Dealing with your period while camping.... Try using a menstrual cup (Sorry guys!)

This is a post I sat here and debated about because I'm NOT one to talk about period issues in public.  I know some people are totally fine with it, but I'm not.  I don't even want to hear other women talking about theirs because it's none of my business and I do not care to hear about it.  Even knowing you are on your period... too much information.  Keep it to yourself.  I don't  need to know this?!  Why do you think I would care?

So I am stepping out of my comfort zone because if you are a regular hiker/camper, and are female, this is something you have to deal with.

I've been camping my whole life so way back when - all those years ago - it was pads only when I was 12/13.
Soon after that I discovered tampons and life got much easier.  But there is still leaking.

You can only wear them safely for a few hours before they have to be removed (read up on toxic shock syndrome) and you have to deal with the mess, disposal, insertion, back up pads and panty liners... and packing all this stuff 'in and out' when you are hiking and backpacking!

Not only lugging around tampons and pads take up space in your pack, but carrying a ziplock full of used products back out until you find a trash receptacle is just gross.  In some instances you may be in an area you can dig a hole and bury it... but depending on the situation that doesn't always work, there might be wild animals around that are attracted to the scent, or you might also be ruining the few shorts and pants that you have with you by leakage.

Hiking and tent camping in the mountains in Arkansas, the Badlands of South Dakota and the desert of New Mexico and Arizona I had fears of 'leakage' and had to deal with disposal. You just can't be confident when you are dealing with this stuff and you always have to be 'prepared' with tampons and pads just in case. 

All these issues just because we happen to be a female who loves to camp and hike!

Enter the menstrual cup.

Now I'm not an expert (believe it or not there are women who have made their blogs and youtube videos completely 'cup' based and have become {cough} experts on this topic.)  Me?  I'm a normal, regular person who has tried them and have some honest opinions on them.


It ends up I love them.

And I did NOT think I would ever say THAT after my first trial of them.

So let's go!

I think the most popular and well known cup is this one: The Diva Cup.

This is one I have not tried, because of the cost.  I was going to pick one up at Walmart but they are currently a huge 'fad' across the nation and the price jacked up to $39 at our local store.  Um... no.  Enter Amazon (for me). So I know this one is wildly popular and a lot of people love it but I didn't purchase this one.  You can get it through this Amazon link for about $25 verses the almost $40 in the retail store but I opted for more budget friendly versions to try before I would invest in something that expensive.

DivaCup Model 1 Menstrual Cup


CUP TALK - TMI and outside of my comfort zone so I grabbed a cup of fresh brewed coffee, took a big swig and here we go....

It's been trial and error - and my final thought is... I love them.
And I did NOT think I'd say that after the first trial period.

When you read the reviews, it seems overwhelmingly that the people who say they hate them and they are 'not for them' and will never buy another - did so after just one period trial.  I was kind of in that frame of mind after my first day or two of trying them too!

First: because I wasn't completely 'trusting' of them I was checking them often that first day which meant inserting and removing.  And... ouch.  "Used and abused" down there describes it.  Ultimately they are made to leave in for 10-12 hours at a time - assuming your period isn't really heavy that day.  So taking it out and putting it really often hurts.

Second: It takes a LOT of practice for placement.  I'm just NOW at the place where I know my body and the cup style to know how I need to insert.  Every body is different.  You have to get up high UP as well; which I know now I wasn't inserting it high enough at first - which is why that little 'stub' on the end to help you pull it out was hurting.  I would go in, take it out, put it back in, walk about 8-10 steps and say OH NO THIS AIN'T GONNA WORK and go back in and take it out and put it back in again;  which is back to #1 first reason I was sore at my first trials.

PRACTICE AND GET USED TO THEM BEFORE YOU TAKE THEM WITH YOU CAMPING.  You can practice inserting and wearing them even if you don't have your period.  I absolutely would not (not not not) recommend trying them out for the first time during an all day hiking trip or camping.  That would probably be a recipe for disaster.

Third:  Heavy days mean you have to check/change/dump often.  On my "heavy" day I have to check every 2-3 hours.  On light normal days;  8-10 hours is fine.  12 hours on the really light days.  If it's light days and the placement is good, you don't even have to worry about a panty liner or any backup;  if it's in correctly you won't leak.

Fourth:  Make sure the cup OPENS.  Once inserted, sometimes they don't pop up open easily.  You are supposed to reach up to the stem and give it a little quarter turn, which normally makes it pop and makes the seal for no leaking.  The first couple periods I sometimes didn't have it popped open (I thought I did but didn't really feel to check) and I leaked.  Again - if the cup is open correctly, it won't leak - it's awesome.

Last:  The fold to insert... SO important.  This is another reason it really HURT that first period.  It was only after watching a youtube video that I realized there were other 'folds' to use.  There are 3 that most women use; only 1 works for me.  (For me the one that works is a C fold where you press one side down with your thumb, as it folds in on itself, I grasp it to insert.  And I found that the 'squat' insertion is the only way I can get it completely comfortable and perfectly inserted.

Traveling back and forth across the country and having to use public bathrooms during this "trial" of the menstrual cups - I now keep a small pack of baby wipes in my purse!  I found that I can dump it, insert some toilet paper in the cup and it 'cleans' it immediately just by absorption.  Wipe the rim/outside if needed and reinsert.  The baby wipes are for your fingers (and the cup if you need it). 

I LOVE them now.  And I did not love them at first. But I do now.

LAST TIDBIT OF TMI...  If you've had children and you have urine leakage when you cough or sneeze from your muscles not being strong anymore - THIS SOLVES IT!!!  LOL.  When you have a cup in, it puts JUST enough pressure on your insides to block urine leakage during sneezes and coughs!  This was so awesome to discover.  After I discovered this, I found another woman's review that said the same thing and that she wears the cup DAILY  JUST for bladder protection.  It's not even for her period.



The first is Bodybay and although I love it now, I wouldn't 'start' with this one or have a young daughter start with this one.  Only because it's firmer and thicker than some of other others and when you are learning - and inserting and taking it out more often than you actually need to, it gets pretty sore.

I also wasn't comfortable with this one at first (because I was still learning) and I read that some women were trimming off the stem so it didn't poke and hurt.  I trimmed it, which helped but now that I'm better at placement and more comfortable using them, the shorter stem is not good because it makes it much more difficult to remove.  I actually just ordered a SECOND one of this style, which I am going to trim just a bit off but leave enough to easily grasp for removal.

I like this one the best NOW out of the 3 that I currently own (a 4th style is ordered and being delivered next week to try).  But at first, this one was too 'hard' and too big to 'learn' on.  It's my favorite now though.

Bodybay Menstrual Cups-No Leak-Set of 2 Cups with FDA Registered-Comfortable and Soft Feminine Alternative Protection to Tampons and Cloth Sanitary Napkins-Blue and Red (Large and Small)

This is the second kind I bought and tried at the same time; it's awesome for younger girls and for women who are trying these for the first time.  It's much softer and thinner and easier to bend than the Bodybay brand.  Because it's so soft, sometimes it doesn't want to pop open and seal like it should so you need to make sure you are doing a quarter twist after insertion, and even pressing a finger up on the side to make sure it pops open so it can seal.  I like this one for 'light' days best of all. 

Smart Cup Menstrual Period Cup - Soft Comfort Fit - Best Non-toxic, Pliable & Reusable Feminine Care - (Medium/Large for Post Childbirth)

The third one I bought at the same time to test is the Vida Cup.  This one is my "go to" that I keep in my backpack/purse at all times (just like most females carry a tampon or pad at all times just in case).  It's very similar to the Bodybay brand in that it's thicker and firmer than the Smart Cup (above).  They come with a little fabric bag to keep them in - so they aren't just bouncing around in the bottom of your backpack or purse and getting dirty.

Menstrual Cup that Surpasses all Menstrual Cups, Don’t Let Your Period Control You, Tampon and Pad Alternative for a Better Monthly Cycle and Feel At Ease

THIS IS THE ONE I JUST ORDERED THIS MORNING:  I want to try this one because it has an O ring at the bottom instead of  stem - which I want to try to see if it's a quick and easy removal and the end is not 'pokey' if the cup is down too low - that hurts.  When you have it inserted correctly and up high enough, you can't feel the cups in AT ALL.  But when they are not in correctly, you can. 

Menstrual Cup with Ring for Easy Removal - 12 Hour No Spill - Pad and Tampon Alternative - FDA Approved Medical Grade Silicone - PEACHCUP by PEACHLIFE INC

So, I've really put myself out there on this post.  Not typical 'me' but I hope it helps some women who are wondering about menstrual cups and if they should try one.  I say YES but note that there are affordable options on Amazon that run about $10-$12 and you do not have to spend $40 on one when you don't even know if you will like them or not.

UPDATED:  I received the PeachCup and... I love it.  So EASY to use and remove.  The O ring is just so much of an improvement on trying to grasp the short little straight nub on the ends of the others.  Can't say enough about it. 

One last thing to add:  if you don't like the menstrual cups at first, don't give up.  Give it 3-4 months!  By the 3rd month of trial I was loving them and by the 4th I never used anything BUT the cup(s).  I hope to never go back to tampons (and after todays news article about Kotex recalling tampons for pieces being 'left in the body', it's just one MORE reason to make the switch! Link here if you haven't seen it.)