Chennai: 23-year-old Lavanya S. hated the monthly routine of purchasing sanitary napkins as they were expensive and a task to dispose off. When she heard about the menstrual cup for the first time last year, she did her share of research before making the purchase. There has been no turning back to napkins since.
A menstruating woman uses, on an average, about 144 pads a year. There are around 355 million menstruating women in the country, and only 12 percent use sanitary napkins, due to which over 432 million tonnes of waste is generated. “Sanitary pads are environmentally unsustainable,” says Bharti Kannan, co-founder of ‘Boondh’, a group that manufactures and sells the cups; these are compliant with the standards prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration in the US.
“Anything with fluids from the body should be treated as medical waste, but pads are treated as household waste. However, the cups can be recycled and used for five to ten years,” she added.
Boondh, as part of its awareness campaign on the benefits of using the cup in schools, colleges, companies and villages, visited the Indian Institute of Madras (IITM) around two weeks ago to educate women students and faculty about the product. “Many students showed interest and purchased cups,” stated Bharti Kannan.
Many like Lavanya, who have experienced the comfort of using the cup, have a similar story to tell. “It is distressing that not many women are aware of this product which is healthy, economical, and environment friendly, as opposed to napkins. The issue of having to constantly change the pads is forgotten when using the cup,” said Aradhana Pramod, a resident of Ashoka Nagar.
Though a profit organization, Boondh is working towards a social cause - to remove the stigma that surrounds menstruation and promote better means of managing it, mainly through using the menstrual cup. “However much a woman tries to cover up the fact that she has her periods, the smell of blood is evident to those around her. This causes people, especially men, to stay away from menstruating women,” said gynaecologist Dr Ganga.
Apart from absorbing blood from our bodies, sanitary napkins are said to also absorb moisture and bacteria. They are treated with chlorine bleach, and chlorine produces furans and dioxins - compounds which are known to be carcinogenic.
(With inputs from Nirupa Sampath and Deepika Balu)...