Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 4th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, June 4, 2016
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Some women are using products that can be reused and create less waste to the
environment, such as washable cloth sanitary pads and reusable menstrual cups
inserted into the vagina.
Some 70 years after the invention of disposable
tampons and sanitary pads, some women are choos-
ing environmentally-friendly forms of feminine
There s Thinx, a reusable "period-proof" underwear
line launched a year ago. Some women are opting for
cloth pads or bell-shaped menstrual cups worn inside
Morgan Battista of Douglassville, Pennsylvania,
made the switch to reusable cups in March after
hearing about them online. The 29-year-old said she
wanted a more natural product that created less waste.
"I definitely would never go back to tampons," she
said. "It s a game-changer."
While such products have yet to put a major dent
in the more than US$3 billion in US sales for disposable
pads and tampons last year, they have shifted the
conversation about menstruation.
"When I first started talking about these issues
about a decade ago, my students had never heard of
alternative products. They d never even considered a
cloth pad or a sponge, and the underwear wasn t even
on the market," said Chris Bobel, an associate professor
of women s studies at the University of Massachusetts,
Since launching in May 2015, Thinx CEO and
founder Miki Agrawal said the company has sold
about 500,000 pairs of the period panties at a price
of US$24 to US$38 each. They re constructed of four
ultra-thin absorbent layers and are billed as completely
antimicrobial, moisture-wicking and leak-resistant.
"If you ask any woman in your life, Have you ever
experienced a leak, a stain, an accident in your period?
every single woman will say, Obviously. And so it s
a no-brainer idea," Agrawal said.
Diva International Inc, which makes silicone men-
strual cups, sold about 350,000 reusable cups in the
US last year, with millions more across brands pur-
chased around the globe, said Daniela Masaro, a Diva
Cup spokesman. The company launched in 2002 and
has experienced growth in the double digits over the
last three years, Masaro said. (AP)
Fighting menstrual shame
Every woman in the history of humanity has or
had a period. Each month, her uterus sheds its lining,
sending blood flowing out through her vagina (unless
she s pregnant, in which case she gets a lengthy
reprieve). This process is as natural as eating, drinking
and sleeping. Yet most people loathe talking about it.
When girls first start their periods, they often embark
on a decades-long journey of silence and dread.
In the developing world, taboos, poverty, inadequate
sanitary facilities, meager health education and an
enduring culture of silence often create an environment
in which girls and women are denied what should be
a basic right: clean, affordable menstrual materials
and safe, private spaces to care for themselves. At
least 500 million girls and women globally lack adequate
facilities for managing their periods, according to a
2015 report from UNICEF and the World Health
For something that has over 5,000 slang terms
(shark week, Bloody Mary, red wedding), the period
is one of the most ignored human rights issues around
the globe---affecting everything from education and
economics to the environment and public health---
but that s finally starting to change. Last year, there
were so many pop culture moments in the US around
menstruation that NPR called 2015 "the year of the
period," and Cosmopolitan said it was "the year the
period went public."
The US movement is propelled by activists, inventors,
politicians, startup founders and everyday people who
want to strip menstruation of its stigma and ensure
that public policy keeps up. For the first time, some
Ditching the tampon:
Women seek reusable products
Americans are talking about gender equality, feminism
and social change through women s periods.
In January this year, President Barack Obama may
have become the first president to discuss menstruation
when 27-year-old YouTube sensation Ingrid Nilsen
asked him why tampons and pads are taxed as luxury
items in 40 states. Obama was stunned. "I have to
tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these
as luxury items," he said. "I suspect it s because men
were making the laws when those taxes were passed."
Nilsen s interview went viral, as has her frank approach
to menstruation. (www.newsweek.com)
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