Although menstruation is a completely natural part of a woman's life, conversations around it have always been stigmatized and surrounded by taboos. Read this first-hand account of one woman openly talking about her period and sharing her experience of making the switch to sustainable period products.
I did not have a great relationship with my periods from the time it started. It was forever delayed with sometimes 40 days being a regular cycle but mostly I did not know when I would get it. So, from 30 days on, I had to keep a watch out. I was taught to use the disposable sanitary napkin and that is all I knew. With unpredictable periods and sheer anticipation, I ended up using a lot more napkins than required every month. As I grew older, became a mother, my periods reset to a regular cycle, and having become more environmentally conscious, I was guilt-ridden by how much plastic I was throwing away every month. I started investigating the alternatives. On one hand with cloth napkins or period panties, I felt the washing routine required will be complex and will require buying a lot of expensive panties. On the other hand, with a menstrual cup, considering I had never used tampons, the thought of inserting a product in my vagina sounded uncomfortable. I was also not sure how well it would work.
Finally, one day while I was shopping, I saw the Mooncup and impulsively bought it. I forced myself to use it the next cycle while still using sanitary napkins.
It was a struggle the first few times, to say the least -
“I am not able to keep it folded to insert! Ok, done. But the stem is sticking out…aarghh.” Wash it, cut the stem a little bit (repeat it a few more times). “Finally, it is not poking. But wait a minute, it is leaking. Oh! Looks like it didn’t open up. Adjust that. Ok, I think that is it.” Cross fingers.
After 3-4 hours – “How do I hold this thing and remove it? Ewww…finally got it out. Wow..look at what I have collected – this is actually what the menstrual period looks like!” Flush it down now, wash and insert. Repeat.
There was one time when I tried removing the cup, it kept slipping and moving around in the vagina but I couldn’t grip it and remove it – a 5 minute agony! And as a mother, I had already planned in my head all the arrangements for the family if I had to go into emergency to get it removed!!
I used the cup for a few months and finally, it worked reasonably well. But there were still leaks and so I still used sanitary napkins or panty liners. When I went to India that year, I decided since it is only for leaks, I could use cloth napkins and bought Ecofemme cloth pads and liners. And now I was set! Completely eco-friendly.
It was on this trip to India that for the first time in my life, I went swimming during my period! I cannot believe I waited this long. Freedom!
On a different note, initially, I avoided traveling long distances with the cup for the fear of having to change in public toilets. Since I did not go into an office either, I never had to worry about it. Finally, on one trip I decided that it was high time that I figured this out. It was a mess, to say the least, but what I did learn was to use the toilet paper to clean the cup but most importantly to keep wet wipes out and handy for the hands! Thanks to corona times, I had a sanitizer.
Now three years later, I find that still in the first 24-48 hours, there are some leaks. But I am glad the rest of the days I can go free of even cloth panty liners. I am looking to try alternatives now which might be better designed for me such that I have no leaks. During my last cycle, I also attempted going cup-free and using only the panty liner the last two days. That worked well too.
I am surely not going back to plastic sanitary napkins. For emergencies, travel, etc., I bought biodegradable napkins which I have not used.
The best things about going eco-friendly are:
1. It feels great to not throw plastic waste
2. Not have to worry about disposing of napkins discretely and hygienically.
3. Not have skin irritation around my vagina and groin.
4. That I can swim!
To check our a comparison between different menstrual cup brands, click here
In case you are interested, some cloth pads companies in the EU are
For more information about the moon cup, click here
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About the Author
Gayatri Muthukrishnan is passionate about making health and science information accessible to all while giving them extra tools to translate the knowledge into active use of managing one’s health. She is a cell and molecular biologist turned science communicator based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. Miyara Women does not undertake any financial/reputational/legal/misrepresentational impact or other obligations/ liabilities that may arise from the content.