Diva Revolution: The Perks of the Diva Cup
Alright ladies (and gents who want to stay well-informed), its time to talk about the Diva Cup.
As you gear up for a 2018 long-distance trek, its important to consider all aspects of your necessary gear. For women of a certain age, this of course means considering your periods.
When I started my 2017 PCT thru-hike, I never considered not using a Diva Cup. In fact, it was one of the first pieces of gear I received well in advance of my actual start date. I assumed most of my fellow female hiker trash were on the same page with the cup but was surprised to find in every single hiker box a pack’s worth of tampons lining the bottom of the container. Okay… maybe thats a bit of an exaggeration, but I rarely saw a hiker box without at least a handful of tampons. This rang true from Mt. Laguna at mile 44 all the way to Stehekin, just 80 miles from Canada.
So what is it about the Diva Cup that makes it a more practical friend of female long-distances hikers?
Ultralight and Affordable: a Backpackers Best Friend
It should come as no surprise to any aspiring backpacker that were expected to pack out all of our trash (yes, this means toilet paper!). So when your time of the month comes, imagine having to carry with you for days at a time a ZipLock filled with used feminine products.
Sure, you have to carry out your toilet paper already so whats an extra couple of feminine products?
Its not so much the problem of having to pack it out, as it is an issue of alternatives. The Diva Cup offers a sound alternative to the accumulation of excess waste along an extended hike. Rather than having to carry used feminine products over long periods of time, you can simply dump the contents of your cup into a cat hole, rinse it out, and be on your merry way, having never once contributed to the growing pile in your trash baggie. For those especially concerned with weight, this is one of those gram-by-gram benefits.
Speaking of weight, 18 tampons weigh approximately 6 ounces (18 being the average amount included in a box). The Diva Cup weights only .5 ounces! From an ultralight perspective, its hard to argue with the practical nature of the Diva Cup.
Maybe youre not striving for an ultralight pack, but I think one thing most long distance hikers can get behind is cost-effective gear. If the Diva Cup is anything, its extremely cost effective. At only $39.95, Diva Cups are a more affordable option compared to tampons or feminine pads. They say over the course of a lifetime, women will spend nearly $1,500 on tampons alone, and of course, each tampon isnt reusable. A Diva Cup, however, rarely needs to be replaced (only in cases where it has become ineffective or exposed to harmful chemicals). You can even use it off-trail as an alternative to more traditional methods, saving more money.
If youre not sold yet on the Diva Cup, maybe the environmental reasons will convince you.
We live in a society that became enamored by the era of disposables, something that has had a huge negative impact on our environment over the last century. Rather than creating products that we can reuselimiting the amount of carbon emissions released during production and waste filling our landfillsweve resigned ourselves to the use of one-time-products whose only perk is convenience.
According to the Diva Cup Eco-Divas webpage, women may use approximately 9,600 tampons or pads throughout their entire lifetime. The accumulation of all of that, per woman, per year adds up to a lot of unnecessary disposal. We have an incredible alternative, something that cuts down our annual feminine-product waste immediately, contributing to the reduction of our personal carbon footprint.
Waste aside, tampons and pads are often made up of materials that we shouldnt have near or inside our bodies. The Eco-Divas webpage claims that most pads contain polyethylene plastic whose production is a pollutant and tampons often have traces of dioxin and the synthetic fiber rayon. Dioxin is the byproduct of the bleaching process and a known carcinogen, while synthetic fiber rayon can leave residue in the vaginal wall, leading to the possible risk of infection and overall discomfort. The Diva Cup, however, is made from medical-grade silicon and offers a safe alternative to tampons and pads, without the risk of putting unknown additives inside our bodies.
But it sounds gross
The Ick factor is one of the most common responses the company gets when advocating use of their product. Lets be honest, if you havent used one, its very understandable why you might find it a little gross. Tampons and pads make for an out-of-sight out-of-mind mentality that helps separate us from what is actually happening within our bodies. The Diva Cup, however, catches all of your menstrual blood making it more than apparent whats going on down there. And then theres the matter of having to dump the cup and wash it out, too.
Despite these impressions, the Diva Cup is actually very clean. The bell-shaped product features a ridges stem for insertion and removal, and if used appropriately the Diva Cup shouldnt leak. Also, because the Diva Cup catches the menstrual blood rather than absorbing it, woman have the opportunity to learn more about their flow and stay better informed on changes within their bodies.
Tips and Tricks for Using the Diva Cup in Wilderness
Before you embark on your next long-distance trek, I have a few suggestions of how to familiarize yourself with the Diva Cup to ensure a long-lasting relationship.
Before you set out for your trek, start using your Diva Cup! I started using mine almost a year before I began my PCT hike, which allowed my body plenty of time to adapt and adjust to the product. While its relatively straightforward to use, I did notice my body reacting to the cup in ways I didnt expect. This gave me plenty of time before the start of my hike to research more into the Diva Cup for solutions to problems (like cramps) and learn how to use it best. For instance, I wouldnt have expected that turning the cup 360 degrees after insertion would help with cramps, but for some reason it does. Learning this off trail had an immediate and positive impact on my experience and left me feeling confident in my choice to use it for my five-month trek.
Hygiene is an issue with any long-distance hike, but there are very practical ways to use this without running the risk of infections. Whenever youre using your cup, be sure your hands are as clean as you can possibly get them. Be sure to keep the included bag with you to protect the cup against dirt and grime when not in use. I also suggest keeping the Diva Cup packaged inside a clean ZipLock to further protect it against the buildup of dirt and sweat that will inevitably embed itself inside your pack.
Lastly, consider carrying an extra bandana that you use exclusively to wipe and dry your Diva Cup and try to only use filtered water to rinse it out. These extra methods will help instill a level of hygiene necessary for vaginal health, helping to reduce the risk of UTIs or other infections on trail.
If you have any concerns or questions about the Diva Cup, or want to learn more about menstrual cups, check out their website. Its filled with useful information that can help you learn more about the product and how to use it best, and can often solve many of the small problems women may encounter when first getting use to their cup.
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