It was the summer of 2016 when I was enlightened with an innovation that had already acquainted itself with many of my friends. This innovation was a rescue from stinky, rash-causing, cloth-staining sanitary pads. I can allege this product has been stolen right from my dreams.
In my college some people from the NGO Vatavaran had come. They were promoting the idea of menstrual cups. Their interests were not economical but environmental. Sanitary pads generate a lot of waste which is not even recyclable. Menstrual cups on the other hand generate zero waste. These cups are made of silicon and can be used for up to 10 years. This has to be inserted inside the body, and this is also the part with which many people do not agree. But there is no hygiene-related adversities that the menstrual cup sports. It is extremely easy to use, once you get a hang of it. The first tries may be a bit difficult. It is definitely easier if you know your body well.
I talked to the volunteers of Vaatavaran about the pros and cons, and they were extremely honest and uncompromising on the truth. A WhatsApp group was created and I was added on it. There were other girls besides me and we had some discussions, blogs elaborating on the cup were posted here. Then, Katja (one of the volunteers) contacted me personally. I had just recently talked to my mother about the idea, and she completely disapproved. She was of the opinion that nothing should be inserted inside the body. Indians are also extremely sensitive about the issue of virginity, and that might have been one of the reasons of resentment. So,I told Katja my mother’s opinion. She was extremely sympathetic and told me that my case was not unique. People from all different economic backgrounds had certain superstitions attached to the use of a cup. But none of that is true. Various developed countries like U.S., U.K. have been endorsing this inovation for quite a long time now.
Before my actual menstrual cycle came I had wanted to give the menstrual cup a dry run, just to see if I felt comfortable or not. But that wasn’t helpful. It is important that while insertion, the body should be relaxed. Mine was not at all relaxed, in fact I was a bit panicky because I had no prior experience. I tried to insert the cup, but it was all in vain. I turned on YouTube videos for help. Using a water-based lubricant for dry runs had been recommended, but I didn’t go for that. Instead, I just put my cup in my drawer (after sterilisation) and forgot all about it. Then on my period, I offered the cup another chance. This time it went smoothly in, because my blood acted as a natural lubricant. I was so extremely happy. I immediately called up Katja and told her all about it. She asked me to remain calm, and note my flow and experience. So I did. But then I faced another problem. I wanted to be prepared for any leaks, and was using both the cup and pad together. It was leaking. So I called up Katja again. This time she advised me to experiment with a different fold. I had been using the punch-down fold, but then acting on her advice I switched to the seven fold. Thankfully it helped, and the leaks stopped. It is important to make sure that the cup is completely open after insertion, to prevent leaks.
Also, when I was unsuccessful in inserting the cup the first time, I was afraid that I had got the wrong size. That can be terrifying. So, to prevent such a mistake you should first measure your cervix, and get the right size. Some websites which can help in solving this issue are:
Though I faced some problems in the beginning, it has all worked out to be good in the end. The menstrual cup has not only given me relief from pads but also a dear friend. A big thank you to all the people who supported me and helped me in this journey.
Mahima Bobin, Vatavaran intern