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Bleeding in a Cup: Modern Menstrual Alternative for the Modern Woman

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From puberty through menopause, women of every size, class, and color all over the world bleed from their uteri for days on end. Amenorrhoea and pregnancy aside, women's bodies everywhere universally undergo the same internal process.

Currently, the prescribed, modern alternatives to catching the flow are what outrageously burst off the shelves of supermarkets: these cotton wads, coated in spring-y pastel plastics, cutely shrink-wrapped in "feminine" flowers, polka-dots and dipped in vats of perfume in order to mask the reality that must be--to primarily male product developers and advertisers--simply horrendous.

Disposable feminine hygiene products are designed to be one-use for a reason. It's quicker, it's easier, and it's money-making. But the trade-offs are many.

First, it confers a sense of disgust about menstruation onto women, distancing us from the mystery and power of being a woman, a being capable of giving birth, which is truly what our periods biologically signify. Shouldn't this idea bring us joy, rather than a sense of being cursed?

Second, this cultural attitude of shame surrounding menstruation, combined with our modern throw-away culture, has produced nothing less than small-scale environmental disaster. Imagine: landfills overflowing with bloody rags, soaked tampons and their little tubular plastic applicators and, to coin the adjectival phrase from ad-speak, "bulky" cotton pads.

Lastly, for those of us using tampons, we should all be aware of the noted health risk. The bleaching process required to treat the pristine, absorbent cotton-rayon used to make most common brands of tampons produces a trace amount of the toxic byproduct, dioxin, which countless studies have shown increases the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Why do we as women continue to knowingly and willingly expose our bodies to deadly toxin? Why did I have to rationalize away that fear that gripped me as a 13-year-old girl who wanted to go swimming one summer day, after reading the enclosed TSS warning pamphlet?

Thankfully, the uncomfortable days of the menstrual belt are dead and gone now.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Menstrual cups are hardly a new invention, and have been around for decades. With the advent of medical grade silicone, and the realization that "disposable" items don't simply vanish, menstrual cups have come in to their own.

June 30, 2010 - 11:25am
EmpowHER Guest

This is great information. Thanks for writing it!

Visit http://www.divacup.com for more information about menstrual cups!

December 17, 2009 - 12:16pm

This is so interesting! I have never heard of a menstrual cup, and went to the website.

It looks similar to the vaginal ring (contraceptive), where you fold it and insert with your finger. It is made of silicone (I think?)...I kept getting a picture of a hard plastic cup for some reason...

I may actually try it--it is sold in some popular natural/health food stores locally. It is a good idea to save the environment, and if it feels the same way as a tampon feels (can't feel it at all), then it doesn't seem to be any difference.

You can use it up to 12 hours at a time, and overnight, so I would be able to insert and wash it in the privacy of my own home. It is FDA-regulated, and there is no association between using this and any infections. It actually sounds safer than tampons w/o all of the perfumes and chemicals.

Thanks for the great information!!

May 17, 2009 - 7:07pm
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