Stonesoup Founder Malini Parmar, a committed sustainable menstruation activist, shares her experience of turning her two daughters into ‘cupverts’ in this interesting article. Read on…
“Can my daughter use a cup?” How many times have I heard this question? The answer is highly nuanced and there is no straight “yes” or “no”. Before searching for an answer, I recommend that parents watch this TEDx talk first, “The Virginity Fraud”.
If we understand the female anatomy a little, the only difference between a virgin girl at 11 and a married one at 21 is potentially the hymen. If, after watching the talk, parents make an informed choice that they would not like the hymen to be damaged, they can choose cloth pads. If not, they can introduce their daughter/s to menstrual cups—the easiest way to manage periods.
During school days, my sister and I were physically active girls. When I was in Standard IX, my mom introduced me to tampons. Given how active I was with horse riding, swimming, Taekwondo sessions, she felt that it was highly likely that I had lost my hymen and that tampons would allow me to even do Taekwando during my periods. She had spoken to a gynaecologist, used tampons for six months before introducing it to us. Interestingly, it was only at 24, when I lost my virginity, did I realise that my hymen was still intact!
An overrated piece of tissue
Circa 2015, my elder daughter T got her first period. Her’s was a precocious puberty. An athletic star at her school, T was a cloth pad user at the age of 10. I bought a menstrual cup for her based on the recommendation of a popular website. More importantly, I personally believe that hymen is an overrated piece of tissue. The cup was expensive, short and hard. My daughter tried using it a few times, but was unsuccessful. She said that this particular cup was not for her.
When she was 11, we launched StoneSoup menstrual cups. Green cup—the softest—was the one she picked for herself after 6 months. As I saw her trying to wear it, I also noticed her fear and clenched muscles. There was no way anything was going to get in!
Since she was competing at a higher level in athletics, I got tiny tampons for her. They were too small and in fact terrible but she loved them and moved on to using regular-sized tampons. She used tampons during her training sessions and competitions but went for cloth pads during the rest of the time.
My younger one L started assembling her period kit when she was 9.5! Colourful cloth pads, period panties and StoneSoup green cups were the things she chose. A year later, she got her first period. Cloth pads was her first choice. One more episode of clenched muscles and failed cup-insertion attempt followed. With her sister’s guidance, she switched over to tampons.
Since she is a gymnast, using cloth pads was not an option for her during daily practice sessions, nor could she miss training for 3-4 days in a month. So naturally, tampons and cloth pads became her period care choices. A year later, I decided to involve not just myself but also T in guiding L wear a cup. Clenched muscles and failed attempts—1, 2, 3. Then her naughtiness kicked in and we had some crazy time and laughter riots. As T and I were rolling with laughter, L tried once more and it just went in! She got up and said she could feel it. We got her to push it, jump around. She forgot about it soon.
The next morning, she complained that it took her 10 minutes but by afternoon, she was a pro! Two more days went by and she finished her period with a cup. Since then, she’s been simply unstoppable, raving about the cup to her aunt in Canada, to her friends in school, neighbors and even absolute strangers. The last I heard her say was, “Mom, when am I going to get my periods next? I can’t wait!”
P.S.: The best technique to use while wearing a cup is to laugh as much as you can and then try inserting it.