Suttle Design
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Other: The Menstrual Cup For Anyone With a Uterus

Other is a menstrual product that does not assume gender identity of the person using it. Regardless how you identify: as a woman, man, neither, or other, the Other Cup is a new menstrual experience. The Other Cup is designed to minimize the interaction with menstrual fluid, both physically and visually.

 

 
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by Mary Suttle

About

Other is a menstrual product that does not assume gender identity of the person using it. Regardless how you identify: as a woman, man, neither, or other, the Other Cup is a new menstrual experience. The Other Cup is designed to minimize the interaction with menstrual fluid, both physically and visually.

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Whats up with the term 'feminine hygiene'?

When I began this project, I wanted to tackle the social issues surrounding menstruation. I specifically focused in on the term “feminine hygiene.” Not everyone who menstruates is a woman, so the term “feminine hygiene” can be alienating and dismissive of other genders. If you have a uterus, and are not taking hormones to suppress menstruation, you can menstruate regardless of your gender identity.


Toxic Materials + Loud Packaging + Gendered Product = 'Feminine Hygiene'

I interviewed and surveyed over two hundred people to find out how they feel about their periods. Many of the men I interviewed told stories of not changing tampons in public, going past the allotted time they should be inserted. They were more afraid of being “outed” due to the loud packaging than the possible toxic infection they could get from leaving a tampon in too long. Even merely carrying menstrual products around was a risk, because the packaging was overtly feminine normative.


Tampons were always uncomfortable or painful despite being very careful to put them in properly. Due to dysphoria I also couldn’t handle sticking my hands around or up that area, which is why I never tried cups.
— Anonymous Survey Respondent
It’s incredibly gender dysphoric when they aren’t discreet. They (pads and tampons) don’t feel discreet, they’re loud to open particularly in a men’s bathroom, they’re overly feminine in packaging (pinks/purples and traditionally feminine patterns if any at all).
— Anonymous Survey Respondent
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The problems with menstrual products does not stop there.

Aside from being extremely gendered, alienating, and sexist; menstrual products pose a danger to an individual's health and the health of our planet.

Kane, J. (2015, May 18). Here’s How Much A Woman’s Period Will Cost Her Over A Lifetime. Retrieved January, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/period-cost-lifetime_n_7258780.html  Mercola, D. J. (2013, June 17). Women Beware: Most Feminine Hygiene Products Contain Toxic Ingredients. Retrieved February, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/feminine-hygiene-products_b_3359581.html  Taylor, S. J. (2016, February 17). The Pink Tax: Why Women’s Products Often Cost More. Retrieved January, 2017, from http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-02-17/the-pink-tax-why-womens-products-often-cost-more

Kane, J. (2015, May 18). Here’s How Much A Woman’s Period Will Cost Her Over A Lifetime. Retrieved January, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/period-cost-lifetime_n_7258780.html

Mercola, D. J. (2013, June 17). Women Beware: Most Feminine Hygiene Products Contain Toxic Ingredients. Retrieved February, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/feminine-hygiene-products_b_3359581.html

Taylor, S. J. (2016, February 17). The Pink Tax: Why Women’s Products Often Cost More. Retrieved January, 2017, from http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-02-17/the-pink-tax-why-womens-products-often-cost-more

Insights from Research

Taking all of the pain points and problems into consideration, I wanted to design a menstrual product that would: reduce the physical confrontation to blood and one’s genitalia, have materials that do not pose a danger to one’s health, had discreet secondary packaging, and had branding that was not “feminine” or dismissive of other genders aside from “female.”

Concept Development

As I began developing possible design concepts, I wanted to eliminate all risk of toxic materials or risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). Medical grade silicone would allow for this safety. From there, I began developing concepts for a menstrual cup that eliminated the need to manual insert the cup into your vagina.

Prototyping

I tested eight different versions of my menstrual cup.  I created low fidelity 3D printed molds that allowed for rapid prototyping and testing of the cup functionality. I cast over three dozen cups testing cure time,  durometer, fill technique, and mold material. If you need to know anything about silicone durometer, I'm your girl! For the packaging, I created mock ups that allowed me to test packaging functionality and overall experience.

Branding and Packaging Inspiration

For the packaging and branding, I was inspired by the aesthetic and emotion of the packaging for high end electronics and gender neutral skincare. High end electronics have a very subdued and luxurious packaging, while gender neutral skincare have very stylish but inherently gender neutral branding. In my branding and packaging, I was creating an entirely new menstrual experience: one that you did not have to dread or hide.

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Branding

When developing brand identity, I decided the brand imagery would need to be inherently gender neutral and friendly. I selected Ududo Soft as the font because it was neither masculine or feminine, and it had a friendly feel. Ududo Soft is friendly rather than being aggressive, strong, flirty, or curvy, which are inherently gendered. I chose to use a medium weight, which seems neither too masculine (heavy weight) or feminine (light weight).  The colors chosen were black, white, and blood red as an accent color. The red "period" at the end of "Other" is a playful hint at the function of the product without being too overt.

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Packaging Concept Development

The packaging concepts were designed to be completely unrecognizable as menstrual care packaging. The experience of opening the packaging and interacting with it was to feel luxurious and high end, rather than cheap and disposable like current interactions with existing menstrual care packaging. The branding on the exterior would be limited, so buying the product at the store would not draw attention or bring on unwanted anxiety of possibly being seen buying the product.

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Final Concept

The final concept consists of a reusable menstrual cup, reusable applicator, branding, external packaging, and internal disposable packaging. I created a full solution that took all of the pain points of conventional menstrual products into account.

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Final Product & Packaging

The final cup and applicator were silicone cast in a high fidelity 3D printed mold. The packaging is a play on red blood on white menstrual products. There is no information printed on the box, so the user must open it to learn more. The slight stripe of red around the parting line dares the user to open the box. The blood red color on the packaging is a promise: this is the last time you will see blood red again

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The Other Cup is inserted with an applicator, then opens once inserted to collect menstrual fluid once inserted. After twelve hours the cup is removed with the same reusable silicone applicator, and a new clean cup is inserted. The cup and applicator are then deposited into hemostatic packaging that absorbs the menstrual fluid as you go about your day, and the cup can be rinsed later at your convenience at home.

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The interior has space for storing the applicator, cup, and hemostatic packaging, at home in a bathroom when not in use.

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Other is the world’s first menstrual solution that considers all gender identities. Menstruation is a topic that is not spoken of very often, and I hope to change that with the Other Cup. Gender identity is not a choice, but I wanted to create a new choice for menstrual products that considered other genders. 

For further information on functionality, please contact me via the email listed on my Contact page.

Mary Suttle/Other/2017