstrual cup a ‘miracle’ for periods. My mother and I have already switched to this miracle. Now it’s your turn to bleed green!