Categories: PlanningProduct Reviews

A Little Review… Why Traveling Ladies Use A Diva Cup (Menstrual Cup)

Confession time, I wanted to review the Diva Cup for ages but I hesitated out of fear of alienating readers. But really, I also didn’t want my cheeks to flame red with embarrassment as I write this personal post—you’re about to get to know me in a whole new way. The time has come though. 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 should consider it too. First though, a resounding warning:

Men, you might want to move along now. But that said, you also may find this menstrual cup review helpful for your girlfriend or wife. Certainly every traveling lady should read it—so forward it your travel-loving female friends.

Let’s get started with the beginnings. I was in the throes of planning my round the world trip when my cousin implored me to immediately buy a Diva Cup to handle my period while traveling. She said I needed to but it immediately so that I could practice with it before I started traveling long-term. I was skeptical. I had assumed that 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. She said it is the best way to handle your period while you travel.

Contents:
Verdict: Should You Use a Cup?
What is a Menstrual Cup?
How Does a Menstrual Cup Work?
Why You Should Use One While Traveling
How to Use Your Cup
Best Brands & Resources


The Initial Verdict?

The Diva Cup is the most useful thing I pack when I travel. It gives me the confidence to go straight from a long bus ride to an epic hiking adventures. It never leaks. I’m never forced to schlep bags of tampons. It just works.

The Diva Cup is one of the most useful things I took on my trip around the world.

I bought one from my local health food store. Then, I had a rough start to using the menstrual cup and almost gave up entirely. Within just one period, I had figured it out. It started working after I spent a couple of days practicing. Since then, nearly a decade later, I’ve never looked back to the days of schlepping around pads and tampons.

What is a Menstrual Cup?

A menstrual cup is an eco-friendly “natural feminine hygiene alternative” that sits inside (like a tampon, but lower) and collects your menstrual fluid. Basically, these cups are medical-grade silicone, each about the size of a shot glass. When a menstrual cup is inserted correctly, the rim of the cup forms a seal against your vaginal canal. Once sealed, it takes care of business. The menstrual fluid flows into the cup, then you just pull it gently and dump the liquid into the toilet or sink. These cups fully replace tampons and pads. In fact, I have never bought a package of pads since I switched over. Well… except that one time when my best friend’s dog ate my Diva Cup. Keep ’em tucked somewhere safe!

The Diva Cup, specifically, falls under the larger umbrella of silicone menstrual cups (yup, there are several different brands of these things). Every menstrual cup brand represents a different aspect of sizing, shape, and color, but they all work the same way.

How Does a Menstrual Cup Work?

At its most basic, each menstrual cup is a small rounded cup made of pliable, foldable, and soft medical-grade silicon. The cup holds about an ounce of liquid—more or less depending on the brand and size that you select. It’s about the size of a shot glass. The premise of the entire thing is that you fold the cup in half and insert it much like you would a tampon. Once inserted, the cup opens into the full circle again and then forms a seal. With a tampon, the cotton absorbs the blood. In this case, the seal insures that your blood is collected in the cup (which again, is about the size of a shot glass, so you are simply collecting it in there like you would a small flexible cup).

Then you tug the base of the cup while you are over a toilet, then you tip the cup into the toilet and flush. You wipe or rinse it out and reinsert. In this way, you actually have only one thing that you need. You don’t need a new pad or tampon, and you don’t have something to dispose of afterwards. Your period is disposed of into the toilet.

So, lots of women are different shapes and sizes, but the nature of the silicon means that the various brands tend to work for most women. Some cups have a wider circular rim to ensure that you can form a strong seal if you’ve had birthed a child. Some cups are shorter for women with shorter vaginal canals. But generally, they all tend to be very similar in size, shape, and they all work on the same exact premise of creating a seal so that the blood flows into the cup and can then be dumped into a toilet or down a sink.

If you need more information, the buying instructions for the Diva Cup outline the nitty-gritty details on if you need the A or B size, it has pictures of the cup, and instructions too. And stick around to the the end of the post where I share the hilarious and helpful reviews women have posted, as well as outine the other brands that work well for women of differing statures.

Review: 5 Reasons I love the Diva Cup for Traveling

1. It can be worn for 10 to 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 deal with tampons during all-day treks—hooray for my Diva Cup! Unlike reports, you can actually get TSS, but it’s incredibly rare. Most menstrual cup brands are safe to have in for up to 12 hours (unless I am on very tail end of my period, however, I would never leave it in for more than 10).

2. 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 potentially embarrassing situations on treks like bleeding through clothes or wild animals finding my bloody materials.

3. 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—I knew I could head out on a six-hour bike ride without searching for a bathroom or wondering all day if I was leaking.

4. You never have to buy other hygiene products.
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 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. (And note that you can find Kotex or Always in many/most major hub cities, so no need to pack a year’s supply either way!)

5. 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. One memorable time that sticks with me was a nine hour boat on the Mekong River in Laos—after diligently placing all trash in the marked bags all day, including my tampons (since the toilets have you do your business directly into the river… #facepalm), locals dumped every trash bag over the side of the boat 30 minutes before we reached Luang Prabang. Or that time camping in a National Park in Asia when locals burned our trash each evening. In the west, we sometimes overlook that pads and tampons are hard to dispose of properly outside of our own infrastructure. For travelers, the cup allows you to lighten your eco-footprint just a tad—your period business won’t linger in faraway rivers and forests long after you leave. It’s 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 used in tampons and pads.

DOWNSIDES:
I love this product and I 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 hilarious Hairpin article is a good read. Or you can check out the many, many thousands of often frank and sometimes wince-worthy reviews on Amazon. Though it was rough going at first, now I’m converted. I truly, wholly believe that menstrual cups are one of the best investments for female travelers.

How to Use Your Cup (Washing, Inserting, Etc)

  • 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 plain, unscented liquid soap for use as a body wash and a cup wash. You can buy a mild wash from the company itself or handy sanitary wipes, too. Be sure to have a cleaning routine down pat before you leave. Generally, I only use a wipe at the end before storing it for the next few weeks (unless in a place with no potable water). And know that using anything but mild products and water might degrade the silicone, so it’s better to just wipe with toilet paper and use water until you get back to your mild soap if you’re out and about.
  • 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. But you’ll also learn to understand your cycle better and get pretty good at using the cup without much issue.
  • That “twist” the instructions mention is the most important part of the process—that’s what ensures you have a good seal. That, and the holes at the top of your cup—you have to ensure they are clean between uses (just squeezing around the rim while under water cleans them out easily).
  • When they tell you it sits lower than a tampon, it’s SO true. Really low, make sure it pops open, then twist — it’s like magic. But, you definitely 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.
  • After using a menstrual cup for a decade now, I swear by it. It shortened my period and my cramping/PMS symptoms. It’s worth the awkward transition and it’s just plain healthier for your body. I’ll never, ever go back to pads and tampons.

Best Menstrual Cup Brands:

Diva
Lunette

Keeper
Mooncup
Lily
Duchess
Athena
Blossom
Lena
Femmy Cycle (for Teens)

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

And don’t take my word for it—look around online. There many women have gone on the record 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.


Brands & Resources

  • The major contenders you should consider are the Diva Cup or the Lunette. Consensus seems to say that the Lunette works well for petite women and/or those with a short vaginal canal or low cervix. I am tall with a long vaginal canal and have tried other brands, but I stick with the Diva Cup. (I do carry the Lily compact as a backup because it collapses down tiny. I have the larger size in both cups since I am over 30 and each brand respectively recommends the size 2/B ).
  • The Best Menstrual Cups: Not sure about which one is right for you? Not all of us know if we have a long or short vaginal canal, so this post breaks down the options and which works for different women.
  • Menstrual Cup Info: Heaps of additional information to help you decide which cup might be a good fit for your body type.
  • How to Insert a Diva Cup: This video is no-nonsense and very helpful for someone just learning to use it. She demonstrates the different types of folds. I use the C-fold and have never needed lubricant (and note that oil-based lubricants are straight-up bad for the cup’s silicone), but if it’s water-based and safe for the silicone, it might ease the transition until you get the hang of inserting it.
  • 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—I have had those convos too.

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! If you haven’t tried it yet, just go poke around the Diva Cup page, read the reviews, see what it’s all about.

If there is ever anything that I can do to help, please do reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let’s talk about how we can make your travel dream a reality.

This post was last modified on June 23, 2018, 9:28 am

View Comments

  • I tried the Diva cup and it is the most convenient female product I have every used. I will never buy tampons or pads again. The diva cup is a little pricey, but it save you from buying any other product every again. I didn't t have to worry about embarrassing leakage. I did not need to wear a pad to prevent leaks from a tampon. I admit it is difficult to use at first, but once you learn the proper insertion method it is very easy. I wish this was invented years ago.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Stacy! I know it's so overwhelming for some people to think about the switch, but once you're used to it there is just no going back. :)

  • I am about to set out on a 5 month trip to Southeast Asia and Australia. The bulk of my trip will be spent in Thailand. I am really interested in trying the Diva Cup, I have heard so many amazing things about it. The question I have that no one seems to be able to answer is if it is safe to clean with water in developing countries. I know in many places over there the water is unsafe to drink, does that make a difference in cleaning/ the use of your Diva Cup? Is it safe to clean it with the water there?

    • Good question. The water will be safe to clean it with in Thailand (in most places, probably not if you are in a rural village), you can usually brush your teeth with the water in Thailand and be fine so the same is true for the Diva Cup (but you'll drink filtered water). If I was in a sketchy situation with no running water I just wiped it clean with toilet paper. Other than that, I cleaned with water and soap and never had issues and I've used it in 40+ developing countries. You are only changing it twice a day usually for 5-7 days, so the instances where it's sketchy are few, and you can use bottled water if the tap water is truly gnarly (rarely). Hope that helps!

  • Third month using the diva cup..... first 2 months i wore a pad i was so scared i would leak, and i did until i learned what to listen for sometimes you dont hear or feel that "pop" so i decided to use rubber gloves each time just to get a better grip of the cup when twisting it, i twist it until the bottom rounds out a bit more and after turning It i pushed it in and pulled a little till i feel a suction. Then i know i wont leak , first time i was in the bathroom putting this on i was in for almost an hour, frustrated trying to find which fold is best, im sticking with the c fold, and im in and out of the bathroom in less then 5 minutes. The freedom i have now with the cup is amazing, fishing for hours on a pier no bathroom,... im ok, driving four hours away on my 3rd day of my period.... im ok.... my husband laying his head on my inner thigh while watching tv... no problem ,no period smell... im thoroughly sold and will not go back to pads or tampons.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience Elena. Like you, I had a lot of issues those first two months while I figured out how to twist and pop it out. You describe to a tee what I do as well, with the little push and twist until you can feel that there is some suction. I am so glad that it's working for you now!

  • Hi!
    First of all, thank you for this article!
    It comforts me reading that is was difficult at the beginning... (I've just bought it and used it on one period).

    HOWEVER, I was wondering how do you sterilize the cup when traveling?
    I love to travel too, but after I bought my cup I realized that BOILING it on the road is the one thing I could consider a downside.
    I'll truly appreciate to hear (read) about your experience on is matter.
    Thanks a lot, Elsa.

    • Excellent question, I actually don't boil my cup very often, once a year, maybe twice. I find that the other methods are better for the cup according to some, and better for cleaning on the road. The Diva Cup site says to boil, but the Keeper, the other huge brand, actually says that it's not good for the cup long-term (http://keeper.com/learn-more/cleaning-your-cups/). My method has always been to carry a small jar of mild, fragrance free soap and use that only on my cup. And if I am in a shared housing situation like a hostel, or even a hotel where I can't get to the kitchen, I will boil a cup of water (looks to others like I am making tea), add a bit of soap, and let it soak. Even that doesn't have to happen all of the time if you are regularly washing with the mild soap. Silicone doesn't harbor bacteria easily, so make sure the air holes on the top are clean and after that it's *super* low maintenance. :)

      • Thank you very much for your useful advices!
        The link doesn't work but I googled it and found the article!
        There's nothing better for abolishing doubts than the actual experience of someone; thank you for sharing yours.
        Love, Elsa.

  • Yup, it's the best little invention ever in my opinion! And I'm not shy about telling everyone I know or meet all about it - my friends get all the TMI details and advice, and I feel a little crazy but I rave about how it's not only way more convenient, safe, etc., but also how fascinating it is to actually SEE your period. I take all my friends to the tampon aisle to show them where it is, and advise any women standing nearby to try it out. Also, when at REI I have been known to give the full sales speech to women standing awkwardly in front of the Diva Cup box. LOL. It truly is the best though - for travel, for hiking and backpacking, for swimming and boating, for pool parties and days at the spa, for white pants/shorts/skirts any day of the month or year. Just yes. :)

    • Thanks for sharing your own experience Erin. I have to give you mad props, I have never yet pulled someone over in the shopping aisle, but I do see the merits. I wish everyone was shouting it out from the rooftops. Such a fantastic way to handle the period and I've yet to meet anyone who tries it for a few months and goes back to pads and tampons. It's just better in every way. Cheers and thanks for popping into the site! :)

  • It is uncomfortable especially for me, who hasn't had sexual escapades yet, much less children.. So to me if you are fairly tight down there, it wouldn't be very comfortable fit..I'm in my early 20s gave it a try, I didn't like it, it wasn't the mess or anything that turned me away from it was just how it fit, since I haven't been very sexual with my body as of yet, it just feels kind of awkward and distracting. Though kudos to those who like it and get it to work well. I might try it again when I'm older.

    • Sorry to hear that it didn't work well for you. They have smaller cups too, and one called FemmyCycle actually has a teen size that might work better for you. I understand that it can be a little odd at first to use one, it's a bit more invasive than using a tampon. I hope you find one that fits in the future, they work really well once you have a good size and fit for your body.

  • I was interested in menstrual cups, so I decided to try one. I bought it a month ago and couldn't get it to work properly, so I decided to wait and watch more videos on folding techniques. Now I am on day three of using it, and so far so good. It is something new, and taking it out is still awkward, but I do like the convenience of not having to change it every four hours. I highly recommend doing research on it before hand and watching insertion and removal videos. Try it out before a period so you get the hang of it, and hopefully you will be satisfied with it.

    • It can be really tricky at first, but once you find the folding technique that works best for you, it's such a better alternative to the other options out there. Hope that it's smooth sailing for you from here on out!

  • I love the Diva Cup! I'm 51 with 4 kids and there isn't a tampon around that I don't leak through. The cup collects everything with no leaking (once you master the art of insertion).

    And an additional benefit ... I'm a runner and have light bladder control issues so have been using Poise pads and Impressa bladder supports. The Diva Cup provides better bladder support than Impressa and I no longer leak urine when I run. It's heaven!

    • Thank you for sharing your story Shirley! That's amazing that it gives you the added support for your bladder too, I hadn't thought of it like that, but it makes sense since it's so firm once it's open! :)

  • I have 3 cups (Diva, Lunette and Lily Cup). My favorite is the Lunette, it just somehow fits me a bit better. I've been thinking about picking up a Lily Cup Compact to carry around in my purse instead of tampons. Anyone knows if the Compact feels much different than the Lily Cup? Does it collapse once inside or holds its shape well?

    There are so many cups out there now, and I found some as cheap as $2 on amazon. There is this article talking about menstrual cups being medical device on peachruby.com/blogs/how-tos/beware-of-menstrual-cups-regulatory-claims , and I checked for the $2 cup and turned out that $2 cup was no good. So, be careful everyone.

    • I don't love the compact, I found it just didn't seal right. I used the size B, and I have successfully used a larger Diva Cup for a decade, but I've never made the Lily Cup compact work on my heavy days. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the info. I was hoping for good news, but now I'm hesitant. I saw Softcup and that's small. Maybe I'll try that.