I’ll warn you now, this post is not for the squeamish – it contains graphic descriptions of flow and insertion and bearing down. I figure about half the population menstruates or has menstruated, so there’s no sense being ashamed of or not talking about these things. In any case, this post’ll probably be most relevant or helpful to those of you who have uteruses and menstruate.
So I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve been menstruating since I was about 9. It’s been 13 years and I’m tired of it, okay? It’s messy and painful and generally a nuisance. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my period every month on account of the not pregnant thing, but still.)
I’ve never been 100% content with period management options. Pads are gross because I can feel the blood coming out and no me gusta. Tampons are ok, but you can’t keep them in for more than ~8 hours because TSS. Sure, there are other options, but pads and tampons are the only ones that are really mainstream.
Enter menstrual cups. They’re (usually) reusable silicone cups meant to catch all the blood before it even comes out. The Diva Cup is probably the most well-known and readily available, but there’s also the Luna Cup and Lady Cup and Soft Cup and probably a million more. Of course not all are created equal, but this review is all about the Diva.
I have Model 1, which is for those under 30 who have not given birth. I suppose I’ll begin by talking about insertion. You need to fold the cup in order to insert it, and there are at least ten different ways to fold it – it’s mostly trial and error to find what kind of fold works best for you. The instructions that come with the cup really only outline the punchdown fold and the C-fold. I like the O because it creates a nice little point that makes it easy to aim and more comfortable to insert.
The Punchdown Fold
After inserting, it’s important to make sure that the Diva Cup unfolds and seals in there. The way that they recommend to do this is to turn the cup a full 360 degrees, but I found this incredibly hard to do because the little handle of the cup got quite slippery very quickly. Another way to make sure it seals is to stick a finger up beside the cup and kind of push on the walls of the vagina, ensuring that the cup pops open. I also found this hard to do. Honestly, maybe this isn’t the best strategy, but 5 to 10 minutes after inserting, while I was going about my business, I could feel a it pop open inside me and seal. I would experience a little bit of leaking until it settles in (or maybe I’m just not good at inserting it), but after that, it was smooth sailing.
I highly recommend that you do a “dry run” (literally, hahaha I’m so funny omg) trying the insertion and sealing process a few days before your period. When I did this dry run, I had no problem getting the cup high enough to not feel it. However, during my period, I guess my cervix sits lower than at other times (and apparently this isn’t uncommon), so I couldn’t get the cup up high enough to not feel it. As a result, it was sitting really low and the stem of the cup was poking or irritating the entrance of my vagina.
To remedy this, I trimmed two “rungs” from the base/stem of the cup (visible in the photo below) and now I can’t feel it. Yay!
One major benefit of the cup is that you can leave it in for up to 12 hours – this means that you remove, empty, and clean it (via rinsing, cleaning with mild soap, or boiling) twice a day. Because it’s medical-grade silicone, it’s safe to use overnight with no risk of TSS. Also yay!
The removal process is certainly interesting. Essentially, in a comfortable position, you bear down…kinda like giving birth to it (ew) or pooping (also ew). The cup will move down low enough that you can pinch the base to break the seal, and then pull it the rest of the way out. It’s a weird process but I’ll take that twice a day over changing pads like 3-4 times a day.
Perhaps the biggest surprise about the Diva Cup is that menstruating does not really involve that much blood. I used to call my period Niagara Falls because I felt like I was losing a lot. The Diva Cup has little measurement marks so you can keep track and feel like some kind of mad scientist. For me, on my heaviest day, it was half an ounce in 11 hours, which really isn’t all that much.
Overall, though, I’m thrilled with my Diva Cup experience and am looking forward to not using pads or tampons in the future.
I got my DivaCup on Amazon because that’s where it was cheapest, but you can get it at earthy-friendly stores like terra20 or even some drug stores. Also, in Canada, menstrual hygiene products aren’t taxed anymore, which is fab!