6 Benefits of Menstrual Cups while Hiking or Camping

I love my vagina. But it can make things a little more complicated when playing in the outdoors for sure. Like during a multi-pitch climb when you’re strapped into your precious lifeline of a harness and have to pee hundreds of feet above the forest floor.

And yes, this post is about vaginas and menstruation.

Okay, now that we’ve addressed that— let me tell you why using a DivaCup changed my life in my personal, honest, and humble review.

Diva cups outdoors

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My DivaCup Review

DivaCup is the brand of menstrual cup that I use and love, but I’m sure there are other brands that are just as awesome. I appreciate that DivaCups are hypoallergenic, using only health-grade silicone that is free of plastics, dyes, rubber, latex, phthalates, toxins, and BPA.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I love that the DivaCup comes in three different sizes. Many menstrual cups come in a one-size-fits-all product, which we all know isn’t true.

Model 0 is recommended for teens who are new to the world of menstruating.

Model 1 is recommended for women under 30 who have never given birth.

Model 2 is recommended for women over the age of 30 and/or women who have given birth to a baby regardless of age.

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Bonus points for the enamel “Diva” pin that comes with these silicone cups. I proudly rep my love for my vagina cup on my denim jacket. It’s basically a punk rock version of a “Ask me about my menstrual cup” tee shirt.

I remember the first time I saw one of these silicone cups packaged all cutesy at the local health market. It stopped me in my tracks as I tried to figure out what you are supposed to do with this little rubber chalice.

Blah, blah, blah, menstrual cup, blah, blah, blah.

Wait. What? I flipped over the box to see illustrated instructions of how to insert it— into my where now?!

Wow. So you really gotta get all up in there, don’t you? Oh god, that looks like a bloody mess. No thank you! I’ll stick to my organic cotton tampons. Moving on… where’s that cheap, biodegradable, package-free oatmeal soap that I love so much?

And just like that, they were dismissed from my mind.

I didn’t consider them again until I went on my first backpacking trip with a big group of young women who were all fan-girl’ing about their love and life-altering experience with the menstrual cup.

“Wildflower (my trail name)! You’ve never used a DivaCup before?! They will change your life! You have to try one!” Are they sponsored or something? I never knew there could be such enthusiasm and team spirit around a period product.

But because I loved and respected these girls so much (who I knew had my best interest at heart & uterus) and they had more years of backcountry experience than I had, I decided to give one a go.I quickly came to understand the love for the cup. If we are friends IRL, then I’ve probably tried to convince you to try one. I genuinely love these things.

Menstrual cups are cheaper than habitually buying tampons.

Buying a cup is a one time investment for a ten year relationship.

By ditching the single use pads & tampons and embracing the cup, you will save thousands of dollars.

It’s estimated that women spend about $4,800 on period products throughout their lifetime.

That money could be a new surf board, a plane ticket to Ecuador, a new pair of climbing shoes because we all know that you are long overdue for that.

Organic tampons can run anywhere from $6-$18/box. Plus the price (both monetarily and environmentally) of gas or shipping, time, mental space, and emotional fortitude it costs you to take those monthly trips to the store when you really just want to die slowly on your couch eating all the dark chocolate while rewatching Stranger Things.

Take good care of it and it’ll last you 10 years! I have replaced my cup once over the 8 years I’ve been using DivaCups. I like having a backup at home in case I leave my travel bag somewhere. But it’s not necessary and you can continue to use your cup for 10 years. Whoop whoop!

How to take care of your diva cup

Menstrual cups are better for your health.

Okay, whose idea was it to insert BLEACHED cotton into the most porous part of our body?! When did that become a thing and why is it still happening?

According to mentrualcupreviews.com: “the cotton or rayon is bleached to achieve its pure white color.  Bleaching creates toxic compounds called dioxins. Dioxins have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as causing cancer in humans. Dioxins have also been linked to hormonal imbalances, infertility and immunity problems. According to a researcher for the Women’s Environmental Network, dioxins build up in our bodies over the years. So even though there may only be tiny amounts present in tampons, they collect in our fatty tissues and can build up to dangerous levels.”

Okay, but what about organic tampons? They achieve that pretty white color by lightening the cotton with hydrogen instead of bleach. So aren’t those healthier?

Yes, they are definitely a healthier alternative than conventional tampons since they don’t contain all the synthetic chemicals like BPA & are grown without the pesticides and fungicides (none of these things are welcome in my vagina, thank you very much). But cotton is super moisture absorbing which means that even organic cotton can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. If these severely high levels of bacteria get into your bloodstream, you can develop a nasty case of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

TSS is not to be taken lightly, girlfriend! It requires immediate removal of the tampon and medical attention. It can cause your vital organs to shut down and possibly even death.

Don’t let your tampon be the end of you! You still have way too many incredible and badass things to do in your lifetime!

And I know how inconvenient it can be when you are pushing for an objective in the outdoors with a group of friends! Just a few more miles. Just a few more pitches. I know, I have been guilty of putting off changing a tampon for too long in that situation too.

Tampons can also cause micro abrasions when being pulled out if the cotton is still dry. Ouch! I do not miss that feeling!

Menstrual cups are kinder to the planet.

Here’s a period riddle for you from the Divacup website:

If the average woman menstruates for forty years and uses approximately 20 tampons per cycle (240 tampons each year) how many will she use during her entire menstrual life cycle?

Answer: 9,600

We can literally prevent billions of bloody tampons (and all the subsequent packaging) from crowding up landfills by embracing reusable menstrual cups. Now there’s a visual for you.

Tampons are bad for the environment

I have committed to making an effort to eliminate single-use products & I think it would be super coolif you did too. Enjoying the outdoors (and other vital things like air, clean water, and food) have been monumental in my quality of life. Let’s normalize the changes necessary to make sure future generations have the opportunity to do the same.

Menstrual cups are more comfortable.

I find these cups to be super comfortable! In fact, I often forget when I have one in.

When I was first learning to use it, I wasn’t inserting it far enough and the small pull tab at the bottom was causing friction and pain. User error. Once I played around with the placement and learned how to properly use it, it’s been all gravy. DivaCup does recommend trimming the tab if it’s still uncomfortable. Be sure to cut the edges at a 45 degree angle to round it out.

Menstrual cups also help you feel fresh.

Since it’s basically sealing things up down there air-tight, there’s no oxygen getting to the blood which is what causes odors.

Snaps to feeling fresh!

Menstrual cups are great for training.

Women squat heavy barbells

The amount of internal pressure necessary for heavy strength training is serious. I’ve almost pushed tampons out during training! The trust I have in my DivaCup is REAL.

I have a love for lifting really heavy barbells and being on my period isn’t going to stop me. Okay maybe day one and two— but the rest of the week I’m usually good to stay on track.

When lifting heavy, there’s a breathing technique called the Valsalva Maneuver that I use to create enough pressure to protect my spine under extremely heavy loads. Imagine taking a big breathe in and pushing that air out as hard as you can without actually letting any of the air out.

I have almost pushed tampons out of my vagina bracing super hard during heavy ass lifts like deadlifts and squats.

After switching to the DivaCup, I can still feel the pressure pushing it downward but it’s always stayed in place. No leaks, no fall outs. Thank Odin!Fun fact: I hit my all time deadlift PR wearing little black-and-white striped short-shorts in a weightlifting gym packed with all of my super strong friends while on my period using a DivaCup. Who does that?! I do. I trust it that much.

Menstrual cups are more convenient in the outdoors (most of the time).

You don’t have to pack them out.

Outdoors: Save weight on your trash load by not carrying around your bloody tampons in your pack for days. Empty it into your cathole and continue to keep crushing. Just be sure to sanitize your hands before and after.

Travel: You may find yourself in some parts of the world that rarely have things like toilet paper or trashcans in the public restrooms (ahem, Southeast Asia).

More time efficient than tampons.

This reason alone is what I believe has created the most positive impact on my outdoor adventures. A typical tampon can absorb about 0.3 oz of blood compared to a DivaCup that can hold up to 1oz. You can keep them in for up to 12 hours.

But depends on your flow, you might need to empty it out before then. But as I mentioned before, taking the time to stop and take care of your flow is usually anything but convenient in the mountains. At least with a menstrual cup, you don’t run the same risks of getting a gnarly infection as you do with tampons.

Leak-free, baby!

If you have inserted it properly and the cup is fully open, it will create an air-tight seal that won’t allow any leaks to get through.

Hi! Yeah, I’m talking to you climbers with your legs spread wide eagle with a first class view of your ass and crotch for all your friends to marvel at as they cheer you on down at Belay Town.

The not-so-convenient part.

Be sure to have clean hands before handling your cup. Affording the extra water to wash your hands on a summit or trail can be the challenging part here. I usually pack a few wet wipes and small hand sanitizer (I like Dr. Bronners Lavender Hand Sanitizer) along with my TP. It may not be the most convenient, but health is always a priority of mine. This is a small tradeoff for the convenience afforded by the benefits listed above.“Vaginas are like unique snowflakes.” — Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Okay, I totally made that up. Everyone’s body is different and there’s no guarantee that your experience will be exactly like mine. But I’m a believer in DivaCups and wanted to tell you why I’ll never buy tampons again.

Well, maybe a single box in case a friend is in need. You know I got you, girl.

I share this with you because embracing the cup has been a game changer for me with my outdoor adventures and maybe it can do the same for you.

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Hiking menstrual cup
Backpacking menstrual cup
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