What's up with Menstrual Cups?

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On October 18, 2016, Bustle asked what seemed to be simple question, “How do homeless women cope with their periods.” This question was asked via their YouTube channel, which has gained 3.5 million views and 10k comments, from both women and men. I was only introduced to this video a few short weeks ago, and even as a college student this question related to me.

During the month of December, I was broke with an available balance of 53 cents in my bank account. Usually I call my mother or another relative to help me during my low income times of need. However, I was ashamed and depressed and decided to figure things out on my own. Every month, just like every other woman I started my menstrual cycle. Full of panic, knowing I used all my pads and tampons during my last cycle I went through every purse, book bag, drawer and junk box in search of any extra pads or tampons. I found one, this wasn’t enough, this wouldn’t even last me all day and it’s not meant to. Putting my pride aside I called my boyfriend in tears asking if he would be so kind to buy me some tampons he responded, “You don’t have any tampons?” in literal disbelief, as if women never have to take a trip to the store, as if the tampon fairy brings them to me every month. I replied, “No, I seriously don’t have any tampons.”

Homeless women don’t have the option of calling their parents or even a boyfriend. Homeless women rely on other women to donate, to think of them when they buy themselves a box, maybe they’ll purchase a second and donate. A woman will spend roughly $1,773.33 on tampon in her lifetime (Huffington post 2015) and according to Bustle women spend an average of $90 on tampons and $70 on pads annually. The women interviewed in this video spoke of choosing between a meal and sanitary products, which is a sad reality because both are necessities.

After watching the video, I thought about my own experience and imagine myself as a homeless women changing, and grooming myself in public restrooms. As women, we tend to want to carry ourselves at certain level of value and esteem, we want to smell good, look good and feel good. How can we help solve this issue for homeless women? I propose the idea of menstrual cups. I decided this has to be the best solution, menstrual cups such as the one I recently purchased, ‘The Diva Cup’ last 1 year and suggest you dump and clean your cup every 12 hours. I bought this cup in hopes to make my own study, and explore the idea of companies such as: The Diva Cup, LENA, Lunette, Blossom and Dutchess (just to name a few) would offer their services. Imagine how helpful a product such as a reusable cup would be for homeless women.

I purchased my Diva Cup from target, off the shelf this product cost $39.99 plus tax, through amazon The Diva cup cost $24.00. The other companies I mentioned, do not sell their products in store as far as I could tell, but are also available on amazon for as low as $15.00. Before I purchased my cup I read reviews and watched YouTube horror stories, but even with the comedic relief every review I came across was very positive. The first day, I wore a pad along with the cup, because the women of Buzzfeed all reported leakage. I did not experience any leakage and felt as if I were wearing nothing. I went to bed at 11:06pm, I remember because I was on YouTube per my usual bedtime routine and woke up around 11:30am with no leakage (Yes, I slept for quite a while).  The following day I went to school, and made a goal to clean my Diva Cup as I’m trying to make a point how useful these could be for homeless women. Before entering the stall, I grabbed a few sheets of paper towel, soaked them in water and also grabbed a dry sheet (You can imagine how I cleaned my cup) this worked wonderfully.

No, not every homeless woman will want to use the diva cup. I am sure 9 out of 10 will, if given the chance to explore this further. Stop the stigmatization of periods, its natural. We women can’t help that we have them, lets help homeless women afford them!

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