When the Alappuzha municipality gave away menstrual cups to women within its limits in June, it was just an initiative to find an alternative to the waste management problem in the aftermath of the floods in 2018. Now, it has become a movement among women for menstrual hygiene and comfort.
About 3,000 menstrual cups had been given away to women who came forward on their own to adopt the new technique. The then municipal secretary S. Jahamgeer supervised its distribution in June. All women staff in the municipality now use the menstrual cup, says Sunimol Y.J., health inspector, who was the birth and death registrar in Alappuzha when the campaign was launched. Working women are more eager to adopt it, says Ms. Sunimol. It is an absolutely new experience that frees women from the burden of menstruation. No wet feeling, no napkins, no waste to be covered up, no stains. It is easy to use and economic as one cup is expected to last at least five to six years, says Mr. Jahamgeer. According to him, 5,000 women using menstrual cups can avoid 40 lakh sanitary pads in about six years.
Alappuzha has got the menstrual cups through Hindustan Latex Limited’s HLL Management Academy’s (HMA) initiative with CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds from Coal India Ltd. The cups are not available in the market, though it is available online.
People are resistant to the idea, but it is really the future, says Zareena Algiers, secretary, Cochin Gynaecological Society. It is environment-friendly, more hygienic. No bother of carrying sanitary pads and chances of infection are very less.
“It is the duty of gynaecologists to create awareness and make a study, but, we have not done any studies yet,’’ she says adding there have been a couple of talks on this on some gynaecological platforms.
Smithy Sanel, gynaecologist, says a few people have started using it but more awareness needs to be created.
Lancet published an open access article based on various studies in July this year endorsing the use of menstrual cups.
Anita Thampi, chief executive officer, HMA, says an interim feedback in Alappuzha is 95% acceptability.
Arya Prakash, co-founder and creative head of PopCult, an Internet media channel that discusses Malayalam pop culture, says it took her some time to get used to the idea, but I wanted to try it. After all, it is a foreign body that you are putting inside your body.
Antara Krishnamurthy, a journalism graduate in Bengaluru, says she has been using it for the last seven months. “Again, the idea took about a year to work out as I needed to get adjusted to the idea.”
A software engineer in Kochi, Remya N., who has been using it for nine months says, “I keep a separate bowl to sterilise the cups.’’
Sterilising the cups before and after one period is all one needs to do, says Ms. Sunimol and other users.
However, there are a whole lot of issues that need to be dealt with in the usage of menstrual cup. There are many homes which do not let menstruating women go into the kitchen, let alone sterilise, says Ms. Prakash.