Confession- the reaction in this photo has nothing to do with the one thing I always travel with. The photo above is my reaction when I found out there was going to be beer at our next destination. But, my reaction when talking about this crucial object is essentially the same. And, I’m even using that product in this photo.
My most necessary travel gear? My Luna Cup. The little collapsible silicon cup that has become my replacement for tampons.
If you would have asked me two years ago if I would have ever tried and embraced such a device, my response would have been a flat out “hell no.” The idea of having to insert, remove, and clean it made me squirm in my own squeamishness. But when preparing to move to Rwanda for the year, I had heard from my predecessor that it could be hard to find tampons here since most individuals who bleed rely on pads; as tampons are viewed as something that is capable of taking a woman’s virginity. Realizing that I did not have room for a year’s worth of tampons in my luggage, and not wanting to have deal with the suffocating feeling of wearing what is essentially a mini diaper- I knew I had to try something new. So a month or two before I departed, I bought a Luna Cup. I liked that unlike other menstruation cups, it could collapse and be stored in its own discreet carrying case.
Trying it for the first time was an experience. I gave myself a pep talk. I messaged the group chat and sent them snapchat videos as I read the instructions. It took me about twenty minutes and three tries to get it inserted correctly on the first go. Not bad for the girl who went through nearly an entire box of tampons first trying to figure out how their engineering complemented her anatomy back in day. Having read several period cup blogs before starting my endeavour, I started doing squats and jumping jacks in the bathroom like one blogger recommended to make sure that the cup wasn’t leaking. Confident that the cup was secure, I went about my day.
Over the next few cycles, I found that the cup had empowered me to feel more comfortable with my period. I really was into the fact that my menstruation was no longer harmful to the environment. I liked that I could not feel the cup at all while wearing it, and that it didn’t leak. I also really appreciated the fact that having to get comfortable with inserting and removing the cup forced me to become more accustomed and comfortable with my own body. It made me more accepting of myself and all of the gnarly things my body does that are entirely normal.
Fast forward to several months later, I’m in Kenya, and what do ya know- I randomly get my period. I don’t get regular periods thanks to my wonderful IUD so it was a bit of a surprise. My cramps were horrible, my migraines showed up, but thanks to my favourite chemist in Nairobi (S/O to you Dr. Shah) I was able to get those symptoms alleviated. The meds and the Luna cup allowed me to do everything that I had planned while in Kenya. I climbed a stratovolcano, went snorkeling, and posed for beach shots all while sporting my cup.
PC: Ann Singer