HYDERABAD: Even as common people are all set to visit Mars, menstruation still remains a hush-hush topic. Though the reason women were made to stay indoors and kept away from household chores during menstrual cycle was to allow them to rest as body tends to become weak during those days, it slowly became a taboo and continues to cause inconvenience to women.
Understanding the issues a woman faces during her monthlies, brothers Ashish and Manish Malani came up with a strategy where they travel to various parts of the country, especially rural areas, to educate women about their anatomy, the changes it undergoes during menstruation and they also inform them about the various sanitary products they can use during their period.
However, as sanitary pads and napkins are hazardous to the environment, the duo brought the menstrual cups to India in early 2010. “Our aim was to start a commercial and healthcare company where we would make unique health care products to consumers. During our research we came across menstrual cups. Very few people knew about them. As menstruation is a very vast topic which was completely unexplored and also had a lot of myths associated with it, we changed our mind and started Shecup which is a social enterprise,” Ashish elaborates. Though menstrual cups have become popular in America and Europe recently, their usage by Indians has increased only in the last year because of social media.
Before launching Shecup, Malani brothers did their research for more than a year. “We made prototypes. Our aim was to make it suitable for Asian bodies. Our family members and friends came forward to try the cups and give their feedback. After a few alterations, we came up with a final product which has the capacity to hold about 28 ml of blood,” he beams.
But even after the product was out in the market, Ashish and Manish had tough time convincing people to use it. “One of the popular excuses we got was that it might rupture their hymen. But they failed to realise that even participating in sports activities, karate, yoga, etc, can lead to hymen rupture,” Ashish who is a chartered accountant by profession says.
Mentioning the benefits of using a menstrual cup, which is made up of health grade non-toxic non-allergic silicone, he points out three crucial reasons -- it doesn’t harm the body, is affordable and environment friendly. “Sanitary napkin is packed in a sterilised packet, but once it is opened, it is exposed to everything that can make it harmful to our body. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, can be sterilised anytime, thereby keeping quality control in users’ hand. Apart from that, unlike pads and tampons, it doesn’t absorb the natural fluid a woman’s body produces. The fluid is important to keep her healthy,” says the 40-year-old. “They are also affordable because pads and tampons would cost around `1000 per year, Shecup costs only `695 and can be used by a woman for her entire life. She only has to sterilise it before and after every cycle. And that also makes it environment friendly,” he adds.
While one might have to give up on their regular exercise, especially swimming during menses, the Ashish tells us that they can lead a normal life while using the cup, which doesn’t even leak a drop of blood. “Changing pads can be a tedious task. Shecup makes it easy as it can be worn for 12 hours at a stretch,” he informs.
Besides managing his full-time job as a CA, Ashish also takes out time to educate school and colleges students, corporates and even doctors. “We make different kind of presentation for different target groups. While a school-student should be explained in detail about the cycle, a doctor would only be interested in knowing about the technical aspects of the cup,” he explains. Manish and a few volunteers also participate in such awareness campaigns.
The Mumbai-based company has so far visited villages and cities in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and will soon be visiting Bengaluru on June 5 – World Environment Day – to participate in an exhibition conducted by the Karnataka Pollution Control Board.