You’re on THE Great Wall. Walking around markets in Bangkok. Snapping pictures on a stroll in Antigua. Time of your life, right? Well like most times, if you’re one of the population that gets a period, all of these scenes can be quickly ruined. Or if not ruined at least…complicated.
These are all places I’ve found myself where it was REALLY inconvenient for mother nature to visit. The world is wonderful. Unfortunately, it is not wonderfully full of clean public restrooms supplied with running water, toilet paper, soap, or places to dispose of…things. Heck, there are countries I’ve been to that don’t even have tampons! Like, at all. Which is clearly the preference of the culture, but I personally hate wearing pads. I avoid them as much as possible. Bloody diaper, anyone?
I’m also still at a point in my life where I am a backpacking budget traveler, and let’s be honest. Taking enough tampons, pads, liners, WHATEVER to make do takes up waaaaaay too much space. Space I’d rather fill with that skirt I don’t NEED, but it makes me feel a little spicier when I’ve been a walking sweaty blob for too long.
In prior travels, I’d resigned myself to bringing the largest box of tampons I could find and keeping my fingers crossed that they lasted. And I’d pray I could find accommodations to change them when I needed to. It really dictated my plans for the day.
My most recent trip, however, has been my first with no set return date. Indefinite travel. The giant tampon box strategy was not going to work here. My solution? A menstrual cup! And before I’d tried it the thought of having an exclamation point there would have seemed weird to me too. But here’s why I not only bought one, use one, and love one, but am writing this to tell you about it.
First I tried it out during my normal 9-5 routine in the states. After initial nervousness and fiddling with insertion IT WAS THE EASIEST PERIOD I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY WHOLE DANG LIFE. For one, you only have to empty it every 12 hours. That’s only TWO TIMES A DAY. I did not have to think about it ONCE during my entire work day. No extra trips to the bathroom or worrying if anything was leaking or could I really wait until after that meeting I’m almost late to? I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I was tempting fate by trying to just sleep through the night. Only TWO. TIMES. Also, the downtown was the cleanest and driest she’d ever been during a period. MIRACLES UPON MIRACLES.
So thunder cats are go. This is the only ‘feminine hygiene’ product I’ve brought with me on this trip. Walking around Antigua? That was this trip. There were no public bathrooms for anyone that was not a patron. I was with mi amor’s family, and I wasn’t about to make them stop so the gringa could buy a coffee and oh by the way use their bathroom. We were away from where we were staying for HOURS. But guess what? I did not have to think about it even once. No need to inconvenience those I was with. Magic.
Potential cons do exist. Yes, insertion and taking it out can be a bit awkward, even a tad uncomfortable at first. I’d advise your first time being in the shower. Maximum angle availability and cleanliness potential. I’d also advise a trial run before you commit to it being your only option, like I did.
And yes, taking it out can be a bit gross. You’ll definitely want plenty of toilet paper and hand washing. But it is really not that bad. You just dump it in the toilet, it’s not like you just get a handful of nature. Sanitation concerns? I wash it with soap each time I take it out, and boil it for 5-7 minutes (as suggested in the instructions) between each cycle. I’ve seen online reviews balk at boiling their cup in the same places they cook *gasp*. That reaction doesn’t really make sense to me. What is the point of boiling again? Oh yeah, TO KILL ALL THE LIVING THINGS. Do you not trust your current disinfecting practices in your kitchen?
So there you have it. This one product has really been game changer for me. As a traveler and as a woman. And I think it could be a game changer for you too.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, the brand I’ve been using (and thus the only brand I can honestly recommend) is Lena cup. I like the colors, the feel of the material, the two size options, and I REALLY like the grooves along the bottom part. It helps make removal easy peasy. You can get $5 off your first purchase at lenacup.com by using the code LENA-KELSEY at checkout. I hope you do.
Happy travels to you and yours!
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