The Diva Cup: Let’s Talk About Traveling with Aunt Flo!

To my lovely and cherished male readers: This post talks about female topics, but please of course feel free to read along if you’re interested or curious, and/or pass this along to any females (and especially female travelers!) in your lives!

I’ve wanted to write about switching to the Diva Cup for almost a year now, because it has truly transformed the way I manage my time-of-the-month, especially when it falls during my travels. Alas, get ready for some in-depth information in regards to how I handle my period while living abroad and traveling on the road, and why one should consider using the Diva Cup as a feminine hygiene product.

A bit of background information: My period has been taken into account for every trip I have ever taken since I began menstruating (I can assure this is true for just about every woman who menstruates). As a teen and young adult this was especially annoying- I didn’t begin to have regular, predictable cycles until I was about 21, and finally on a stable form of birth control. Needless to say, there was always a lot of guessing involved in regards to when Aunt Flo was going to make her appearance. When coming to study abroad in France and teach English in Japan, I brought 4-month and 2 month supplies of feminine hygiene products, respectively. I also brought a steady starter stash when I arrived to be a teaching assistant last year.

Aunt-Flo-by-BigAl67-500x303

During all of my individual trips, I’ve always checked the calendar to see if my cycle and the trip would collide– Can we go camel trekking in the desert during these three days? Am I going to get my period during this 10-hr. bus ride? Are feminine hygiene products available in X country in case I would run out, or do I need to bring extras? Will I make it through this isolated 3-day camp in southern Japan with enough supplies? Do I need to bring a bigger purse in order to carry more supplies, especially if we were going to be out all day, or hiking, or swimming? I knew there had to be an easier, more environmentally friendly way to both menstruate and travel. A quick Google search last January led me to the Diva Cup.

So What IS the Diva Cup!? Long story short, the Diva Cup is a reusable, bell-shaped, silicone menstrual cup. It is inserted manually, and then worn very low, at the base of the inside of the vaginal canal. The Diva Cup collects, rather than absorbs, your menstrual flow. When inserted correctly, the top of the cup forms a seal with your vaginal canal, completely replacing the need for tampons or pads. You can leave it in for up to 12 hours, and then remove it, empty the contents down the toilet, wash it, and finally re-insert it. Just like a tampon, if you wear a Diva Cup correctly, you should not be able to feel it.

Wait, What? Eww! Gross! But tell me more, I’m Intrigued. The Diva Cup may sound a bit strange or off-putting at first, but that’s because many people have never heard of it, or haven’t had any desire to try it. I won’t lie, using a Diva Cup requires you to be (or become) extremely comfortable and familiar with your vagina and (something that I believe American Puritan society has done a great job of preventing women and girls from feeling comfortable doing) as well as your monthly flow (ie: How many days do I bleed? Which day does my cycle usually start or end? Which days are heavier or lighter than others?It may sound gross because there is a lot more flow at one time, but you do get used to it! I promise, the benefits outweigh the cons! There are two cup sizes: one for women under 30 or whom have never given birth, and one for women over 30 or for women who have already given birth.

diva-cupThe Benefits of the Diva Cup:

  • The Diva Cup offers 12-hour leak-free protection! Most women can wear the Diva Cup from between 8-12 hours at a time (depending on your cycle) without changing it. When inserted correctly, you shouldn’t have any leaks! (As a side note, I usually always wear a panty liner just in case.) This creates a perfect situation for women who are traveling, or doing active or all-day activities while menstruating! It is designed for any activity, from biking to hiking to camping to swimming!
  • The Diva Cup does not contain latex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, colors, or dyes. Long story short, the silicone material is much safer for your lady parts, and does not negatively affect your body in the same manner as tampons, whose rayon and cotton products absorb natural vaginal fluid as well as menstrual fluid, disrupting normal pH levels and causing discomfort. Tampons also carry high risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which can be caused by leaving a tampon in one’s vagina for too long without changing it. When used correctly, the Diva Cup is actually a more sanitary feminine hygiene solution to tampons or pads. Not to mention, the Diva Cup doesn’t, erm, smell.
  • The Diva Cup is reusable and eco-friendly! I always feel a twinge of guilt every time I flush a used tampon down the toilet, or roll up a used pad with toilet paper and throw it discretely in the bin or public feminine hygiene disposal (not to mention, many countries do not have an effective plumbing system, making it impossible to discreetly dispose of used products.) With the Diva Cup, all you need to do is flush what is in the cup down the toilet twice a day! Even better, using the Diva Cup makes me feel like I am lightening my eco-footprint, even though I am still guilty for taking long, hot showers!
  • It hardly takes up any space in your suitcase! This is it!

diva-cup2

  • You get to know your body really well! As I stated above, using the Diva Cup requires you to get to know your body and its functions quite intimately. This can only help you in life, whether it be at the doctor’s at the pharmacy, or in the bedroom!
  • The Diva Cup supports LunaPads, a great option for low-income women and women & girls in developing countries. All women, no matter where they are in the world, menstruate. Yet, depending on socioeconomic status and cultural norms, not all women are given the same choices or resources. Unfortunately, over 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe sanitation. This is a problem for everyone but especially for women and girls, who are most often the targets of attacks and harassment when using the toilet in an open area, and who often miss school or work when they are menstruating because they do not have access to feminine hygiene products. Because the Diva Cup is not the safest option for women and girls without access to clean water, Diva Cup proudly supports Lunapads and their program, Pads4Girls. The program has supplied thousands of reusable cloth pads to women and girls in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia for over twelve years. (Not to mention, in homeless shelters around the US– and the world– feminine hygiene products are some of the most sought-after and needed products!)

Small things to note:

  • Cleaning: You should wash your Diva Cup with a non-scented soap every time you empty its contents (the company also has special soap you can buy; I HIGHLY recommend because I have learned the hard way that my vagina is sensitive to just about any product I put down there.) You are also supposed to boil your Diva Cup after your are completely finished with your cycle for the month. To not mix and match various bowls/pots, I invested in a special menstrual cup sterilizer! I usually boil water in a kettle and then pour it into the cup to soak for 10-15 minutes, and then voilà! Even better, it’s discreet and super easy to pack when you’re traveling. Regardless of what you decide to boil your Diva Cup in, from a sanitary standpoint I recommend buying something for just your Diva Cup when you are “deep cleaning” it.

IMG_1370

 

  • I had a hard time using the Diva Cup at first, but now I enjoy it more than tampons and pads! The first few months of the Diva Cup were brutal. It took me awhile to get the hang of avoiding leakage, and unfortunately, while in Rome, I found myself in a situation where I needed to empty my Diva Cup in the middle of the day. Stupidly, I used the provided bathroom soap instead of just rinsing it and waiting to wash it until I got home, and as a result I had a painful yeast infection by the time I had arrived in Florence. I had to throw my Diva Cup away and order a new one. Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson!
  • Get used to the Diva Cup while you are not traveling or on the road! Try it out while you’re at home! This way you won’t find yourself in an uncomfortable situation when you are out of your comfort zone!

Overall, I am a huge fan of the Diva Cup and would recommend it to any menstruating woman or girl, regardless if you are a frequent traveler or not. For more information on other brands of menstrual cups, check out: Lunette, Keeper, and Mooncup UK (I have read that the Lunette can work well for very petite women.)

Do you or have you ever used the Diva Cup? Do you have any more questions about it or my personal experience? Ask away!

Bisous,

Dana

26 thoughts on “The Diva Cup: Let’s Talk About Traveling with Aunt Flo!

  1. Dana, you’re such an awesome woman!
    I’m glad you’re comfortable in your own skin talking about reallllyy personal stuff like this on your blog because I think it helps a lot of people. A woman should never be ashamed of her menstrual cycle because it’s a normal, natural thing, so I’m glad you were comfortable posting this! I have never heard of the diva cup before but now I want to try it out… I’m nervous about leaks but I always wear liners with tampons anyways, so.

    It looks like it would be uncomfortable? Is the material soft or hard? And is it really hard to figure out how to put it in correctly? I also worry about having to empty it throughout a day traveling before I get to a more private restroom because do I rinse it out in front of everyone at the sink and then go back into the stall? Sorry for asking so many questions…haha.

    1. thanks for your comment!

      It’s like a tampon in that if you are wearing it correctly, you shouldn’t be able to feel it. It’s made of silicone material, and you have to fold it to insert it correctly.

      Hopefully you won’t need to empty it during the day because it holds 12-hrs of fluid (assuming you empty it before you leave the house) but if there is ever an emergency, i’d try to bring dampened paper towns or TP into the stall with you to wipe off and reinsert, and then just wash it when you get home 🙂

  2. YES Love the Diva Cup! It definitely changed my life. When I was in Asia a few of my friends were using it and it just made so much more sense than hauling around tampons for 3 months. When I returned I promptly went out and bought myself one.
    This post is great and very clear. Great job Dana!

  3. As an international teacher in a developing country (Venezuela) it is nearly impossibly to find tampons and even pads are difficult to find sometimes. Before I moved here I bought a DivaCup and have been using it for nearly three years. Love it!

    In regards to the public restroom: if I really need to empty it during the work day, I dump it out in the toilet and wipe out the cup with some toilet paper. No problems! I also use a liner on heavy days (especially since it isn’t easy to get to the toilet when you’re a teacher!) just in case. Most of the time I empty it right before leaving for work and then again once I get home.

    I live by myself so I have no discomfort with boiling it after I’m done with it for the month, but when I’m traveling and staying in hostels I have been known to rinse it out with water and then boil it once I got home. Again, no problems after using it for nearly three years.

    Good work writing a great post on this product!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

    1. Thanks for your comments and great tips, as well as your insight for how practical something like this can be in a country such as Venezuela. I’ve used all the same techniques for boiling/cleaning 🙂

      Hope you’re well!

  4. I’ve had my Diva Cup for about a year–I got it after two of my friends did and raved to me about it. It took me a while to get the hang of inserting it, too, and the stem on it really irritated me (to the point that I trimmed it down almost entirely). But now that I’m used to it, I love it!

    I usually wear a pad with it on the first two days of my period (which are quite heavy) and then panty liners the other days, but it has dramatically cut down on my disposable product consumption. Though, I have had a few leaks with it when doing yoga, but not other forms of exercise.

    I clean mine with unscented dish soap and hot water from the sink, and have only boiled it a couple times. A good way to clean out the little holes is to fill the cup with sudzy or even just hot water, invert it on your hand and the squeeze it, forcing the water through the holes. Otherwise, you can also gently poke a toothpick through them to remove any minor blockages.If I need to empty it in a public restroom, I either wet a paper towel before going into the stall to wipe it out with, or just reinsert it without washing it.

    It’s definitely true what you said about the Diva Cup making you more aware of/in tune with your body, and I love that about it. I also find it weirdly cool to have to interact with my menstrual blood.

    And I affirm that it’s wonderful for traveling!

    1. ah, I didn’t know you were a fellow Diva Cup user, Cara! yay! Thanks for all the great tips! I’m glad I’m not the only one who still experiences occasional leaks despite inserting the cup correctly!

      1. It’s a small Diva-filled world, it seems! I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who still gets the occasional leak, too! It often happens when I try to go a full 12 hours without emptying it on my heaviest flow days. If I empty it more regularly, I usually don’t have that problem.

      2. Hm…Yeah I get a little of that run-off too. I think it happens because while you’re empty the cup, there’s still fluid exiting your body. And when you reinsert the cup, it doesn’t collect/trap that fluid so much as what will exit after it’s been reinserted. So what comes out after the cup’s inserted is the fluid that continued to leave your body while you were emptying/cleaning the cup.

  5. Ok I have to know…how does this work if you are in a public restroom? I have been wanting to try one for years, but I’m worried if I have to pee during the workday that I’ll need to empty it and clean it in our workplace bathroom!

    1. Ha, that was my Rome reference. I would just advice you to empty it before you go to work and then at night when you come home, as it holds up to 12 hrs of fluid (for me on my first day of my cycle, I have to empty it after 8, but otherwise I can make it thru a 12-hr day at home 🙂 )

  6. So glad you have been my guinea pig and tried it and we’re willing to share your thoughts. Have often thought about trying it and have read a lot about it. But you never know if the reviews are from real people. Now I know for myself and will recommend to my daughters. Thx

    1. You’re welcome, Jane! Yeah, there’s definitely no harm in trying it, even if you don’t end up enjoying it! I can’t say I “Enjoy” any part of menstruating but it’s been nice not to worry about always having enough products, etc.

      As I said it took me a few months to get used to it and get the hang of it, but now I’m used to it.

      Glad it helps, hope you’re well, miss you guys!

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s