Why is there so much secrecy and discomfort surrounding female body parts and their activities? I pose this question for everyone, including females because even if you have a vagina, you may not be comfortable speaking openly about your vagina and its activities. I used to share the eerie silence as well, but now I’m entering into a place in my life where silence and fright are no longer the appropriate plans of action when it comes to my body. With that being stated, I will share my story with the seemingly underground marvel known as the menstrual cup and how this contraption relates to my time in the Office of Sustainability. Furthermore, if you feel disgusted about this topic, first, you need to reevaluate your belief system, and second, get some tissues so you can read this and weep!
According to the all-knowing Google, a menstrual cup is a type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell (hence the “cup” part) and is flexible (needs to be to get it up there!). It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood). This item can be controversial to some, but for me, it was an expression of freedom and acceptance of my body and its natural functions. Although I cannot remember the first time I heard of a menstrual cup, I knew the idea was enticing and after hearing numerous stories about the benefits and downfalls of this, I decided to create my own experience with the popular Diva Cup.
My experience began with my purchase of the DivaCup online. When I got it, I attempted to use it immediately. My first attempt was filed with mystic and nervousness. Although it was hard to remember the instructions while squatting, relaxing, and trying to fold the silicone cup in the shower, there was no going back. After getting over the initial discomfort of inserting a menstrual cup, and having a few more test runs, my experience morphed into one of satisfaction and comfort.
It took a lot to leave the impulse of buying new toiletries behind, but I discovered more about myself with this transition than I ever have when sticking a pad in my underwear. Furthermore, the larger implications of using a menstrual cup are sometimes unseen by many or hidden behind the intimate process of inserting a menstrual cup. Even so, I hope some of this information from Divacup.com can help you to understand the ecological importance of pushing a silicone cup up your privates:
According to The Diva Cup website, every month, women flush and throw away hundreds of disposable products and their packaging. The Diva Cup website also provides us with numerous details about the various harmful chemicals most of us do not think about when we are walking down the aisle trying to decide which disposable product filled with chemicals we want to place snuggly with our female parts. Some of these issues include:
- Most tampons and pads contain surfactants, adhesives and additives.
- Most pads contain polyethylene plastic whose production is a pollutant.
- Traces of dioxin (a known carcinogen) and the synthetic fiber rayon are also found in tampons. Dioxin is a by-product of the bleaching process in the manufacturing of tampons and the synthetic fiber rayon can leave residue in the vaginal wall, leading to possible risk of infection and overall discomfort.
- In landfills, many of these substances can leach into the environment (groundwater, streams and lakes) causing serious pollution and health concerns.
As an Office of Sustainability intern, the Diva Cup aligns with my values and goals of being conscious of the impact my activities have on this earth and coexisting with the world around me in a non-detrimental way. On the contrary, it is also important to understand that although I am praising what the DivaCup had done for me. Although you may have read this with disgust (I’m glad you got this far!), this is MY EXPERIENCE that I have constructed and will continue to develop over time. What I know for fact is that periods are NOT taboo and should not be treated as such. Worldwide women and girls and ostracized and isolated because of the stigmas, traditions, and beliefs attached to a natural occurrence and this needs to be put to an end. We should all learned to fight for the power to embrace ourselves. With that being said, I hope to see more transitional stories from anyone willing to share! Remember, do not be ashamed of your body!!!
-Cora Webb, Sustainability Intern