Periods, travel and a mooncup – an honest guide

Here’s what it’s like to travel with a mooncup, a few FAQs plus my honest travel truths about using them the first few times…

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Where did using a mooncup and travelling with it all begin?

My war against plastic really stepped up a level last summer. After seeing so much waste whilst travelling, I knew it was time to make a difference in my own lifestyle and make more sustainable purchases. As some of you may remember I did plastic free July, put together a plastic free wash bag for my August trip and I also invested in a mooncup

During the beginning of the year ahead of my first trip I had stocked up on tampons and carried them around with me in a sandwich bag. I’d heard tampons were non-existent in South East Asia, and I was fearful of having to use sanitary towels – for me, they’re even more wasteful and pretty gross so I only use in emergencies. My tampon stock naturally diminished over the 4 months of course, but I knew this wasn’t the way to go for future travel, I had to give a menstrual cup a try. 

Packed in it’s little cloth bag together with other sustainable toiletries, my mooncup came for an adventure as I headed back to Asia in August! 

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Advantages of travelling with a mooncup:

  • Pack light – no more carrying around tampons or sanitary pads
  • Reusable – look after it and use it time and time again
  • Reduced waste – no waste in-fact 
  • Save money – pay once, not monthly 
  • Easy to use and comfortable – just fold it up and pop it in
  • You can leave it for longer – great for long journeys!

Short on time? Skip to the summary.

A little period disclaimer about my first experiences of using a mooncup:

There’s a few things to note about my trip in August, which contribute to the experience I had. Firstly I had a coil fitted the month before I went away, which unfortunately lead to very heavy periods as my body got used it (I actually lost my coil a few months later when my body rejected it, but that’s a story for another day).

Secondly, the beginning of my trip was in parts of Indonesia which were a bit more ‘off the beaten track’. This did mean I had to use to some unsavoury toilets and bathrooms which made using the mooncup a little more tricky.

Thirdly, given I had started using the mooncup in July and this trip started just one month after, I wasn’t as confident as I am now in inserting and removing it.

Despite all those initial challenges, I LOVE my mooncup, it’s practical, easy to fit and saves me contributing to the tons of sanitary waste that’s produced every year. 

Graphic of tampons vs. a mooncup

A mooncup and travel overview – a few key FAQs

There’s all the FAQs you could need on the mooncup website, and I am not a menstrual cup expert, so here’s just a short review of the basics that you might want to consider ahead of using a mooncup or taking one away with you in the future. All this advice is from experience, but I have checked the facts online too!

How do I use a moon cup? 

To note, this section goes for using a mooncup no matter where you are in the world, and not just for travel.

To insert: it usually fits in better when slightly wet, fold over into a ‘C’ shape and insert gently into the lower part of your vagina; it doesn’t sit as high as a tampon. Make sure you find a comfortable position to do this in, (I usually just sit on the toilet and lean back a bit), and relax whilst you’re inserting it.  You will feel a sucking sensation once you release the cup and the folds pop out to create the suction pocket that holds the cup in place. Give the stem a little tug to check it’s secure and voila.

To remove: find the base of the cup, squeeze it together to release the suction and pull down and out – assuming you’re removing it over the toilet you can then empty it out straight away and reinsert. You might have to work those vaginal muscles to wiggle it further down, and don’t panic if it feels stuck, there’s nowhere for it to go. Just relax and give it another try.

If you’re travelling in areas without standard western bowl toilets, you can still do all of this in a squatting toilet, and it is sometimes easier. Just try not to fall over 😉

How long can I leave a mooncup in? Can I sleep with it in?

Mooncups can be left in for upto 8 hours, depending on how heavy your flow is, so you don’t have to faff around as much as you would if you were using tampons or pads. Great news for long journeys. I also leave mine in overnight without any worries whatsoever. 

Travel with a mooncup: two moon cups near some towels in a bathroom

Does it leak?

The only time I had a leakage was my second month of using it. I had SUCH a heavy period, and was struggling to fit the mooncup in properly given I’d only used it once before. I had to pick up some sanitary towels that time, because I was so paranoid of leaking everywhere. Prior to that purchase, I had to rinse out my skirt in the bathroom of a random bar because it had blood on it. Luckily, this was the only leakage problem, BUT we live and learn and hey what’s a bit of blood to harm anyone? 

Now my periods are a normal flow and I haven’t had an issue. If you do experience a heavy flow I recommend emptying the cup more often, and test inserting it in before your period comes so you’re more comfortable with using before you actually come on. 

A graphic of a someone holding a mooncup

What about cleaning it?

If there’s a sink handy you can easily wash with non-perfumed soap and rinse it well.

If there’s not a sink in sight, fear not – either rinse with some drinking water, or just wipe it and reinsert. 

For a deeper clean, you can boil in water for 5 -7 mins, or soak in a sterilising solution for the minimum time on the instructions. If you’re not able to do either of these things give it a good clean & rinse with soap between periods and then sterilise ASAP. 

It sounds kinda scary, but honestly as long as you’re prepared with some tissues and a drinking water bottle, you can easily clean it. 

Does it smell?

No, not at all – I cannot report one smelly moment.

Can I swim with my mooncup?

Of course – in the same way you can with a tampon, you can’t see a menstrual cup at all. Once you’ve mastered popping it in you’re good to go. As I mentioned earlier, you can leave them in for hours at a time, so there’s no need for beach or poolside fumbles to empty it out. Just wait until you’re back in a safe bathroom environment!

Sarah in the sea on a deserted beach
Can I swim with my mooncup? YES YOU CAN!

A mooncup and travel summary: 

A mooncup is the perfect travel companion for us menstruators (is that a word? Well, for those of us with menstrual cycles). It’s light, low waste, easy to insert and saves you a whole bunch of issues when looking for tampons or pads. 

I fully recommend getting one, check out more FAQs and buy one right here.

Please comment with any other tips or experiences, I’d love to hear them!

Sarah xx

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travel and mooncups - a Pinterest pin
travel and mooncups - a Pinterest pin

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  1. Anon
    July 13, 2020 / 4:54 pm

    So I tried a mooncup and it was horrific. I’d love to be one of those people that feel it’s life changing but the first time was so unnatural, painful and anxiety inducing that I don’t think I can try again. I’m quite sensitive down there and I feel like there’s something wrong with me that I had a negative experience, so reading this in wonder and jealousy!

    • Sarah
      July 13, 2020 / 7:53 pm

      Ahh no that’s such a shame! There’s definitely nothing wrong with you, they’re not for everyone – perhaps some period pants are a better option for you! Lots of options of those out there too, hoping to try some myself soon for those days when you only get a little bit of bleeding!

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