I'm a DivaCup convert. I've seen some questions asked recently about the efficacy of menstrual cups and the logistics of using one, and since it's Shark Week, it seems like the perfect time to talk about why I love the DivaCup and also how you can easily incorporate a menstrual cup into your life and ditch the disposables for good. (Just a quick disclosure note: this isn't a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links. I just seriously love my DivaCup. I've heard other great things about other brands of menstrual cups but I don't have any experience using them.)
Just a brief warning for the squeamish: this post is about periods. If you don't want to read about periods, I invite you to click away and come back another day. I promise I'll post about gin or cupcakes or something else equally delightful really soon.
My older sister introduced me to the idea of menstrual cups over ten years ago but at the time I wasn't ready for it. So I understand the hesitancy of first-time cup users. I get it. I've been there. I've been squeamish and icked out about the idea of producing a cup of menstrual flow instead of happily using disposables as a period buffer. I've used tampons and pads and I've appreciated how they removed me from actually having to deal with my period. I didn't have to empty my tampons or pads. I didn't have to clean them. I just had to throw them out. Easy peasy.
So how did I go from feeling grossed out to loving my DivaCup?
After being diagnosed with cancer, I started to feel uncomfortable with how many products I was putting on and into my body. Makeup, lotions, antiperspirant, tampons and pads - I became leery of everything. You guys, I didn't use shampoo or conditioner for a year after I was diagnosed. I had an elaborate baking soda and apple cider vinegar routine that I have (happily) since abandoned. I know I can't completely eliminate all beauty and care products from my routine but I wanted to reduce how many I use. This is a great summary of the health and environmental benefits of choosing the DivaCup over disposable pads and tampons.
I bought a DivaCup because it seemed like a low-risk experiment. If I tried it and hated it, I would be out $40. If I tried it and loved it, I would have spent $40 for all of my period supply requirements for an entire year (or more! DivaCup recommends replacing them yearly but the DivaCup can actually last much longer depending on how you care for it and the pH balance of your body.).
Let's get down to the nitty gritty:
Was it difficult to use the first time?
Yes and no. It was a bit fussy. The instruction booklet was very detailed and a bit intimidating. But ten minutes studying the booklet and practicing the different ways to fold the DivaCup gave me the confidence to give it a try. My first few attempts at insertion and removal were awkward but not impossible. I got the hang of it quickly.
Is it like a scene from Carrie when you remove your cup?
Not even close. Women produce on average 1 - 2 ounces of menstrual flow per cycle. I didn't believe this until I started using my DivaCup. I was convinced I bled much more than that (this is very common according to menstrual cup users). The DivaCup can hold a full ounce. This means that when you remove and empty it, you're not emptying a filled-to-the-brim cup (unless you've left it in for too long. It's strongly recommended that you empty your DivaCup two or three times per day.). I find it very easy to remove the cup, dump it in the toilet, give it a quick wash, and re-insert.
How do you remove/wash/insert the DivaCup away from home?
I rarely have to deal with my DivaCup when I'm out. The DivaCup can go up to 12 hours without leaks. Even on my heaviest day, I have gone a full 12 hours between leaving for work and getting home, and I've been totally fine. The longest I've left my DivaCup in for is 12 hours and the fullest it's ever been is just over half full.
It's totally possible to use the DivaCup away from home, though. You don't have to wash it fully every time you empty it. For example, if I were going to empty it in a public washroom I would wash my hands, go into the stall, remove and empty it, wipe it out with a little bit of toilet paper, and re-insert.
Does it leak?
I haven't had any issues with leaking. I'd say my period is pretty average (five days with one day of heavy flow) but even on my heaviest day I don't leak. The DivaCup is made from silicone which softens and molds to the shape of your body with your body heat. It creates a seal that prevents leakage. If you aren't confident in the seal (I wasn't, the first few cycles I used a cup) you can always use panty liners (use washable ones for extra smug hippie points!).
Why should I switch to a menstrual cup?
There's the obvious health, environmental, and cost benefits. But something that has stood out for me since I switched to a cup is how much more in tune with my body I feel. I understand that not everyone wants to feel attuned to their body (no judgment from me, remember I was that icked out period person in the not too distant past) but if you do want to feel more connected to your cycle, using a menstrual cup is a great way to achieve it.
Do you have any questions about using menstrual cups I haven't covered here? Hit me - I'm an open book!