On January 22, in response to my DivaCup review, a fellow blogger, nurselily17, brought to my attention another personal care product called the pStyle. (Thanks, nurselily17!) Of course, the first thing I did was Google search the product by name. When I clicked on the website at www.thepstyle.com, I recoiled instantly. I couldn’t place why, but something within me was repulsed by the idea of it.
The pStyle is a device that allows primarily women – and those who otherwise do not have the ability – to pee standing up without undressing. Shaped like a trough and 7.5 inches long, the hard plastic device is placed directly under a woman’s urethra (after underwear is pulled aside), allowing the urine to be drawn away from the body once expelled. Once finished, the rounded back edge can be used to wipe so that there are no drips.
After taking in the product and searching the website for a few minutes, I realized why my initial reaction was so negative. The first thing one sees when entering the website is, “Stand up and pee with ease.” And what popped into my mind was the scene from A League of Their Own when Tom Hanks’ character walks into the ladies locker room, stumbles over to the toilet, and pees for what seems like two minutes straight, his head drawn back as he revels in the relief.
So when I read “Stand up and pee with ease,” I thought, “I don’t want to stand up and pee. Men stand up and pee.” Totally a personal issue here, but I was uncomfortable with that association. And besides, my thoughts continued, I’ve never had a problem squatting in the woods. I mean there was that time last summer that I ended up with like ten ticks on me after trying to find a private place. And there was that time in 2006 that I got infested with chiggers ever so close to my…ya know. Now that I think about it, it’s such a pain to take my pack off every time I have to pee. And don’t even get me started about bearing my backside in frigid weather…or the potential for spray…or achy knees…
OK, so maybe there is something to this product after all.
I mulled over the idea for a few days, for the reason I described above, before pursuing it. I ended up sending a message through the website, and Krista, whose small operation “Krista’s Cups” sells both the pStyle and the DivaCup, responded to my inquiry. She graciously agreed to send me a pStyle to review, which I anxiously awaited.
In the meantime, I spoke to one of my female coworkers (around 60 years old) about this newest product. Keeping in mind that I was going into trying it very skeptically, I was utterly surprised by her response. She was super gung ho about the pStyle’s potential, saying that she’d rather urine stream down her leg than squat in the woods (ha! Double ha when I realized how serious she was!). This, on the other hand, would give her control and make it so that she didn’t have to expose her bottom half to the creepy crawlies and other bits of “nature.” And she also pointed out the benefits of using it in a public bathroom (and/or port-a-potty) instead of hovering.
See, I’m someone who will – at most – wipe down a toilet seat with toilet paper before sitting down, but I’ll still sit down. So, I hadn’t even thought about that use for the pStyle. And, in fact, the website does specify that it’s good for many situations including, but not limited to: camping, on the road, public bathrooms, porta-a-potties, travel, and recreational activities.
So, OK, maybe the prospect was gathering steam in my mind at this point.
The sample pStyle arrived in the mail just a few short days later. The product comes in a half dozen colors. I asked for a pink one – yes, because I was still weird about feeling “masculine” with this concept. And – yes, I know that colors are not gender-specific, but it made me feel better to get the pink one. It’s funny because I’m seriously not a girly girl. I’m probably the most low maintenance chick I know, in fact. But I still wanted (for some reason needed!) the pink one.
I examined the pStyle in my possession. It certainly met the specifications: 1.5 inches tall and wide by 7.5 inches long, and it weighs a mere .6 ounces. Considering that it eliminates the need to use toilet paper after peeing, I’d say it definitely justifies its weight. Also, both the smooth hard plastic and the open-topped design contribute to easy care and cleaning.
Since my timeline for training hikes is growing short (I’m moving in less than three weeks!), in order to decide if I will take the pStyle into the woods, I tried it at home.
I most certainly am not brave enough to demonstrate how the pStyle works, but Krista, the owner of Krista’s Cups, is. Follow this link to see a YouTube video of Krista describing the pStyle and generally demonstrating how it works. (The video is in no way graphic.)
I chugged a bunch of water and waited it out. I eventually went into the bathroom, pStyle in hand, and lifted the toilet seat. So weird. I then slipped down my drawstring pants and underwear by a couple of inches to make room for the pStyle. (FYI, the pStyle is easiest to use when wearing pants with a zipper, but I had no problem at all.)
I took the wider end of the pStyle and placed it so the product’s rim was resting up against the widest part of my labia (i.e. completely externally), which (I hoped!) effectively created a seal. I then relaxed my muscles and began to pee. I had a running chorus in my head demanding, “Don’t pee on yourself. Don’t pee on yourself. Don’t pee on yourself…” and luckily, it worked! No pee down my leg, and it was easy to direct the urine exactly where I wanted it to go (i.e. in the toilet). Phew!
After I finished, I flexed my Kegel muscles a few times to get the last little bit, gently pulled the pStyle upward and out to get any drips, and replaced my underwear and pants the couple of inches back up. True to its claim, I had absolutely no need for toilet paper, so it definitely worked better than my typical “drip dry” method in the woods.
Since I had access, I cleaned the pStyle with wipes, but the website says you can rinse it with water and clean with soap later if necessary. Or, if no water is available, you can shake the pStyle vigorously and store it for “proper” cleaning later. For the record, urine is sterile, so this prospect doesn’t bother me one bit. If you’re prone to infection in your private parts, it is suggested that you wash it before/after each use.
OK, fine, almost against my own will, I’m convinced of the value in this product.
The one knock I’d have to give the pStyle is that it generally doesn’t seem to be available in mainstream stores. While there are a few small outdoor gear stores listed on the pStyle’s Retailers list, the majority of places that carry it seem to be bookstores and erotica shops. Considering that it is marketed as a product that could be valuable for so many everyday life situations, it would be awesome if it were available in outdoor recreational shops, sports stores, travel stores, and the like.
Luckily, the pStyle is available online – for $12.00 on Krista’s Cups website or $10.59 – $11.00 on Amazon.
With or without the pStyle, I think of using the bathroom as a private matter. Despite my initial reservations – and especially now that I’ve tried it, I can see the value of bringing this product on my trek. The A.T. is well-populated, in particular with men, which has the potential to make it challenging to find a private space to pee. And if standing up to pee gives me an extra measure of control over the situation, I’ll gladly take the pStyle along.
I definitely still feel a little weird about it, but so do I feel weird about the idea of wearing one outfit for months at a time. As most things I’ve learned about while preparing for my A.T. trek, I’m sure I’ll get used to it…and then I won’t know how I lived without it.