After that rather embarrassing episode while scuba diving where I had to change tampons on the roof top of a boat, I looked around for other options to deal with this monthly occurrence that would work well in daily life and for travelling beyond the standard pad and tampon, and I think I might have found my solution with the Menstrual Cup!
This is the review I did for my first cup – the Lunette. I’ve also reviewed the Victoria’s Love cup which has a release valve in the stem so you can discharge without having to remove the cup, as well as the Lily Cup Compact which can collapse into a tiny round disc.
I’ve been using the cup since December 2012 when I went on my trip to UAE and in my daily life, and thought I’d give it a few more cycles of testing before reporting back on how the cup and the pros and cons for fellow women travellers.
The brand I’m using is called the Lunette Diana, and I chose it mostly because they were having a sale clearance for this particular model (US$29.99 vs u.p. US$39.99), and not really because of any particular testimonials for this brand out there. I did find out that Lunette is a little unusual because they have coloured cups – most brands tend to sell clear ones only. Besides the cup, I also bought the special liquid wash to keep it clean, though from experience any mild hand soap can be used as well. Before use, you’re recommended to boil it in a pot of water to sterilize it properly.
For those new to this, the cup works like a tampon, but instead of absorbing discharge, it works by collecting the fluid in a cup-shaped receptacle that you empty periodically to prevent overflow.
One major selling point is that you wear it inside your body like a tampon, which is great for comfort as compared to pads as you don’t get the skin contact that can be quite itchy if your skin is sensitive. Unlike tampons which have a 6-8 hour maximum wearing time or risk Toxic Shock Syndrome, you can wear the cup for up to 12 hours, which is good for long flights and travelling because it means less times that you will need to get up and change. Also, there’s no worries about where to dispose of used pads/tampons because you just clean off the cup and reinsert it – soap and water or toilet paper is generally good enough to keep it clean on the go.
While the limit is 12 hours, I usually need to change it more often when my flow is heavier, and I still tend to ‘leak’ some if I don’t insert it in the right position or I move around a lot, so I usually have a pantyliner for safety then. For the rest of my period, it is usually quite a spotless affair. I generally don’t get up to pee very much on flights, so I was quite happy not to have to keep getting up to change when I was on the plane.
it can get a little messier removing the cup compared to pads or tampons, especially on heavy flow days – you kinda have to reach in there to pull it out because of the suction effect, so if you don’t have a tap or toilet paper convenient, make sure you have your own wet wipes or tissue pack on hand to clean up. I generally try and pick nicer toilets to remove and reinsert because it’s most comfortable for me sitting down, so far haven’t really encountered any major roadblocks in terms of finding a suitable toilet.
If there’s one thing the cup teaches you, it is to be very intimately aware of your own private anatomy as you figure out the best positions to insert the cup for your body. This means that for newbies, insertion and removal can take a longer time than usual while you experiment, so before you bring this on an overseas trip, I suggest getting used to it in your home toilet where you can figure things out slowly without the pressure of having to quickly vacate a public toilet, or in a cramped contained area like the airplane toilet with no space to move around.
Another thing I like about the cup is that it is really space saving – no need to carry whole packs of tampons or pads in your luggage – it’s just one small item that is easy to stash and can be discreetly held or tucked in a pocket. For backpackers, think of all that bag space saved! It also feels much more environmentally friendly because you aren’t tossing out all those used pads, and even if you are already using cloth pads, this is just so much easier to maintain.
*For the record, I haven’t gone diving with this yet, though general comments online say that it’s safe to do so, and based on what I know of it I don’t foresee any issues if you go underwater with it. I have been in swimming pools wearing it and it’s nice not having to ensure your tampon string is hanging out of your bikini bottom!
*I have gone scuba diving and done water sports with a menstrual cup since this review – glad to report that it’s perfectly fine!
So I am definitely a convert, and I would recommend it to other women travellers, or just women in general out there looking for options besides tampons and pads! It does ultimately depend on one’s comfort level with it – and also like all things, it just might not work for some women due to physiological differences, and those with IUDs have to be extra careful as well.
Lady travellers out there, what are your thoughts? Maybe share what your preferences are and any tips you have to managing your period on the road?
Check out my other menstrual cup reviews:
- Victoria’s Love – the menstrual cup with a built-in release valve
- Lily Cup – a collapsible space-saving menstrual cup