Menstrual Hygiene Management is one of the topics that has finally reached the discussion room for women and people in general but we are still far away from the ideal management which is healthy, hygienic and sustainable. Thanks to Unilever, Akshay Kumar and so many other brands and influencers who came forward to address the importance of sanitary napkins during Menstruation. But today there is an even bigger concern in front of us that requires immediate attention and that too at a mass level.
What’s in the pad?
The conventional synthetic pad has wings, leak lock systems, dry leaf cover, added fragrance, and bleach to change the colour of the pad to make it look “whiter”. It’s just chemicals, plastic, more plastic and more chemical which just means allergies, itchiness, dryness, soreness and discomfort in the short run but in the long run, it can potentially cause vaginal infections, skin allergies, and can affect the sexual and reproductive health of a woman.
Environmental impact of synthetic pads.
Now it’s evident that it impacts health but now what is worse for health is also worse for the environment.
In a normal span of a women’s menstrual lifetime, she uses almost 17000 pads and if we calculate for all the mensurating women just In India that makes it 355 Million, its mountains of plastic and chemical waste. The landfills are filled with this waste and each pad on average remains 500 years in the landfill to be decomposed which means every pad that has been produced so far on the earth is still on the earth.
The pads are extremely thin, which is also because of polyacrylate gels. They are tiny beads that expand only when they absorb liquid, now a lot of people choose to flush these pads, these pads continue to absorb the water and continue to expand which cause drainage blockage. 80% drain blockage in the city happens because of the sanitary pad that has been flushed in the toilet.
The other alternate suggested by people is to burn it which is also not a great idea because these sanitary pads consist of plastics and dioxin. When they are burned it releases dioxin into the air which is the leading cause of cancer.
So, if we can’t landfill it, can’t flush it and can’t burn it
What do we do?
Do we go back to Cloth?
But we have invested so much time in switching women from cloth to hygienic pads so I am not exactly suggesting cloth, but an organic pad. Today there are a lot of successful and proven organic alternatives of pads and tampons available which have wings, prevent leaks, and are also comfortable.
Another option is the menstrual cup. It is 5 cm tall; it is worn inside the Vagina. It is made from Medical grade Silicon which collects mensural fluid as it forms an airlock inside the canal. Periodically it is taken out, cleaned and inserted. One Cup can be used for 10 years.
A lot of women think not just twice but many times before opting for an alternative that involves insertion which I as a woman completely understand and therefore can vouch for its safety. It is completely safe to use a menstrual cup or an organic tampon to manage period blood. It is comfortable, you won’t feel it, you can do swimming, go hiking or can plan a trip to any remote place without thinking about where are you going to dispose of the pads.