Menstruation is one of the most natural and healthy affairs of a woman’s life. Though we live in a modern society, menstruation is still considered as a taboo and menstrual hygiene is of great concern. Majority of the women have been depending on menstrual products like sanitary pads, tampons etc for decades without knowing the health hazards behind their use.
Sanitary napkin is one of the most widely used feminine hygiene products due to its convenience in usage and availability at an affordable cost. This ‘easy to use’ product is not only a potential threat to the environment but also causes severe health problems. These sanitary pads are made up of 90 per cent plastic that is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable which makes it difficult to be disposed of. The chemicals that are added for increasing absorption and reducing the odour can cause significant impacts on one’s health. Over time, the BPA present in the sanitary napkins and tampons along with other chemicals can enter one’s body and increase the risk of cancer in reproductive organs. The deodorants and fragrances directly enter the bloodstream and interfere with the embryonic development thus affecting one’s fertility.
Tampons are equally or more dangerous than sanitary napkins. The strings and applicators of tampons are made from polyethylene and polypropylene which makes them non-biodegradable. Studies have shown that longtime use of highly absorbent tampons can cause bacterial infections leading to fatal conditions like toxic shock syndrome. The disposal of the sanitary wastes is a big crisis as an average person who menstruates throws away up to 200 kg of menstrual products in their lifetime and they end up in landfills, on beaches or polluting our oceans for decades.
Menstrual cups come as an alternative for various problems generated by sanitary napkins and tampons. Unlike other products which absorb the menstrual blood, menstrual cups instead collect the discharge. They are made of medical-grade silicone or rubber which makes them easy to clean and durable for more than 5 years. This reusability of the menstrual cup itself is its major advantage which enables it to be cost beneficiary and eco-friendly. The proper use of a menstrual cup can reduce the chances of period hassles, rashes, skin infections and allows more physical movements without leakage. It can collect almost double the amount of blood than any other method making it more convenient to be used while travelling. Menstrual cups are getting more popular in western countries accounting its reusability and comfort. Proper practice and maintenance of hygiene can reduce the chances of risk caused by menstrual cups. The benefits of menstrual cups over other products makes it clear that they are a sustainable alternative barring certain drawbacks.