Crimson Tide Diaries: Behold – The Diva Cup

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.

All hail the diva cup. Image courtesy of Thedivacup.com

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.

Diva Cup in full action. Image copyright of Hobomama.com

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.

Girl, I know.

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:

A Visual Of Insertion. Image copyright of TheDivaCup.com

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.

I'm considering hanging this on my labia.

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.

BRING ME THE DIVA CUP

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.

The Diva cup left my feeling like the 2nd place runner up in the Miss Menstruation Pageant.

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?

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69 thoughts on “Crimson Tide Diaries: Behold – The Diva Cup”

  1. Love the Diva cup (actually, not totally crazy about the pink packaging, but whatever I love the product itself), but has anyone tried the Mooncup? Or the Lunette? (scroll down for QoB’s post with a super-convenient comparison photo).

    See, I tried the Keeper first, but the material is stiffer than the Diva cup and the Keeper was sometimes uncomfortable as a result. However, I liked the longer “tail” on the Keeper. So, can anyone offer a comparison Mooncup vs. Keeper?

  2. Hey, does anyone know if you can use Nuvaring and the Diva cup at the same time? There’s usually a 2 or 3 day overlap for me between when it’s time to start a new Nuvaring and I still have my period, and, well, even with tiny lil ob tampons, it still feels vaguely crowded up in ther (and also as if I have a secret storage compartment in my body.) I’m intrigued by Diva cup for all of the obvious reasons, but I really love my nuvaring, and won’t be giving it up anytime soon.

      1. Ah, I’m interested in knowing this too! I am a dedicated user of both but I’ve been unable to get Nuva Rings ever since I got my Diva Cup (long story) so I haven’t had to deal with this, but I’ll probably start again soon and I had never thought of this issue! Hmm! Where are you Nuva-Divas?

  3. I’ve had mine for about 9 months now and I really love it for the amount of freedom it gives me. The fact that I don’t have to change except every 12 hours has saved me a million times over. I used to work very long days and often wouldn’t have enough time to change pads or tampons on my break, so not having to worry about leaks, smells, comfort, or full tampons was a major plus. I still find it uncomfortable to take out though putting it in has gotten a lot easier with practice. It’s a pretty good investment, if you ask me, and even if you end up not liking it, it’s still not a colossal waste of money to buy one and try it.

  4. Don’t know if this is true for the Diva Cup, since I’m a Moon Cup gal, but I found the only uncomfortable thing to be that damn silicone stem–it would end up pinching my labia every time I went running.  There’s really no point at all for the stem, so I trimmed it away with scissors (making sure not to cut into the actual bowl) and TA-DA–now my cup is super comfortable as well as being super economical.  I’ve had it for 4 years now and it’s still working great.  I *heart* you, Moon Cup!

    1. Whoops, I just posted asking if anyone uses the Moon cup, clearly I didn’t not read the comments in detail. I tried the Keeper and like the option of a longer stem, but the Keeper material made it a bit uncomfortable. Do you know if the Moon cup is as soft/malleable as the Diva?

  5. That is great!

    I was using the cup even before I had my IUD inserted and I have never had any trouble. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. And I have to admit I have read the DivaCup directions and worried about their recommendations to not use the Cup when you have an IUD. However, I love the Cup too much to give it up!

     

      1. yeah when I asked my doctor about it he’s like, don’t worry about checking the thread on your IUD and you want to use a diva cup! SURE! Whatever you want to do with it is fine. Oh and if a man complains that it is poking his penis when you have sex he’s full of shit and you should probably sleep with someone else. I love my doctor.

  6. Ok, I use the Instead, which is basically the same thing. I really like them. They take some getting used to, yes, but I have found that repeated use has helped to shorten my periods slightly, and that I can still have sex with them in!

    Plus, one of the quotes on the instructions has stuck with me. The outer band of an Instead is a cute pink one, “like one of those plastic friendship bracelets! So, it’s like you’re making friends with your uterus!”

    O_O

     

  7. I think I will have to try one… but it’s very nerve-wracking and hence hard to just drop the $30 all of a sudden. I had to stop wearing tampons because they were irritating me (whether that was the tampons or the potential endometriosis-that-has-not-been-confirmed, I’m not sure), so I’m a little wary of sticking anything up there, but it seems like the benefits, should it work, would far outweigh the risk.

    1. The reason I tried the Diva Cup is because tampons were very irritating to my cervix; I had this shooting pain, and after a 10 hour car ride with a tampon that felt like a steak knife, I ordered a Diva Cup on my phone and haven’t looked back. It’s not nearly as abrasive, and I have no pain. Once you get good at inserting it, you don’t feel it at all. It takes practice, though, not gonna lie. But I don’t think you can beat the cost, and I prefer the cup over pads (and it’s cheaper than pads, too.)

    2. I highly recommend starting with Instead disposable cups if you’re hesitatant about the cost commitment. They’re $8 for 14, and it’s a good way of getting used to the process and the whole “Hey, blood, there you are! You’re really RED!” feelings. I switched because tampons irritated me much the same way and I’ve never looked back.

      1. I love my instead cups. I know most people are on the Diva cup boat, but the instead are so comfortable for me and I love them to bits. Most stores only stock a few boxes at a time. I think the cashier always suspects I’m a loon, because I sweep them all off the shelf and buy them whenever I find them.

  8. I’ve had my Diva Cup for about 4 years and it’s still going strong. When I bought it they recommended that it should last around 10 years, I think it was just due to some FDA bs that they had to reduce the recommendation down to a year. Silicone doesn’t really break down. I’m planning on getting an IUD soon so was wondering if anyone has had luck/problems using a diva cup with their IUD (I do plan to ask my doctor about it). Summary though: I love the diva cup! Advertise whenever possible, though so many women are icked out about it which is sad because it is so much less nasty imo than dealing with pads or tampons.

  9. I’m sure Coco knows this but FYI for anyone else who’s interested, there are other types of cups – DivaCup is not the only brand out there. The one I use (Mooncup UK) should last for years, and is a bit shorter than the Diva Cup. This is a picture comparing the four most commonly mentioned brands, from the Menstrual Cups Livejournal: “left to right we have the Keeper (Size A, Size B), the Divacup (Size 2, Size 1), the Mooncup (Size A, Size B), and the Lunette (comes in only one size).  And on the end, for comparison purposes, we have two OB tampons.”

    Image hosting by Photobucket

      1. I’d like to point out that the directions to the actual diva cup (though not other cups) come with the warning-even if its a small chance that something will actually happen and is based more on a person by person circumstance. The manufacturers probably want more people to use it, not fewer, so if they give a warning that might prevent more people from using it, there’s a reason.

        I think Susan London’s article cements what I said in the piece: the risk is slight and many (the majority, really) women use the cup without any problems. However, I think saying that there may be no issues at all when the manufacturers directions say otherwise, is something that may be a bit hasty.

        But the risk is very low. Personally speaking, as someone who has had their IUD expelled before because of a menstrual product (cervix is more open during period / uterus is lower / iud is “looser” / tampons can catch too long strings) , I’m taking a bit of precaution only because of my experience.

        1. I said ‘may’! There may be no issues at all. Not that there are no issues at all.

          But yeah, obviously if you had an experience where your IUD was expelled, you would be a little more cautious than us non-expellers. Understandably so. I think you bring up a good point, but I personally hesitate to shoo people away from the cup considering the slight chance. A warning is certainly warranted and I’m glad you brought it up in your article, but I felt I needed to provide a counter-point to your worries.

  10. oh, the other weird thing about the Diva cup – and I have no proof, but I found this to be true and I know a lot of other people who did too – for some people it seems to make your cramps less and your bleeding time shorter. Something to do with the suction effect maybe. Anyway, all kinds of awesomeness.

    1. To add to the anecdotal, things improved for me with using washable pads. I’ve heard musings elsewhere that the reusable products (IE washable pads, cups, etc) perhaps improve things because they don’t have the unpleasant chemicals that disposable pads and tampons often contain.

    2. I have noticed that as well – I very rarely have to take any pain medication for cramps now – but since I have been taking the pill for longer in between (fake) periods, it could be that as well. I imagine the suction might keep the cervix a little more open so that the uterus doesn’t have to cramp so much to pass clots or heavy bleeding (neither of which I have on the pill, though), but that’s only off the top of my head and I’d love a study on it!

      Or if someone wants to glue a pinhead camera to their cup…

        1. She said when you use a tampon or pad, the blood has contact with the air in your uterus.  it’s a cavernous space, so there’s “air” in there to some degree, just like there’s air in your ear canal.  And when you use a menstrual cup, the blood doesn’t have a chance to make contact with air, so fewer cramps. I wish I had a more scientific explanation but I was getting a PAP and  that explanation made perfect sense in that moment, ya know? Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better? I dunno.

          1. I can totally see how that would mean using a cup lessens any smells compared to tampons or pads because the blood can’t oxidise… I just don’t follow her on the air ==> cramps thing. Though I can see why getting details wasn’t at the top of your mind in that situation:)

  11. Here we go. In the case of an onslaught of Diva Cup evangelism, your avatar can be used as both a flotation device and a weapon.

    THE FIRST RULE OF DIVA CUP CLUB IS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT DIVA CUP.

    Although, Coco, I must say, you’re the first person I know who wasn’t swept up in the Diva Cup rapture and transported to an obnoxious land where the only words you can speak are in reference to the amazingness of your Diva Cup. Does the thing have fucking hallucinogenics that it releases into your body or something? Because, in my experience, 90% of the people who use them CANNOT SHUT UP ABOUT THEM. So I appreciate your even-handedness and minor ambivalence.

    1. lol well there is kind of a reason for that to be fair. Thing is, when you’ve experienced so many years of terrible horrible no good very bad periods, and you suddenly get this thing that just works for you so much better than the bleached hunks of cotton that you have always been told are your only options & they do not have an advertising budget, they only have word of mouth, you kind of feel like you owe it to everyone to let them know that there is this other option out there. & that It Worked for Me.

  12. I haaaaated it at first, but I stuck with it (I am a cheap mofo), and after about 4 cycles, it sort of molded to my insides.  I can still feel it sometimes (the first few months I felt it a LOT, and it was all sorts of irritating), but mostly, not at all.  And when I accidentally forget it and go back to tampons for a day, I inevitably bleed through EVERYTHING because I have forgotten that you can’t just go all day.  I love it now.  And I didn’t even consider how it doesn’t smell.

    1. Its a weird feeling right? I think thats why I have always been a tampon lady, because it feels like nothing is there. I could feel the cup the first day I had it in if I moved in different directions. I made the mistake f washing it with cold water the first time I put it in and yea. I felt that.

  13. I’ve been interested in these for years but $30 for something I’m not sure I’ll like? I don’t know . . . Maybe eventually.

    I also have a low cervix, which makes me a little leery about positioning the darn thing without it getting painful. But I would guess that since I use tampons this shouldn’t be that big of a worry? Any other peeps with low cervix who’ve tried the diva?

    1. well you’re not supposed to position it up near the cervix like a tampon, you place it lower down. So I would think it’d be less of an issue than with tampons, especially as it’s a soft silicone ring at the end that is nearer your cervix. If you are worried about spending the money, they do giveaways and coupons on their FB page pretty often.

        1. I wear my Diva Cup high up and around my cervix. That’s just where it sits naturally. Honestly, I believe unless you have issues with your cervix being ultra-highly sensitive, having a low-placed cervix shouldn’t be an issue. Since everyone has different bodies, the cup will sit differently for each person. However, I recommend trying a smaller cup instead of the Diva Cup since that might be more comfortable for you.

          Check out this chart for brand comparisons: http://sizecharts.livejournal.com/

  14. I know on the website it says it lasts a year, but I would say if you’re looking after it, 2 years easy, potentially more. You can do some research online to find different folding options, some work better for some people. There’s a LJ group out there with some really good info and tips & tricks.

      1. Yeah. Since it’s supposed to be medical grade silicone, something used for implants, I’m pretty sure it can last a hell of a lot longer than one year. I’ve had mine for three now, no issues or degradation to speak of.

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