Today the exposure of a menstruating woman to toxic chemicals is unbelievably high compared to women one or two generations ago. The reason being the use of sanitary pads or tampons during periods. Sanitary pads and tampons contain bleach, pesticides and other chemicals used for growing cotton, dioxins from plastics and gels used as absorbants. Once the menstrual blood soaks up, it creates an eco system of unhealthy microbes that are in direct contact not just with the vagina, but the urinary track and the digestive system. The exposure to these harmful chemicals and the microbes for continuous long hours cause havoc to the body.
The disposal of used sanitary pads and tampons is a nightmare in most developing and under developed countries. They are clearly not biodegradable nor are they recyclable. In the developed countries, they are typically incinerated (combusted in a controlled industrial process) but in most other countries they are burnt in the open or dumped in the sewage from where they enter the water bodies and finally into the oceans!! There is enough mess created by these to the environment once they are done with all the damages they cause to our bodies.
Is there an alternative?
Yes, there definitely are. One of course is to switch to cloth pads like in the olden days of our grandmoms. The other is to use "Menstrual Cups". I have been using these cups for a decade now and have also converted (we call this Cup-verted) hundreds of women through a campaign called "Green The Red".
The menstrual cup is a tiny, flexible cup made from silicone, which is an inert material. This little cup is all that a lady needs to fit into the vaginal cavity and collect the blood quietly with absolutely zero interference in the process. There is zero sensation of anything sitting inside, when the cup is inserted to the correct position. Once inserted, the cup forms a seal with the vaginal walls as it sits there doing its work. After about 6 to 8 hours, it can be removed and cleared, washed and reinserted.
Endless benefits of the menstrual cup
Rid the health hazards associated with using chemical leaded pads and tampons.
Not harm the environment because these cups are reusable (just spill the collected blood in to the commode, wash in cold tap water and reuse).
Most cost effective and comes for a fraction of the cost that one has to pay for the disposable options each month. A single cup lasts upto 10 years.
There is no interference to the urinary and defecation processes and systems.
Beach games, water sports are most welcome during period times just as any regular day.
The cup is always with you and there is no last minute rush to a medical store like in the other disposable options.
The frequency of cup clearing & reinsertion is far less than the number of pad changes.
Recover back the 4 or 5 days of menstruation as they just become so hassle free.
This is most safe and easy to use, if one can stay patient for one full cycle. Like in anything, there is a small learning curve about how to use it. The “Green The Red” campaign is led by several women in India that have used and benefited immensely by it. It has a team of super active Gynecologists and doctors as well who have reached out to women across the country in India and beyond.
If any woman in the menstruating age group has not experienced the cup, they say she has clearly missed out on something supremely significant. This is a silent revolution happening. And the best invention for women ever! So, just go for it!!
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Hi Anchal, In India, it is still not available off-the-shelf in retail stores or medical stores. But you can buy them online.
To buy menstrual cups in India - https://goo.gl/iupJQ3
In most developed countries, the retailers stock menstrual cups right next to pads and tampons and they are easily available in the stores.
Thanks for asking a very important question !
For teenagers also it is definitely recommended. But they need to be coached or guided by their moms or a trusted mentor as for young girls who are still quite unaware of their body anatomy, the usage could be a little new and they will have a learning curve. Please also check this video