Menstrual Cup is a healthier, sustainable, economic and eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons. Made from medical grade silicone or latex rubber it is soft, safe, comfortable and hygienic. Instead of absorbing the flow like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects the blood. Unlike disposable pads and tampons, the menstrual cup is reusable for ten years and it has minimal impact on the environment. Once you insert the cup in your vagina, you don’t have to worry for up to ten hours. 51 year old Asha Shrestha has been using a ruby cup distributed by Putali Nepal for about a year. She has found it very comfortable for her heavy flow, as otherwise she would need several packets of pads each month. “In the beginning, I worried that the cup would remain inside and not come out. I am now used to it, and even go to the gym during my periods. Plus I don’t need to worry about leakage or getting my clothes stained and there’s worry about disposal,” she shares.
Aishwarya Rani Singh, Managing Director of Putali Nepal, the first organisation to introduce a menstrual cup in Nepal, also uses the ruby cup. She is environmental conscious and recommends it for higher level of personal hygiene. She says that using a menstrual cup reduces chances of allergy and skin infection, and is cost-efficient too.
Aishwarya says, “It is a one-time investment for ten years. A ruby cup could cost from Rs 1500- 2500. It also gives a huge sense of freedom during your period and a woman can easily participate in physical activities like gym, swimming, and other sports on their period.”
Despite the various benefits, the number of women using menstrual cups is very low in Nepal. One of the main draw backs being that it is invasive as it must be inserted into the vagina.
Durga Adhikari, a resident of Nepalgunj, read about the menstrual cup and wants to try it but says that it is not easily available. She also feels that making the switch from pads to menstrual cup is mentally uncomfortable.
Aishwarya comments that fear is normal. “It took me 2-3 months to get mentally prepared to use it,” she shares. She finds two reasons for fear. The first one is that most women do not know their body properly; where the uterus is located, length of it, how the blood flows during the period, etc. The second is that for virgin women whose hymen is not broken, there could be pain while inserting the cup for the first time. It is also a fact that the cup does not fix at first, and requires repeated attempts. If it isn’t placed correctly, leakage can occur. However, as you get used to it, you become relaxed and confident in its use. “There is enough information on YouTube and Putali Nepal also provides training on how to use ruby cups. The best is to approach someone who is already using it to understand whether you will be comfortable I using a menstrual cup,” informs Aishwarya.
Srija Gurung from Kathmandu wasn’t excited to have something inserted inside her but on a friend’s insistence, she decided to give it a try.
Everything carries certain risks, so does the menstrual cup. Aishwarya explains, “The risks come from carelessness or being in a hurry like if we use the cup inside for more than ten hours; if we boil it less than five minutes while cleaning it; if we use soap to clean it; if we insert and remove it in a hurry. People also sometimes go for the cheaper version. But heath must never be compromised. You must ensure you are buying from a reputable brand, research the product and also check user reviews. Another thing to keep in mind is that the cup should be made 100% of silicone”.
Putali Nepal, a non-profit that introduced menstrual cups in Nepal for the first time in 2017 and are selling the ruby cups from two points: Karma Coffee, Jhamsikhel and Ananda Tree Homes, Boudha. According to Aishwarya, most consumers are working millennials and high school girls who live in urban areas.
“It is not easy to introduce something as sensitive as a menstrual cup into the market. However, demand is increasing gradually. We sold around 70 cups in 2017, almost 100 in 2018 and 121 cups in 2019.”
Now, Daraz online shopping also provides different types of menstrual cups of five different brands: Pee Safe, Sirona, Stone Safe Wings, Pretty Woman and San Nap which are priced between Rs 749 to 4500. However, we cannot find them in pharmacy and superstores yet. Nearly 200 brands are available in 99 countries, but cups were only mentioned in a third of websites with educational information and advice on puberty in 27 countries.