Ask Amma

Menstrual Cup now in India

In How on 10 May 2013 at 7:41 pm

woman with basketOf all the side-conversations that came up at a recent conference I attended, the one that resulted in the most emails afterwards concerned none of the topics that were proposed and accepted and posted on the daily schedule, nor during the question and answer sessions.  This conversation literally came up on the very last day as we were saying our goodbyes after lunch, when suddenly a gentleman reminded his wife that she had wanted to ask me about the cup.  It’s one of those things one keeps meaning to ask, looking for the right moment. What can I say?   I highly recommend the menstrual cup.  It took me a few months to get used to it, but once I did, nothing else came close – considering comfort, convenience, confidence, cost or conservation of resources.  I also recommend cloth pads – no need to whisper!   I used cloth pads for ten years with success and still do on occasion.  But seriously ladies, the cup is way better. What’s new is that the cup is now sold in India.   Astute reader Chetana Amma from Benguluru had told me about the shecup just a couple of weeks before the conference so I was happy to pass along that information.  Till then I generally told people about the Diva Cup (which also ships to India).

Update:  Now there are even more companies manufacturing menstrual cups in India (listed alphabetically): Shecup | SilkyCup | Vcup.

Canada:  Diva Cup | UK:  Moon Cup.

Here are some of the letters I got: I live a green and ecofriendly life cloth diapers , no chemical cleaners.  I use homemade cleaners and try to practice organic living.   Using disposable pads never felt right.  I have no place to dry cloth pads in my apartment, though I used to use them at my mom’s place.  I have a heavy flow and change pads every hour or two.  Will shecup be ok for such heavy bleeders too? 

– from Chennai

Just came to know of the concept called menstrual cup.  Till now, I was of the opinion that the only Eco friendly option is cloth pads.  I’m too shy to dry these on our balcony.  Just read for a bit and it says find your cervix etc, ooh, that I’m not ready to do as I’m too scared.

–  Anonymous

First of all, before I reassure you that yes you can use the menstrual cup, I also want to shout out from the rooftops and the balconies, that yes you can dry your cloth pads!  Reclaim your place in the sun.

Secondly, and I say this as gently as possible, your body is your friend.   Be a friend to your body.   You can do this.  There are a number of explanations and videos online showing you how to insert the cup, but honestly when I looked at them I thought, “it is really not that complicated.”  I myself simply followed the instructions on the pamphlet that came with the cup itself.  Still, I can imagine that someone who was trying to get comfortable with the concept might want to spend some time looking at those pages before trying it herself.  All I will suggest is that you squat or stand with one leg on a chair (or the toilet seat, if it is Western), when inserting or removing the cup.  I am sure that tip appears in the pamphlet as well.

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cup

Now regarding heavy flow.  Consider how frequently you change pads – a cup can hold more than a pad, so you will be emptying it less frequently than you need to change a pad.  On a heavy day, you could check after an hour or two just to get an idea.  Once you start using it you can tell how frequently you have to empty it.  Initially while getting used to it you may want to keep a cloth pad or pantyliner as a back-up.  I don’t usually have a heavy flow and I can change it after 6 hours on the first 2 days and after 8-12 hours on the last 2 days.  I can also use it overnight without any problem.  How do I know when I have to empty it?  A few times I have felt like it might be full, but that is rare.   Usually I feel nothing and often forget I am even having my period.  If I am in the bathroom and it has been several hours since I inserted the cup, I will just take it out and empty, wash and reinsert.  If it is more than halfway full, then I am likely to rinse it again in 4-6 hours.  If it is less than a third full, then I am likely to wait at least 8 hours, or till the end of the day.  I clean it with soap at the end of the period and again before starting the next.

The Numbers: According to the manufacturer, the shecup holds 28 ml or one fluid ounce.  Diva cup holds 30 ml.  The average volume of menstrual fluid during a monthly menstrual period is 35 milliliters with 10–80 milliliters considered typical.  Source:  Ziporyn, Karen J. Carlson, Stephanie A. Eisenstat, Terra (2004). The new Harvard guide to women’s health. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, cited in “Menstruation,” Wikipedia.

More on Menstruation:

Seven Fallacies About Menstruation and Culture
Menstrupedia: Friendly guide to healthy periods
Re: Cycling  Society for Menstruation Cycle Research
Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health

More on The Cup:

The Worst Thing about the Menstrual Cup published in The Hindu as A Life-Changing Cup
India Together: Greeting Aunt Flo – Manushi, Issue 150 (2005)
ముట్టు
Cleaning Instructions from Diva Cup site.
News articles in India, including in Hindi and Gujarati press (from Shecup site)

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  1. […] ▶ Comment Online […]

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  2. Only concern is if it does cause any damage to hymen?? Otherwise, really a cool product.

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    • Dear Shycart, Soap and water are sufficient to clean your hands and the menstrual cup. Mooncup’s FAQ says that the silicone material used to make the cup does not support the growth of bacteria. So on that front there should be no problem. Regarding the hymen, they state:
      “The hymen is a thin membrane which partially covers the opening to the vagina. By the time you started menstruating, your hymen may have stretched or torn through activities such as horse riding or other sports. You may or may not have noticed this happening. If your hymen is intact and you have strong personal or cultural feelings about keeping it intact, we would not advise that you use any internal sanitary protection as, although you can use a Mooncup with an intact hymen, inserting it will stretch or tear it.”

      Their FAQ is here: http://www.mooncup.co.uk/advice-centre/faqs.html

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  3. […] We were sitting in Nandhini restaurant as volunteers buzzed about adjusting the audio visual system and getting ready to start the program.  Another chapter, another Milan.  I said hello to a woman at my table and she returned the greeting brightly.  We introduced ourselves.  She had known about AID for some time, but this was her first event.  We talked a bit about various projects.  After a pause she looked at me and said, “I got the cup!”  I smiled.  I love it when people get the cup (which by the way is now in India). […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really nice article 🙂 i have read a lot of online blogs & this is the first Indian one on this topic. I ordered a Shecup & will be using it for the first time this month. My only concern is about washing the cup. Can you pls suggest alternatives to Shewipes (came along with the cup) I tried asking for a fragrance free gentle soap but did not get any.. Is Johnson baby shampoo an alternative, if not what else can be used? Looking forward to your answer 🙂
    Regards
    Krati

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    • I normally rinse mine with warm / hot water every day while using it, and then soap and hot water at the end of the cycle before putting it away. I normally just use whatever soap I am using for my bath – any unscented soap should be fine. You can also wipe with baking soda and a wet cloth. Here is more information from the Diva Cup site: http://divacup.com/how-it-works/care-and-cleaning/
      I am adding this link to the post.
      All the best!

      Like

  5. ok, Thanks a lot for the reply & tips 🙂

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  6. […] gathered to see the cup and hear about our experiences with it.  See also Greeting Aunt Flo and Menstrual Cup now in India.  In between sessions and during the break-out sessions when the main hall was free various […]

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  7. […] For some women, menstruation is painful.  Unless you have accepted that you are impure or that this is the only way you can get some rest, menstrual untouchability is also painful.  Even if you have accepted it, living with shame about one’s body is painful.  Having your period in a world whose time and space is organized as if menstruation doesn’t exist can also be painful.   For many women, improved nutrition and hygiene, access to rest when they wish, and general freedom and confidence in their own body help to alleviate or eliminate the pain.  So do acupressure, massage and for some, keeping active – difficult to do while segregated.   Often women who are segregated during menses have limited access to the water, cannot bathe or even change their clothes and menstrual pads as often as they would like, or get a place in the sun to dry cloth pads.   Even women who are not segregated may lack resources required for good menstrual hygiene.  Frequent changing of pads goes a long way in alleviating discomfort, as does the menstrual cup. […]

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  8. […] to find in stores, though now it has become easier to order online from large retailers and is also sold in India from a Bangalore-based […]

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  9. I am using tampons since many years (age 42) . i am looking for my daughter who is nearing her mensuration cycle. i would like my daughter to use something that would be safe and comfortable. very happy to hear about the cups but i did understand that there is Lunette cups which has been stated as the only approved cup by the US If yes i would like my daughter to use to from the first day of her flow.

    Please advise me is it fine to start with the cup from the day one of her mensurational cycle of her life. Would it break her Hymen . Would it have long term medical issue. Anxious mother looking for the comfort and safety of my child.

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  10. […] (Related: Menstrual Cup Now Available in India) […]

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  11. Hi all, you can visit http://hygieneandyou.com/index.php?route=bossblog/blogcategory&path=20 for information on menstrual cups and compare various cups available in India.

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  12. I’m just writing for a little bit of advice. I would like to know if the silicone menstrual cup is accepted and used by Indian women. I’ll be in India making a Days For Girls kit delivery (re-usable menstrual kits for young girls ) and was thinking about bringing along a supply of menstrual cups for the women as well. Do you think they would be appreciated by the women there? Would there be a concern about how to keep it as clean as possible if the women are living in poverty? Thanks for your time, Jillian

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    • Some women are aware of menstrual cups, most are not. In my experience, whether in the US or in India, it takes some time for women to get used to the idea. Access to clean water is of course essential. If in doubt one could boil the water, let it cool and keep it in a separate vessel for this purpose.

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  13. […] tampons, menstrual cups are catching on in India. Shecup, SilkyCup, and Vcup are three Indian menstrual cup […]

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  14. I have just bought a Silkycup. But before using i want to be sure of using correct soap and lubricant.
    The instruction mannual does not specify any brands of mild unscented and oil free soap or water based lubricants.
    Usually all bath soaps are scented. Dove soap is gentle but not sure if it is oil free.
    Can u please advise on a few brand names of oil free unscented soaps and water based lubricants that are available at local chemists or in malls.

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  15. Hi are menstrual cups really good and healthier tha tampons thanks
    Dave

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    • Yes, as long as you have access to clean water to wash them, menstrual cups are really good and probably better than any other solution – both for our health and for the environment, which also impacts our health.

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  16. I bought Wow Eva cup M size, it took me several attempts to insert it right but after around 7 hours it started leaking. What should I do?

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