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Up until this year, getting my period on a backpacking trip involved schlepping a bunch of tampons along, changing them every few hours, double-bagging the used ones, and wrestling them into a bear canister each night. Talk about a bulky hassle—not to mention all the waste.
Never again. I’ve discovered the Lumma disc, and I’m not going back.
I’d been curious about menstrual cups for years, but the Lumma—a close cousin to the cup and a relatively recent entry to the period-control market—finally got me to take the plunge. The disc-versus-cup question is largely a matter of personal preference. The major difference? Reusable discs sit right under the cervix, whereas cups fit lower in the vagina, like a tampon. Discs also don’t use suction to stay in place like a cup does. For those (like me) who find the disc works best, the Lumma opens up a whole new world for handling that time of the month.
Let’s start with the Lumma’s biggest selling point: Made of medical-grade silicone, it can safely be worn for up to 12 hours at a time (on heavier days, it’s more like five or six hours). That alone makes it a near-perfect menstrual product for me: For most of the day, it makes you feel like your period just went away. It’s also secure: I’ve used it trail running, hiking, and swimming, with no leaks. The disc has a flexible string that helps with removal—which I appreciated as a reusables rookie. And, of course, there’s the environmental benefit of making my period zero-waste.
The downside: It’s messy. You will get some blood on your hands while changing it. But this wasn’t as big of a deal as I’d feared. In the backcountry, just keep some wet wipes or clean water at the ready. And because you only have to deal with it a couple of times a day—as opposed to every few hours with tampons—the tradeoff is well worth it.
Menstrual discs (and cups) have a learning curve—it takes a few cycles to figure out how to place it and how often to dump it. But it’s nowhere near as complicated as I thought. The Lumma automatically ships with two differently-sized discs so you can find the perfect fit. It’s only a tiny piece of silicon, but no other product I’ve tried in the past couple of years has improved my backpacking experience so dramatically.