I tried scuba diving on a whim during what was supposed to be a brief three month backpacking trip which ended up turning into a five and a half year journey. Funnily enough, I became an underwater videographer and now a scuba instructor, living and working on a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand. Pretty crazy for a Melbourne girl who up until my trip, always preferred the winter months over the summer season!
Living on an island as a scuba instructor is definitely as good as it sounds. But it is unnerving when you are constantly diving past rubbish and picking it up off the sea-bed. One too many times I actually confused a floating plastic bag for a jellyfish. Super embarrassing when you initially excitedly point it out to your students, and even more disappointing when you realise that turtles will mistake the bag for food.
I see the rubbish firsthand on the beaches too. Most is washed ashore from the neighbouring mainland, but a lot of it comes from the fishing boats and beach bars. After a big night out, you can expect to see hundreds of plastic straws half-buried in the sand, even worse is when you witness sun bakers putting out their cigarettes and leaving them on the beach.
The dive shops are great though, always putting on clean-up days, and as scuba divers, we are always encouraging our guests to refill their water bottles to stay hydrated and to refuse the plastic bags and straws that are frequently given out. But I also wanted to find more ways to cut down on my own single-use consumption which is why I first looked into using a menstrual cup.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I get that “oh no” feeling when my period comes just before something is scheduled, like a camping trip, a weekend away, or before a diving course I had to teach. It’s annoying, simple as that. Having your period while traveling or living on an island meant the following; making sure I had enough ‘supplies’ (tampons are hard to come by in some areas of Asia), ensuring I had a hygienic way of changing my tampon, and finding a way of disposing the waste properly. Very difficult on an island with limited rubbish infrastructure, and even more difficult on a tiny boat!
So I measured my cervix, did my research, and knew I didn’t want a cheap knock-off menstrual cup. This led me to choosing the JuJu cup as it was Australian made and tested. Something I definitely did not want to compromise on since it was going into such a sensitive area!
And wow. What a game-changer.
Suddenly I barely noticed my period when I was scuba diving or going on a quick visa run into the neighbouring country. I would literally empty my menstrual cup first thing in the morning, go about my day, maybe empty it out after a dive, and then do it again just before bed. It was amazing and so much more convenient than using tampons and pads. I will say that I was very lucky with my experience with my menstrual cup as it fit perfectly and hasn’t leaked so far.
My only slightly scary, but now humorous, experience with my JuJu was the first time I tried removing it. Like some others using a cup for the first time, I thought I had ‘lost’ it, and spent a frantic half hour in different positions, googling furiously, and even having a shower in a bid to recover the cup! Luckily there were loads of tips online on how to remove a menstrual cup safely and cleanly. And by the way, in case you’re wondering: no, your menstrual cup can’t get stuck up there forever!
I am so glad I convinced myself to try out a menstrual cup this year, and I’m only sad that I didn’t try it sooner. When my scuba diving students now whisper over and ask for a spare tampon, I dig around in my bag trying to find a rouge one while also excitedly telling them about the benefits of a menstrual cup and why they should switch over too! Yep, I’m now that barefoot, salty skinned instructor who tries to persuade her students to stop accepting plastic bags, skip the plastic straw in their mango-lassi, and let them know why they definitely need to check out these awesome little menstrual cups!
Measuring your cervix: https://menstrualcupaholic.com/cervix-position-how-to-measure-your-cervix/
Removing your cup: https://menstrualcupaholic.com/how-to-remove-a-men...
Emma - Two Green Backpacks
In 2013, Emma quit her advertising career in Melbourne to embark on a quick stopover in South-east Asia before heading to London for work. But she never made it! Instead she became a scuba instructor in Thailand (not bad for a girl who could barely doggy-paddle a few years ago!), and writes about her on land and underwater experiences in her budget travel blog, Two Green Backpacks. You can follow Emma's adventures on her blog or Instagram.