I’ve had a love/hate relationship with tampons since time immemorial (haven’t we all?) yet the balance shifted considerably on the ‘hate’ side when I started my long-term motorbike journey 4 years ago. First of all, not sure about you, but I’ve got a whole Niagara Falls thing happening on the first day of my periods, which means I needed to change every hour or so, even when using a double-bed-doona-sized maxi tampon. Totally fine when you’re riding the German autobahn with plush rest stations, not so crash hot when you’re negotiating some dirt road in northern Kyrgyzstan with nary a toilette in sight.
Besides the timing issue, there was also the problem of supplies. Go on a month-long journey through a well-developed Western country and you’ll have no issues stocking up on your fave brand of tampons. Yet step out of those familiar regions of the world, and take a longer overland journey, and it’s a whole different ball game. Coca-Cola may have conquered the world…but Tampax most definitely has not.
You’ve probably seen these doll-sized funnels floating about the internet, I certainly had by the time I met a fellow female biker in China.
Not sure how we got onto the subject so soon after meeting (probably had something to do with Chinese squat toilets) but she started waxing lyrical about her menstrual cup, the one item in her bike boxes she ‘couldn’t possibly live without’. So enthused was she about her Diva that it actually convinced me to ask a riding friend (who was soon to join me on my travels) to bring one over from Europe. The fact that this friend is male just added to the complications.
“Sorry…what is it you want me to buy?”
“Hmmm…is your sister around by any chance?”
DivaCup: a slippery little sucker
Ok, first things first. Let it be known that I’ve changed the clutch plates on my F650 BMW following an instruction manual in a foreign language, and I’ve removed the carburetor by watching a Youtube video.
But never have I been as intimidated by an instruction guide as I was when trying to read the modus operandi leaflet for the DivaCup.
I’ve never been a huge fan of origami personally, and here I was supposed to contort this rubber cup thingy into inconceivable shapes, just so it would ‘easily and seamlessly’ slide into you-know-where.
That didn’t happen the first time. It didn’t really happen the fifth time either, but after about 12 times I did manage to insert it as shown (not so elegantly perhaps) without any permanent damage to my reproductive organs. It felt bulky at first and I knew I hadn’t inserted it far enough before letting go of the folded sides. Trying to remove it was another mission, as the suction-cap effect is really rather impressive. And also promising!
Trial and error did the trick on day 1, and although exhausted and a little tender, I did eventually succeed. Now came the big test: how long would it last? Could this internal-dam be as good as it claims? 12 hours without removing…really?
Diva: the cup that can change your riding life
The DivaCup is totally amazing and it has single-handedly changed a major factor in my riding life. Whereas before I took to ‘staying put’ in a guesthouse on the first day of my period (just to have a toilet at hand) this has now become a redundant need. Even on the heaviest flow, if there is a ‘leak’ it’s literally only a couple of drops, nothing even a panty liner couldn’t handle. I was stoked, still am after a whole year, and just wish someone had invented this thing 25 years ago. Bike or no bike, this is the single biggest improvement in the ‘womanhood’ side of life in decades. I saved my last packet of tampons from a year ago in case the cup didn’t work out, and haven’t touched them since. I’ve not spent a single extra cent on tampons, I’ve not clogged toilets, not added to inconceivable landfills and, might I add, have not had any irritation or urinary infection all year.
The tricky bits of the DivaCup
It’s not all smooth sailing with the DivaCup, and I’ve read a few humorous reviews by women for whom the cup just didn’t work. “My bathroom looked like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film” one particularly traumatized lady with a sense of humor quipped, but I simply never found it all that difficult at first. Is it messy when you need to remove it? Sure, it can be, but considering I only change it once during the day, then I simply combine it with my daily shower. If not, I’ll take a bottle of drinking water into the toilette and use that to wash my hands, remove the cup, rinse it and reinsert it. This now takes me just a few seconds all up.
I boil my cup twice a month, just before using it on the first day of my period, and just after before I pack it away. I also make sure my hands are thoroughly clean at each change so as to minimize any risk of contamination and consequential infections. So far, so good! Oh…and I also cut off a centimeter from the stem as I have a low-set cervix and when in the right position, the stem stuck out too much for my comfort. No-one likes a stab in the wazzuu!
The DivaCup has been a game-changer for me and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
After a quick Google, I now realize there are quite a few versions of the menstrual cup out there (check out more menstrual cup reviews) and I’m sure more are being designed as I write. No doubt the cup will become more ergonomic (or aerodynamic?) in time and thinner too. I only have my DivaCup to go on and it pleases me to see that it’s still rated the #1 on the market. At an incredibly low price (only USD 30) it is hands-down the most cost-effective solution for a perennial female issue, and as long as the logistics of actually using it work in your favor then I promise that you, like me, will never look back.
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