I’m a female and I love traveling. Nothing wrong with that at all, except that being a female I can’t escape from having that time of the month. My travel plans sometimes do get enveloped by a huge wave of anxiety when I realize I’m going to have my period during a trip, especially when I’m embarking on one that’s of the more gritty backpacking sort.
When I’m on the road, it’s not guaranteed that I’ll be able to find a toilet to clean myself up several times a day when a pad change is due. Leaving stained sheets behind in a hostel or hotel – or worse yet, on a PLANE – is another nightmare.
There had to be a solution for female travellers, a way to ease the anxiety around this very natural process that wouldn’t hinder a girl out on an adventure.
So I tried a menstrual cup today…
I’ve been meaning to try one since I read about Diva cups, but unfortunately could never find them in Singapore. I had the enormous fortune of meeting Pernilla of the Singapore-based Chiobu Cup, who very generously offered to give me a few samples to try out. Huzzah!!
If you haven’t heard about menstrual cups, you should! Very bluntly, it’s a cup made of soft medical-grade silicone which you insert in your vagina to collect menstrual fluid. I apologise if the scientific terms may have been slightly too graphic.
Now, why on earth would I want a cup up in my holy grail? Although there are many more reasons, these for me are the top 5:
TOP 5 REASONS TO CUP IT
1. Less environmental waste: cups are re-usable, which can’t be said of the typical pad and tampon.
2. Save $: a cup can last up to 10 years if well taken care of.
3. No health risks: Unlike tampons, menstrual cups made from medical grade silicone don’t pose any threat of the potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome.
4. Less toilet visits: Cups hold more and don’t smell. I only need to empty out my cup 2 times a day, versus pads being at least 4 or even more during heavier flow.
5. Leak free: if inserted properly, cups can be relied upon for a leak-free period – day AND night, AND while swimming.
I’m going to bring you through some math now.
DOING THE MATH:
A typical period last 5 days, and requires 4 pads + 1 overnight pad. Thats 5 x 5 = 25 pads thrown a month. That’s 300 pads thrown away a year. If you have three females in the family like I do, that’s automatically nearly 1000 a year from a single household.
One pack of regular flow pads by Kotex costs $5.95 for a pack of 18 at Fairprice. Meaning, a single pad costs roughly $0.33. My household described above would be paying 900 x 0.33; that’s a whopping $297 a year on pads alone!! $300 is better spent on cake and a few bottles of wine, thank you very much.
And what about across an individual’s lifespan?
Let’s say I menstruate from 10 years old to 45: that’s 35 years.
A single woman over her life will use
10,500 pads = $3465 spent on pads alone
4x menstrual cups, $50 each = $200
I think there’s an obvious choice that should be made. So why didn’t I pop it in immediately?
Because, despite having all these great reasons held in my conscious mind, I was hesitating. I’ll admit, I had some anxieties.
The first thing that got the seed of anxiety growing was it’s size.
I mean. Look at it. It’s basically the size of a hamster.
Pretty sure Nicki Minaj with her anacondas wouldn’t be daunted, but I sure as hell was having my doubts about whether I wanted something that size chilling around in there all day.
So I took out something more familiar to the sacred grounds; like this ole tampon here:
Ok. Be still my heart. So it’s not that bad.
The next question that made the anxiety bloom a little was how the hell do I get it in? It wasn’t exactly the most insertion-friendly shape.
Thankfully, it comes with a handy pamphlet that had scientific diagrams describing the process from a to z, and the reassurance that it’s gonna be a-okay. Your intestines are going to be comfortable.
So I gave it a go. and it was magic. *_*
I forgot it was there after five minutes. It’s more comfortable than a tampon, since its softer and sits lower. It’s also more reliable, as it holds rather than absorbs – no surprise leaks with this fella.
Plus, there’s no smell or discomfort that you get from wearing pads (and I’m one of those sad fks who gets monthly skin reactions to those things). And best of all, totally free from that feeling of peeing yourself!!
For my first time, I used the squatting position. I was a little nervous at first about losing it in the depths of the dark dungeons, but let’s be realistic here. Refer to that diagram again. It’s not going to go very far because of the cervix.
Last on the anxiety hit list was What’s it like when taken out? How messy does it get?
No, it wasn’t a horrific mess like the kind you’d find in a Final Destination movie, although you definitely want to be over a toilet when you take it out to flush out the collected red seas. The key thing is to remember to pour it, NOT dump it.
I would suggest having wet wipes on you to clean it after emptying it out; even better if you have a bottle of water to give it a quick wash.
The vacuum effect is a little surprising and I somehow managed to hurt myself a little but got better by the second try – so I suggest being mentally prepared and pinching the base of the cup when you’re taking it out.
Other than that… The whole experience was painless from start to end!
Try it for at least three cycles:
I recommend trying it for at least three cycles, as it does take some getting used to 🙂 While you’re still getting the hang of it, wear a liner just in case for extra assurance.
In summary, menstrual cups are fantastic because:
No fear of sudden toxic syndrome!
Save money on pads!
Why the heck aren’t more women using this?!
Put Kotex out of business!
Once you get over the initial mental barrier, it’s really only positives that I can think of for this thing.
To get your own:
Head over to www.chiobucup.com – they even make a charity donation with every purchase, double awesomeness 🙂
This great site has a really in-depth instructions manual: http://plenteousveg.com/menstrual-cup/
Hopefully, word will get out sooner about this great alternative to the harmful, stinky, bulky and expensive waste that are pads and tampons!