For a depressingly long time, periods have been considered, like, SO gross. This is evidenced in the way advertising for feminine hygiene products features that ubiquitous blue liquid instead of, you know, blood (ew!), the great lengths that grown women will go to just to hide their tampons in the office and the very real fact that in some parts of the world, menstruating women are considered dirty. Plus, you know, it’s called “the curse” and all that.
Yet something may be shifting, and it might be thanks to menstrual cups – as in a silicone cup you insert into your vagina to capture your menstrual blood. You can leave it in for up to 12 hours, then rinse it out and use it again.
At least three Indian companies manufacture and sell menstrual cups today and growing awareness about the product is leading several women to make the switch.
There are plenty of factors behind the growing popularity of menstrual cups including convenience (it can be worn two to three times longer than a tampon or pad) and cost (a menstrual cup can last up to 10 years, saving women around Rs. 6000 a year in tampon and pad costs.
There are also environmental reasons: switching to a menstrual cup will save around 10,000 feminine hygiene products from waterways and landfill over the course of a lifetime.
Sales are increasing mainly due to word of mouth. Women trust other women’s opinions, especially when it comes to something as intimate as trying a new feminine hygiene product.
But are they safe? And will they ever hit the mainstream?
Doctors around the world are happy to support them as long as the women are well-informed about their use, how to keep them clean and that they’re aware they do not offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases or act as a form of contraception
For many working in women’s health, tackling the taboo that still surrounds periods is important. Yet judging by the celebratory Amazon reviews for menstrual cups from a range of women, the taboo is being chipped away at.
What’s more, because menstrual cups force women to not be squeamish about their periods and to confront them head-on (a cup of your own blood will do that), they are something of a feminist issue.
By encouraging users to engage with their bodies during menses, the cup plays a subtle but pivotal role in normalising periods.
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