In every female handbook, you are sure to find a section dedicated wholly to “Period Horror Stories.” The narratives range between the relatable: “oh I know how terrifying that could be,” to first time incidents: “that is surprising!” While women anxiously, cluelessly, tirelessly, impatiently, and painstakingly deal with the wondrous life-giving, natural phenomenon called periods, they are offered various armours to help in their maintenance of menstrual hygiene. From pads and tampons, to menstrual cups, reusable pads, period underwear, menstrual discs, etc. – we are spoilt for choice. Unfortunately, however, due to taboos associated with sex and the female body, we know very little about these options that are available to us.
Since we are not raised in a culture that encourages curiosity around periods, very few of us know how to master our monthly leaks. Not many women are aware that menstrual hygiene products are split between two primary categories: products that help absorb the period flow, and those that do the lesser known – that is collect it. Belonging to the latter group, a period cup or a menstrual cup is a bell-shaped feminine hygiene product that is inserted into the vaginal canal to collect your menstrual fluid. Lately, it has been gaining popularity for being washable, re-usable, and helping the environment.
Alternatively, sanitary pads are the most frequently chosen period product owing to its convenience, safety and ease of use. To help you make more informed period choices, we have demystified the differences between the two categories – menstrual cups and sanitary pads, as follows:-
The Instruction Manual
Using a menstrual cup is significantly more complicated than its counterparts and can overwhelm first time users. It is therefore often recommended to try using the product before you start your periods – to prevent struggling with it and panicking at the last moment. The process of inserting a menstrual cup could be broken down into five basic steps:-
- Fold the cup as directed in the packaging.
- Assume the correct body posture to insert the cup comfortably.
- Insert the period cup in your vaginal tract. Don’t worry about it falling out – it will stay inside the vagina because of the built-in vacuum.
- Remove twice a day by breaking the vacuum seal and pulling it out while keeping the cup parallel to the ground.
- Empty the contents into the toilet, disinfect and clean thoroughly.
This meticulous process might seem arduous when compared to the simple, user-friendly and intuitive sanitary pads that only have to be placed onto the underwear and replaced as needed.
Pros of menstrual cups include reduced bathroom breaks. Once inserted you can forget about your period cup for up to 12 hours which can be a hassle-free solution. It is also effective in preventing leaks and subsequently, stains.
However, sanitary napkins must be changed every few hours depending on your period flow. Your period blood may stain your garments if the pad is left unchecked or is not changed frequently enough. To prevent this, you can set reminder alarms and change your pads every six to eight hours on days when you have a moderate flow. On heavier days, you might have to change the pad more often.
The Greener Perspective
Period cups are an environmentally friendly option. They also prove to be pocket friendly in the long run, since menstrual cup prices are not very steep and range between INR 200 – 400. Moreover, they are reusable, and with proper care can last from 6 months to 10 years.
On the contrary, regular sanitary pads that contain plastic take anywhere between 500 to 800 years to decompose and release harmful gases in the landfills throughout that period. However, Heyday’s organic and natural sanitary pads that are made from organic corn and bamboo pulp are an optimum solution to providing us with both: comfort and guilt-free use. They decompose under the action of microorganisms in the air, water or soil within 2 years from disposal, thus making them the most preferred period product.
Menstrual cups require specialised cleaning equipment which limit its usage while traveling. It is often impossible to clean in public washrooms since most private toilet stalls don’t have sinks in them. Once removed and its contents emptied, menstrual cups need to be washed with warm water and cleaned with a mild, oil free and fragrance-free cleaner. If the cleaning is not thorough, residual germs may cause vaginal infections. You need to ensure that your hands are thoroughly cleaned and your nails are clipped short while inserting and removing your period cup or else you might even injure yourself.
With sanitary pads on the other hand, the only thing required for disposal is toilet paper and a dustbin. Heyday’s disposal covers are made from corn starch, and boxes are made with soy coated paper or oxo-degradable bags – making the disposable process as eco-friendly as their usage.
The Safety Factor
Since your vagina is the most intimate part of your body, you must pay extra attention towards its safety and care. Vaginal infections are all too common, and are often easy to prevent.
There are reasons why menstrual cups are bad for women especially for those with prolapses or other injuries that could lead to further complications. Women with IUDs (Intrauterine Device) are also advised against the use of menstrual cups as they may displace the IUD.
A study conducted by the medical journal Lancet revealed that while in general menstruation cups are a safe option for menstruation management, some women (who were a part of the study) reported severe pain or vaginal wounds, allergies or rashes, urinary tract complaints, dislodgement of an intrauterine device, and toxic shock syndrome after use of the menstrual cup.
As sanitary pads are an external use, menstruation hygiene product that is not inserted inside of you, they are a comparatively safer option. Additionally, organic and biodegradable pads also eliminate the aspect of irritation and infection owing to their natural and skin-friendly ingredients.
Heyday has a range of organic sanitary napkins to suit your flow and bring you the best care during your down days. Make your first and last switch when you open a box of Heyday’s safe, healthy and environmentally-friendly period products.