New Delhi: In our pursuit for a better life, we continuously look for convenient solutions. But with changing times, what was once the 'best solution', does not always remain so.
Sanitary pads: Solution or a problem?
Use-and-throw sanitary pads were revolutionary for the time when there were no alternatives. And they did help a lot of women. The use of disposable sanitary napkins has been consistently rising, even though the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reveals that 62 per cent of young women in the country still don't use these. But gradually the sanitary pads became a problem themselves as they clogged sewers and piled up in land-fills.
It is no secret that 90 per cent of an average pad is non-biodegradable and takes 500-800 years to decompose completely in a natural environment. Even the 'faster degradable' ones, despite their shorter decomposition period, only add to the waste -12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins annually.
Menstrual cup: Greenest option
To tackle this menace of rising waste around us, a reusable menstrual cup is being seen as the new solution. This bell-shaped cup can be inserted in the vagina like a tampon, but unlike a pad or a tampon, which is disposable, a menstrual cup is re-usable and can last upto 8-10 years. Made with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical grade silicon, a menstrual cup is an internal-use device, which collect menstrual blood and can be reused after a quick wash and sterilisation.
India has around 356 million women in menstruation stage. While an average woman disposes around 150-180 kg or 10,000 tampon/pads in her menstrual life cycle (each pad takes upto 500 years to decompose), if she switches to menstrual cups, 3-4 cups would serve the purpose end to end.
The reusability of a menstrual cup not only helps address the problem of waste, but also makes it a long-term and pocket-friendly investment. Many women also see it as a boon that helps avoid their constant contact with menstrual blood and hence does not disrupt the vaginal pH or the good bacteria. A menstrual cup, thus, does not cause any rashes and infections, and is more convenient to use. It also does not contain any harmful chemicals and is the greenest option available today.
However, most women may take a while getting used to a menstrual cup due to the little initial discomfort (which comes with anything new ) it causes. But the device comes with too many benefits that are too hard to ignore.
Making the switch for a sustainable tomorrow
Due to lack of awareness, the adoption rates of menstrual cups or reusable pads is still low, but this is being challenged by start-ups that are innovating more environment-friendly solutions. They are also spreading awareness about these innovative products, ensuring that more women make the switch and "cupvert" to create a better world for future generations.