Truthfully, most period products have not changed or been innovated in a really long time. Pads and tampons have been used for centuries, but modern tampon technology has stayed pretty much the same since the inception of Tampax in the 1930’s. And while period cups are technically not a new product, they are slowly becoming more popular within the menstruating community for their comfort, accessibility, and reusable nature.
But when you take a deeper look at period cups, you’ll find that they are an important part of global intersectional eco-feminism. A simple period product can have a huge impact on how menstruating individuals interact with their bodies, the environment, and inclusive feminism across the globe.
**Disclaimer: this is in no way, shape, or form intended to shame anyone for their own personal choices when it comes to period products. Use what works for you. You don’t owe anyone any reason or explanation.**
Eco-Feminism and Accessibility
Eco-feminism is the intersection of feminism and environmentalism. It is defined in the dictionary as “a philosophical and political movement that combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both as resulting from male domination of society.”
A lot of environmental issues disproportionately affect women, especially in non-industrialized areas of the world. Pollution targets the impoverished, and women and the LGBTQ+ make up an alarming percentage of that demographic.
When looking at the environmental impact, we must look at the single-use nature of pads and tampons. Their plastic packaging, design, and applicators create literal tons of non-biodegradable waste that takes centuries to break down. When we look into reusable and sustainable options like period cups, we are cultivating a huge impact on plastic pollution and the communities that pollution effects. A period cup can hold up to three times more fluid than an average tampon, meaning it will replace hundreds of tampons per individual per year.
When talking about global feminism, we also must consider accessibility. There are millions of menstruating individuals across the world that do not have the luxury of having access to period products. When they are provided access to an option that is reusable, they are provided with unlimited access to tools for their menstrual health. A reusable option eliminates the uncertainty of being able to afford or access period products every month.
Period cups play an important role in menstrual intersectionality. For many trans and non-binary individuals, having a period and using period products can cause great trauma through dysphoria. Period cups can provide a more comfortable and discreet period experience for those who indeed experience stress and dysphoria via menstruation.
With pads and tampons, there is a more “outward” experience; meaning the products or blood can be seen and felt outside of the body. This can create a lot of stress for trans or non-binary individuals who are struggling with the reality of their body. A period cup can provide a period experience that is more “inward,” or not seen and felt outside of the body.
Addressing dysphoria is an incredibly important part of feminism. It is a deadly epidemic within the trans and non-binary community and is a huge factor in LGBTQ+ suicides. If a better and more comfortable period experience can be created for those who struggle with that part of their life or transition, it will literally help people survive.
That being said, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for periods. What is helpful and comfortable for one person may not be for another. There is no blanket solution for periods, but it is important to take a deeper look into different period technologies that may help to make a more comfortable and manageable experience for a lot of people.
There are many organizations that can help donate period products to people all across the world. When participating in these programs (or creating your own), please consider donating period cups in addition to pads and tampons. For those who don’t have continual access to period products, this could drastically change their quality of life. And when we positively impact the environment, we positively impact the lives of millions of people, present and future. Introducing period cups to marginalized and impoverished populations could help to not only improve, but literally save countless lives.
Written by Sam White