How Not To Change Your Menstrual Cup in an Airport
I’m mid-flight, well into the notorious Sydney-to-Doha 15-hour leg, and I know it’s time to change my menstrual cup. I procrastinate, dreading the tiny cubicle and the terrifying sound of the aeroplane toilet flush.
In retrospect, a bad choice. But, as we know, hindsight is a beautiful thing.
Fast forward a few hours and we’ve landed in Doha, Qatar, where I have a layover for a few hours before continuing to London. I head to the closest bathroom and slide the lock into the door behind me. I remove my cup and, so far so good, no overflow staining my skirt, just a cup full of dark red blood.
For those unfamiliar with a menstrual cup, also sometimes known as a moon cup, in ideal circumstances, one removes it, tips the blood into the toilet and then washes it in the sink before reinserting it. Public bathrooms pose a challenge when it comes to the penultimate step; it’s unfortunately not yet socially acceptable to rinse period blood off your hands and cup next to a woman fixing her hair in the mirror. Usually I have a water bottle with me to avoid this awkward interaction. Returning to the cubicle in Doha airport, I have no such luxury.
I’m looking around, fingers and cup covered in blood, when I spot the bidet spray. Affectionately known to travellers all over South Asia as the “bum gun”, it’s a hand-held trigger-powered hose that finds itself in bathrooms across the globe acting as an alternative to toilet paper. I think myself a genius having found an innovative solution to my problem, so aim the nozzle into the cup and, as gently as possible, press the trigger.
Doha Airport may have the highest pressured bidets on the planet; as soon as I’ve pressed it, the water jets out and blood goes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The toilet, the walls, the door, my skirt. It’s a bloodbath.
I’m shocked into inaction. Slowly I come to my senses and take in my surroundings to assess the mess I have gotten myself into. It looks like I have murdered someone. The blood splatter could have come straight from an episode of Dexter.
I pull length after length of toilet paper from the roll and attempt to wipe the blood off the walls. Thankfully, the blood on my skirt isn’t so noticeable. I suspect they wouldn’t have been so willing to let a woman covered in menstrual blood onto a flight to London.
Once I’ve cleaned up and my panic has somewhat subsided, I reinsert my cup and gain the courage to leave the cubicle. I smile awkwardly at the bathroom attendant, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. I’m sure she’s already suspicious (or assumes I’m unwell), as I’ve been in the cubicle for over 10 minutes. I wash my hands, both of the blood staining my fingertips and of this whole menstrual cup changing disaster, getting out of the bathroom as quickly as possible.
Seated at the boarding gate for my next flight I let my imagination wander. What if the suspicious bathroom attendant, on discovering blood on the walls, alerts her superiors who investigate, shine a UV light in the cubicle and come to the only logical conclusion that someone has been shot in Doha airport?
Luckily at this point, my imagination is interrupted by the call to board, and I leave Doha and the incriminating menstrual blood stained cubicle behind. A valuable lesson learned on the appropriate uses of a bidet spray and, indeed, how not to change your menstrual cup in an airport.