Hi, all! Let me start off by saying that if you’re a guy, this article isn’t for you. Now, don’t get me wrong… It’s not that I don’t like you, or that I don’t appreciate you checking out today’s new post. I’m really glad you’re here! It’s just that I need to get real with my ladies for a moment.
Real real. Girl talk real. No-boys-allowed real.
I can see you’re still intrigued. Obviously, you’re welcome to continue reading, but please remember that I warned you!
Today, we’re going to talk about one of the biggest annoyances a woman can face during travel and the one product that has turned it into practically a non-factor for me.
What is that annoyance, you ask? Just that dreaded, obnoxious, inconvenient, messy, monthly visitor known as a period.
Bye, guys! 🙂
Ladies, thanks for sticking with me. What I’m going to share with you today will, I hope, simplify your lives and make dealing with this annoying fact of womanhood a whole lot easier, particularly when you travel. This post has not been sponsored in any way – though you may see some affiliate links (more on that here) – I just want to share
For those of you who are unfamiliar, allow me to introduce you to the DivaCup. The DivaCup is a small, silicone menstrual cup that you use in place of tampons or a pad. You insert it into your vagina, where it collects the blood from your flow. Then, you simply remove and empty the cup into the toilet at regular intervals throughout your week of womanly fun. In between uses during the same cycle, you can either wash it with unscented soap and warm water or, in a pinch or area without a clean water source, just wipe the cup out before reinserting. In between cycles, you boil the cup for 20 minutes and voila! It’s ready for your next visit from that unwelcome
witch Aunt Flo.
I first learned about the DivaCup in 2010, right before I left for a three-month backpacking trip to South America. My friend Jenna was finishing up a year of work with a nonprofit in South Africa, and she reached out to let me know about this little product that had really come in handy over the past year out in the countryside. Her taking that leap and approaching me with what could have been an awkward subject (we’d known each other for a long time, but we weren’t exactly talk-about-our-periods close) ended up changing my life for the better in a big way.
Jenna’s timing also couldn’t have been more perfect. I had already begun packing for my trip and was mortified to discover how much space in my backpack was going to be devoted to feminine hygiene products alone. At her recommendation, I purchased a cup and tried it out. Almost immediately, I unpacked the gallon-size Ziplock bag I had stuffed full of pads, pantyliners, and tampons and gave that space to more important stuff like clothes and toiletries. It was a lifesaver!
After my three months on the road with the DivaCup (during which I got my period four times, hooray!), I vowed never to go back to pads and tampons again. In the years
Today, I want to share why I love my DivaCup as well as my responses to some of my friends’ fears and objections. I hope that through this article you’ll find the same convenience and security that I have!
Some of My Favorite Things About the DivaCup:
1.) It’s comfortable.
When I first saw the DivaCup up close, I worried that it would be uncomfortable. The bell shape is much larger than a tampon, which was a bit intimidating. I soon learned, however, that it’s actually much more comfortable and convenient! The cup is designed to sit low in your vaginal canal (away from your cervix) and form to your body to create a seal. This not only prevents leaks but eliminates discomfort as well. Once the cup is in place, it’s actually easy to forget its there. I can wear it for hours without thinking about it; in fact, sometimes I even forget that I’m on my period at all!
Also, I have found that inserting and removing my DivaCup is much less painful or irritating than using tampons, especially on those lighter days. Because the cup is made of silicone, it easily slides in and out and doesn’t scratch along the way like the cotton of a tampon or cardboard of an applicator.
2.) I can wear it for up to twelve hours without fearing a leak.
The security and convenience of wearing a DivaCup cannot be overstated. We’ve all played that risky game of “how long can I go before changing my tampon?” I’m also sure that we have all guessed poorly at some point, removing a tampon that was barely used (ouch) or waiting too long and having to deal with a mess. Happily, the DivaCup is large enough to capture even a heavy flow for up to twelve hours, eliminating the fear of leakage or the annoyance and waste of having to change your tampon multiple times a day.
For a traveler, this is so incredibly helpful, since you don’t have to interrupt your hike, sightseeing, tour, or any other fun stuff just to deal with your period! (You also don’t get stuck in that horrible situation where your tampon has leaked and you have no change of clothes or underwear.) I love that I can insert the DivaCup in the morning and forget that I’m on my period for an entire day while I enjoy the new place I’m visiting.
Being able to wear it for up to twelve hours also means that you can sleep with it inserted, making those overnight bus and train rides much more manageable.
3.) It’s eco-friendly.
I love that this product can be used over and over. It feels good not to be introducing more waste into our environment by disposing of a bunch of used pads, tampons, applicators, and packaging once a month. This is especially beneficial when traveling in countries with heavy pollution problems or poor waste management infrastructure.
The DivaCup is also ideal for camping and backpacking, as you don’t have to carry any used feminine hygiene products with you. (Ew.)
4.) I got no strings to hold me down.
Have you ever been at a beach or a public pool and looked down to find, to your horror, that your tampon string has been showing for goodness knows how long? Well, with the DivaCup, you’ll never have to worry about that again! The cup sits fully inside your vagina and has a little tab at the bottom that you use to remove it, but nothing sticks out that can make an unannounced and unwelcome appearance!
Plus, there’s nothing to get in the way when you go to the bathroom!
5.) It takes up almost zero space.
Forget having to find room for all those feminine hygiene products, like I thought I was going to have to do when packing for South America! Now, all you need to pack is your DivaCup, a few pantyliners for light days, and maybe a couple of “just in case” tampons to have in your day pack or purse. Your space savings will be significant, especially on long trips. And who doesn’t want more room in her suitcase or backpack for clothes, shoes, and souvenirs?
7.) It saves money.
Although your upfront cost is higher (suggested retail is $39.99, but both the Model 1 and Model 2 are available on Amazon for less), in the end, I’ve found that I’ve saved a lot of money over the years by not having to buy disposable tampons or pads. Plus, I never find myself in a bind where Aunt Flo makes a surprise appearance and I’m out of stock.
There are lots of other reasons to love the DivaCup (you can better understand and track your flow, the seal prevents oxygen from getting to the blood and creating an odor, etc.), but those are the biggies!
Now, on to the concerns. Upon discovering that I am a committed menstrual cup user, I’ve had a number of girlfriends approach me with questions and apprehensions. These are the most common:
“Isn’t it gross?”
I’ll admit, it takes a cycle or so to get used to using the cup. You’re going to see your own menstrual blood in full liquid form, and it’s a little strange at first to pull the cup out and have to dump it. After a few times, though, I found that it wasn’t nearly as messy or gross as I was anticipating. In fact, I find it less disgusting than the sight of a full, used tampon.
“Won’t I be at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) by keeping it inside me for that long?”
My understanding is that using a silicone menstrual cup actually puts you at less risk for TSS than tampons, particularly very absorbent ones, since the silicone will not dry out your vaginal canal like a tampon would. That said, I am not a medical professional, so if you have concerns, you should speak to your doctor or OB/GYN for reassurance.
“Where and how would I clean a DivaCup while traveling?”
Cleaning the DivaCup during your cycle is pretty easy, even when traveling. As I mentioned above, you need only wipe it out with a clean bit of toilet paper before reinserting. You will also want to wash it with water and unscented soap as often as you can; just use bottled water in areas where the tap water is unsafe to drink. Personally, I travel with a bar of Dove Sensitive Skin soap, which I use to wash my face at the long-ago recommendation of a dermatologist. It’s also perfect for cleaning my DivaCup.
Since it needs to be boiled for twenty minutes in between cycles, sterilizing the cup may require a little strategy if you’re going to be on the road for a few months. Fortunately, many hostels and most Airbnb’s come equipped with kitchens that you can use for this purpose. You can easily include those types of accommodations throughout your trip to sterilize the cup between periods.
Since I was mostly staying in hostels, I usually tried to boil my cup at times when people wouldn’t be seeking to use the kitchen for meal prep. I would keep the lid on the boiling pot and wash it thoroughly afterward, even though it’s a sterile process. If asked what I was cooking, I would simply reply that I was sanitizing a medical device. In southern Argentina, this led to a fellow female backpacker immediately exclaiming, “IS IT A DIVACUP?!” When I replied in the affirmative, we immediately bonded over being members of the same menstrual cup club. I’m sure you’ll find a convenient process that works for you, too!
“Where do I find one?”
The availability of menstrual cups has come a long way since 2010, when I had to drive to a specific health and natural food store two counties away to buy my first DivaCup. Now, many major pharmacy retailers in the US carry the DivaCup, and you can also buy it online. Personally, I recommend just picking it up through Amazon, since that’s where you’re most likely to find the lowest price.
The Model 1, made for women under 30 who have never given birth vaginally, can be found here; click here for the Model 2 if you’re over 30 or have delivered a baby. Because each body is unique, however, you may find that one model fits better than the other even though you don’t fit its specific parameters.
The past decade has also seen a lot of newcomers in the menstrual cup market as well. Although my decade-long relationship with DivaCup makes it my brand of choice, everyone’s body is different. A friend of mine didn’t have a lot of success with the DivaCup but loves the Cora Cup. Other well-respected brands include Lena, Saalt, and Pixie Cup.
So now you know my secret: I am a committed and stalwart menstrual cup user, and it has radically changed the way I travel. I hope that this article has been thought-provoking for you, too, and that you’ll consider making the switch if you haven’t already! Feel free to ask any further questions you might have in the comments, or if you’d prefer a more private discussion don’t hesitate to contact me.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, stress-free period!
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This article was first posted on August 14, 2018, and last updated on August 5, 2020.
Again, no part of this post was sponsored in any way by DivaCup or Diva International, Inc. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission from your purchase at no additional cost to you. You can find the full disclosure here.
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