There’s a lot of myth and taboo surrounding menstrual cups in India. This menstrual hygiene product hasn’t reached en masse popularity as sanitary napkins, its older counterpart, have. Talk around menstruation and pads is already highly hushed. Therefore, the introduction of a new strange-looking contraption has led many to impose a big question mark on it. And the fact that it has to be inserted inside the vagina has steered even more people away from it, adding another layer of silence around menstruation in our country. Because any insertion inside the genitals is associated with sex and therefore frowned down upon.
But menstrual cups are really a state-of-the-art innovation when it comes to female health and hygiene.
People who use it swear by its superiority to sanitary napkins in every department. It is eco-friendly, cost-friendly, long-lasting, and odour-free. It also removes the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) that may come with using tampons or pads.
With menstrual cups, women can go longer durations without the stress of changing and disposing off pads. Can you imagine what a dream that would be during travel and sports? Moreover, women needn’t have to worry anymore about being discreet in sneaking around pads – concealed within books, under the clothes, or inside secret zippers in purses. Because a menstrual cup is reusable and stays inside your body for as long as you choose to take it out and then insert it again.
How To Use A Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup is essentially a small flexible cup made from medical-grade silicone. It looks harmless, cute even. It essentially collects the menstrual blood discharge instead of absorbing it, as tampons and pads do. On average, a menstrual cup can hold blood for anywhere up to 12 hours. Yes, thaaaat long! They come in different sizes and colours (pastel shades as well) that women can buy according to their age and sexual activity.
So how does a menstrual cup collect blood? Dr Tanaya Narendra, a millennial doctor focused on women’s health and sexual wellness, explains, “Your uterus has a little exit hole called the cervix and right underneath the cervix is your vagina, which is like a long tunnel. Inside the tunnel fits the cup. Since it sits right underneath the uterus, all the blood coming out of the uterus gets collected in the cup. When the cup is full, you can dump it in the toilet, rinse it, and put it back inside.”
Important things to note before inserting a menstrual cup: Always buy the product from a well-known brand. Before use, boil the cup in water to sterilise it. Use the cup with clean hands. The best way to insert the cup seamlessly inside your vagina is by making tiny folds in it. And remember, once inside, the cup may cause some discomfort. But don’t worry, it’ll become a part of you in no time.
Watch Dr Tanaya demonstrate how and where to insert a menstrual cup:
Will I Lose My Virginity If I Use Menstrual Cups?
No. There is just no other answer to this question. There is no chance your virginity will be lost by using a menstrual cup. For starters, virginity is only a social construct. It is only meant to mark the first time a person has sex. For women, it is also used as a derivation of character and morals. But those notions are all arbitrary and baseless. Having or not having a hymen doesn’t define your identity. So you shouldn’t be worrying about it anyway.
Secondly, virginity as a concept is only associated with sexual activity. It does not correlate to the insertion of anything inside your vagina. Be it a finger, a tampon, or a menstrual cup. However, Dr Tanaya explains, “You may tear your hymen a little bit while using the cup. Because your hymen is not a complete block at the entrance of your vagina. Your hymen already has holes in it, which is how the period blood comes out every month. If the hymen is something of a concern to you, you may want to skip the cup.”
Using a menstrual cup can be a wonderful experience if you give it a shot. It is a foolproof method to have a hassle-free period without any embarrassment attached to it. Why? Because it recognises the period for what it is: a simple bodily function. And since it doesn’t have to be sneaked around, in black bags and newspapers, that step of irrelevant shame is done away with. If more people use it, menstrual cups could well be the first step towards breaking the taboo around periods in India.
Views expressed are the author’s own.