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Fear, lack of understanding deter use of menstrual cups
Even though menstrual cups are considered safe, efficient and hygienic, most women in the state refrain from using them.
Dr Saranya S said that even educated women are unable to understand the ‘mystery’ behind the concept of a cup sitting in the vagina, “There are a number of myths that exist in the state including the one which says that menstrual cups are extremely difficult and painful to insert into the vagina.”
A common myth among women, especially among older women is that menstrual cups are meant only for the younger generation. “I have been brought up using cloth, before I shifted to sanitary napkins. Inserting a cup into my vagina would be a big step, and the thought of it itself makes me sick,” said Shanta Nair, a 40-year-old from Guindy.
Another myth that women fall for is that using menstrual cups is a messy and uncomfortable affair.
“Menstrual cups are actually way safer than tampons. They collect blood instead of absorbing it, and therefore are far less likely to cause conditions like Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The fact that they do not expose the user to harmful chemicals, found in most conventional tampons and napkins is a factor woman should consider important,” said Shaji K, a member of an organization that manufactures these cups.
Stressing on the fact that women in the state seem to lack awareness on how hygienic the cup really is, Dr Anitha M, a consultant gynecologist said, “Unlike tampons and pads the cups do not absorb the vaginal fluids that are required for the health of the vagina.”
The longevity of the cup is one of the biggest fears. “People fear that as the same cup is used for years, hygiene is compromised, said Manini Y, a resident of Nungambakam.
“A lot of plastic goes into making one napkin, which is not biodegradable. On an average, one woman produces more than 500 to 600 kgs of sanitary waste in a lifetime of menstruating – roughly about 30 years. While the napkins cannot be recycled, the use of bleach and other chemicals that go into the making of napkins also have terrible side effects on the women who use it,” she said. “The silicon cup lasts around seven years. It is completely reusable. The cup is made using bodyguard silicon, which is the same material used to make breast implants.”