Getting your period while in a foreign country can be a pain, made even more tricky by the fact that it’s not always easy finding tampons or pads abroad, or the brand you prefer. Enter: menstrual cups!
So what the heck is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is basically what it sounds like: a small, flexible cup, usually made from silicone or latex, that gets inserted and collects the blood rather than absorbing it.
Isn’t that uncomfortable?
Actually, not at all! In fact, for most ladies it’s way more comfortable than a pad or tampon. The silicone is pliable, and when it’s inserted correctly, you don’t even know it’s there. You can still do all the things you’d do in your daily life (or on the road!), without worrying about changing anything for 12 hours, depending on your body.
That being said, it does take a few months of your cycle to get the hang of putting it in. Your cup will come with instructions, and there are tons of helpful videos and tips online for how to maneuver it. Do a few practice runs popping it in and adjusting it before you need to use it, just to be safe. If you’re worried about leakage, just use a panty liner or thin pad along with it for the first few days until you know for sure where it needs to fit for you.
Why do I want to use it as a traveler?
It’s easy to use, saves space in your toiletry bag, and is cost-effective! A one-time buy of a cup, ranging in price from about $30-40 can get you years (yes, years) of use! And considering the fact that ladies spend an average of $60/year on tampons, that can give you an idea of the amount of dough you’ll save by using this thing.
I really appreciate how infrequently I have to change it. I can be on a ten-hour overnight bus and not have to worry about whether I’ll need to get to a bathroom in the meantime. And it’s super eco-friendly! You don’t have to worry about all the packaging that tampons and pads have.
Finally, it’s quite easy to clean, even while traveling. A lot of brands have fancy wipes you can buy with them, but all you need is soap and water to sterilize it between cycles. During your period, you can just rinse with water, or, if you’re in a public restroom, dump it in the toilet and wipe it out with toilet paper. No problemo!
Okay, so where do I get one?
It used to be that you could really only find menstrual cups online. But these days, they’re becoming more and more widely available in store. But, if you’re stuck and can’t find one anywhere, most brands ship internationally. That being said, it’s worth doing a little research here to figure out the best cup firmness & size for you. There are also a wealth of resources for general stuff like cleaning, tips on folding and lots of product information. I use a Lunette, and I have friends who use the DivaCup, FleurCup, and The Keeper. All of them are total converts, but there are dozens of companies that make great menstrual cups.