A Little Review … A Diva Cup (Menstrual Cup) for Traveling Ladies

Confession time, I’ve wanted to review the Diva Cup for ages. I hesitated out of fear of alienating male readers… but really I also didn’t want my cheeks to flame red with embarrassment as I write this pretty personal post because you’re about to get to know me in a whole new way. The time has come though, and my love for the Diva Cup means it’s time to share a bit more about how I handle my period on the road and why you might want to consider it as well. First though, a resounding warning:

Men, move along now. We’re about to talk about a lady’s menstrual cycle and her nether regions—but, if you’re not easily embarrassed, you may find this review helpful for your girlfriend or wife. Certainly every traveling lady should read it, so perhaps just forward it on to a traveling lady you know and then move along.

Diva Cup Review Photo

Let’s get started with the beginnings. I was in the throes of planning my round the world trip when my cousin (a bit of a hippy type and a frequent traveler) implored me to immediately buy a Diva Cup and start practicing with this thing during my period to take care of my monthly visits on the road.  I was skeptical—I assumed I would just use tampons on the  road since that’s what I had used for years, but her endorsement was enthusiastic and her reasoning sound.

I bought one, I had a rough start to using the menstrual cup and almost gave up entirely. Then, I figured it out and looked back to the days of schlepping around pads and tampons. You see, it turned out that the Diva Cup is one of the most useful things I took on my trip around the world.

If you’ve never heard of this thing before, you’re likely a little baffled about what the heck I’m talking about. A Diva Cup is an eco-friendly “natural feminine hygiene alternative” and it falls under the larger umbrella of silicone menstrual cups (yup, there are several different brands of these things).

Basically, it’s a medical-grade silicone cup that collects your menstrual fluid; when it’s inserted correctly it forms a seal around the top of the cup and takes care of business. It fully replaces tampons and pads. In fact, I have never bought a package of pads since I switched over (except that one time when my best friend’s dog ate my Diva Cup… keep ‘em tucked somewhere safe).

I won’t get overly graphic because there are many sites that explain the how of the cup better than I can, and if you’re wondering about the fit, the Diva Cup website outlines the nitty-gritty details, pictures of the cup, and instructions. And stick around to the the end of the post where I share the hilarious and helpful reviews women have posted, as well as the other brands that work well for women of differing statures.

Here’s why I love it and how it worked on my travels trip:

wearing the cup It can be worn for 12 hours at a time
Traveling on a budget and in developing countries meant a lot of time on public transportation, with my Diva Cup I was safe for the never-ending 10+ hour bus rides. And when I was trekking, the last thing I wanted to do was dig holes and bury tampons during all-day treks—hooray for my Diva Cup! It’s completely safe to have in for up to 12 hours because there’s no risk for TSS like with tampons.

You can wear it before your period
If I knew that I might start my period in the middle of a 10+ hour bus ride, I could use my Diva Cup before my period even started because it’s not drying like a tampon (and drying out can be a big issue with those, so menstrual cups are just nicer for your vagina). Bottom line, it saved me from some potentially embarrassing situations on treks like bleeding through clothes or wild animals digging up bloody materials.

It’s designed for any activity
The site touts that you can do any of the following: swimming, aerobics, cycling, traveling, dancing, hiking, biking, running, camping. You can. Each and everyone without a worry. It liberated me from trying to plan major outdoor activities on non-period days because I knew I could head out on that six hour bike ride without searching out a clean bathroom and I knew it would give an embarrassing leak at precisely the wrong time.

You never have to buy any other product
I read horror stories about the availability of menstrual products before leaving on my round the world trip—some women even resort to bringing a full supply for their travels (hard to do when you’re on the road for a year!). This is literally the only thing I had to bring (well, soap too) and I knew I was never going to find myself hunting for sanitary products in a remote village in Nepal.

Diva Cup It’s green travel and oh-so good for the environment
So many of the countries I visited don’t have effective waste management systems in place; it made me feel good to not contribute to that problem and lighten my eco-footprint just a tad. The cup is reusable for a decade (unless your dog eats it) and there is nothing else you have to buy to use with it. Plus the non-BPA medical-grade silicone is far safer for your lady-parts than the surfactants, adhesives, and additives they use in tampons and pads.

Downsides:
I love this product and have no shame in touting the fabulous qualities of the product. But, be warned, there is a learning curve to using the Diva Cup, it took me until my third period of using it to have no leaking and messiness… and I cursed it the whole time during my first two months. This Amazon review hilariously summed up her first bathroom experience with it… yeah, mine was a lot like that too.

But now I’m converted.

A few other Diva Cup tips and thoughts:

  • Try it out before your trip! You’ll be thankful that you’re in your own clean bathroom while you discover the learning curve.
  • Bring a mild soap. I brought a small container of Dr. Bronners Magic eco-friendly soap to wash it with.
  • It’s not for the squeamish. You do have to get a little more “invasive” then you do with tampons if you catch my drift. You will be all up in your own business, to be frank.
  • That “twist” the instructions mention is the most important part of the process—that’s what ensures you have a good seal.
  • When they tell you it sits lower than I tampon, it’s SO true. Really low, make sure it pops open, then twist. It’s like magic but you have to practice before it becomes second nature.
  • Buy at your local co-op or natural foods store instead, or online—at last check they sell for less than $35, which is far less than the close to $200 annually women spend on feminine hygiene products.

I think Diva Cups are brilliant and anyone who is comfortable with their body should give it a try. But beyond anyone, I consider it essential for women RTW travelers, truly  :-)

And don’t take my word for it—look around online, there are a lot of women who have talked about their love (and learning curve) with menstrual cups. And very important is that once you get a Diva Cup, check out these links below for extra tips from women who have figured it out, they’re normally right on with their suggestions and the cup comes with some very explicit tips and pictorial instructions too!  There are tricks to help it work better, and some brands are better for petite women, here are some of my recommendations:

  • Menstrual Cups.org: Good information on the wide range of options.
  • Menstrual Cup Info: Heaps of information to help you decide which cup might be a good fit for your body type. Smaller statured, very petite friends of mine prefer the Lunette.
  • An Ode to the Diva Cup: A hilarious article on the Hairpin with some advice and tips in the article, as well as the comments. I cried tears of laughter at her recounting of her conversion to menstrual cups.
  • Other major contenders include: Lunette, Keeper, and Mookcup UK

Shoot me an email if you have any other questions, or better yet, leave a comment. And if you’ve tried the Diva Cup, share your experience in the comments! 

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  • Andrea

    I am on my third month and still can't get it right, I've even watched tutorials on youtube. It leaks. I'm about to give up.

    • ShannonOD

      So sorry to hear that, I emailed you so I'm hoping we can figure out an alternative for you!

  • Justine

    Interesting item :)
    I'd love to use it, it would be especially useful during traveling as you say ! But I often travel to under-developed countries, where the tap water is not potable; would that be a problem to clean it ?
    and also, I often go to hostels, so my only opportunity to boil water is in the shared kitchen, and I'm not sure how comfortable I would be putting my divacup there for all to see !
    If you have any advice/tips for traveling to under-developed countries with a divacup, I'd be interested to learn :)

  • ShannonOD

    You can still use it! I used my Diva cup all throughout Laos, Cambodia,
    India, and Nepal.

    The most important point is that you can wipe out the cup with toilet paper
    until you get to potable water. In that way, if you're changing it but have
    no water, just wipe it out w/tp and wash it the next chance you get (bottled
    water in some cases ).

    And I unfortunately did go a couple of months sometimes between boils – but
    I did find the opportunity here and there – there are times when the hostel
    kitchens are empty – or in guest houses, you can request a cup of boiling
    water and they are so accomodating in India and other developing countries
    and I let that suffice :-)

    I loved using it particularly in these countries because it meant less times
    that I had to use the bathrooms and I found it easier than trying to dispose
    of sanitary products.

    Hoped that helped! I traveled around the world with the diva cup and it was
    great the whole time :-)

  • Justine

    Interesting item :)
    I'd love to use it, it would be especially useful during traveling as you say ! But I often travel to under-developed countries, where the tap water is not potable; would that be a problem to clean it ?
    and also, I often go to hostels, so my only opportunity to boil water is in the shared kitchen, and I'm not sure how comfortable I would be putting my divacup there for all to see !
    If you have any advice/tips for traveling to under-developed countries with a divacup, I'd be interested to learn :)

    • ShannonOD

      You can still use it! I used my Diva cup all throughout Laos, Cambodia,
      India, and Nepal.

      The most important point is that you can wipe out the cup with toilet paper
      until you get to potable water. In that way, if you're changing it but have
      no water, just wipe it out w/tp and wash it the next chance you get (bottled
      water in some cases ).

      And I unfortunately did go a couple of months sometimes between boils – but
      I did find the opportunity here and there – there are times when the hostel
      kitchens are empty – or in guest houses, you can request a cup of boiling
      water and they are so accomodating in India and other developing countries
      and I let that suffice :-)

      I loved using it particularly in these countries because it meant less times
      that I had to use the bathrooms and I found it easier than trying to dispose
      of sanitary products.

      Hoped that helped! I traveled around the world with the diva cup and it was
      great the whole time :-)

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  • barby

    That is great. I am planning to travel around the world next year, going to buy the cup asap as I want to try it on before deciding if it’s worth it to take it along with me.

    • ShannonOD

      I really highly recommend the menstrual cups. I also suggest you do some research around (and on this site: http://menstrualcupinfo.wordpress.com/ ) I use the Diva Cup, but depending on your stature some of the other brands might actually be more ideal (some readers have emailed since this post and noted that the Lunette could be a better choice for petite women!). Good luck with it! :)

      • http://lifethruamoka.com/ Barbylucedistelle

         Ok, no Diva Cup here, only Moon Cup. I tried it last month and it worked like a bliss. A bit awkward at the beginning, afraid of loosing it or that it would get lost inside… ehm… awkward feeling when it moves to settle in but overall I’m going to stick with it. It gives you such a sense of freedom after a while you even forget you’re wearing it!

        • ShannonOD

          Yay! Glad to hear you’re a convert. My first attempt was pretty rough…messy and stuck don’t even begin to describe it. But, after years of using it, I can assure you, it only gets easier. And it really is so, so nice not to worry at all about this sort of thing on the road. :)

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  • LS

    Just ordered a Lunette so I can practise before my trip! I’m kind of scared about removing it though, isn’t there a spillage situation every time?

    • ShannonOD

      Very good to practice first, the learning curve is tough, and I hated it the first month! As for spillage, the first two months I used it, it was very gross, lots of spillage and scrubbing my hands after. Now though, I can really say that with practice it’s far easier. On my super heavy days it will spill a little, esp if I go too long, but other than that it’s really only mildly messier than a tampon to take out and put in. The top edge of the cup acts as seal, and if you pull and tip into the toilet as you do it, you’re in the clear! Good luck and shoot me an email if you really run into any difficulties! Oh! And have a wonderful trip! :)

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  • Austen

    I am from South Africa and its quite costly to ship the DivaCup over here. But I see that a local store has a similar one, ‘the Moon Cup’. is that as good as the DivaCup?

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      The Moon is very similar to the Diva, just a different brand and a little bit different shape. Some women can’t wear certain brands if they are super petite, but often they are fairly interchangeable. Here is an info site and a good review of it: http://menstrualcupinfo.wordpress.com/mooncup-uk-review/ — you may need to trim the stem after you’ve worn it a bit to see if it fits. Good luck!

  • Sandra

    I had been reading about the menstrual cups for a few days and really feel convinced about tyring it out. We do not have a wide market in Mexico basically because the tampon/pads brands would be highly affected so they keep it silent. I see in other countries such as USA, Canada and places in Europe it is becoming part of women’s daily life which is something that really makes me smile. I loved your review and will look into having one shipped over here, perhaps get a friend of mine to send it. Just one thought Shannon, menstruation is not gross at all and no, men are not more lucky than us not to have it. It is a natural phase in a woman’s life and one of the most important times for us. If you look into it, you will find information on how a woman’s period was almost sacred in antique cultures. It was considered a time of introspection and complete connection with themselves. It is sad to know that this patriarcal world has made us think it is gross and something terrible to live with. Women used to connect themselves to the energy of the moon and were led by its phases. It was a time of silent for having their period meant they were not pregnant, therefore not giving a new life so they were in complete meditation. Even in those days men had full respect for these women. It is important for men to get involved on these matters and stop trying to avoid it. How sad it is to see so uncomprehensive men around. Well this is just a thought I have with all the respect towards your ideas and all the women in this forum, just a personal opinion given from what I have studied and researched. Also excuse me if my English is not great, hope you all got my point.
    Greetings!

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Hi Sandra, thanks so much for weighing in here. It’s an important topic and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I definitely think there is a lot that we need to do to raise the conversation. I think that some men are embarrassed by the topic, so that’s some of the tone that I took. In terms of “gross” — here I was a bit more talking about the entire process. The menstrual cups are more invasive in a way, you have to really get involved in your menstruation process more than with tampons or pads. This is something that really opened my mind a lot, just using the cup these past few years.

      I hope you are able to get a cup to Mexico! It’s really worth the effort, it”s an entirely different experience, and healthier and easier to manage your period in many ways. Best of luck and many thanks again for reading and sharing. :)

  • May

    I’m a 15 year old girl and am going on a four week trip to the Philippines from the US. I’m not traveling with parents or any REALLY close family and will be sharing a bag with my older cousin. I’m terrified at the thought of a) packing feminine products in a shared suitcase or b) having to buy more.. I’m debating buying one of these! It seems simpler, but I’m also a bit scared at the prospect. Gonna have to do a bit more research, I think ^_^

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Definitely do your research to find out if you think it’s a good fit for you. I will note that I told my niece that when she is 14 (she is now 13) that she could switch to this — I really want her using this long-term. Also keep in mind that all the brands are a bit different sizes, so if you are smaller/still petite then you might want to consider the Lunette. And, if you do end up sticking with the tampons, you can always take the tiny sizes without an applicator — they are super compact and not much harder to put in than the ones with an applicator, and then seal them up in a bag. Your cousin will likely respect your privacy if you just have a small makeup bag with them or something like that. Just message me if there is anything I can do to help! Good luck and have an amazing trip May! :)

  • JoJo

    What is the best brand to get?

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Depends a lot on your stature. Some of the links I provided ( http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/ and http://menstrualcups.wordpress.com detail out the fit of the cups for different sized women. I have never had a problem with the Diva Cup and I am 5’9, but very petite friends in the 5′ range much prefer the Lunette. If you do some research you can likely find one that’s a likely fit before investing.

  • http://Randomactsofgina.com/ Random Acts of Gina

    Thanks for the info. Also the amazon comment you told us all to read was hysterical.

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Isn’t just great. I dream of being that witty one day ;-)

  • Cool Cat

    I have been using the Diva Cup for about 6 months now and I am so happy that I made it past the “learning curve” phase! I had read a few reviews online and picked up a few tips but I still had to figure it out on my own time. The review that you posted from Amazon was hilarious and I as well relate to the “no need to spin it” perspective. There’s no way that thing is spinning once it’s inserted and as long as I haven’t tried to insert it too far up (like a tampon) there’s no leaking. I’m super satisfied with it and haven’t bought pads or tampons since. It is a bit harsh on the old lips for a bit but that being said once all is said and done that thing stays in for 12 hours!
    *I now insert it with both hands, one holding the top (keeping it folded) and the other pushing the stem in and it seems to work like a charm.
    *I also find it really does help to pretend like you are taking a dump or spewing forth something from your vagina in order to bring it low enough to snatch onto it *SQUEEZE* it and take it out (the only issue with squeezing it and releasing the suction is if the cup is full it does get a bit messy – hands to the sky crying out “WHY”).
    *Before I started the old two hander, I would put one leg up on the bathtub or toilet and insert it like I would a tampon and this worked ok too…except for when the lips of the cup blast open while halfway into your vagina! Not cool Diva Cup, Not cool. The try again thing can get taxing.
    * Also this may sound a little bit funny but that’s ok! I had to acknowledge that I was shoving a silicone cup into my vagina and this is a bit intrusive. Now what I do is a hold the cup in my hands for a moment and say I bless you with light and love and then I insert it on an out breath! Tricks of the trade – just thought I would share!
    Go Green – Go Diva Cup – YAY!

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      I am so happy that you stuck with it through the learning curve and have come out the other side loving it! Thank you, truly, for sharing these tips here with the ALA community. It’s can be so frustrating to be all alone in your bathroom trying to figure out how the heck to make it work right!

      Go Diva Cups and hope you have a wonderful weekend!! :)

  • TimeToHike!

    I absolutely love your post and have found it very helpful! Just got a Diva Cup a week ago, literally right before my period, and it’s great! I can’t believe I didn’t know about these things during my travels in Africa and Asia – life would have been more worry-free! At first I was worried it would leak during my trail-run and I’d be stuck on public transit, but after a quick check in the WC, all was spotless! Eco-friendly and money-saving!!

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      So glad it worked the first time like that for you! It’s amazing and you’ll never go back. Thanks for sharing your success! :)

  • Tina

    After reading your post, now even i am considering using it!!! It seems to be a good choice….Just one doubt, doesn’t it feel uncomfortable when you are wearing it?

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Way more comfortable than a tampon actually! You can’t feel it once it’s in, and it’s silicone and squishy, so nothing to be jabbing or poking. You’ll love it! :)

  • Brooke

    Okay, I’ve been hearing about these for a little while. To tell you the truth they terrify me (in a sense) especially after reading the amazon review (which was also very funny). I tried to use tampons when I was younger (I’m 24 now) and hated them. I couldn’t get them in right and when I tried to take them out it didn’t work- just not a good experience. I’m still a virgin and still using pads and planned on sticking to that route until after I got married. Now since I’m getting ready to go on an 11 month mission trip I’m rethinking some things.

    So with all that said would you still recommend I give this thing a try?

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Yes! I would. Tampons feel complete different inside, and with a tampon, if you aren’t very heavy it can even hurt to insert because it is dry cotton. I would rec that you do a little more research on the sizes, find one recommended for teens (probably going to be a smaller fit). Off the top of my head, I think the Lunette might be best, but I haven’t looked into it much.
      It will be messy the first times you use it, start on a med flow day and just keep trying. I truly cannot feel it once it’s in correctly. It’s a great enough solution that I think it’s worth the money to see if you can make it work, esp if you’ll be doing any rural mission work. I felt exactly like that woman in the Amazon review the first two periods. Now it’s 6 years later and I cannot imagine going back. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful trip!! :)

    • TlindaT

      Sorry to butt in, but I just replied to this article and then saw your review and thought I could give you some input too. After years of tampon use I recently bought a Diva cup and just started using it two days ago. I got lucky and didn’t have any problems even the very first day using it. But the reason I think it’s could work better for you than a tampon are the two main reasons (in my experience) tampon use can be uncomfortable.

      First is dryness. When your flow is very light (as is often the case with teenagers and young adults) tampons can begin to chafe and irritate your vaginal channel. When the tampon is too dry it also often isn’t slippery enough to just come out. It sticks to the walls and pulling it out can actually hurt. This could account for your problems in getting the tampon out. Some lubricant can help with this, but if the flow is that light a pad might just be better.

      The second reason is not putting the tampon in far enough. When a tampon isn’t inserted deeply enough it can press uncomfortably against your pubic bone which is very uncomfortable bordering on painful. The tampon should then go deeper until it is behind the little bone ledge formed by your pubic bone. As an aside, this is actually one of the reasons why I wouldn’t recommend tampons with an applicator for tampon beginners. It’s just much easier to feel the ledge and feel where the tampon should go with your fingers.

      Anyway, dryness is much less of a problem with the cup. As Shannon mentioned in her article, you can even insert the cup before you get your period and it will not dry your vagina out. And the cup is also less hard and rigid than a tampon, which lessens the impact of it pressing against any bones or sensitive tissue considerably.

      I truly would recommend that you at least try it out. The cost is quite reasonably in my opinion. If it won’t work for you, you haven’t lost much and can maybe even get a refund, depending on the seller. But if it does work, you will spare yourself a lot of hassle for years to come.

    • mom

      I’m 47 and rarely used tampons. I just tried the cup and it was way more comfortable than a tampon. Also worked for me first try…but I have had 5 kids. I would say try it. The benefits outweigh your fears. (I was a virgin til marriage. Good for you).

  • TlindaT

    I’m on day two of using my Diva cup for the very first time and I already know that I won’t go back to other products. It seems like I’m super lucky, but I didn’t have any trial period of getting it right at all. I put it in and it just worked perfectly. No leakage all night. No mess while changing it this morning. Not a drop outside the cup all day today. Maybe my lady parts just have a good shape for a cup like this. I got my mom a cup the same time I bought mine. She just tried it out for the first time too while on vacation and she had no problems or messy trial period either.
    However, I do not feel like my cup sits any lower at all than a tampon. But maybe that’s just me.

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Yay!! So glad to hear it’s working for you. Mine sits a lot lower, but that’s just me. Everyone is different and if your lady parts are liking it, then that is excellent! Glad to know there’s another convert, it’s such a easier way of handling periods and I could never go back either. Safe travels! :)

  • Customer1224

    BUYERS YOU ARE RISKING A SCARY AND HUMILIATING NIGHTMARE IF YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT.

    I purchased the correct size of the diva cup yesterday, and followed all of the directions on inserting the cup. I did not feel it for the 5 hours I wore it, it and it did not leak, so I was convinced at this point the product was great. The nightmare began when I tried to remove it.

    Again I followed the directions on how to remove the cup, and I immediately found the cup had moved up my vaginal canal several inches and lodged itself behind my pelvic bone. I struggled for 30 minutes trying to remove the cup. The stem was simply too small and too slippery to keep a grip with two fingers, and the suction was too strong to allow the cup to budge.

    I was unsuccessful at removing it and hysterical at this point convinced I would have to go to the dr the next day. My husband volunteered to assist which was humiliating but necessary. Another 30 minutes later and four more manly fingers later, the cup came out.

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      So sorry to hear that you had a hard time getting it out, that sounds so stressful. It does form a tight seal sometimes and relaxing those muscles is hard when you’re not used to taking out the cup. Hopefully you find alternatives that work for you.

  • Michelle Addington

    Hi Shannon! I want to thank you so much for writing this review! I am currently walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and I don’t know what I would have done without the Diva Cup. There are long stretches of the Camino where you don’t have access to restrooms and so using tampons would have created quite a problem. With the Diva Cup I didn’t have anything to worry about except putting one foot in front of the other. :) I would not have even thought about going with a menstrual cup if I hadn’t read your review when I was getting ready for my trip. I decided to give it a shot and I am so grateful that I did! You are a life saver! Thank you!

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Congratulations on the walk — I have read several accounts of the pilgrimage and its one of the things I would like to do one day. I am so glad you found the cup useful on your travels, it’s one of those things that seems pretty odd until you try it. Safe journey.

  • Jess

    For anyone worried about cleaning your menstrual cup during your travels, have a look at http://www.meluna.org they have a small foldable silicon cup you can use in the microwave for boiling and also sterilising tablets.

    • http://alittleadrift.com/ Shannon O’Donnell

      Thanks Jess, looks interesting and great that it’s a bit easier to sterilize!