For too long, periods have been associated with stigma and shame. However, at Asan we find periods incredibly empowering. Making the switch to a menstrual cup is a wonderful choice to make - both for the environment and your body.
In this blog, let's start by understanding why and how we should make eco-friendly choices when it comes to managing our period.
Then we’ll dive into how making the switch to a menstrual cup is a liberating experience and helps us learn about our bodies.
We’ll also show you exactly how you can embark on this sustainable journey through talking about how to use the Asan cup.
what is sustainable menstruation?
Across our lifetime, we will dispose of approximately 15,000 single-use plastic sanitary pads or tampons. For years, the way we manage our period has involved using plastic sanitary pads - which are terrible for the environment. The plastic in pads, tampons and applicators that you use today will still be sitting in landfill hundreds of years from now.
However, there is a much-needed shift happening globally towards low waste living and adopting sustainable menstrual practices. This involves using sustainable menstruation as a means to avoid plastic waste.
Sustainable menstruation is about being mindful of the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products in an effort to reduce your personal waste that contributes to environmental degradation.
The mindful choice of adopting sustainable period management solutions for your period is a great decision for yourself, others and the planet.
how are single-use period products harmful?
1. Toxic chemicals are harmful for our bodies
Conventional sanitary pads are made from 90% plastic - from the leak-proof base layer to synthetics that soak up liquid to the plastic packaging. So using sanitary pads and tampons can have a very harmful effect on our bodies.
Not only can it lead to painful rashes and skin irritation, it can cause your vagina to have a pH imbalance if you keep your sanitary product on for too long and bacteria builds up on your pad or tampon.
Vaginal transmission of chemicals is 15 times higher and more likely to enter directly into your bloodstream than orally. Given this, the likelihood of our bodies being exposed to toxins in plastic while we use pads or tampons to manage our period is very high.
2. Negative impact on our environment
Single use pads and tampons must be manufactured again and again every month, which involves repeated electricity and water consumption - directly contributing to global warming.
When we dispose of our sanitary pads every cycle, this has dire ecological effects. They either go into our oceans and can become a choking hazard for marine life, or end up in landfill and don’t break down for decades.
When pads are flushed down the toilet, they can cause blockages in sewage drains as the chemicals in the pad absorb all the water coming through the sewage lines.
Moreover, due to the lack of waste management systems in rural areas, sanitary pads are often burnt - releasing toxic and harmful chemicals into the air. This is not only harmful for the environment but also people as you are likely to breathe in toxins.
3. Health hazard for waste workers
In developing countries such as India, waste segregation is primarily done manually by waste-pickers. This involves them collecting and segregating waste, including sanitary pads and tampons, from your house to the landfill sites.
Waste pickers play a key role in handling up to 188,000 tonnes of waste that is produced in urban India a day. They often have to separate waste with their bare hands, including touching used sanitary products that could be harvesting bacteria.
This exposes them to health hazards and infections while handling sanitary products, often for long hours during a day in burning summer heat.
what product is the most sustainable period option?
There are many sustainable period brands and products available, such as period underwear, reusable pads and menstrual cups.
While period underwear and reusable pads usually have a 2 year life, a good quality menstrual cup can last you up to 10 years!
The environmental benefits of menstrual cups are huge, making them the most eco-friendly and comfortable option for a sustainable menstruation alternative.
Infact, a recent study by the former chief scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that menstrual cup users produce 99% less waste than pad users.
So if you’re wondering about whether menstrual cups are good for the environment, the answer is, yes absolutely!
So let's learn about exactly what menstrual cups are and how to use them.
what is a reusable menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped device that is designed to sit inside your vagina and collect your period flow.
Once it has been inserted correctly, you can't even feel it inside you and you can keep it in for up to 12 hours.
The Asan menstrual cup is made with Class 6 Medical Grade silicone, which is the same material used in heart stents and breast implants. It is super safe to sit inside you and comes with a special removal ring, which makes it the easiest cup to use.
This high quality sustainable period product will last you up to 10 years - averting 1200 pads or tampons from going to landfill.
what are the benefits of using a menstrual cup?
There are many benefits of making the switch to a period cup, including:
1. It’s economical. You save 10 years worth of money spend on buying sanitary pads or tampons
2. It’s super comfortable. Once you’ve inserted a menstrual cup, you can’t even feel it inside you
3. It’s environmentally friendly. It averts the waste of approximately 1500 pads or tampons over 10 years
4. It can be worn longer. You can keep a menstrual cup in for 12 hours, so you no longer need to worry about changing your period product at school or work
5. You can swim, run, do yoga or exercise comfortably while using a menstrual cup.
how do you use the asan cup?
Like trying anything for the first time, using a menstrual cup comes with a learning curve. It can take 2-3 period cycles to get used to it.
But rest assured, once you’ve successfully made the switch you’ll never go back to pads or tampons again!
Through understanding the 4 basic steps below, you can confidently make the switch to the Asan cup.
1. Choosing the right size
Many menstrual cup sizing is based on your cervix height, age, or whether or not you’ve given birth. As these factors can become quite confusing, Asan has simplified their sizing guide - so your menstrual cup size simply depends on your period flow.
The Asan cup comes in 2 sizes - Light/Medium flow and Heavy flow.
If you can keep a pad on for 6+ hours on your heaviest flow day without facing leaks, you should go for the Light/Medium flow cup. Whereas if you change your pad every 2-6 hours, the Heavy flow cup will work better for you. It’s as simple as that!
2. Cleaning your cup
It’s important to sterilise your menstrual cup before and after your period cycle. To do this, simply boil the cup in hot water for 10-15 minutes. This will clear any germs your cup might be carrying and make it completely safe to use.
During your period cycle, you can simply remove the cup, rinse it with tap water and reinsert it.
You can also use Asan’s One-Drop cleanser to clean your cup while you’re travelling or for some extra cleanliness during your cycle. Just add a few drops of it in your cup, dilute it with water and rinse the cup.
3. Inserting your Asan cup
Inserting a menstrual cup for the first time can feel daunting. But don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it looks!
To insert the cup, fold it into a C-fold or punch-down fold. Then get into a squat position so your legs are spread apart. When putting the cup inside your vaginal entrance, angle it towards your tailbone rather than upwards.
Hold the cup in its folded position while gently using your thumb and index finger to push the cup inside you.
Once it is inside you, it will pop open and create a seal with your vaginal wall. You can test this by gently tugging on the Asan cup ring and making sure it doesn’t move around.
4. Removing your cup
The first time you’re using the Asan cup, remove it within 6-8 hours so you can understand your flow better. If it’s not full, then you can comfortably keep it inside you for 12 hours.
To remove the Asan cup, simply insert a finger and locate the ring. Then bring the ring to the base of your vaginal entrance.
You need to then pinch the base of your cup using two fingers to release the suction, after which you can slowly pull the cup out.
Then just rinse, reinsert and repeat!
Watch this 6 step video to learn exactly how to use the Asan cup.
how is using a menstrual cup an empowering experience?
Using a menstrual cup helps you learn about your body. Let’s dig into how and why it is so much more empowering than using sanitary pads.
When we use pads, our period flow oxidises as it comes out of our bodies and gets soaked up by the pad - causing the flow to turn darker in colour and develop an odour. This can make flow look:
- Like it is much higher in quantity than it actually is (on average we only bleed 60ml per cycle, which is the equivalent of 3 tablespoons)
- Our period flow is dark and smelly, and hence may seem unhygienic
Using a menstrual cup helps you develop a much more positive relationship with your period through 3 ways:
1. You get to engage with your body while inserting and removing it
2. You see what period flow looks like (really not bad at all!)
3. You understand exactly what your period of menstruation is - how much you bleed each day and at what times for flow is heavier
This helps you learn more about how your body and the natural menstrual cycle works, and encourages you to develop a more positive relationship with your body - which is a very empowering experience!
what’s special about asan?
While the Asan cup is a great way to manage your period sustainably and comfortably, the best part about Asan is that it is a social enterprise.
So for every cup you buy, they donate one to someone who can't afford safe period care in rural India.
Asan’s 1-for-1 donations programme works on eradicating period poverty through providing extensive menstrual health education, the Asan cup and constant expert support. Through this programme, Asan has changed the lives of 20,000 rural women and girls, and continues to eradicate period poverty while enabling sustainable menstruation.
Been considering switching to the most sustainable period product? Well what are you waiting for? Make the switch and start your eco-friendly lifestyle now.