Nowadays, many menstruating people around the world are looking for more comfortable, affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to disposable pads and tampons. And on their journey to find the perfect period hygiene products, sooner or later, they come across this new and innovative product – a menstrual cup. But are menstrual cups really a novelty on the market? What’s the history behind this product, and what’s the secret behind its relatively slow path to popularity?
The idea of devices designed to collect menstrual fluid is not a new one. Its history goes back as far as the nineteenth century! But it took over 60 years for these early prototypes to evolve into something resembling the period cups we know today. Modern menstrual cups were first invented in the 1930s – the first commercial menstrual cup was patented by Leona Chalmers in 1937. Her cups were made of latex rubber, but their commercial success was hindered by rubber shortages during the WWII and a general taboo surrounding the subject of menstrual hygiene and reusable period products.
Over the following decades, companies tried marketing their products in order to reach a wider audience, but potential customers still felt uncomfortable with the idea of dealing with menstrual blood, cleaning their cups and reusing them. Using disposable products was perceived as a more convenient option. This led Tassette, a menstrual cup brand, to design a disposable menstrual cup. Unfortunately, this product, as well as its reusable predecessor, failed to leave a lasting impression.
Various types of menstrual cups have been present on the market and more or less available to those willing to use them ever since their first appearance, but their popularity has never managed to reach mainstream levels.
At this point in their story, it’s easy to dismiss period cups as a failed invention. But that would be a mistake. In reality, after years of underestimating their potential, the awareness and the popularity of menstrual cups seems to be increasing with each passing year. Of course, the work is not yet finished, and brands still have a long way to go to replace disposables at the top of the most popular period products list, but even the fact that more and more people are aware of the existence of this alternative is already a huge success. So where is this sudden change in attitude coming from? Is there any significant difference between the first menstrual cups and the modern menstrual cup?
First of all, the social stigma surrounding menstruation has lost a lot of its impact on consumer choices, especially in high-income countries. The increased interest in reusable products is also directly linked to the growing eco-consciousness and the zero waste movement. Menstrual cups are simply a more sustainable option to deal with menstrual flow than disposables because a single cup can be used for as long as 10 years! Buying one also eliminates the need to buy new products every cycle, leading to reduced waste. For this reason, they are seen as an effective way to battle period poverty as well.
Most modern cups you can buy in shops today are made of medical grade silicone and are considered to be a perfectly safe and effective period hygiene product. And now, with innovative devices such as Emanui’s portable menstrual cup cleaner and steriliser using and keeping them clean is easier and more comfortable than ever before!