Ok, this isn’t completely unfettered praise because the Diva Cup or Keeper or whatever menstrual cup you prefer to use isn’t perfect. But, I feel like I need to defend the Diva Cup ““ or at least discuss it honestly. The poor thing is the hairy-armpitted, Birkenstock-clad, Patchouli-smelling hippie outcast of the feminine hygiene world.
I am no stranger to alternative lady time products. Back during my “natural” phase in college I sewed my own reusable cloth pads and used sea sponges as tampons, because otherwise you are just putting CHEMICALS into your VAGINA!! I was a little annoying. The sea sponges and cloth pads were ok, but my roommates were not really into me washing my period all over the place in the sink, even though I cleaned everything afterwards. Also, due to my shoddy craftsmanship my homemade pads started to fall apart after a while. But ultimately, it was just too inconvenient ““ you don’t really want to have to wad up a cloth pad in your purse if you need to change it in public and you have to squeeze out the sea sponges which means getting a lot of blood on your hands and possibly all over the toilet ““ not things you really want going on in public. I looked into the Keeper then, but was put off because it’s brown and ugly. If they had one in pink I would have been all over that. I probably would have bought an extra one for car or office. But I never got one and then my natural phase ended; I abandoned Tom’s of Maine and resumed polluting my vagina with Tampax.
A few years ago I learned about the Diva Cup, which is clear and thus more aesthetically appealing to me. I started reading about it and was sold when people mentioned that it went a long ways towards relieving cramps and clots. As far as I know there is no scientific evidence supporting that claim, just anecdotes, but I was willing to give it a shot. Plus, I still don’t think it’s that great to stuff a chemical-infused bullet of cotton up yourself for a week. Also, the Diva Cup website claims that 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are dumped into landfills each year. In a bad month, I am sure I contribute about a million pads and tampons alone. Who doesn’t like feeling smug about reducing their waste? I know I sure do. So I purchased one, learned how to use it and used it on and off until for some reason it started feeling really uncomfortable, no matter what I did. I went back to pads and tampons until a couple months ago.
I am still getting reacquainted with the Diva Cup and it definitely takes some practice. You’re not going to be eliminating your sanitary napkin contribution right away because you need to have one to catch any spillage, especially overnight. The Diva Cup is tricky because it can get in crooked or it can fail to open completely. If you’re not comfortable sticking your fingers in your vagina, like, way in there, then this is not for you because you have to reach in and give it a spin to make sure it opens completely. And for me sometimes one spin isn’t enough. Sometimes it a million spins, I can tell it still didn’t open, and I just hope that it pops open on its own. I have found it easiest to put it in in the shower where you can really get a leg up, and also clean out your vagina of any blood that might be interfering with the suction. Putting your leg up on the toilet is also easier than just trying to do it while you squat over the toilet. Since most women are able to put a tampon in while sitting down in an airplane bathroom and wearing overalls, this requires more dedication than we’re used to. That’s one of the hardest things to accept. I haven’t been using it consistently enough to know if you get to a point where it’s easier to insert. I am sure it does, after all I spent countless hours in the bathroom as a teenager with the “how to insert a tampon” diagram spread out on a floor littered with the carcasses of partially-open tampons. If you look at it from the standpoint that it’s just like learning how to put in a tampon again, it’s not so bad. The other major con is that it’s messy on heavy flow days. This is not a big deal if you’re at home since you have the sink right there. But if I am going somewhere where I know I am going to have change it, I usually wear a tampon instead because it’s not worth it to me to exit a bathroom stall with my hands looking like I murdered someone in there. So there is maybe one or two days a month where the Diva Cup isn’t that amazing. But what I really love it for is the rest of your period. You know those days when you’re not sure what the situation is going to be so you put a tampon in “just in case” and eight hours later you pull out a completely dry tampon and it feels like it’s slicing up your insides on the way out? Or alternately, you think you’re done so decide to go protection-free and go into the bathroom at lunch to find that you were sorely, grossly mistaken? That’s when the Diva Cup is best. You can leave from the time you wake up until you go to bed with no risk of toxic shock syndrome and no pain and you don’t have to worry about it. I’ve never been the type to have irregular spotting throughout the month, but I feel like this would be superb for ladies who never know what’s going to be going on.
My favorite part though, is that I haven’t had to buy a new box of tampons in 6 months. Those things aren’t cheap and the Cup pays for itself in a couple of months and can be used forever. So yeah, if the Diva Cup was a person maybe it would go by the name Rainbow and wear hemp skirts and work for PETA, but that doesn’t mean it deserves all the mockery it gets. And now that I think about it, maybe I should make some more of those cloth pads. You know, for overnight.