Are Menstrual Cups better than Pads?

“Oh my, these cramps again.”

“Hey, could you just check my back when I stand.”

Yes, ‘PERIODS’. Those 7 days of month where mood swings are a matter of fact and irritation is at its peaks.

When it comes to the options available during periods to contain the blood, every other option widely talked about is either uncomfortable, expensive or environmentally unsafe. Woman to woman, don’t you think we deserve a better alternative which is both comfortable and safe? Coming to the lesser talked options, menstrual cups is one such option which is both cost effective and environment friendly.

In a conversation with a senior recently about menstrual cups, she had only two questions rather doubts in her mind.

“Does it hurt?”

“Is it safe?”

I understood from her that it wasn’t her alone who had the query in her mind, that there are hundreds of others who were ready to use these cups but have no clue about how it works, what are the factors to be considered while buying them. If you’re one of them, here are some things you can consider while buying them.

  1. Does it hurt?

As to the question about pain and if menstrual cups hurt, I’d say not really. Until and unless your cup is positioned in the right way, there’s no way it can hurt. Regardless, the first few times may be a little uncomfortable till you learn to insert it the right way. On the contrary, menstrual cups have proven to reduce the pain caused due to cramps on those days and are certainly a bliss for woman who go through a lot of cramps and unease. Some online reviews of certain menstrual cups further prove the point where happy customers report of little or no cramps at all during their usage of these cups.

2) Does Size Matter?

As silly as it sounds, sizes do matter and these cups generally come under 3 sizes, small(S), medium (M) and large (L). Small (S) being the smallest in size is recommended for women who’ve never given birth or had intercourse and age around 18 and lesser. Medium (M) on the other hand is recommended for women in their mid-twenties who haven’t given birth yet. Large (L) is specifically for women who have given birth. A lot of brands also require knowing your typical blood flow ranging between 10 to 80 ml which further decides your ideal size. However, the sizes differ from brand to brand and a lot of brands give specified guidelines on the sizes available and the users suitable for it.

3) How to use it?

Every menstrual cup, comes with its own set of instructions. Even then, there are a few things which are common for every person using these cups. A cup needs to be cleaned every 10-12 hours to give the desired results and requires to be sterilized after every cycle with either boiling water or sterilization liquids used in bottles for babies. The insertion and removal of the cup maybe a hassle the first few times but as you start getting used to it, the ideal positions one requires is more clear.

4) How much is it?

In terms of price, a menstrual cup is the go-to for every woman out there who likes to save money! In India, a menstrual cup ranges between INR 500 to 4000 and lasts up to 10 years. You read it right, a good quality menstrual cup can be used for 5 to 10 years if it doesn’t have any tears or holes. Even if you buy a cup every 5 years, the amount you’d be saving is several thousands, typically spent on sanitary napkins or tampons.

5) What to buy and where?

You can easily find menstrual cups on any online shopping platform or big pharmacies. They come in two materials: silicon and rubber. Silicon is recommended for people who are latex sensitive otherwise any cup is okay. Coming to the brands Shecup, Divacup and Boondh are some popular brands available to women in India

6) Does it decrease my period time?

If you didn’t know, a woman bleeds only about 10 to 80 ml on an average during every cycle which is about 4-5 tablespoons of blood. Although not technical, menstrual cups for me personally have decreased the periods by a day as the cup collects all the blood.

7) Say bye to smelly napkins

Last but not the least, cups aren’t as smelly as napkins are and is a lot more comfortable. Cups collect blood which results in keeping away the foul smell.

So, if you’re considering a shift from sanitary napkins or tampons, I’d say go for it! Try it, see for yourself and then choose wisely.

 

Article by : Shailaja Mantha

Gender focussed Tech Solutions

Open Data Hack(ODH) Bangalore 2017 held on 14th & 15th of October, 2017 supported by RHoK India was part of the series of hackathons in India. Themes for Open Data Hack Bangalore 2017 were climate change, disaster warning systems and women health.

Hidden Pockets Collective participated as one of the organisations which provided a problem statement for the hackathon. We wanted engineering students to provide and look for tech solutions that would focus on issues around sexual and reproductive health.

Health is often the neglected issue which rarely gets any technology focussed especially if we are looking towards public health sector.

We also wanted more women engineers to come forward and take interest in our work and maybe encourage them to focus on tech solutions that would be more immediate and beneficial for them.

Unleash Lab 2017, Denmark : SDGs

August 2017, Hidden Pockets got selected to be a part of Unleash Lab 2017 in Denmark. A nine days event where Unleash focused on 7 themes which are directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The themes were Food, Health, Water, Energy, Education, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Consumption and Production. So what was UNLEASH model ? UNLEASH brought 1000 talents together and converted their ideas into 200 business cases for sustainable development, collaborating with companies, academia and civil society.

 

Health 

Hidden Pockets represented Health. Talents under Health were further divided into sub themes; Access, Disability, Education, Mother and families and Mental health. Under Health we worked on access to Health. Under the sub themes we were asked to work with small groups on different topics related to access to health. Finally groups were created under access sub theme. Access to Finance, Early detection of Preeclampsia, Connecting the service providers and the Medicine suppliers. I worked on Maternal Deaths – Early detection of Preeclampsia. It was a great experience to work with people from different back grounds. The team had a mix of people from academia, a person from NGO, practitioner and a designer. My team members were

– Yvonne Mburu (Kenya), a scientist and healthcare consultant with over 10 years of experience in cancer immunology.
– Anne Vaandrager (Netherlands), a Design Activist. Her work is based on in-depth research that focuses on social shortcomings and inequalities in society.
– John Kigaru (Kenya), a Nurse Practitioner. He is the CEO and Co-founder of PregMum limited ,which has partnered with Strathmore University to develop Health-Tech solutions to improve early detection and response to obstetric emergencies at the grassroots level in Kenya.
– Olivia Curl (United States), founder of GIRLWITHABOOK Movement, a non-profit media organization that advocates for girls’ education and gender equality. She has worked in community-level reproductive healthcare and is particularly interested in the relationship between reproductive rights, education, and gender equality.

Pilot Project: 

The project is called SheTHRIVES. It a simple, effective screening tool to identify pregnant women at risk for eclampsia and pre-eclampsia. We selected Mukuru Slum in Nairobi, Kenya as a pilot case study for testing and initial implementation. The women in this area are at a great risk of maternal death from pre-eclampsia, due to a lack of preventative screening measures. So we created SheTHRIVES which is a 3-piece pre-eclampsia screening kit with digital blood pressure cuff, urine dipstick test, and simple digital interface which would be used by the community and student volunteers at the local church to detect early signs of pre-eclampsia among the pregnant women.

Unleash Lab 2017 was an amazing experience. We learnt how to work in a team, with people from different background, different culture, different style.
We learnt a lot about each others culture. We learnt how a particular idea might work in a particular region but might not work in a different region. We had to understand the culture of different regions and community. Unleash helped us in understanding the community better. It also helped many of us who are running our small startups to understand how a proposal is made, what is the investor looking for and what all to keep in mind while framing a proposal.

All the SDGs are interconnected to each other. One cannot work on one SGD by ignoring the other. All should be moving forward together. And that is what Unleash Lab 2017 taught us, “How to move together”.

May 28 Menstrual Hygiene Day: #PeriodPositive with ProjectKHEL

Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed annually on May 28. This year, Hidden Pockets decided to get on Twitter to spread some period love, joy and information on Menstrual Hygiene Day along with ProjectKHEL. Our conversation on Twitter has been captured and storified below. Spread the love! Period!

Where to look for Sexual and reproductive health aid in Ahmedabad

Where to look for Sexual and reproductive health aid in Ahmedabad

Hidden Pockets visited Ahmedabad and decided to walk the city. The visit became more exciting when we got to know that FPAI i.e. Family Planning association of India is also present in Ahmedabad.  Hidden Pockets decided to visit the clinic. “FPAI is a voluntary non-governmental organization which pioneered the family planning movement in India. It is committed to gender equality and to eliminate discrimination which threatens individual well-being and leads to wide spread violation of health and human rights particularly of adolescents and young women.” – FPAI Brochure.

The administration building of FPAI, Ahmedabad is located at Nashabandhi Compound, Bhadra opposite to Apna bazaar. It is very close to the most famous ‘New Lucky Restaurant’. We went and met the programme head and also the branch manager. There we got to know that the FPAI clinic is at Madhupur, so we headed towards the clinic. The clinic is very close to the Namaste Circle (one can see hands statue in a namaste gesture 😊) and Haripura Gardens. As soon as one reaches the Haripura Gardens, take the road that goes inside along the garden. Keep walking for 10-15 mins. And then one can see an Urban Health Centre on the left. FPAI is at the 2 floor.

The best part of FPAI staff is the smile on their faces, which makes the clinic filled with positive vibes. As we entered the clinic, we met the counsellor who had a bright smile on her face. She showed us around the clinic. FPAI, Ahmedabad has a counsellor room, examination room, tests room, and a minor operation theatre.

Process to get an Medical Termination of Pregnancy: 

First the person is registered. His/her name and other information is kept confidential. Then the person is sent to the counsellor where he or she interacts with the counsellor. FPAI follows no refusal policy. No one is refused here. If the scope is beyond FPAI, then it refers the person to some other organization. After the counselling the person is sent to the examination room and then the doctor tells what all is needed to be done. All tests are done and then the person is sent back.

FPAI, Ahmedabad also believes in the importance of after care. It keeps in touch with the person and provides after care. FPAI believes that it is very important to see if abortion (medical termination of pregnancy – MTP) is safely completed and the person is safe. It asks the person to come back after 15 days for a checkup. It also provides alternatives to those who cannot come back after 15 days.

 

FPAI, Ahmedabad provides MTP services, long term contraception plans, HIV and AIDS testing, Pap smear test and breast cancer testing. One of the special thing about this clinic is that it also has special OPD on Fridays for males, adolescents and MSM (Men who have sex with men). They also provide family planning counselling. All this is done at a very minimal rate  ( Maximum Rs 1000) and few of the pills are completely free.

This branch also does MTP for 2nd Trimester ( This is mostly after 12 weeks of pregnancy). It is very hard to find a reliable place where 2nd Trimester is performed and FPAI Ahmedabad is one of it where one can expect accountability.

People from Ahmedabad, if required kindly utilize this amazing facility and ask whoever is in need to visit FPAI, Ahmedabad.

PS: “FPA India clinics may charge, what we prefer to call as a ‘partial user fee’ to the clients for seeking abortion or any other SRH service. This fee is very subsidized and helps the Association meet some running costs. However, all FPA India clinics also have a “NO REFUSAL POLICY”, which states that no client walking into any FPA India facility is denied any service, especially if he/she is unable to afford even the subsidized fee. Thus, poor and marginalized clients can also access quality services in FPAI clinics. Only when the facility is not equipped to provide a particular service (for example some client may need a specialized service, or admission or higher level emergency care) are clients to other facilities.”

 

Written by : Aisha Lovely George