I’ve travelled a lot with my period. And it never bothered me, even though I was always a tampon user and disposing it was also a challenge on my trips. In fact, I wrote about it once too…when I had to trek and I was expecting the period.
But over the years, especially since I hit my mid-40s, the period has begun playing hide n seek. Comes and goes as it chooses. Doesn’t adhere to the established timelines. Does its own thing.
Add to this, the flow has become unpredictable.
I didn’t give it much thought until I suddenly got them, on a trip, in a slightly remote part of India. The day’s events were such that I could manage to make it to a drug store after 10:00 PM. It was also very troublesome to keep telling the driver of my car that I needed to go to a drug store to buy medicines. There is much taboo around menstruation in India – women don’t talk to each other about it, forget about men. Imagine if I had told this strange man about it. I don’t even know how I’d have conveyed it to him in Hindi!
When we finally made it to a store, they didn’t have tampons and they packed the sanitary napkins with such stealth that I could have been accused of smuggling contraband.
After this fiasco, I was very concerned because I have a hectic travel schedule, and didn’t want to be in a similar situation again. A friend suggested the Menstrual Cup.
What is a Menstrual Cup
A menstrual cup is a flexible, multi grade silicon cup shaped to fit snugly into the vagina and collect menstrual blood. As the cup fills up, all we have to do is empty it, rinse it and insert it again.
At first, it was very difficult to get used to. It needs to sit in place to avoid leakages and be effective, and the stench was unbearable. But the more I have used it, the more I have begun to appreciate the ease of use.
Benefits of a Menstrual Cup
When you use a menstrual cup, it negates the need to dispose large pads or tampons in public toilets or in the wilderness.
One of the biggest advantages of the cup is that it doesn’t show, like a pad could, through tight clothing. This is also one of the reasons I was a tampon user for the longest time.
I am also feeling very excited about the fact that the Menstrual Cup is reusable and therefore, friendly to the environment. The silicon cup could last up to 10 years say some companies. Perhaps for the sake of hygiene, I may change mine in a few years.
Benefits of a Menstrual Cup while Travelling
- Can be carried in your backpack, handbag, sling – not bulky therefore, easy to carry and easy to access in an emergency
- No hassles of disposal, therefore, easy to use while trekking and staying in camps
- Blood is biodegradable, so when the Cup is emptied, even if its in the wilderness, on grass etc. it will not pollute the environment
- Most Cups can hold 12 ml and based on your cycle, there would be no need to empty it frequently even on heavy flow days (unlike a tampon that will leak if not discarded
When can you start using a Menstrual Cup?
You can start using a menstrual cup from the day you start menstruating.
Which One to Choose
There are many companies that sell the cup in India. You can check this link for a great bargain – https://shop.easeindiatravel.com/product-category/female-hygiene/
How to Use
I have found this video to be the most useful. In fact, this lady also shows us the structure of our reproductive system, which many women don’t know.
Since the Menstrual Cup is a foreign body that is inserted into the vagina, extreme precaution must be taken when using it. It is important to sterilise it after each cycle and store it in a dry place. I also use hot water (as far as possible) to rinse it after each retraction. If hot water is not available in the toilets – because some places I go to don’t even have toilets – I rinse it with scalding hot water when I take a bath.
The Menstrual Cup must be removed and rinsed every 6-8 hours, especially on low flow days.
So, my strong suggestion is to use it for a few cycles and feel the freedom.
One of the reasons I have written this post (and will share it across platforms) is because I encourage breaking the silence and taboo around menstruation. As I have often told people – its a biological process and one that neither sex must be ashamed of or shy away from. Talking about it is the starting point to ease discomfort.