silly (fourwordsapart) wrote in menstrual_cups,

an article i wrote for my school paper--thoughts?

Picture this: a tightly wound wad of pesticide-laden cotton and chemically processed rayon that has been whitened with chlorine bleach. During use, this wad sloughs off tiny fibers of abrasive plastic. It also releases small amounts of dioxin, a carcinogen known to harm the body through bioaccumulation. Now imagine this wad stuffed into a bloody orifice and left to fester for 8 hours. This increases the dangers of the wad, which absorbs fluids and provides a terrific breeding ground for the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which causes the sometimes-fatal disease Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

Now, I wonder, wouldn’t that hurt a young lady? Well, yes, it could. Yet ladies continue to cram these wads, under popular multi-million-dollar brand names like Tampax, into most sensitive areas at alarming rates. Allow me to make a conservative estimate, assuming a 5-day menstrual period and a change every 8 hours, that 15 of these sinister plugs are used by the average tampon user each month.

That may not seem like a lot, but averages also tell us that women have 12 periods a year and have them for 39 years between menarche and menopause. Thus, if tampons are used exclusively during that time, over 7000 will be shoved into vaginas, allowed to soak up menstrual fluid, then ripped out by handy strings and tossed in the bin to be taken up into the landfill afterlife or flushed away into the murky depths of the municipal wastewater system.

Disposable menstrual pads aren’t much better, if you take their production, contents, and packaging into consideration, not to mention the discomfort of having an unpleasantly moist plastic-covered, cellulose-filled rectangle stuck to your underpants.

But women have other options! Besides more straightforward alternatives such as reusable cloth pads and sea sponge tampons, there is a little-known option called the menstrual cup, and I’m going to sing its praises.

Simply enough, the cup is a small receptacle made of either medical-grade silicone or natural rubber that sits in the vaginal canal, creating a seal and collecting menstrual blood for later disposal.

It sounds weird, but here’s why it’s better: first of all, it has no health risks. Not one case of TSS connected to cup use has been reported. It doesn’t wick away necessary internal moisture as do tampons, nor is it associated with the irritating sensation of shoving a bone-dry bullet into the vagina.

Another perk is the cup’s prudence, economical and environmental. Despite the higher upfront cost (about $30), the cup can be used continuously for ten years, in which time women can and will spend hundreds of dollars on disposables. On top of that, the cup creates virtually no waste (besides the initial box it retails in), compared to the numerous boxes, wrappers, and applicators associated with conventional products.

Lastly, the cup is user-friendly. It’s comfortable, leak-free, and only needs changed every twelve hours. While it’s not for those who are uncomfortable with the workings of their bodies, it’s an option worth looking into for women who are concerned with their wellbeing and can see past the taboos of conventionality.
Tags: papers/articles/pamphlets
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