If you are a woman reading this article, you have already spent the past 11 months purchasing feminine hygiene products for your daily, weekly and monthly needs. If you are using tampons and sanitary pads, you could be spending around $10 every month. Multiply that by 11 and you will find out that you have already spent $110 just on your female hygiene products.
You may try to console yourself saying, “that’s just a small amount of money.” You may be right, but try to consider this. The average female will have her menstruation for more or less 30 years. That means she will spend about $120 each year during that period.
Do you know how much that would cost for the entire time she has her menstruation? $3,600, more or less. That is already a large sum of cash that you can use for other things such as investments and purchases that you can benefit from in the long run. Now what happens to the $3,600 you spent on hygiene products for women? It all ends up in the trash.
According to the latest statistics, there are almost 4 billion women in the world and a huge percentage of that number uses sanitary pads and tampons. Given those numbers, you can’t help but wonder how many menstrual pads and tampons are thrown away each year. Research claims that about 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons become trash every year. You can only imagine how many garbage landfills such amount of rubbish can fill.
Not a lot of people may admit it, but the conventional ways for feminine hygiene care are not the best options anymore. Aside from the fact that they are costly, they also add to a number of problems such as these:
- Environmental issues – The billions of trash generated by conventional female hygiene products do not help in
reducing generated garbage. Right now, the world needs to cut on any form of waste and sad to say a lot of women are not helping.
- Problems with plastic – Sanitary pads contain plastic, which is one of the most difficult materials to decompose. In addition, there is also the risk of plastic exposure due to the pads’ contact with the vaginal area and labia. These chemicals can easily reach the bloodstream because there are various blood vessels in the vagina.
- Harmful synthetic materials – Admit it or not, some pads and tampons can become harmful because of the synthetic materials they contain. While there are tampons made out of cotton, there are some that have rayon, a synthetic material. Studies show that synthetic fibres may pull out too much moisture from the skin, leading to allergies and other problems. Moreover, it is widely believed that a large percentage of all the cotton in the world is derived from inorganic farming practices. Farmers use fertilisers, insecticides and other chemicals to keep the cotton fluffy, and easy to weave. If you plan to continue using pads, make sure they are organic feminine hygiene products.
- Risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) – TSS is a rare but deadly infection that can result in tampon use. According to recent research, the culprit is a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep). These bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments such as the vagina. In addition, the problem with tampons is that it does not prevent contact between vaginal walls and the menstrual blood.
Traditional female hygiene products may be popular, but they are definitely not the best options out there. The problem with women nowadays is that they are afraid to take chances and try something new.
So what is the better alternative for feminine care?
One of the emerging options for feminine care and hygiene is the menstrual cup. Also known as the period cup, this cup can also prevent leaks and staining onto outer clothing, but without spending too much.
A high quality menstrual cup costs around $20, which may sound like a lot of money for a hygiene product. However, if you consider that this particular cup can be reused for as long as five years, it instantly becomes a great investment.
So how much can you really save with a period cup compared to the usual feminine hygiene products?
If a woman starts using a menstrual cup in her puberty years and change menstrual cups every five years, she will only spend about $120 until she reaches her menopausal years. Compare that to the $3,600 figure mentioned earlier and it would be crystal clear that period cups are the way to go if you want to save money on hygiene products.
What is a menstrual cup and what does it do?
The menstrual cup is made out of medical grade silicone and is designed to ‘collect’ the menstrual flow that comes from the uterus. How? It is placed inside the vagina where it is kept in place by the vaginal walls on both sides, preventing any leaks and spills.
Every 10 hours or so, you may take out the period cup and empty its contents in a toilet bowl. Bloggers and menstrual cup users say that during heavy days, they usually take out their cups twice or thrice a day.
The good thing about the menstrual cup is that it is fairly easy to use, and prevents contact between your skin and the menstrual blood. That is not the case with tampons and sanitary pads.
If you are planning to make the change, here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to use the menstrual cup:
- Before doing anything, wash both hands with soap. This ensures that no bacteria will be transferred to the cup and
- Hold the cup part on both sides using your thumb and forefinger, creating a U-shape. Make sure the position of the cup is correct.
- Create a conical shape by pushing down a portion of the cup. In this position, the curved portion should be facing away from your hand.
- Slowly insert the U-shaped menstrual cup inside your vagina. Use your free hand to slowly part your labia.
- Remember to insert it deep enough that it can collect all the fluids coming out. The stem at the base of the cup should be approximately half an inch inside your vagina. If you push the cup beyond this location, it may be more difficult to take out.
- Make sure the cup is open. Before leaving your period cup inside your vagina, make sure it has opened when you inserted it deep enough. Usually, you will feel or hear a popping sound once it opens. You can also double-check by reaching inside and feeling the base of the cup. It should be round or oval in shape.
- When removing it, tug on the stem at the base of the cup and slow pull it out. You may use your other hand in cupping the base to make sure the cup won’t stretch too much and cause all its contents to spill out.
- Clean your cup before you reinsert it. Take out the menstrual fluid from the stem as well as other portions of the cup. Flowing water from the faucet is an ideal way to clean it. You may also use alcohol or boiling water in cleaning your menstrual cup.
Menstrual cups may be more complicated to use, but rest assured you will only feel its difficulty in the first few times you try to use it. Most people who have tried period cups say that after a few uses, they get used to the insertion and taking out of the cup. Moreover, they claim that they have never returned to using tampons and sanitary pads after enjoying the benefits of the period cup.
Where can I buy a menstrual cup?
Because of the increasing popularity of period cups, various menstrual cup brands are now entering the market. You may notice that the price range for these products varies greatly. However, beware of the products you encounter because they might be counterfeit, and may not function properly. Do not just settle for the cheapest option because it may not be composed of high quality materials.
The best period cups are made using medical grade silicone in contrast to cheap rubber used by some manufacturers. Using such low quality items may cause allergies and other problems. In addition, it is good to know the name of the manufacturer and their contact details so you can give them a call in case you have any cause for concern.
Menstrual cups are available both in pharmacies as well as online shops in Australia. Remember to buy from a reputable and trusted seller to make sure you are getting a genuine product. In case you are looking for an accredited retailer, one of the more popular ones is Love Thyself, which sells the iCare Menstrual Cup.