Diva cups are not so much a travel essential so much as they are a life essential for anyone who menstruates. If you’re traveling or living in parts of Asia especially, tampons can be hard to come by so you’re usually stuck with pads unless you brought a horde of tampons with you, which I don’t recommend. I for one would not want to pack a year’s supply of tampons with me when I could use that precious space for something else.
So diva cups. What are they? In short, they’re a flexible cup that you insert into your vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid. I know, I know. It sounds kind of icky, but just bare with me for this post. I was introduced to the diva cup prior to my 9-month trip in Asia. Someone actually recommended it to me for travel purposes because the bathroom situations in Asia sometimes can be less than ideal when you’re on your period. I admit I was pretty skeptical of the whole thing but when my friend and I made a pact to at least try using a diva cup, I had nothing to lose except $30 (actually, I think I only spent $20 with my employee discount at my university’s bookstore. Yes. My university bookstore sold diva cups. Welcome to a liberal arts university in the Pacific Northwest).
It actually took me several months after I bought a diva cup to even try it and then it probably took me 2-3 cycles after that, to get used to it, but I think they’re amazing now. I forget I’m on my period when I’m using it. I also love that I’m not being wasteful and am no longer putting something in my body that has bleach in it.
I understand, the diva cup is not for everyone, but as far as traveling goes, the diva cup is just much more convenient than tampons or pads. You can’t wear tampons more than 8 hours but you can keep a menstrual cup in for 12 hours. When you’re stuck on a bus for 8+ hours with no bathroom except for the great outdoors hidden behind your bus, the last thing you want to do is to have to deal with your period. Some cities that I’ve traveled to don’t have bathrooms everywhere either so you cant’t expect to be able to find a bathroom whenever you’re out. And even if there are bathrooms, some won’t have trashcans or toilet paper. Enough said. When I use the diva cup, I am rarely out and about when I need to remove it. One diva cup holds almost all the fluid from you period so unless you have a super super heavy flow, you will only need to remove the diva cup once in the morning when you wake up, and once when you get home in the evening. It’s been more than 3 years since I started using a diva and I haven’t looked back since. I haven’t bought a single pad or tampon ever since I started using one. I really think the diva cup is the best invention for anyone who menstruates. It changed the way I view my period. Period.
And in case you need any more convincing to AT LEAST try the diva cup out, read on. I’m a big advocate for diva cups and I tell just about everyone I encounter about them. So when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand during training for my fellowship in Asia and met someone that was just as passionate about diva cups as I am, I knew we would get along fine. So in order to spread the word, I asked my fellow diva cup advocate and friend Laura Nolan to write about her love affair with the diva cup. Here’s what she had to say:
My diva cup changed my life. If you’re friends with other diva cup users, I imagine you’ve heard similarly dramatic statements from other unabashed users. But I really mean it. Now, depending on your community, it may feel that everybody is talking about diva cups (to a cult-like degree) or maybe this is the first time hearing about menstrual cups. The deets: Diva cups are a reusable silicone cup designed for use during your period. They can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. They are an economical and eco-friendly option, especially compared to standard pads and tampons. There’s a bit of a learning curve to them, but eventually, using a diva cup can be incredibly convenient, easy, and empowering.
I attended a college where it made perfect sense to proudly display diva cups on the counter of our coffeeshop right next to vegan gluten free cookies. For half a year I frowned at the diva cups being sold and was completely baffled by their purpose and appeal. I chalked them up to some sort of newfangled contraception that wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. But, as it turns out, menstrual cups have been around for a good long while. And, after hearing from so many other people about their positive diva cup experiences, I decided to give it a shot.
There are many reasons to switch to a diva cup. They have much less risk of toxic shock syndrome compared with tampons. No more gross trash filled with…remnants. No more carting around tampons and pads when traveling like you’re some bootleg pharmacy. Using a diva cup makes it easy to go swimming and yoga-ing, and do all the things you want to be doing.
I wanted to try a diva cup because although I was working hard to love my body, I always felt a smidge gross whenever my period rolled around. And so I wanted to find a way to feel more comfortable in my body during those times. Since I started using a diva cup, the most unpleasant parts of my moon time have been eliminated– I feel much happier, energized, and just more kickass as a result.
That being said, I bought a diva cup and could not figure out how to insert it for a couple of months. Whenever it was my moon time, I would stare down my diva cup and picture all of my feminist heroes to channel their strength and courage. But let’s just say I experienced absolutely no success the first 3 times I tried to use it.
I made the whole insertion/removal situation way more complicated than it needs to be. My advice for first time users is to not go overboard researching the diva cup. Just relax, laugh a little, and try it out. It’s your body. The diva cup will not escape. The diva cup should not hurt. It might take a bit to figure out the logistics of it all, but it’s your body. And you can do this.
Once I got the hang of using a diva cup, I quickly realized that I can never go back to using pads or tampons. When I was younger there wasn’t much more that upset me than my period. If you had asked me to name my anatomy or even explain to you WHY I would get crampy or teary during my moon time, I couldn’t have told you. My body felt like a complete mystery to me, and whenever it was my moon time I felt like my body belonged to someone else.
In addition to being extremely convenient, using a diva cup is also a great way to know your body. Since becoming a diva cup user, I have become both curious and more aware of how my body operates, and that has made me more empowered to understand myself.
Nowadays, I have a much more healthy and peaceful relationship with my body. I started using a diva cup the same time I began a regular yoga practice, and the worst of my cramps have gone away (other people, I know, are not so lucky). I no longer feel crotchety whenever my moon time rolls around, and instead I use that time to reflect, do some emotional housecleaning, and be good to myself. As I’ve developed my knowledge of body, I have cultivated a much more healing and nourishing relationship with myself. Using a diva cup helped spark an interest in my health, my body, and myself, and for that reason I can’t help but serve as an unofficial diva cup ambassador to anyone and everyone, and I mean everyone!