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Alternative Menstrual Products: To Try or Not To Try?

With people becoming more aware of the dangers of using sanitary pads and tampons, we look at the alternatives.

Image Source: Menstrual products via shutterstock

Everyone who gets periods agrees that it’s very frustrating trying to choose the best products. Most people in India rely on pads and tampons during their periods. However, more people are now switching to alternative menstrual products. So we’ve tried to understand why these other products may be a better choice for you!

Why You Need to Stop Using Pads and Tampons

Pads and tampons are expensive. A single packet of sanitary napkins costs more than 150 rupees. They are from harsh non-biodegradable products and they feel uncomfortable to wear. They stink because the blood is oxidised (exposed to oxygen). 

When you use a pad or a tampon, it absorbs your blood but it also absorbs the entire moisture in the area. Your vagina should not be dry! This loss of moisture, in turn, kills the bacteria responsible for cleaning the vagina. Pads tend to be very rough. Repeated use of pads harms the delicate skin of your inner thighs and cause rashes. While rashes are very common among pad-users, most people do nothing about it. Tampons are more harmful as you put the material directly inside the vagina which sucks out the moisture entirely. 

You must have seen ads that often warn people to avoid wearing a pad or tampon for more than 4 hours. Listen to them! A tampon left in for too long could lead to serious consequences. In mild cases, it would cause an infection. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), usually associated with tampons, and sometimes pads, causes fevers, infections, and they could be fatal. This happens when menstrual products interact with harmful bacteria in the vagina. Several deaths in the US have been reported over the years because young girls left their tampons in for too long. 

Cup It

Image Source: Menstrual cup via shutterstock

A cloth pad is self-explanatory but I’ll break down a few key details about the menstrual cup. A menstrual cup, made of flexible medical grade silicone or latex, is used during menstruation and these are inserted directly into the vagina. 

They are folded and inserted into the vagina. Once inserted, the cup opens up against the vaginal wall and holds blood up to 12 hours depending on the flow. The 4 tiny holes on the sides help create a suction, which prevents the cup from falling out. Unlike pads and tampons, the cup collects blood and does not absorb it. If inserted correctly, the cup should not leak or cause any kind of discomfort. To remove, the base of the cup is pinched which breaks the seal and the cup can be easily removed. After every cycle, the cup is sterilised by boiling for a few minutes and with proper use, a cup could last for more than 10 years. 

I personally love using a menstrual cup. I have been using one for more than 2 and a half years. The shift was one of the best decisions I ever made. My cycles are more regular and my cramps hurt less. It hardly ever leaks. I am less tense because I don’t have to constantly check if I’m leaking. There have been times when I’ve actually forgotten that I’m on my period because I can hardly feel it.

Popular myths about the menstrual cup

Image: Menstrual cups can be folded in different ways via shutterstock
  1. It’s painful – Despite popular misconceptions, cups are very comfortable. They don’t hurt. If you insert it properly, you won’t even feel it.
  2. You can’t urinate with a cup – You don’t urinate out of your vagina; you do so from the urethra, another tiny hole just above your vaginal entrance.
  3. It’s so small. It won’t hold that much blood – A cup can hold up to 20 ml. It usually comes in 2 sizes – for people below 30 or those who have not given birth vaginally and for above 30 or those who have given birth vaginally. You may have to empty your cup 3-4 times a day depending on the flow but you can leave it in longer when the flow is less.

3 Reasons to Switch to a Menstrual Cup or a Cloth Pad

Image Source: Menstrual products via shutterstock
  1. Less harmful to the body – They do not cause rashes or infections. If they are sterilised properly, there is also a lesser chance of bacterial vaginosis or cervical cancer. (Bacterial vaginosis or BV is a common case of bacterial infection which can be easily treated with antibiotics).
  2. Cost-effective – A single menstrual cup could cost around 600 rupees and a cloth pad costs around 300 rupees. While the initial cost is high, they are more practical in the long run as they are reusable. 
  3. Environment-friendly – Menstrual cups and cloth pads are reusable. That, in itself, cuts down on waste produced by sanitary products. They are also made of biodegradable materials, unlike pads and tampons.

Indian Brands to Head Over to

Image Source: Menstrual products via shutterstock

For menstrual cups, you could shop online at Boondh, Silky Cup or Sirona.

For cloth pads, you could check out EcoFemme, Bhoomi, and Uger.

Although there are other products, such as menstrual discs and sea sponges, unfortunately, these are not yet available in India.

Written By

An open-minded introvert with strong beliefs, and an avid reader since her father bought her first comic-book.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jovita Rexy

    August 16, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Loved it! You’re one of the reasons for me to switch from pads to cup. Love you <3

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