THE pricing of menstrual ware such as sanitary pads, tampons, pant liners among others has reached astronomical levels in Zimbabwe resulting in some vulnerable girls and women losing productive hours as they have to bunk school lessons and working hours.
By Michael Gwarisa
Owing to foreign currency shortages, sanitary ware manufactures are finding it difficult to import raw materials to manufacture pads amongst a host other stuff. A pack of 10 sanitary pads costs not less than $1 or $2 depending on where one would have bought them.
However, did you know that for only $10, you could buy a single menstrual cup that could last you for a period of 10 years. In essence, what it means is that by buying this cup at one go, its equivalent to using $1 per year over a period of 10 years.
A Menstrual Cup is a product that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its purpose is to prevent menstrual fluid (blood containing uterine lining) from leaking onto clothes. Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible medical grade silicone and shaped like a bell with a stem.
To unpack the Menstrual Cup myth, Healthimes’s Michael Gwarisa (MG) spoke at length Memory Hwengwere (MH), The Butterfly Cup company Sales and Education person in a bid to demystify the theories and myths surrounding this sexual reproductive health service.
MG: So Memory, can you tell us about Menstrual Cups, what are they really?
MH: Ok, I am from the Butterfly cup company and we specialise in the menstrual cups which is an alternative that you can use to manage menstrual hygiene.
MG: What material is used to manufacture or make these cups?
MH: This menstrual cup is made of medical grade A silicon, the same medical grade A that is used for the Jadelle casing which stays in the body for five years. So it’s absolutely safe to use and is latex free and rubber free.
MG: For how long can one use this cup?
MH: These particular menstrual cups can be worn up to 10 hours without needing to be emptied and is reusable for 10 years.
MG: Did you just say 10 years!!!
MH: Yes it’s usable for 10 years but you need to sterilise it. It’s easy to sterilise, you sterilise the first time you buy the cup after that, you sterilise after each cycle, say you for go for your periods for four days, you sterilise after each cycle after the period ends and you keep it sterilised.
MG: Just how does one store the cup after sterilisation to avoid infection?
MH: After sterilisation you keep the cup in a place where there is free circulation of air. Probably after sterilisation, you can put it in cotton bag or you can just put in a drawer as long as there is free circulation of air.
MG: Ok, interesting and how do you sterilise the cup?
MH: For sterilisation, you can either boil it, and for boiling you need a separate pot or that pot you don’t use at all or metallic cup and once the water is at boiling point, you place the cup in the pot or metallic cup and then boil for about three to five minutes. Just make sure you don’t place the cup in water when the water hasn’t boiled because if the cup gets to the bottom of the pot or cup, it might be damaged.
MG: Besides boiling what other means would one use to sterilise?
MH: The second stage of sterilisation is using vinegar, for vinegar its one part vinegar and nine parts water. You feel the menstrual cup of vinegar then add nine parts of water and leave it for at least five to 20 minutes
MG: We understand that women have different flows when it comes to menstruation. Some flows are high while some are on the low. Do you have cups made specifically to handle these different flows?
MH: The cups come in different sizes, the pink one which is the A cup is meant to handle low flows and the purple cup is for those with high flows. So this pink one is about 15 milliliters and the purple is about 20 milliliters, that’s the capacity of the cups.
MG: Let’s take affordability, how much does it cost?
MH: It’s very cost effective, it is 10 considering it’s used for 10 years so it’s like a $1 a year unlike the normal pad where you can use $2 to $3 a month.
MG: So who can use the menstrual cup?
MH: Anyone can use the cup, even a virgin can use the cup?
MG: It won’t break the hymen or interfere with virginity?
MH: Well it may interfere with the hymen, but it also depends on one’s definition of a virgin. A virgin is someone who has not had penetrative sex with a men, so as long as one has not had penetrative sex, whether the hymen is there or not, that person is a virgin. So this cup does not interfere with one’s status as a virgin, the vagina remains intact. But then, it may interfere with the hymen, as we know the hymen is in the vaginal wall it’s not something that closes the vagina so when the cup gets in it may interfere with the hymen.
We however need to consider that there are some activities that can break the hymen such as sporting activities, some people are actually born without the hymen, climbing trees and doing splits can interfere with the hymen. A hymen does not define a virgin.
MG: Are there any side effects from using the cup?
MH: There are no side effects though it may be a bit uncomfortable for virgins in the first month.
MG: Ok, and have you tried using one yourself and would you recommend using it?
MH: Yes I have been using it for the past six months and I have not had any problem with it.
MG: Ok, thank you Memory, it was nice talking to you
MH: Thanks to you too