The Diva Cup

Okay ladies I know no one wants to deal with their period on the trail but we have all had our monthly present get in the way of our outdoor endeavors.  Many women just choose to give up on ever doing long term outdoor activities, others have just sucked it up and dealt with it like I had for years.  One of the first things that came up when I started thinking about backpacking for the first time is “what about my period?”.

Let me tell you first off, my period has the most twisted sense humor in the world.  As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up civil war reenacting and we went out about one weekend a month.  Without fail my period showed up almost every single time right in the middle.  It was frustrating and embarrassing trying to explain to the guys we went with why I didn’t want to do things I normally jumped at the chance to do.  And the one week a year I went to summer camp?  It hit three times out of five.  I have had to deal with it in every single situation imaginable and it always showed up at the most inconvenient times.  Most people would consider my period to be a bit of a dream since it’s at most 4 days long, but it a trade-off.  I have a day where at least half of my overall “flow” comes withing a 3-4 hour period of time and daily deliriously painful cramping that can only be managed with very precise timing of Aleve pills, which as any outdoor woman will tell you makes doing anything almost impossible, especially without constant access to a commode.  So after years of having to either be a hermit or just work around it, I was not about to let it deter me from backpacking any more than anything else it tried to keep me from doing.

Then a device was introduced to me by a woman who must have been an angel from God himself.  This device is called a Diva Cup.  It is almost exactly what it sounds like, a soft plastic cup that you stick up your special place and it catches just what you think it catches.  The thing that makes the diva cup special is that by the time it does fill up and just has to be emptied, you’d have used easily 5x or more tampons or pads.  It is designed to be used for 12 hours at a time and emptied 2-3 times a day.  After having used it, I will never buy another pad or tampon again.  It’s not just my backpacking solution, it’s my getting my life back solution.  It solves several issues that made me miserable, like the odor that I felt like followed me everywhere.  Since the yuck never hits open air until you remove the cup, the smell never makes it out of the bathroom and leaves even there when you flush.  For a pad user like myself the constant feeling of being dirty is no more and it’s easier and more comfortable than a tampon which I could never get the hang of.  My biggest complaint was always that no matter what product I bought or new idea they came up with for pads and tampons, I never could shake the feeling of not being able to bend over or squat or really move with any range without a revolting and familiar squish.  Since buying the diva cup I have not once felt that.

And while yes, the idea of emptying and cleaning a cup of this type may turn many women off, Think of it like this, how many times a day you change your pad and how bad does your bathroom smell keeping that crap in the trash?  How many times have you sat in a class or meeting unable to concentrate because all you could think of was how close you were to having a big problem?  How nice would it be to not worry about smelling like menstrual yuck all day, or truly never having to worry about your tampon or pad filling up or being dislodged while doing rough and tumble activities?  How about being able to go backpacking and hike all day without that uncomfortable feeling, or just being able to sleep through the night without the fear of waking up in an accident?

Since I got my diva cup there has not been one day where I felt like telling someone I couldn’t do something because I didn’t want to deal with my period.  In fact I’ve completely stopped pausing to think how my period will affect an activity at all, because my period doesn’t affect anything anymore.  There have been several times I even forgot I was on my period, until my cramps reminded me (the Diva Cup can’t fix everything 🙂 ).  If someone had told me as a young girl that I could have not been miserable with my period, I would have asked them where I signed up for that.  Having a period is just a part of being a girl and it’s something we all have to deal with, but doesn’t have to control your life and it certainly doesn’t have to keep you off the trail!

  1. Great post! I just got a diva cup last month and have only tried it one day, at home. I’m still unsure about how to empty and clean it in a public place and can’t begin to think about how to do it in the backcountry. Where would you empty it out? I’m sure a bear could smell it for miles!

    • Thanks! A lot of times I can usually find someplace with a family restroom with it’s own sink or just take a wet paper towel in the stall with me, but to be honest unless it’s a really heavy day I don’t need to empty it while I’m out. Also most users still wear a liner on the heavy or long days. In the backcountry I just empty it into a cathole and bury it. It doesn’t smell any stronger than solid waste and you can pretty much take care of it the same way.

  2. Great tips for backpacking girls, thank you for posting!!!

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