As you’re reading this piece, it won’t be wrong to assume that you already know what a Menstrual Cup is. If you don’t already know, A Menstrual Cup is a flexible cup made of medical-grade silicone. This cup sits in the vagina and collects blood, unlike cloth or tampons, which absorb the blood. Today these are getting widely popular in our country too due to their hassle-free and eco-friendly nature. The menstrual cups came into existence in 1867, and the first silicon-based cup that today we all use was launched in 2001. And as of the year 2021, it’s been around two decades, and even today, it’s not widespread in our country.
When Sanitary Pads came into existence, not many knew or understood their impact on our environment. For Instance, just in India, on average, a woman uses a total of 350 packs of non-disposable sanitary pads in her lifetime, which takes almost 500-600 years to decompose. If we calculate the amount of waste produced by every woman, this number becomes alarming. The idea behind a Menstrual Cup is that we can reuse it for an extended period. Compared to disposable pads, the impact of these cups is far less on our nature and on our pockets too, taking us to a secure, sustainable, and budget-friendly option.
Today there are over 355 million menstruating girls and women in India. And still, ironically, only 56% of us have access to menstrual health. The remaining others still face barriers in one way or another towards menstrual hygiene. Now the question arises how long will this take for us all to openly talk about menstrual hygiene in a country where menstruation is considered a thing to hide. In a country where people don’t even openly talk about periods, how will they endure the idea of inserting a Menstrual Cup?
Why isn’t India moving with this brilliant idea?
Many of us in urban areas find that this concept is brilliant. As we are moving towards green menstruation, the idea of a menstrual cup best suits us all. Thanks to all the influencers and the digital mode through which these cups are easily accessible in cities.
But when it comes to rural India, menstrual cups are a far concern. We need to dig deep into the taboo of menstruation which takes us to the concept of impurity with menstruating women, menstrual untouchability, and that menstrual issues being a matter of shame. These women in rural areas lack menstrual hygiene even today. So creating awareness in rural areas regarding cups will take a long time.
Also read: Menstruation is a taboo in India!
Most of the information regarding these cups comes to us from either a friend and social media platforms. We all know the benefit of using a menstrual cup, yet we do not take any action. The reason being- the idea of inserting a cup doesn’t make us all comfortable. This could be again for so many reasons- i.e., I don’t believe in period myths, but what would I say to my parents when questioned regarding this? Or is this even safe? What if inserting a cup will induce pain? What if the myth about losing virginity by inserting a menstrual cup is true? And many such questions you all have in your minds.
The myths about the hymen!
According to the Indian concept, an unspoken prerequisite is that a woman must not lose her virginity before her marriage. With the idea of menstrual cups, there comes a colossal myth—a myth of breaking the hymen wall, or in simple words- losing one’s virginity. Perhaps you may have one as we grew up hearing that hymen is a seal that gets broken during sexual intercourse. The problem here is that we have all heard a wrong term, i.e.- hymen being a wall and the seal getting broken. Anyways this is a huge misunderstanding. A hymen is just a thin piece of tissue around our inner tube that covers the vagina. Some women are born without hymen at all.
There is no chance of losing one’s virginity by inserting a menstrual cup. It is because the term virginity is related to someone’s first penetration through sexual intercourse. So even if you stretch or tear down the hymen, it doesn’t mean that you are no longer a virgin. Moreover, it’s your body your way, so why allow society to judge us?
Are menstrual cups going mainstream in India?
Let me ask you here, did you find any advertisements on TV channels regarding a menstrual cup? Or how many medical shops and shops around you are selling these menstrual cups? The answer to this is negligible. The Indian market is still selling the old non-disposable pads.
I saw an advertisement on Instagram ads and researched this topic; most women did the same. The majority of us all know about these cups today. Yet why are we still using plastic pads? At Least if not menstrual cups, why not recyclable pads? The answer is simple- it is a lack of knowledge. We as consumers do not know how much pollution they are creating and how hazardous it is for our environment. We do not know there is no disposal mechanism for sanitary pads and how unhygienic and infectious these pads are for the waste collectors.
Another reason is that the companies that sell these cups are small startups, struggling to make their way for a better environment. These small startups also lack funds to promote their products, even when they are better in every aspect. No big companies produce these cups in India, that’s why there are no advertisements we can find around us. These big companies can take action right away if they want but will they? Because they know that safe and sustainable options are a threat to plastic and their rapid business.
Related: Read in detail- why menstrual cup companies can’t go mainstream in India
So what can be done further?
- Take action: If you want to use a cup, go buy one first and figure out how to use it later by watching videos on youtube. There is plenty of information available, but that is only possible if you decide to take action and if you still have confusion, then gather enough knowledge on the same.
- Bring awareness: Whenever you visit your nearby shop, ask them if they know about menstrual cups or even have them in their shops. Once people start asking these retailers, they will bring the stock in their collection very soon. Moreover, if you find advertisements or online stores, keep sharing them with your friends and families.
- Education is the key: Make sure you are clear regarding the period’s myths and taboos. So that if you deal with people who have these myths, at least put forward your point of view.
Let’s switch to a much safer eco-friendly, and budget-friendly option. There is a huge benefit with this fantastic concept that we are neglecting. Don’t just watch India taking a step to go green; participate and influence others to do so. I use a menstrual cup, it’s been one year now, and I am super proud of my choice for my menstrual cup.