Our Communications Officer Sharna talks all things menstrual awareness and gives an insight into using Menstrual Cups #MHDay2019.
Bloating. Cramps. Tenderness. Tick, tick, tick; it's that time again...
Periods are no walk in the park for any of us ladies, let's be honest, but we all have or have had them (even if sometimes we wish we didn't). They're as natural as anything else in this world and should not be stigmatised, shamed or mocked.
Today is World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 and with a call for action as this year's theme, both I and Tomorrow's Women share the global vision to support all women to be unashamed about their periods, and be able to manage them confidently and hygienically.
As a proud menstrual cup convert, I advocate them fully in the movement away from period poverty, as a more environmentally friendly choice and as a short term investment on the road to a long term saving... ka-ching! Sound too good to be true? Trust me on this one, it isn't!
So what is a menstrual cup? An alternative feminine hygiene device inserted into the vagina during menstruation in order to prevent leakage, typically made from a flexible silicone material.
In reality, one of these:
How does it work? Cups always come with an instruction leaflet but it is as simple as: Fold the cup and once in a comfortable position, insert the cup into the vagina like a tampon. It will suction and seal, and voilà. Keep in the cup for a safe time of up to 12 hours and then empty. Insert fingers around the base of the cup, squeeze to release the suction, pull out carefully to avoid spillage and empty, clean, reinsert.
Although there are many different 'brands' of menstrual cup they all have the same shape and work in the same way. There tends to be 2 sizes: a smaller cup for those under 30 and/or have not had a vaginal birth and a larger cup for those over 30 and/or have had a vaginal birth. Once you have made the plunge and bought your cup, it truly is a case of getting comfortable with it, trying it out in different positions if need be, cutting down the stem if necessary and eventually coming to love your cup as a convenient, safe, comfortable device that allows you to become more confident and familiar with your period and your body.
Luckily for me, I had been thinking about purchasing a cup for a while and conveniently came across one whilst in a local UK drugstore and made the buy there and then, so didn't have much thinking time. But if I'd have had the opportunity to ease some concerns pre-cup, these may have been them:
- But how do you clean it in public? If there is a toilet with private sink available opt for that one, so you can empty and wash your cup at ease. If not, no bother! Empty the contents into the toilet and either wipe with tissues or wet wipes. It is not messy like you probably think.
- Where can I buy one? You can purchase them online but also in UK drugstores in the feminine hygiene section. There are different brands and colours but they all do the same job. They range in price, usually £20 as the absolute most (the price I paid in store), but you can shop around. Just do your research on the trustworthiness of the brand would be my advice.
- It is expensive to buy! (Approximately) £20 can seem expensive for a menstrual device, but they last for up to 10 years so if you break that down, it is an incredible long term saving compared with a £5 box of tampons every few months. Also, it is so. much. better. for the environment, as you are minimising your waste by tonnes!
If I haven't sold it to you, please take the recommendations from many, many others online and on social media who advocate the use of menstrual cups. There are informational and instructional articles, blogs, vlogs, videos, research findings and more online for you to look at. There are also many organisations, particularly charities, who are distributors of menstrual items such as our own (tampons, towels & limited cups) for those who need them.
Local projects like Project Bloody, The Pink Box Campaign, The Red Box Project. The Period Project Merseyside and more raise awareness of menstrual hygiene, campaign for women's rights on period poverty and accessibility, educate and collect items for charities like ours to distribute.
Let’s end period poverty together. Let’s build a more understanding society that doesn’t shame women and girls for their bodies. Let’s make periods more accessible #freeperiods