Travelling on your period with a Saalt menstrual cup.
This blog post came about when I was preparing to answer the questions you had sent in about using a menstrual cup, after I did an unboxing on my Instagram stories of the products I received from Saalt. As I was preparing, I realised I had so much I wanted to say about menstrual cups that it only felt right to put it in a blog post where you can always reference it.
Use promo code “postcards10” for a 10% discount off any order on the Saalt website!
The amount of positive feedback I received from speaking about and educating you on Instagram about using menstrual cups has been mind-blowing. I had so many girls and women reach out to me saying that they want to start using a menstrual cup after watching my stories, I can’t even begin to put into words how happy that makes me. I hope that this blog post educates and encourages you to make one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
“Little cup, big difference.” - Saalt.
It doesn’t matter whether you are male, female or non-binary, menstrual education is a global issue which affects everyone. There are 2 billion people on earth who have periods, but did you know that millions of girls and women miss school and work because of it?
Saalt was founded by two amazing women and sister-in-laws, Cherie Hoeger and Amber Fawson. Their story starts with a phone call to Cherie’s aunt in Venezuela when she learnt about the staggering amount of girls and women who don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products. With this information at hand and a burning passion to turn these numbers around, Cherie and Amber teamed up to create Saalt. Saalt creates hypoallergenic, non-toxic, BPA and latex free silicone menstrual cups that simplify period care.
Aside from the beautiful packaging and positive engagement on social media, the reason I was really sold on buying a Saalt menstrual cup was that they are partnered with Her International, an organisation dedicated to keeping girls in school when they get their periods. With every cup sold, a portion of the profits go to Her International.
“When a girl gets her period in the United States, she may miss a class. When a girl gets her period in a developing country, she may never go to school again.” - The Pad Project.
Giving girls the opportunity and means to stay in school during their period gives them the education they deserve which will lead to a better quality of life.
If you would like to learn more about the effects of poor and non-existent menstrual hygiene in less economically developed countries, I strongly recommend the Academy Award winning film for Best Documentary Short Subject: Period. End of Sentence. It is available to watch on Netflix.
If you would like to donate to an organisation who is fighting to provide sustainable period care to less developed countries I recommend the following:
I’m a travel blogger, why am I talking about menstrual cups?
If you don’t already know, I have a big focus on making environmentally conscious decisions both in day-to-day life and whilst I am travelling. Travel opened my eyes to how much waste there is in the world and how important it is that we each do our part to resolve this problem.
My goal is to not only help you travel more efficiently but also to encourage you to think about our environment and the impact we each have on it. For this reason I work with brands who share the same passion that I have for the environment.
Before switching to a menstrual cup, I would hate the idea of being on my period whilst travelling, so I would join packs of my contraceptive pill to skip periods whilst on my trip. Whilst the leaflet says this is acceptable, it only made me feel worse. I would still get cramps, carry a lot more water and therefore be so bloated (which did not feel cute in swimwear) and it meant consistently pumping my body with chemicals and hormones without giving it a well deserved break to do something very natural.
Now that I use a cup that can be left in for 12 hours, I never have to skip a period again. I just pop my cup in and sit on flights without worrying about getting up to change it. I have been on 14km hikes, gone swimming, kayaking, worn white swimsuits, sunbathed on the beach, been to places with limited toilet access and so much more! Nothing phases me with my cup in, I even forget I’m on my period!
Travelling on my period used to be such a dreadful thought and now I don’t give it a second one!
Why use a cup rather than single use tampons and pads?
They will save you so much money long term. The average box of 18 tampons costs £3 or $4 and you will be lucky if that’s enough for one period. A Saalt cup costs £23 or $28.99 and it will last you 10 years!
Did you know that over 4.3 billion menstrual hygiene products are thrown away every year in the UK and 20 billion pounds in the USA? Or that it takes longer than the lifetime of the user for just one to decompose? Cups eliminate the need for single use pads, tampons and applicators so they are saving the environment from a lot of unnecessary waste.
You don’t have to change them every 4-6 hours like a tampon. Cups can stay in for 12 hours! The small size holds the amount of three regular tampons and the larger size holds four.
You can swim with your cup with far less risks than a tampon. Tampons absorb water, chemicals and bacteria which increases the risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome.
Speaking of TSS, the risk of getting it with a cup is far lower than with tampons. Leaving a tampon in too long creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive which can be absorbed into the blood stream from abrasions caused by frequent use of tampons. The cup collects blood rather than absorbing it like tampons and won’t leave any chemical residue behind.
They are made with no BPA, latex or chemicals. They are non-toxic, odour free and maintain natural PH.
How is wearing a cup different to wearing tampons?
Let me run you through what I got up to on my last period:
I inserted it and went to my 9am spin class. I then showered with it in, if I was using tampons I would have taken it out and had to put in a new one the second I had dried myself. After work I went shopping, out to dinner and to the cinema, I didn’t have to think about how many tampons to take in my bag or when I should change them. I only emptied, washed and reinserted my cup before going to bed.
I went to the gym and showered. I removed the cup in the shower, tipped the contents down the drain, washed it with soap and water and reinserted it. You know that race you have with your body to get a tampon in after you’ve showered before the blood makes its way onto your towel? With a cup in, you don’t have to worry about that! I removed my cup, washed it and reinserted it before bed.
I removed my cup, washed it and reinserted it before my 9am spin class. I was on one of my heavier days so I wanted to empty it before leaving the house. Again I was able to shower with it vs having a tampon. I went for a run with Michael and packed my suitcase before removing, washing it and reinserting it ready for bed.
I removed, washed and reinserted my cup in the shower before heading to the airport to fly to Portugal. We didn’t get to the hotel until 10pm. I didn't worry about a long car journey, sitting on a plane or driving to the hotel. I removed, washed and reinserted my cup in the shower.
I left the hotel at 5am to go shoot photos on the beautiful beaches along the Algarve coast in a white swimsuit. I am never worried about leaking past my cup because I don’t leave it in for more than 12 hours and I always make sure I have a good seal. We got back to our hotel for lunch and then headed to the beach for a few hours of sitting out in the sun, I came back and went to the gym and for a swim, showered and went out for dinner before removing my cup in the evening. Back in the days of using tampons I would never have gone for a swim or felt comfortable in a swimsuit, I would be so conscious of leaks, but with a cup, my period is the last thing on my mind! Plus, I didn’t have to worry about my tampon string soaking up the chemicals in the pool water and entering my body.
This was a very long day! We went to Spain for the day so I was in the car for about four hours there and back and we walked around all day exploring and sightseeing. It was the last day I used my cup because I had started back on the pill on day five. I had it in all day and the only blood was on the rim, and unlike a dry tampon, it wasn’t at all uncomfortable to remove. I washed it with soap and water and put it in its bag. When I got home from Portugal, I washed it with the cup wash that Saalt sent me ready for my next period.
In those six days, I never had to worry about finding a toilet to change my tampon, carrying around the right amount of them or packing them. I never had to worry about leaking whilst I sunbathed in my white swimsuit, getting my tampon string wet whilst I swam, changing a tampon on the plane and road trips, or the string getting sweaty when I worked out in the gym. In just one period, using my Saalt cup saved the environment from 21 tampons and applicators.
Questions you, my followers and readers sent me to answer:
How long have I been using one?
I bought mine towards the beginning of this year and have used mine for four periods. I have not used a tampon since!
Why do I use one?
For all of the reasons I listed under “Why use a cup rather than single use tampons and pads?”. I have been making huge efforts to swap to as many sustainable and reusable products as possible so I finally made the swap at the beginning of this year when I had reached the point where I had only a few tampons left and the choice was to restock or finally start using a cup.
Is it hard to insert?
The first time I was nervous so I called my friend who had been using them for years and she talked me through it. I wet the cup to lubricate it then folded it into a “C fold”.
To my surprise, I never found it difficult to insert my cup the first time, and once it was in, I couldn’t feel it. Don’t get me wrong, not every time is a breeze. There have been a few times where it has been a little trickier to insert, just like with tampons every now and then you have a rogue insert which feels uncomfortable from the get go. If this happens I just remove it, wet it, and try again. The first time I inserted my cup, I went to a spin class 30mins later and I actually think it was more comfortable than a tampon!
How do you put them in?
First I wash my hands.
Then I check the four holes are clear.
Then I wet the cup to lubricate it.
I do the “C fold”.
I either squat down or prop up a leg on the toilet seat or side of the bath and insert it into my vaginal canal.
Once I have inserted it, I let go when I can feel a little pop as the cup opens up. I run my finger around the base of the cup to check it opened out.
If it hasn’t, I give the cup a little twist and wiggle until I feel it pop open.
I then very lightly tug on the stem to make sure the suction seal has formed so it won’t leak or move.
I then wash my hands and I’m ready to go!
How do you take them out?
First I wash my hands.
Then sit on the toilet with my legs wide or I prop one leg up on the side if I’m in the shower.
I use the stem to locate my cup by bearing down to make it prominent.
I use my index finger and thumb to pinch the base of the cup where the ridges are, and squeeze it to release the suction seal.
You will be able to feel the release as the cup becomes easy to move.
I gently pull my cup down pinching it in, as I do so it is smaller to remove.
I make sure to keep it upright so it doesn’t spill.
It is best to remove it in the shower or over the toilet because there will always be excess blood leaving your vaginal canal, so it’s less messy if you’re somewhere where it can fall.
I tip my cup out and clean myself.
Then I wash my cup with either soap and water or with Saalt’s cup wash, making sure the four holes are clear.
Now it’s ready to be reinserted or stored in its little bag.
Do they leak?
It may leak if the suction seal hasn’t formed. Make sure the four holes are clear before you insert it, check the cup is full opened with your finger and gently tug the stem to see if it moves.
How do you know when they are full?
Every body is different and some have heavier flows than others. I recommend you remove it more often than 12 hours when you first start using a cup to have an idea of how much you fill it. Over time you will know how often it needs changing on the specific days of your period.
Does the cup just hold all of the blood?
Yes, the cup sits in your vaginal canal and collects the blood. It is far more sanitary than tampons which are designed to plug and absorb. It will hold more blood and it won’t leave any chemical residue.
What if it spills?
I have had this happen and I have friends who had this happen. It’s not the end of the world, in fact I thought it was so funny, I called Michael in to see what I call my “menstrual Jackson Pollock” (I am not ashamed of my period and Michael is educated on them because they are natural and without them, none of us would exist). I dropped my cup and it went all down the radiator and onto the floor. I just wiped the blood off and cleaned the surfaces with a surface cleaner and cloth.
Accidents happen! It’s no different to cutting yourself, or having a nose bleed. Blood is blood, wherever it comes from.
If you do drop your cup, make sure you sterilise it before using it again. You can do this by boiling your cup in hot water for 5mins, use a tong to make sure the cup doesn’t touch the bottom of the saucepan.
Do you need more than one?
A single cup lasts 10 years without tears or holes. You don’t need more than one but if you want them in multiple places, for example, I have one in my bathroom at home and one in my travel toiletry bag which is always packed. There are many reasons you might want more than one, but you don’t need more than one.
Is it comfortable?
It is! I trimmed my stem so it didn’t poke me so I can never feel when it’s in!
How do you know whether to cut the stem?
Every women’s vaginal canal is different so the cup might sit higher inside you or lower. For me it’s lower so I noticed my stem poking within the first day. I stuck with it for a second day before trimming it back to be certain but after day two I cut to the second notch. The stem is there to locate the cup inside you so it doesn’t matter if yours is long or short. Make sure you cut on these notches using a pair of scissors and make a clean cut.
Where do you buy it from?
As I am based in England, I bought mine on Amazon with Prime delivery.
Their website also offers global shipping and a 10% discount on your first order.
Use promo code “postcards10” for a 10% discount off any order on the Saalt website!
Some evenings I want a break from inserting my cup so I use HighOh’s reusable pads**. These are great environmentally conscious products for girls and young adults who haven’t used tampons and aren’t confident with inserting a cup just yet.
So there you have it. A full blog post educating you on why making the switch from single use menstrual products to a sustainable Saalt cup is the right decision for yourself and the planet. It turns out your period holds more power over this world than anyone ever imagined, here is your opportunity to use it to make the world a better place.
* I was gifted two menstrual cups and cup wash from Saalt, but I had purchased and used their menstrual cup before working with them. Please know that I only recommend products I love and use myself. I wrote this blog post because I wanted to share this information to encourage you to make a life-changing decision that will benefit you and the environment. I was not paid to create this blog post.
** I was also gifted a pack of reusable pads from HighOh. They are far more absorbent than cotton pads and you just need to pop them into your regular dark wash in your washing machine.
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