Over to Mrunmayee.
“As many women would vouch, menstruation is something we live with because we have to. Most women and girls outright hate it but I had no feelings about it. It was a monthly inconvenience that drained quite a few hundred rupees from my wallet every month. There was no swimming, no beach, no light coloured bottom wear. Basically a bit. My periods were not extremely painful or extremely tough. It was all good. Except when visiting and spending nights at friends or relatives, especially the in-laws. I didn’t want to announce to the world I was on my period by asking discreetly, where to throw my used napkins. It was not ideal and was hardly discreet. And the environmental implications weighed heavily on me every month. I was adding at least 15-20 napkins each month to some landfill. It was such an intimate thing and it was out there. Then during a year in the UK, I came across a YouTube video describing this magical cup called the menstrual cup. You could reuse it multiple times during your period and for about ten years(!). But when I dug a little bit, there were multiple horror stories of the cups leaking, or one story even claimed some skin coming off while removing the cup. Gasp! I was intrigued but intimidated by these stories. But for every horror story there were 50 other stories from women swearing by this life changing cup. I bought a silicon cup off Amazon, it was close to ten pounds. And I knew if this works, it would save me hundreds each month.
The process seemed pretty straightforward, you fold the silicon cup in a way that you are easily able to insert it with your fingers, into your vagina, until it touches your cervical opening. And then the tiny holes at the edge of the cup form a vacuum seal with your vaginal wall, it stays there like magic and collects the blood for almost seven hours, then you can simply remove it, wash it in plain water and re-insert the same way. Depending on your flow, you would have to empty the cup more or less frequently. After your cycle, you just sanitise the cup in boiling water, let it dry completely, preferably in the sun and in fresh air before storing it back.
My first experience with the cup was painful. I had trouble inserting it and when it was finally in, I was so raw and frustrated that I wept. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. It stayed in it’s little bag for the next few months. I didn’t want to go through the ordeal when I had it pretty good with my sanitary napkins. But then I tried it again, armed with some new tricks and folds and a lot more relaxed, it fely good. The most important thing I learned, never insert the cup when you are NOT on your period. There is more lubrication during your period and otherwise, you are bound to be raw inserting it. Haha that explained my first experience. What you learn about your body during this phase is unprecedented. I realised I hardly knew about what was down under. The vaginal opening, cervix, vulva all seemed familiar terms, but where were they in my body was another story. I learned the intimate details, I understood my body, my periods and in the process, started getting comfortable with them. It was still not a cakewalk, but I was happier in the knowledge that I really knew my body now. I suggest, grab a mirror and get to work, exploring!
When I did get it right, I was elated. And I don’t exaggerate when I say, it changed my life. Except the cramps, which remain, the process itself goes like a car on auto pilot. If you worry about leakage, wear a cloth napkin along with your menstrual cup. The best thing, you don’t have to wear wet feeling napkins, it is safe, healthy for you and the environment. The experience has made me so happy that if you knew me, and you are a girl, chances are I’ve already tried to get you to try the menstrual cup!
A test of the cup came when during my sister-in-law’s wedding ceremonies, we were doused with water, impromptu, while playing haldi and I could truly enjoy it without worrying about staining.
Girls, if you want to give yourselves one gift this year, let it be the menstrual cup. I trust in the cup!”
Over to Mrunmayee.