RituCup: an all weather option for women

In recent times, the issue of menstrual hygiene has come to dominate education and health programmes for adolescent girls in India. Various agencies and governments have been promoting sanitary napkins, especially among school-going adolescent girls. The erratic nature of government free supplies however leads to irregular use, or necessitates purchase from the market — the cheapest pads in our area cost Rs 25-30 per month’s supply. If adolescent girls were a priority, we wondered about older women — how did they manage, especially since no agency seemed to focus on their menstrual hygiene? We conducted a survey of 61 young (20-35 years) women in villages of tribal southern Rajasthan, and discovered that the majority continued with “laal kapda” or red cloth (Rs 40-50), purchased from local shops, washed and dried in hidden places, and reused each month till they wore out (about 4-6 months). About 5-10% women did use disposable sanitary pads, especially if they had to travel during a period. Those using cloth complained of frequent leakage and staining, sticky discomfort during summer, soaking of cloth during monsoon rains and restriction of mobility. On the other hand, women using pads had to carefully tiptoe outside the house unseen, to dispose off their used pads — it turned out that disposing pads in villages is not such an anonymous exercise after all.

To give women a better option, on World Population Day this year (11 July 2019), our organization, Action Research & Training for Health (ARTH) launched the RituCup — a menstrual cup made of medical silicone, that lasts for up to 10 years, that women could re-use during each period. An earlier pilot with 20 women using cups during summer, had proved rather successful — women reported no staining or leakage, that they could move freely outside the house, some even said it felt like “there was no period at all”…

RituCup, positioned as a reliable, all-weather menstrual hygiene option, will be made available for Rs 250 a piece by about 600 Taruni Sakhis (ARTH’s community health entrepreneurs) scattered across 530 odd villages of three blocks. The cup’s cost works out to Rs 2 to 4 per month, depending on use for 5 to 10 years. And yes, the Sakhis will educate and support women through the initial 1-2 periods while they learn to use RituCup. Women can also make a toll free call to a Call Centre.

Let’s see how RituCup makes a difference to women’s lives…