They say that it is the most sacred of menstrual objects. Legends of its magnificent power run far and wide and the devotion shown to the object is on the level with some of the holiest objects gracing the planet. Behold dear readers, I have seen the Diva Cup.
The Diva Cup is like the holy grail of menstruation products. It’s sleek design and easy clean up made it one of the most beloved pieces of silicone since the Rabbit, and that’s quite a comparison considering the purpose of each. I knew many who adored their cups, singing its praises and saying how much it changed their life. “It’s like I became a new person,” said one friend as her eyes glossed over with joy when I asked her about her cup. “It altered my period experience. I felt like everything else was gross and bloody after I used it,” said another who begged me to get one as fast as I possibly could after explaining my sponge and Lunapad experiment. “No girl, really. It WILL change your life,” she said. It’s time, I thought. I submit.
In my purchasing journey, I learned that the Diva Cup comes in two sizes: Model number 1 (which I purchased) for women who have not had children or who are under the age of 30. Model number 2 is for women who have delivered kids and are over the age of 30. While there is a small difference in size, it’s an important detail in preventing unwanted leakage. “As we age,” states the FAQ section of the cup, “our hips naturally widen and the vaginal muscles lose elasticity. Because the vaginal muscles hold The DivaCup in place, it is important to use Model 2 if you are over 30, even if you have not had childbirth.” I dropped my thirty dollars (plus tax) at my local radical feminist bookstore (Bluestockings, what, what) and went on my merry way, soon to make my transformation into the Diva cult.
Just a note dear readers – I’m a bleeder. I mean like, I bleed. My first day is usually a quiet little intro into shedding uterine lining, but by day two, it’s like a water park of menstruation up in there. There are chunks and globs of who knows what that plop out like angry little hobgoblins of red carnage, screaming out for a sacrifice. Think big. Think bad. Think blood. Think logic and reason spinning into chaos. And I don’t enjoy my blood.
But that’s for neither here nor now. So, inserting your Diva Cup. First tip, kids: wash your hands. I know most of us have table manners, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed to put a tampon in and only afterwards, been horrified to think of what exactly my fingers had come into contact with. Since the diva cup requires a touch more fanagaling, especially in the beginning, freshly washed hands are recommended. So now that you have a nice, fresh, clean set of fingers to work with, its time to insert the Diva Cup inside your hoo-hah.
Here are the directions I followed from the site:
Step 1: “U” Fold – Moisten the rim of The DivaCup with water if needed. Press the sides of the cup together and then fold it in half again. You can also do the “Push Down” fold by placing a finger on the top rim of the cup and pressing it down into the center of the inside base to form a triangle.
Step 2: Hold – Hold the folded sides firmly between your thumb and forefinger. The single curved edge should be facing away from your palm.
Step 3: Insert – With the vaginal muscles relaxed, gently separate the labia with your free hand and then push the curved edge of the folded DivaCup into the vaginal opening.
Don’t try to insert the cup while lying down and if you find yourself getting frustrated (as I did) take a quick break. While I was tempted to use lube to make the process easier, most lubes have a tendency to break down silicone, so stick with water.
Once my Diva Cup was locked and loaded, I was only able to slightly feel it. It was more the temperature that gave me the chills rather than the actual texture, but like all new apparatus that enters the lady cave, everything takes some time to get used to. As the day wore on, I would have moments where I could feel it more than others, but to my surprise, no leakage. But, as I mentioned before, I am a bleeder. Oh, I am a bleeder.
So, I ended having to change my cup about six hours in. I realized I needed to change it not because of leakage, but because it felt full and the insides of my vagina had a dull pain (if you have ever had an over-full tampon that’s on the brink of spilling over, it’s similar). As I shirked off to the work bathroom, I kept thinking of the many ways I’d nonchalantly wash my cup in the communal sink, much to the aghast of a few folks who work down the hall. ” Mornin’ ladies, wash your period cup for ya?” I’d say, setting out my tip jar and officially cementing my reputation as Coco, the Diva Cup wash maid. I let out an evil laugh at my potential money making scheme of becoming the Diva Cup wash maid and come to find that I’m actually the only one in the bathroom.
Changing the Diva Cup was a bit more of a challenge than I was supposing it would be. I washed my hands with some warm soapy water (remember what we said previously) and slipped inside to find the stem of the cup. I started to pull gently on the stem, looking for the base of the cup. I had to give it little tug with and at one point slip it between my index and thumb and it finally popped out. Here came the finale – the blood sacrifice.
Yeah, just like that. Actually, it was only half as messy as I thought it would be and there was no smell at all (blood oxidizes when it hits oxygen, creating that less-than-fresh smell). I have to say I wasn’t jazzed at what I was seeing. When confronted with your blood and uterine tissue staring angrily at you from the abyss, there is something a bit terrifying about the body and nature and the universe. Something like that.
So, where do I stand with the great omnificent Diva Cup? I dig it. The Diva Cup is economical and practical, as well as being an amazing little creation that has a hell of a history. (Did you know menstrual cups are more than 75 years old and were invented by Leona Chalmers who fought to defy Victorian stereotypes about women inserting their fingers in their vaginas?) I see myself using it in the future, but it still poses a bit of physical discomfort for me, as well as anxiety, mostly because of the IUD warning. Here’s the deal: The Diva Cup, like any internal menstrual product, runs the slight risk of “catching” and or dislodging an IUD when the cup is pulled down, creating a suction affect. Normally, this isn’t something mentioned on other menstrual products, but, is a specific concern because of the Diva Cup’s design. It’s also worth noting that many who have IUDs do use the Diva Cup with no complications. So while I could get over both, I think it will just be a step by step process, probably with other happy period products to line my path.
Other drawbacks? Like anything you stick up in your golden snatch, the cup puts you at risk (a small one, but nonetheless a risk) for TSS. The cup can potentially worsen hemorrhoids, but is something that’s best determined by a doctor.
However, the benefits weigh heavy in this situation. At a one-time $30 purchase for a menstrual product that can last (if properly taken care of) for a year, the Diva Cup wins in the financial department (though not as inexpensive as Luna pads). It’s an eco-friendly little sucker, has been designed to be virtually allergy- and paraben-free, and also, is not tested on animals (though, I would be worried to see how exactly this would be tested on animals). Not having to deal with any sort of menstrual flow for twelve hours sounds like an amazing vacation when you have changed tampons every 2-3 hours all your life, and the clean up makes it easy.
At the end of your cycle, it’s recommended to give the cup a nice, quick boil for no more than ten minutes. Do not wash the cup with with vinegar, rubbing alcohol, peroxide or any other topical antiseptic. The company that makes the cup itself offers DivaWash, a pH balanced, hypo-allergenic soap that is best to use when cleaning your cup. It also doubles as a facial cleanser and a luxurious shower gel (bonus!).
So kids, like any product, it’s all about what works best for you and makes your sacred bits as happy as a clam. So until next time my happy babies, remember, we are all in this bleeding thing together. So be a dear and always remember, to ask your neighbor, can you feel my menstrual pain?