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I was greeted by my lovely monthly gift a few days ago, and as I do each month, I find my self thinking a lot about the wonders of my diva cup, and how I even managed to live with out it. I really feel as if the world should start the switch to more eco friendly menstrual products.

Today I was also thinking about why it is that menstrual cups aren't more popular. Why is it that in the drug store, there is a whole wall devoted to pads and tampons, and then one half of a shelf for all other menstrual products with severely lacking options if a shelf at all. Obviously its because there is a higher demand for pads and tampons, due to the fact that a good portion of the population have probably never heard of menstrual cups, and as it is not an overly common thing, some of those introduced are immediately disgusted. So, I was thinking, how is it possible to get the knowledge of menstrual cups out there so that every one knows and that in maybe 60, 70 years everyone will know of menstrual cups just as everyone knows about pads today. I realized the answer is children.

In health class at the age of 10 or 11, when the nurse comes to talk to the class, girls learn about pads and tampons. They watch "educational" videos created my the big brands such as playtex and always. There is no suggestion that other forms of period protection exist. They tell our kids (at least in BC Canada) about all the kinds of birth control (cervical cap, iuds, condoms, depo, pill, etc) but only 2 kinds of period protection. 

Sure, I think that most, if not all of the girls would still use pads and tampons at the start, but if the knowledge is there, more might be interested in trying a cup when they are more comfortable with their bodies. Also, if introduced at a younger age, it wouldn't seem quite as disturbing right off the get go.

While this is just random thoughts, I really feel as if menstrual cups should be talked about at school in health class. 

chamekke: canada_MP_lumberjack_by_iconseeyouchamekke on May 21st, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
What a wonderful idea! I wonder if the cup manufacturers have ever approached health educators with information and samples, in Canada or elsewhere, à la Tampax?

It would be great to have info on menstrual cups provided to health classes along with the usual tampons/pads. Not sure whether that might be challenging, given that the DivaCup is the only m'cup approved by Health Canada/available for sale in Canada. Would educators run into trouble if they talked about other cups that can be ordered from other countries? (I for one would be tempted to encourage girls to explore additional options such as the MeLuna, and not to feel limited to what's available at the local pharmacy.)
femininewearfemininewear on May 21st, 2012 08:42 am (UTC)
In the UK the menstrual cups are on the bottom shelf in the chemists. I think that the chemists have the disposable products at eye level to encourage customers to choose those. A customer that buys a disposable product will be back next month for more. The customer that reaches down to the bottom shelf for the menstrual cup won't be back next month! Meaning less profit for the chemist.
About getting the word out to children in school, I think that comes from the companies and their marketing strategies. If the menstrual cup companies designed their own puberty leaflets I'm sure the schools would include them in their packs.
m03m on May 21st, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
Here in the Netherlands I'd be quite happy to see ANY cup on the shelves in ANY shop... no matter which shelf!
chamekkechamekke on May 21st, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
In the UK the menstrual cups are on the bottom shelf in the chemists. I think that the chemists have the disposable products at eye level to encourage customers to choose those.

Well then, full props to my local (BC, Canada) pharmacy, because they do actually display the DivaCup 1 and 2 very prominently at eye level... along with the Insteads.
Arrow_Brightarrow_bright on May 22nd, 2012 01:40 am (UTC)
I'm not sure how it works in the UK, but in the US shelf space is "rented" by the product companies at a lot of stores, with the shelves at eye-level being the most expensive, and the ones at the top and bottom being least expensive. So the wealthiest companies (like Kotex, Tampax, etc.) are in the middle because they can afford the more expensive fees (it's also one reason why they're more expensive).
juliiie87juliiie87 on May 21st, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
Iv'e been thinking about this a lot too. The answer to your questions is both very simple and yet a combination of factors, namely capitalism and body shame.

Tampons and pads companies are well established, and their customers are profit cows who get milked every single month of their menstruating life. on the other hand, cup companies are often small, and besides maybe Divacup and Mooncup, they can't really afford as much publicity as Tampax or Always. Add the fact that drugstores are reluctant to carry an obscure, one time purchase product... AND especially the fact that pads & tampons companies rely on the common belief that periods are nasty, an inconvenience at best, and that women need disposable bleached cotton to purify and get rid of the nastiness asap. God forbid actually touch, see, empty and wash the blood off THEMSELVES. So good luck changing all on these factors. Getting some critical sense into kids is a great start though !

Edited at 2012-05-21 10:46 am (UTC)
Kathlynekathlyne on May 21st, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
I agree. And the common belief isn't just that periods are nasty, but that our lady parts are too. So girls and women aren't comfortable with their own parts. O.B. tampons don't have an applicator, and that's just too nasty for some ladies, so the menstrual cup is definitely not under consideration.
So again, I agree. It's a matter of letting girls know the options AND getting them comfortable with their bodies.
Melon the Sleepermelonaise on May 21st, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
A lot of times the supplies girls first see in school are sponsored by the manufacturers of pads and tampons.
Arrow_Brightarrow_bright on May 21st, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
Lunapads has been working with some schools (I think mostly in the Vancouver/BC area?) to spread the word on more options. I think they give out Lunapad samples to the teacher/nurse to pass around the class, and they provide brochures for Lunapads/Diva Cup and a coupon for their website (maybe in store, too?). I think they also have a brochure/pamphlet on "your changing bodies" for teens.

When I was in fourth grade (in the late '90s), the teacher showed us a slideshow (on one of those carousal slide projector, not PowerPoint) on the "different" types of products available (that is, Pads: wings or wingless! Tampons: applicator or non-applicator!). I don't think it was sponsored, though, because the thing was from the 1970s. The little booklets we got, though, were from Always, I think, and it had a postcard you could send in for a free "starter kit" to sample their different products. I still remember the stupid story that went along with the booklet. It was about this girl whose nickname was Andy, but then she got her period at summer camp and insisted on being called Andrea, which confused her friends. Even at the time I didn't understand what one thing had to do with the other.
lovelong22lovelong22 on May 21st, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
I think that's great that lunapads is working with at least some schools . ( I know its not the ones here, because I asked some 12 years that I am close with, and then some girls in grade 9 who took the grade 8 was last year knew)

Thank you for this knowledge. It made me happy :)
wireni on May 22nd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
I was pleasantly surprised that recently the number one youth magazine in Germany ("Bravo") covered the topic of menstrual cups!

Most of the magazine is about stars and music, but it is most famous for the "Dr. Sommer Team". They usually have an article about something love or sex or puberty related in it, and then the reader's letters asking for advice concerning these areas, but also school or friendships or family problems.

The first time I came across menstrual cups was in an outdoor catalogue, it was a picture of the keeper. Because of the brown colour and the German name for "cup", I thought it was made of clay or something! At least I did not think it was soft. And there was no size reference, so I thought it was really big. Not helpful!

tinkerandcrabtinkerandcrab on May 22nd, 2012 04:51 am (UTC)
Disney *and* Kotex, oh boy!
Warning: wide loadinnsmouth_eyes on May 22nd, 2012 06:01 am (UTC)
Girls need to have that information available to them from the start, I feel cheated that I didn't find out about cups until this year (I'm 31). I think my life would have been much easier if I had known about menstrual cups since puberty. I certainly wouldn't have been ready to try them until later, but I spent way too much time being grossed out and hateful of my period and the change in my attitude in the last year is amazing. I never thought I would ever think of menstruation as a facinating subject that's fun to talk about, or be comfortable sticking something like that up there. I could have had that years ago, but the information wasn't getting out there. Cup companies should definitely be sponsoring teen education.

urbanthropic on May 22nd, 2012 10:49 am (UTC)
Couldn't agree more! I've been meaning to mention menstrual cups to a friend who teaches health/sex ed etc in the hope that she'll let the next generation know. However, I think we need to get clever when it comes to spreading the word among other age groups...

Oooh I have an idea! :D I think this needs its own topic...