Living a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka

Living a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka

2018 has been incredible. I’ve changed so much, that I don’t think I’d recognise me this day, last year. I think it all started with me switching to the menstrual cup in March. It made me realise that making such a small change, can have such a big impact on my health, the environment AND my purse. It’s as though a curtain had been lifted and I could suddenly see. I was shocked to see the things we do to our bodies, how harshly and unsparingly we treat it. This one tool that we live in for the rest of our lives. The one tool that I’ll always have until I don’t. The one place I can call home. And I was ruining it.

chemical-free-sustainable-lifestyle-in-srilanka
You only have two homes.

We eat rub, ingest, inhale, lather, apply so many things to our system, this temple of ours, without questioning them just because we see it on TV or it looks and smells really good, or somebody recommended it. But this year, with the cup, I changed the way I looked at myself. I started to love my body the way it is, with all its imperfections, flabbiness and white hair.

I no longer, shave, wax, thread and pull at my hair. (I actually got some pretty painful boils after I shaved and waxed so I don’t do it anymore. I trim my pits occasionally to be able to apply the crystal deo better). I no longer eat rotting animal flesh. I no longer force my body to absorb chemicals that it very clearly rejects in the form of blisters, rashes and dry skin.

Instead, I eat great food in the form of colourful vegetables and fresh greens that I shop and select that my mother (and sometimes I) prepare. I make my own spices, run a plant nursery on my balcony, exercise as much as I can at least thrice a week, meditate and even stopped buying clothes, shoes and other random stuff (I just don’t buy anything unless I really really need it, which is every 6 or 12 months).  And I’m happy that I can finally, after 26 years of trying to change how my body naturally is, I am truly comfortable and happy with it. But I’m not completely there yet. (Trying hard to stop cheese completely and go on a fully plant-based vegan diet. Increase exercise to five days a week. Paint at least once a week. And things like that.)

meatless-monday-sri-lanka
My food has looked like this, this entire year. Colourful, healthy and cruelty-free. 🙂

I still get bugged from friends about eating mayonnaise/yogurt/cheese or not having enough protein, but I’ve learned to think of myself as a work in progress and suffice to say, I’m happy with how and where I’m heading. I get messages from others who are trying to go vegan, reduce chemicals etc but get demotivated with how other people don’t understand it and make fun of it (added on to the general struggle of living that way)

My advice for you is to keep on doing what makes your heart sing and the earth happy. Regardless of how much bullying /bugging/peer pressured you get into championing each of your causes, remember that if you’re doing something right for you, for the animals and the earth with good intention, “ඔයාට වරදින්නෙ නෑ” i.e nothing will go wrong for you.

I’ve been sharing my journey over the past several months on Instagram, and many have asked me exactly how and what I do to try to live a chemical-free lifestyle in Sri Lanka. Here goes:

Alternatives for a Chemical Free Bathroom in Sri Lanka

1. Menstrual Cup

Instead of the disposable sanitary pads and tampons. 

menstrual-cup-in-sri-lanka
Switching to the cup, or cupverting as we like to call it, is the best thing you can do for yourself, your purse and the environment.

Most favourite chemical-free, earth-friendly hygiene product of all time! If you know me, you know my journey with the menstrual cup and how it has changed the lives of close to 140 women in Sri Lanka through Boondh Cups in India. This tiny device is saving me 3000 LKR a year for the rest of my life! 😀 And I create no waste with it and there is no chemical reaction to my body with it. Best invention ever!

Price: 1700 LKR and 3300 LKR (where you can buy one and donate one to another menstruator)
Used to spend: 3000 LKR+ per year

2. Natural crystal deodorant and perfume

chemical-free-deodarant-and-perfume alternative
Perfume and deodorant are harmful for your body. Instead, use a deo crystal or a baking soda mixed with water in a paste. Touch it up with a few drops of essential oil and you’re set!

I’ve not used chemical deodorant since 2017 July and perfume since sometime this year all thanks to this natural crystal deodorant by Gaia Skin Naturals and Aastha Naturals essential oils.

The science behind it is that the crystal particles are larger than the skin pores so it isn’t invasive with the skin i.e. it doesn’t clog the pores like chemical deodorants. It remains as a protective layer around your skin and doesn’t let bacteria grow on it! I first apply the deo crystal as soon as I shower while my pits are still damp, wear my clothes and then dab it some of my home-made natural perfume. I make my own perfume with Aastha Natural essential oil and virgin coconut oil (1:2 parts). Combined, these two keep me from smelling bad!

One of my dance partners told me I smelled like that very expensive Spa brand and I cracked out loud cuz not a single atom of me would spend on big branded nonsense! But in reality, it had just been my combination of oils that I use on my hair and body. During my transition to this chemical-free alternative deodorant, I was nervous, thinking I’d start to smell, especially since I dance, which requires me to be physically close to someone else + a lot of seating! After a year of using it, (and I’ve asked a few people to double check!) it’s all good! 🙂

Price: Deo crystal start from 200 LKR. The two rocks pictured here are 1000 LKR. I got a travel size and a regular use size that will most probably last me 3+ years by the wear pattern seen.
Essential Oil = 1000 LKR per bottle.

Used to spend: 9000LKr on a Versace, was gifted a powder deodorant and an ESCADA bottle as well. See all that plastic I’m adding to earth?

chemical perfumes and deaodarants

3. Natural scrub, lime, and virgin coconut oil

alternatives for a chemical-free bath
Water cleans just as well. Try it.

Instead of chemical-ly, expensive, plastic-packaged shampoo & conditioner, I use water because it cleans just as well. If my hair is extra oily, I squeeze a lime on it. If its dry, I mash an avocado on it. I apply some on my hair, my face and eat it all at the same time!

For body scrub/soap and body lotion I use a concoction of venivel, kokumpothu, sandalwood and iramusu powder (1:1:2:1 ratio) to derive a heavenly scrub that I use once or twice a week to get rid of any dead skin cells. And as for a natural body lotion, virgin coconut oil! Add a drop of essential oil if you want it to smell nice, but coconut oil is just as great! ❤

Price: lime 50 LKR , scrub ingredients cost me about 1000 LKR for over a year’s worth of powder, and virgin coconut oil is 150 LKR per 1/2 a liter.

Used to spend:  3000 LKR on shampoo & conditioner alone per year. Can’t even remember how much I spend on other nonsense, but it was a lot.

 

Chemicals vs natural thinsg
Don’t rub* on your body, what you can’t eat.

My challenge for you is to try having a bath with just water. For a week. See how it works for you. The beauty of alternatives is that you can trial it and see for yourself. If you can’t switch completely, you can at least reduce it! For example, you can shampoo your hair only once or twice a month, but the rest of the times, you can use these natural alternatives.

4. Baking Soda & Vinegar as a cleaning agent

Baking soda and vingar as a natural cleaning agent
Combine baking soda and vinegar to make a natural, chemical-free cleaning agent

Baking soda is awesome! I use it up with a metal scrubber and coconut husks. (Coconut husks and used coconut shavings were used long before green living was a trend in our good ol’ Sri Lankan households. We don’t eat meat/fish in our house, so cutlery doesn’t smell. If at all, we’d use coconut oil as an oily base which washes away.  For floors, I actually just use water to mop the floors and add a bit of pangiri thel to rid of flies etc. For windows, I use vinegar and newspaper.

Price: Baking Soda 400 LKR per kilo which will last you atleast 7 months. Unsure of the price of Vinegar.

Used to spend: All this must be atleast 2000 LKR in total which will last you a year. And where does all that plastic go? Companies don’t give a shit about recycling. So these will end on earth somewhere.

chemical liquid cleaners I used to use
Look at all that nasty chemicals!

A small video clip to remind you what we will remain on earth hundreds of years after we die.

Earth-friendly Alternatives in my daily life

At first, remembering to take these was difficult. I’d be outside wanting to buy something, and then realise I don’t have my cloth bags to put it in. But eventually, it grew on me and now, the same way I take my phone and keys, I remember to stuff these in my bag before I leave the house.

  1. Polythene Bags vs Cloth Bags

    I’ve completely stopped using polythene bags. I’ve asked my family to not bring any to the house as well. I use Cally Reusable Bags for everything from shopping for groceries and on the rare occasion that I buy any clothes. I use a glass jar to bring home the spices I don’t make (rather than bring it in a small polythene bag), I buy lose soy and grains from the pola market when I do the weekly shopping and use Cally Reusable Bags to buy anything I buy from the supermarket such as vegetables and rice.

    plastic-free shopping in sri lanka
    The idea is to reduce the use of plastic. So every little bit helps.
  2. Metal Reusable Lunch Box & Bottle

    I’ve completely stopped buying food in polythene bags or using plastic single-use water bottles. When I travel within Sri Lanka (which I do quite often) or I leave home, I take these three items (minus the cat) with me.

    Metal Water Bottle = 370 LKR
    Metal Lunch Box = 700 LKR
    Cally Reusable Bags with 10 bags = 1900 LKR

    reusable-bottle-lunch-box-no-single-use-plastic
    Essentials in my bag for an earth-friendly life here in Sri Lanka
  3. Cloth serviettes, hanky and butt wipes

    I’ve stopped using tissues whenever I can in restaurants, at home, and at the office. Instead, I use towels. The bleaching in tissues, very much like the bleaching used in pads are dangerous to our bodies. When we use the toilet, we dab our most sensitive parts with these bleached tissues! Yikes!

    alternatives-for-single-use-tissue.jpg

  4. Anything wooden and clay

    I’ve started to make more (rather all) the purchasing decisions in our house, and I actively buy anything that will not harm the earth. Brooms and clay pots for the kitchen so that after I use it, I can throw it away and it will biodegrade without too many negative impacts.

Eco-friendly Sri Lanka

Our ancestors (my grand mom’s time) have been using and reusing almost everything way before all these “earth-friendly”,  “eco-friendly” and “going green” fads saw the light of day. They used and reused everything! There was a time when we had to hand over our used milk bottle to get a new one, waited for the bothal pathataha man (fellow who collects bottles, papers and everything else for recycling) and kept on sewing our shoes when they broke without throwing it away and buying a new pair.  If you have grandparents and even if you ask your parents’ generation, they’d tell you how simple and different and earth-friendly life was those days.

My grandmother used to make her underskirts using my old school uniforms. She’d tell us not to use the fan so much and to use it only if it’s really really hot, or reminded us to always switch the lights off during the day and close the tap when we’re using soap to stop wastage. I thought it was weird. I mean, we paid for it, we want to use it and we have the ability to use it. So why should we not use it? Throughout the years the reason dawned to me.

Nowadays, our generations are completely different. 90% of us just don’t care. I see it so often around me that it breaks my heart to see how insensitive we humans have become with our relationship with nature. We exploit and waste because it is easy for us, because we’re so busy, and we just don’t have time to care. We take, take and take, and take some more. We’re quick to blame the government or the cooperations (who we fund by buying their garbage ) but we don’t take any responsibility to what we as individuals do. We’re as much a part of all this as animals and nature are, and what affects the planet, affects us too.

A friend asked me, ‘What are you proud of this year?’

And this was my answer. The lifestyle choices that I made for myself, my family and the earth. That’s what I’m proud of this year. ❤ By sharing what I do and how I live, I hope I inspire others to live life just a little differently, to be a little more sensitive towards our bodies and earth and to live a life that is good the planet, its beautiful plants and animals and good for you. ❤

living-a-chemical-free-lifestyle-in-srilanka

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Something beautiful

There is something beautiful about falling in love with your friend. You know him. Her body is a familiar place, like home and you’re always welcome, especially after a really bad day.  You just want to be cradled and told that everything will be alright. The beauty in it is that there is no talking; just sitting in silence while you digest a well-deserved Giovanni’s pizza and that’s all the comfort you need in the world at that point. There is something everlasting about the setting sun that soaks you in golden sunbeams and blinds the evening sky with streaks of salmon pink.  There is something very real about new lovers discovering each other, and old lovers stumbling upon long-lost fears. About friends wrapped in each others’ emotions, in each others’ warm skin and the ocean singing her endless song in the background.

There is great meaning behind losing everything and still finding it in you to stand up and walk away from a cheating partner, letting yourself heal after a broken heart and letting the pain strip you down and re-build you from scratch, stronger, gentler. There is depth in being vulnerable with your friends when you confess to them that you have cancer and that you need treatment to be better. There is something beautiful about dancing in the rain, with the energy that swims from a body to body and living your dream of creating art in front of a hall full of friends. There is magic in between your fingers, in the way you reach out to feed rice and curry to your friends like your mother did, fondly, carefully, in the way your fingers run across curly hair, decoding each hair strand and pulling it closer to you, in the same way they move across a keyboard to message someone you like, in the way they cradle an injured baby bird or run across your neck absentmindedly, like an afterthought you hang on to for just a little while longer.

There is something hauntingly beautiful about all these little things in life, that we sometimes miss because life is too fast and we’re too busy trying to keep up with it to actually live life in its moment, right now.

Not okay

I haven’t said this out loud in a while. I’m not okay. I’m saying it again. I’m not okay. Things aren’t that great. My mind is a rush. I haven’t been myself lately. I feel a bit confused. I don’t really know what I’m doing. Or what I should be doing. Things are moving so fast, that I haven’t had any time to make any sense of it. I’ve been in such a rush, getting ahead of myself from yesterday, convincing myself and everyone else that everything is alright, that I’ve forgotten what it feels like when things aren’t okay.

I feel ashamed to admit that I’m not feeling alright. Because everyone else’s lives look so amazing and so incredible, that I feel ashamed to say that mine isn’t going that great. Instagram doesn’t help. Everyone is living a fabulous life on it. (Not me though.) And the worst part is if I say this out loud, people are going to talk behind my back, shaking their head, “Such a nice person no? Didn’t think that will happen. She has everything no. He is so smart no. In vain. api kiwwuane. We told you so. In vain. Such a nice person.”

Well, nice people have off days too. So take a deep breath. Have an off day. Take a day off. It’s okay to not be okay. ❤

Continue reading “Not okay”

Pride and prejudice

Every time someone I love is upset, and doesn’t answer the phone, I panic. I worry that if I don’t reach them, somehow, right now, through a friend or colleague or someone at home, there is a chance that I will never see them again. It happened once, and I will not let it happen again. I didn’t pay enough attention the last time and I lost someone forever. And I don’t think I can live with myself if I ever let it happen again.

Since last year, all of us have been walking on a ticking time bomb of ‘what ifs’. What if we had called before? What if I just sent her a text? What if we’d just listened some more? What did we do wrong that we should have done right? 

The answer to that, I’ve found out throughout the months, is nothing.

There was absolutely nothing that you could have done to change what happened. No decision, phone call or angel, would have changed the course of her destiny.

So I’m tired of aunties asking us “Do you know what happened? Did she tell you anything at all? Were there signs? You were her friends, no?” I want to slap them on their confused-ass face and tell them, “No, I don’t know what happened. I didn’t live her life, I don’t know what made her do what she did. I don’t know what it feels like to go through what she did and say ‘oh, if it were me, I would not have done such a stupid thing’. I couldn’t have possibly told you what would make someone normal, like you or me, someone who was just texting us the night before asking to see us the next day for lunch, do something as crazy as jump in front of a train.”

The thing with people is that, no two are the same. The way I react when something happens to me, will not be the same way that you react when the same thing happens to you. If someone as sane and normal and fun and amazing as she, could do something so incredibly out-of-this-world, I do not, for one millisecond, doubt that someone normal, like you or me, can do something just as outrageous.

Since then, I’ve tried to understand why someone would do something that is considered out of their normal behaviour. I’ve run over that thought over and over again; the same way that I’ve run my tongue over and over again on the place where a wisdom tooth is emerging, rupturing the gum underneath. And I’ve searched and searched and searched, and ended up with nothing, except the annoying feeling of an unwanted wisdom tooth. There is no right or wrong way that someone will act in a situation that shatters their world. There is no telling what you or I would do if we were cornered into a cavern where we could see no escape.

So you have no right to say that what she did was wrong, unless you have done the same.

When someone is going through a shit-storm, they just need you to listen to them and tell them that it is going to be okay. Not how if it were you, how you would do it differently. Or how stupid they’ve been or how they’re going to be in trouble.

You just need someone to tell you that it is okay.

No matter what has happened, regardless of what you have done, it will be okay.

Just that one phrase. “It will be okay.”

I wish I had said it to her enough. I wish I had told her some more.

I wish she had had someone to say it to her.

Just that one phrase.

It will be okay.

Menstrual Cups in Sri Lanka

Menstrual Cups in Sri Lanka

The magical Menstrual Cup is now available in Sri Lanka!

Since I’ve tried the menstrual cup, I’ve been telling any woman who would listen to me, about it! 😀  By the end of 2018, I’ve cupverted 140 women since I first spoke about this on my previous post Bleeding into a cup in Sri Lanka and so many women have sent inquiries about the cup since then. About 30 women have reserved cups from boondh.

I’m psyched that so many of you approached me asking about it, sending emails and messages back and forth and discussing possibilities of using it.

Congratulations on wanting to take this giant leap!

I guarantee that it will change your life forever, for the better! If you haven’t reserved one yet, please email me on nadeeshapaulis@gmail.com. I can’t wait for you to try it out and feel fabulous! ❤ 🙂

Here’s a small summary of what the menstrual cup is for those of you who are new to the idea.

 

How much is the menstrual cup?

Boondh is a social enterprise in India and I’m just trying to spread the love here. I bought it from them since it’s tested by them plus it serves their cause. Profits will fund their campaigns and make available cups to women in low-income communities. When you buy from Boondh, you sponsor 10+ years of someone’s menstrual product!

PRICE

Single Cup: 1700 LKR
Together Cup: 3300 LKR where when you buy 1 cup, you donate another cup to a rural menstruator in India and also support boondh in their work.

You can select colours from Sunshine Yellow, Imperial Red, Fuschia (pink) and Teal.

menstrual_cups_in_sri_lanka_bleeding_women

What’s included?

  • 1 Menstrual Cup
  • 1 user manual ‘How to use your boondh cup’
  • 1 cute pouch to carry the cup with you

your_boondh_cup_includes_menstrual_cup_manual_and_pouch

How to use your Menstrual Cup?

The first rule of using this cup is that you have to be on your period because the blood acts as a lubricant and makes the cup slide up your fanny — no hassle. There is an instruction manual attached to it also so you will be fine. Feel free to message me anytime and I will help answer your questions. If you send me questions, I’ll add them here as an FAQ too so others can benefit from it.

There are a lot of articles and videos out there that show you how to do it, but let me tell you what I do. Will add a short clip here soon too.

FAQ’s

I’m filing this space up with questions that you want answered. So please send / comment and so on so I can have it open for everyone who’s curious. We can discuss more when you meet me to pick the cup.

  1. How do you know how far in it has to go? 
    No part of the cup can be outside your body and you cannot feel it if you have inserted it right. Even the little nob at the base has to be inside, but just within reach when you put a finger. Don’t worry, it won’t go in too far as only liquids can go past your cervix.
  2. Do you put it right when you see you got your period? I can’t predict my period.
    Just as soon as you see red on your undies, similar to a pad or tampon. 
  3. I’m scared it won’t come out. What do I do if I can’t get it out?
    Just breathe and push down (thatamanna) as though you’re going to poop or push a baby out. Put two fingers in and pinch the base of the cup. This breaks the vacuum and you can pull it out. It was easy for me to get mine out when I pushed down on my pelvic muscles. If it doesn’t work the first time, come back later and try again. On your first attempt taking it out, remember, do not panic. If you panic, there is a chance that your vaginal muscles will tense and you will find it more difficult to take out.
  4. Does it hurt when you insert it?
    Personally, it didn’t hurt, just a slight “pressured” sensation for the first few seconds which is also rather pleasant when the cup is warm after sterilisation till I push it past the flappy bits at the vagina opening. I did a little standing up/ squatting ritual till the rim of the cup was inside and just pushed it and –floop- it slides into place and opens up. And after that, I don’t even feel it. I am not exaggerating. You don’t even feel it inside you. I have got feedback saying that taking the cup out hurts a bit. This is probably because the opening of the cup is larger when it comes out than it goes in.
  5. How often do I have to sterilise it?
    Wash hands well with soap before you handle the cup. You can wash the cup in boiling / warm water before the first use in every cycle. Rinse it with normal water between insertions. If I was at home, I just dipped it in boiling water too since I had access to it just cuz I could. But it’s not compulsory.
  6. I have a heavy flow. Will the cup be enough for me? 
    A woman will bleed about 30 to 40 ml. That’s about half a cup or a few tablespoons. A sanitary pad will hold about 5ml but as you already know, it looks like you’re bleeding a river down there. That’s probably because of the way the pad absorbs, and it gives us the false impression of how much we bleed. The boondh cup holds 12 ml of blood, which is why we can wear it for longer, almost 8 to 10 hours even on the first day.
  7. Do I lose my virginity when I use it?
    No. And here is a comprehensive article as to why that is a no.
  8. What about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? TSS (which mimics flu symptoms) occurs when bacteria grows. This can be avoided by sterilising the cup before you use + only having it inside you for 8 – 12 hours at a stretch.
  9. What if I can’t sterilise it before I use it? If you don’t have the facility to sterilise the cup right before you insert it (travelling etc) you can sterilise the cup, store it in a clean, dry place and insert the cup within 24 hours. Reason being, not everything you stick up there, is sterilised.

You might take a few tries to get to the rhythm of it. Once you do, you’re going to be writing your own blogs and testimonials and buying these magic cups to your girlfriends asll. Trust me on that one! 🙂

getting_periods_sri_lanka

 

I’ve also opened up Instagram and Facebook social media pages to reach more people. So give us a follow to join the talk on all things period. ❤

Bleeding into a cup in Sri Lanka

Bleeding into a cup in Sri Lanka

I am in a revelation. I am on the third day of my periods and I am not wearing a pad! I haven’t been wearing one for this entire period, and I am ecstatic. I don’t have an annoying sandwich-like wad of tissue and plastic in between my legs and I do not even feel like I am on my periods (save for the usual cramps that announce my monthly flower). Before you gag and call me an unhealthy heretic, hear me out because this, my dear, may as well change your life as a woman forever.

When I was in India last year September (a trip I cannot stop talking about because it changed who I am as a person) I met a feisty young woman named Sonal. Sonal is from Chennai and she is travelling across India exploring her beautiful country AND trying to push a cup inside every woman’s body. Literally. She is the co-founder of Boondh Cup, a social enterprise in India that is trying really hard to cupvert as much of it’s female population as possible (That’s 623.72 million women which is 51.5% of the whole population as of 2011). How she does it I have no idea, (a lot of meetings and convincing I suspect) but the fact that she introduced me to the menstrual cup has changed who I am and how I look at myself as a woman forever.

Sonal casually brought up the idea and the product itself from her depths and just talked about it. I was curious at first, as in “What is that thing and does it go up in my vajajay?” and “Why the heck should I bother with yet another thing that goes up my vagina?”. She spoke about something that is close to my heart; the environment and the waste we create as menstruating women. I had never thought of it before. I always brought pads, used them and burnt/buried/flushed them. I didn’t think of me leaving such a big mess for mother earth to clean up after. I was horrified to find that baby’s disposable nappies cannot even be burnt because of the material in them (according to my aunt who is looking after her granddaughter and ends up throwing it away from the garbage folks to collect) but I never thought of the impact on the environment that I made. 

I began by ripping the pads up (cotton and plastic separately, mind you) and flushing it down the loo. Bad idea because it clogs the drain. I then started wrapping the pad in paper and storing it in a bin to dispose of later. But I had to wait until my whole period was over so that I can do it all in one go. And then this pile would start smelling and attract flies and worms. And then I try burying it only for my dog (or the neighbourhood thalagoya) to sniff it out and bring it to the front yard and make a massive mess on the lawn for me to clean up the next day before rushing to work!? Finally, I tried burning it because What the absolute frick!!?! But no, the material in it would only half burn (and the dog and the damn thalagoya happens anyway) so I had to put thinner on it to make it burn but that would also still leave some waste. And I just repeat to myself “It’s just once a month, don’t stress over it, just get it over it, and don’t think about it too much.” Since I moved, I don’t have a backyard and I wondered how the women who live in apartments / don’t have backyards dispose of it. I have never let anyone else apart from myself touch my own pads so no, throwing it out on to the garbage truck is not happening.

Since I was interested in the cup, Sonal was keen on sending me a cup somehow all the way from India. It was only this year, in March too, that I finally stuck it in. -pun- Following is an IG post on the day I received the package including the breakdown of the cost involved in menstruating in Sri Lanka. You might detect a hint of uncertainty in my voice. But now that I have used it, my confidence and faith in this magical instrument evidently blows up in your face.

 

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This Women's Day, I want to divert your attention not to 'a woman' or 'a group of women', but something that all women at one point of their life -for almost 50 years on average- experience. And that is periods. . When I was in India, I was introduced to the menstrual cup. I've heard about this, but never really paid any attention bcs it didn't matter to me either way. I LOVE getting my period (I picture "this is Sparta" happening down there, & I feel empowered & alive and shit) and pads get it done, so why bother? But I was talking to Sonal Jain (sweetheart, adventure lover and tree hugger. Also co-founder of @boondhcups ) & I realised that all these DISPOSABLE tampons & pads actually make up a LOT of waste.. . Here's the math. Min 3 pads a day x 4 days = 12, & 12×12 makes 144 and 144 x 50 years (lets say i bleed for roughly that amount) makes 7200 pads in my entire life! Multiply that by the number of women who have access to pads (population is roughly 52% women & atleast half of it is menstruating) & that's just a LOT OF waste. I used to burn mine, but it would still leave some residue behind. Can everyone burn their pads after they use it? People living in apartments etc probably can't. Stuffing it down the loo just ends up clogging your drainage & that's just a 🤦. . A packet of pad in Sri Lanka is about 120 bucks (that's the cheapest brand) we use atleast 11 packs a year. That's 1320 LKR a year and how many years do you bleed? 😁 (Say roughly 50 years, that's 60k) Dude, that's a lot of money. Also, what about the women who don't have access? My aunt speaks of an age where they used cloth folded and stuffed in their panty, which often leaks out too. I'm assuming that's what people do. But there is a question of hygiene when reusing cloth. A menstrual cup can range from LKR 400 – 2500 (depending on where you buy it on eBay or @boondhcups) but considering you can use this your whole life, I'd say that was an investment.. . I'm yet to try this miracle device, and March 2018 is the year. It sounds a little scary to be honest, but my friends who use it say I have nothing to worry.. ♥️😁 so hear goes. 🌷 #bleeding #periods #boondhcup #womensday

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My personal journey with the menstrual cup

I have been transformed. I have transformed from that woman who chases after her dog and walks around the humid tropical Sri Lankan climate baking a period soaked pad between her legs. I am now free.

  • I can swim, an activity I avoided although periods do tend to pause while you’re submerged in water because of the pressure difference. I didn’t want trails of blood following me and any wondering sharks to eat me while I was swimming in the ocean. Since I backpack a lot, I need this kind of magic because I just cannot deal with a pad when I’m hiking a mountain.
  • I bachata and kizomba, another activity I avoid when I have periods because it somehow made me very insecure to be with a man, most of the times a stranger within that level of proximity to be comfortable enough to dance during my period.
  • No leaks; once the cup is inside you, it creates a vacuum and seals the hole preventing leaks. When I looked at the pad, I felt I bled gallons. But actually, it is not a lot of bleeding. I don’t even bleed a half cup on the slow flow days and just less than a full cup on a heavy day. The blood is spread out on the pad and also leaks when it’s saturated, which is why we “think” we bleed such a lot. I used to wear pads for four days but now I only bleed three with the cup! I assume it’s because it collected the blood from the inside. Saw that!? Periods even reduced by a day! Whoever heard of a three days period?! 😮
  • I don’t have to spend on pads, battle with my dog to dispose of it. In essence, I am never sighting a pad ever again in my life. (A moment of silence to a sanitary napkin manufacturer who just lost a customer who would have otherwise paid over 60k during her entire lifetime).
  • I reduce my carbon footprint by a significant amount.
  • I can sleep without waking up on the Japanese flag.
  • I can pee/poop normally, without messing with pads/tampons. If you haven’t noticed, (and one of my dear friends actually went and counted) we have three holes to do three different things. I initially felt worried that the cup would plop out, so I took it out and did it. See, it’s the same motion of bearing down or ‘thatamanawa’ that you have to do when you shit too. But later on the 2nd day and so on, I just pooped with it and it wasn’t an issue. I read this article about pooping with a menstrual cup just to ease the tension. -tee hee-

In short – it feels insane. I am never ever bothering with pads or tampons ever again.

Even though I now sound like I bloody invented this cup, to be very honest, I was scared at first. It felt weird to even consider doing this thing. Here are a few of the questions that I found myself asking.

  1. What if it gets lost in there? It will not because only liquids go past your cervix. This cup will come out, the same way a small human being pops out of you, or a dick, or a dildo, or your fingers.
  2. What if something goes wrong and something like “American Pie” happens? The worst thing that could happen with a cup is that it might leak due to incorrect placement but no, it is not going to get stuck in there.
  3. What if it hurts when I stick it in? Personally, it didn’t hurt, just a slight “pressured” sensation for the first few seconds which is also rather pleasant when the cup is warm after sterilisation till I push it past the flappy bits at the vagina opening. I did a little standing up/ squatting ritual till the rim of the cup was inside and just pushed it and –floop- it slides into place and opens up. And after that, I don’t even feel it. I am not exaggerating. You don’t even feel it inside you.
    And ehem, darling, to keep things in perspective, it’s going to hurt way more when you push a human being out of your fanny for far longer time frame, so a slight discomfort for a few seconds is nothing compared to that. Even if you won’t be pushing a human being out of your fanny, these few seconds of uneasiness is still worth it to eliminate all your period woes. It also feels like inserting a finger or two in there, first, it’s slightly uncomfortable and -floop- then it’s in. Also much like a dick. Or a dildo.
    When you’re removing it, you have to pinch the cup and break the suction or vacuum created by it. Then it’s just a matter of pulling it out. Don’t worry though, you will get it right when you use it a few times.
  4. Is it safe? Very much so. The only hiccup would be an infection that gets into your vee vee during the inserting process. This we avoid by washing our hands very well before using the cup and sterilising the cup with hot/boiling water between cycles. I try to sterilise between uses too just to be on the safe side. It’s also safer than having a chemical induced wad of cotton and plastic wedged up against your vagina.
    I cook in the morning so I had to wait until all the spicy-ness goes away from my fingers before I handled the cup. Also I noticed that my nail polish was flaking so I removed it because I didn’t want any bits going in there.
  5. What if I lose my virginity? *Takes a deep breath* If by virginity you mean the first time you have sex, the answer is a strict no, you cannot have sex with a menstrual cup for the first time. If at all, virginity is not something you lose. We need to move away from that mindset.
  6. What about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? TSS (which mimics flu symptoms) occurs when bacteria grows. This can be avoided by sterilising the cup before you use + only having it inside you for 8 – 12 hours at a stretch.
  7. What if I can’t sterilise it before I use it? If you don’t have the facility to sterilise the cup right before you insert it (travelling etc) you can sterilise the cup, store it in a clean, dry place and insert the cup within 24 hours. Reason being, not everything you stick up there, isn’t sterilised.

Here’s a video that you might want to watch about this whole virginity business. And another one here.

If you have any more questions, please ask me and I would be happy to help you out with it! 🙂

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Bleeding does not mean that you are weak or dirty, it means that you are functioning and beautiful and courageous and powerful.

Why do you need a menstrual cup?

I don’t have to specifically jot down the woes of periods. It’s different for everyone. I personally love getting mine because a) I know I am not pregnant and b) it feels ridiculously empowering somehow to gush human blood out of me for several days and not die. It’s not as easy or pleasant for 99.9% of my friends. (I literally know only ONE other human being who LOVES getting her period, she know who she be when she read this cuz we connect over that ish 😀 )

It could be for different reasons for everyone. For me personally, it’s the following three.

  • Convenience: A tampon can be worn for maximum 3 or 4 hours. A pad can be worn maybe 5 or 6 hours. A menstrual cup can be even worn for 12 hours at a stretch. Sonal said she tested hers for 50 hours, i.e. two whole days. I personally only change my cup maybe twice on the one heavy flow day and once during the rest of the days.
  • Cost: Bro, need I even begin? You calculate how much you spend on sanitary towels and you tell me. (Or just refer to the above Instagram post) At the minimum, LKR 100,000 per lifetime. The menstruation cup is 1600 for a  single cup and 3200 for a Together Cup where with each cup you by, you donate a cup to a rural menstruator in India. It is also lifetime investment. You just need ONE for your entire lifetime.
  • Comfort: DUUUUUUUUDE. You cannot feel it. You cannot. (If you can feel it, you might be wearing it wrong.) No more feeling of a sandwich stuck between your legs. No more diaper rashes. No more sweaty and overcrowded groins in this hectic heat. It’s as though you are just you, no periods. Just you.

Here is a video about the things we don’t know about sanitary napkins. And the truth is quite shocking.

 

Another short video about what the menstrual cup is done by Boondh.

Finally, why am I orchestrating around writing these lengthy blogs and texting my friends like I suddenly found the solution to all of the problems of women? Because I feel like this is it. I feel like this is the answer. Not to all the problems of all womenkind in the world, by God no, but the solution to some of it.

I think this menstrual cup magic should just spread like the bloody bubonic plague until it reaches all women across the globe. Sometimes we forget that bleeding for you and I is not the same for another woman somewhere else. Women who do not have access to safe menstrual health, girls who have trouble going to school because of various socio-cultural and emotional aspects of menstruating and as a result, lag behind in school work and education thereby further reducing their ability to work and create wealth, women and girls who cannot afford the heavy cost of sanitary napkins, women who are not confident or comfortable enough to do sports or go to school or go about their day because they are bleeding. It is enough that bleeding is painful to many, but to deal with all the other complications of it is just too much.

Bleeding does not mean that you are weak or dirty, it means that you are functioning and beautiful and courageous and powerful.

I also feel that I want to share this new found experience with all my lady friends, the same way I heard about it from one of my lady friends, thereby creating a chain of support and awareness, and hopefully positive change. A huge shout it to Sonal and Bharti who founded Boondh and are pioneering a movement to move away from the stigma of menstruating and to promote safe sanitary options for bleeding women in India, and now Sri Lanka and recently I heard they sent ten cups to the Netherlands so the happiness is spreading!

One thing I wanted to do this year, was to push myself. I promised myself in January that I would push myself to do what I am afraid of doing, to do things that I would not have otherwise done out of fear of failing or ridicule. It is not that I am not afraid. Oh, I am very very afraid. But I choose to overcome it. Because it is always the choice.

If by reading this blog, you felt that this intrigued you by 1%, please don’t be shy. Talk to me and we can discuss how this magical menstrual cup can change your life. We can arrange for a menstrual cup to be delivered to you too. Do a lot of reading on it to get an idea of it, talk to people who use it, watch videos and do your research and just bleed happily!

This is me yammering on about the cup to lifeonline after one of the cupverts wanted to really get the word out there. ❤

How to get your own magic menstrual cup?

There are two types of cups sold by Boondh. As it is a social enterprise, the profits of each sale will go to fund their campaigns and make available cups to women in low-income communities. With each cup you purchase, you will sponsor 10+ years of someone’s menstrual product! Price per cup is 1700 LKR and 3300 where you can donate another cup to another menstruator.

If you’re in India, place an order here to get it delivered right to you. Yay!

If you’re in Sri Lanka, email me on nadeeshapaulis@gmail.com with your contact details and I will get one delivered to you from Boondh. I will keep you on the list and try to get it before your next period! 😀

You can also buy a cup online too. Brands such as moon cup, diva cup and juju are all good. Prices range from $2 to 50$. Just check if they have the relevant certifications. Since I haven’t tested any of those, I can’t comment on it. I feel the design and size (12 ml)  of the boondh cup are ideal for me, so I recommend it to you also. The cup has to be made of medical grade silicone that doesn’t react with the body. Read some reviews too.

I’ve also opened up Instagram and Facebook social media pages to reach more people. So give us a follow to join the talk on all things period.

How to take care of your menstrual cup?

  1. Store it in a cool, dry box/pouch when you’re not using it
  2. Before every cycle, wash it well and sterilise it using boiled water. steralising the menstrual cup.jpgI don’t sometimes boil it on the stove as seen in the video, but just plonk it in a cup with boiling water at office/home/ travelling.
  3. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after your cycle is over. There are small holes near the rim of the cup that you need to make sure to unclog and clean well.  I’ve highlighted the holes in yellow in this pic. >
  4. I don’t usually use soap to wash the cup before or during my period because I try to be as chemical-free as I can. I use soap only after every cycle before I store it away to get rid of any odours and grease. But it’s up to you. A gentle baby soap is fine.
  5. Your cup will generally be odour-free if it is washed and cleaned well.

 

Here’s to all the women who bleed proud, bleed blessed and bleed just fucking bleed. ❤

buy menstrual cups in srilanka

Before her, after her

I am happy, so blissfully, carelessly, temporarily, happy. It was close to midnight, again, as many interesting things happen close to midnight. I was surrounded by love. People in love, people who had lost love and people who sought love, endlessly, compassionately, selflessly. Like a seething horizon disappearing into the sky, love flowed through our veins, like alcohol or electrons and love was present in the air around us. There is love in the most absolute, insignificant of places, and I had forgotten. For a fleeting second, I had forgotten that the world is good and that it will continue to be good and that there will always be sadness. There will be sadness when you lose someone, unexpectedly, unfairly. When someone decides that it is enough, and everything changes. Everything tumbles out, lose and disobedient. What changed? She got lost, and I lost a part of me with her. At times I am okay. I am alive, and I am happy, going about my day and focussing on my things. But at other times, and these times are rare, I sink in. I sink into a hole inside me and I think I will never come out. This is a hole inside my chest, where my heart used to be. I can feel it sometimes, existing within me but when I fall, I can feel it beating and I relive that day, horribly, irreversibly, unforgivingly.  Like rewinding chapters in my favorite book. We are back in school, and we are buying elvalu roti, vegetable roti. We don’t have money, so we ask our teacher who loves us just too much but doesn’t say it out loud, and we buy elavalu roti and head back to class, elated that our prayers have been answered. We head back to share our prized possession with everyone, vowing to ourselves that when we grow up, we would have plenty of money to eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Our bubbles burst when suddenly, out of nowhere, a crow swoops in, pecks at our hands —we scream—  and drop our food, only for it to be carried away, hopefully, to feed some starving crow babies. And that was the end of that. I am here again, in the present, and there is happiness all around me. The fondness of the memory fades away slowly, and while I try to cling to it, I can feel it slipping through my fingers. No matter how hard I try to hold on to its innocence, I can’t. Our lives seem to have a “before and after”. Before her, and after her. I have unknowingly categorised my life’s memories into two parts. Before her, after her.

When I recall something from my past, I would wonder if she was there somewhere in the world and if yes, this memory would be innocent. A carefree, peaceful time. A time when I didn’t know of sadness. No matter how much emotion that was involved in it, this is a memory of innocence. But if she is not there, this memory is somehow, cruel, dirty, ugly. Regardless of how happy the memory was, how passionate it was, or how exciting — if she was not present somewhere, there was no innocence. And I can feel myself falling into this hole, and it is that day all over again. I feel tired and I can’t move. I hold myself, wrap my arms around myself so my pieces don’t fall out and spill across the grass. Slowly, gradually, I allow myself to sink in and see her. I see her at school with us, being a pandithaya, a “know-it-all”, I see her buying jeans at Kelly Felder, I see her wringing her clothes after a dip in a pond, I see her on my back as I carry her and she clamps her hand over my mouth because I am saying something naughty. Laughing, eyes closed as she always blinks exactly at the wrong time, and she is asleep in almost all our pictures. Sometimes, I wish I had more memories so I can visit them again and again and it is beautiful again. I wish I had paid more attention, recorded them in a mind cassette somewhere. And other times, and these times are rare, I wish I did not remember anything at all.

When I am with her, I notice her neck, and I craddle mine in assurance. She is wearing a beautiful necklace — it goes right around her neck — and I am standing next to her, watching her sleep in her wooden box and all I notice is the missing neckless. She is not wearing it, only a small gash on her right cheek to remind me that this is the memory. The memory that I will never forget, and yet, the one I will always want to forget. This is the reminder that I am not Alice, and this is not Wonderland. When I wake up, there will be no fairy tale, and I will be empty even though I feel alive, so. very. alive.