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Give Our Girls a Choice!

The Hello Cup wants to see schools change the conversation when it comes to periods. The creators of the first New Zealand-made menstrual cup for teens – Robyn McLean and Mary Bond – have written to parliament to lobby for more open discussion in schools when it comes to options for dealing with periods.

“After we launched our Teen Cup, we were invited to a number of schools to talk about them as an alternative to wasteful single-use options,” says Robyn. “While we were pleasantly surprised at how many girls are aware of menstrual cups and want to use them, there is – generally – no access to cups through their school’s regular health education. They’re still being peddled pads, tampons, and a mountain of menstrual waste as a result.”

Single-use menstrual products take at least 500 years to break down in landfills and on top of that often come wrapped in additional plastic. Girls can start using menstrual cups as soon as they want to and Robyn says what the Hello Cup is asking for is simple – include menstrual cups in school presentations on puberty, and give students more options when it comes to what they put next to, or inside, their bodies. One such girl who has made the switch says she’s completely in support of Hello Cup’s campaign. Tamsyn* is 17, and a normal “curious teenager” who felt strongly that there had to be a better option than what was stocked on the supermarket shelves – “and I haven’t used a pad or tampon since!”
“Periods are scary and exciting at the same time,” says the Christchurch student, who doesn’t want her real name used due to her age. “The amount of information that younger girls have about menstruation, the more prepared they are. Periods can then become an opportunity to have control over our own biological processes rather than a barrier to what is possible.”

So what is possible with a Hello Cup? Mary – co-founder and registered nurse – says teens who have made the switch love the fact that the Hello Cup, which is made of medical grade thermoplastic elastomer or TPE – can be safely worn for at least eight hours at a time. “That means they don’t have to think about their period during a regular school day – they just pop their cup in in the morning, and forget about it.”

Users can swim, play sport, ride horses, sleep – do anything wearing a cup. “We have young Hello Cup fans tell us they are pleased that they’re not putting bleach or chemicals into their bodies, and that they worry about the tiny fibres tampons leave behind. In fact, in 2018, many girls refuse to use tampons at all due to the concerns they have about how they’re made, along with the fact they end up in landfill.”

Tamsyn says her own health care education, while adequate, didn’t offer a range of options for dealing with her period. “What I lacked was choices. I was taught that I had pads and tampons, therefore my only choice was whether I would choose the ‘nappy' or the 'cotton stick’. I read about the Hello Cup in a magazine and what caught my attention was the amount of money I would save and how few times I would need to change it. Going into university soon, my budget will be scarce, therefore the cup appealed to me because it lasts so long and I wouldn’t have to spend so much time and money on tampons each month.”

Robyn says she’s impressed that this generation of Kiwi teens care genuinely for the future of the planet, and speak so openly about their bodies, their health, and – yes – their period. “They are more comfortable than we were at the same age talking about periods, their cycles, and they are – rightfully – demanding better options.”

Robyn says she and Mary decided to write to the Prime Minister as well as ministers in charge of Health, Education and Environment because it’s time to address the elephant in the bathroom. “We’ve got a serious issue with menstrual waste going to landfill and no one wants to address it because for some stupid reason, periods are still somehow taboo. We think introducing the menstrual cup into conversations with teens would be a total gamechanger – for girls, for their bank balances, and for our planet.”

The Hello Cup Teen, the smallest sized cup in the three cup range, is designed specifically for changing bodies. “It’s soft, smooth, and has a thickened rim which means it opens easily for first-timers. Each cup lasts around five years, and it can be returned to us at the end of its life to be fully recycled – so there’s absolutely no impact on the environment.”

Tamsyn agrees it’s a no-brainer. “Honestly, knowledge is power. I believe schools should be explaining all the benefits and consequences of all sanitary items so that the younger girls of our generation have more freedom when it comes to finding what works for them.”

ENDS
Notes for editors
• The Hello Cup’s range of three cups is designed and made in Hawke’s Bay, NZ
• A cup holds about three times the fluid of a tampon
• The Hello Cup retails for $49. A single cup lasts five years (and pays for itself in three periods)
• The Hello Cup was launched in December 2017
• For more information, including how to use the cup, go to www.hellocup.com

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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