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Reglas y Copas (Periods & Cups): Talking Menstrual Health and Cups with Menstruators in El Porvenir

On November 19, together with Honduras Child Alliance (HCA) and Saalt, we carried out the first Reglas y Copas event: a menstrual education workshop for menstruators in El Porvenir, Honduras. The first part of the workshop was co-facilitated by TabuTabu (virtually) and HCA educators (locally), and explored the changes in the body during the menstrual cycle, the cultural shame and stigmas, as well as the internalized beliefs around periods, building participants’ self-understanding and confidence. In the second part of the workshop, the 15 participants chose their Saalt cup, and Saalt carried out their training on cup use and care. Here are the details!

Participants of the first Reglas y Copas workshop in El Porvenir, Honduras.
Why talk menstrual hygiene in El Porvenir?

El Porvenir is a coastal town in Honduras, which is one of the seven countries in Central America. According to recent estimates, almost three-fourths of the population live in poverty, and over half of the households in extreme poverty; many Hondurans do not have access to basic healthcare and sanitation and education.

Menstrual hygiene management is a challenge in many low-income communities because period products are often costly. Without accurate information on how to manage periods safely, menstruators with tight budgets can find alternative or inadequate methods of managing their flow, which can have an impact on their health. In some cases, when period hygiene is not maintained, bacteria in the vagina/vulva can lead to life-threatening complications (i.e. toxic shock syndrome).

What is menstruation education?

In short, menstruation education promotes learning all about periods and the menstrual cycle, including which products are available to maintain good menstrual hygiene. Maintaining menstrual hygiene can avoid urinary or reproductive tract infections, and nurture menstruators’ overall health and well-being.

Menstruation education also fosters body literacy, which is the understanding of the way bodies function. People who understand how the body works can feel more connected, at ease, and self-confident. They are also more likely to make conscious and empowered decisions about their bodies, and be able to communicate these more effectively - with their partner(s), and/or health professionals.

Menstruation education also covers information on how the menstrual cycle links to fertility and pregnancy. At TabuTabu, we see this as an excellent entry point into broader sexuality-related topics (ex. safer sex and the importance of intentional family planning), allowing us to even touch upon anatomy (ex. the hymen, and sexual initiation vs. the social concept of virginity) and pleasure (ex. period cramps are caused by the sheathing of the lining of the uterine wall, and can be alleviated by the contraction of an orgasm).

Here’s an overview of what the Reglas y Copas workshop covered:

🩸 Overview of menstruation and menstruators

🩸 Messages around menstruation in society

🩸 The four phases of the menstrual cycle, and the changes that the body goes through

🩸 The importance of menstrual hygiene

🩸 Menstrual hygiene product options

🩸 The hymen, and the social construct of virginity (to address one of the common barriers to products that are inserted in the vagina)

🩸 Sharing experiences of using menstrual hygiene products

Reglas y Copas overview of Menstrual Hygiene Products (disposable products on the left of the thicker yellow vertical line, reusable products on the right)
What are menstrual cups?

A menstrual cup is a reusable menstrual hygiene product that collects menstrual blood. Similar to a tampon, it is inserted into the vagina, and when placed correctly, is not felt by the user. It can be worn for up to twelve hours before it needs to be emptied, and is reusable for up to 10 years!

  • There are various benefits menstrual cup users have over using other period products:

  • Increased comfort when placed correctly

  • Less interference with activities because it is internal (swim, sports, sleep without worrying about pads being visible or (un)comfortable!)

  • Less irritation because no friction on the vulva

  • Decreased odor because the blood is collected internally, and then simply emptied out in the bathroom or sink

  • Ability to wear the cup for up to 12 hours without emptying - far longer than a pad or tampon needs replacing!

Menstrual cups also have a significantly reduced impact on the environment versus alternative disposable menstrual hygiene products. They can be used for up to 10 years, replacing approximately 3000 pads and tampons from landfill! For more information, visit Saalt.

When used and cared for correctly, menstrual cups are safe, reusable, and discreet, and can therefore be a great method for menstruators to manage their periods. Through programs such as Saalt’s, cups are made available to menstruators that may not have the means to make the up-front investment, helping them both maintain menstrual hygiene and health, and save the expense of recurrently purchasing disposable products.

Here’s an overview of what Saalt’s training covered:

🩸Overview of what the Saalt menstrual cup is, how to use it, and the benefits

🩸Different sizes of cups and how to choose

🩸How to clean the cup before the first use

🩸Different types of cup folds and body positions for ease of insertion

🩸How to remove the cup, and wash and store it

🩸Helpful advice and key reminders for cup users

🩸Troubleshooting cup use with leaking

Reglas y Copas participants testing different folds for insertion of the menstrual cup
What's next?

After the Reglas y Copas workshop, HCA will stay in touch with participants and check in with them in 5 months. This will allow menstruators to have multiple opportunities to try the Saalt cups during their periods if they choose to do so, and be able to provide feedback. We will be asking them to complete a survey to understand how helpful the workshop was in terms of improving body literacy and agency with regards to managing their periods. We will also be seeking to understand their attitudes towards and uptake of the Saalt menstrual cup in their menstrual hygiene routines. So watch this space for more!

About the collaboration

Honduras Child Alliance offers community-based educational programs in the beach town El Porvenir. As of early 2021, TabuTabu partners with them to prepare their team to integrate age-appropriate sexuality education activities into their ongoing programming. When Saalt reached out to HCA to trial the use of menstrual cups with menstruators in El Porvenir as part of their own Impact initiatives, HCA turned to us to develop a preparatory workshop that would make trial participants more receptive to this menstrual hygiene product… and so we did!


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