Now, before you get your hopes up, I’m going to spoil the ending like Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet, though this is arguably an even bloodier tale of woe. The truth is, the Diva Cup didn’t really work for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t for you.
I conducted this experiment at home over Fall Break, with my roommate there so she could provide assistance if something went horribly wrong. One of her first thoughts when she saw it was that it was pretty big, but I knew that vaginas are awesome things and that it would adapt to the size just like it does for tampons and…other things. I had her wait outside the bathroom door while I put it in the first time, just so I had someone to bounce my nervousness and excitement off on. I read the instructions about 4 times, and finally felt ready to begin. I washed the cup and my hands, like they said, and then got myself into a comfortable position. After that, it was necessary to fold the cup into a U-shape to make it easier to insert.
“Relax your vaginal muscles,” it said. How in hell was I supposed to do that?!
Then it said to rotate the cup 360° in order to “seal” the cup, almost like a suction cup, to prevent leaks. OK, how was I supposed to know how much 360° was when it was inside of me?! I obviously did not succeed, ‘cause I definitely leaked. Maybe I have a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina?
The goal is to not be able to feel it when it’s inside you, just like a tampon. For the most part it didn’t bother me, but I could feel the stem of the cup poking out, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t right.
The instructions also said that women shouldn’t panic if they can’t find the stem of the cup upon removal, or if they have a hard time getting it out. I had no problem with that, another sign that I wasn’t doing it right. When I emptied it for the first time, in the shower, it was pretty full and gross. This is probably the easiest way to remove the cup, one because it makes you take a shower, and two because the blood is quickly washed away and you can use soap to clean the cup.
I’m not sure if I just didn’t put it in right, or didn’t make it “seal” properly, but for some reason I kept leaking. Not a lot, but enough to need a panty liner so as not to ruin my underwear. Given that the Diva Cup guarantees 12-hour leak-free protection, you can probably understand why I was pretty bummed.
When I won the cup in the Her Campus raffle, I’ll admit I was a little unenthused – I had just had my period and was planning on skipping it this month (PSA: if you’re on the pill, there’s no medical need to have a period; simply skip the placebo pills and move on to the next pack. Ask your doctor, trust me!).
But then I thought about all the benefits of a cup over tampons – if it worked, it would save me a lot of money and it’s reusable, so it’s good for the environment!
What you might not know is that menstrual cups have actually been around for about 80 years, but because of our American obsession with disposables, they’ve largely been overlooked in preference of something clean and sterile and expendable. But we all know how expensive those items can be; with all the different sizes and absorbencies, and because tampon and pad manufacturers essentially have a monopoly on period care, we can easily spend upwards of $20 on period items each month. A Diva Cup costs about $25, which might seem like a lot, but it basically pays for itself within a couple months of use. It should be mentioned, however, that Diva Cup International suggests replacing the cup annually.
For some of you, the idea of a cup that catches blood from your period might make you a little squeamish. I’ll admit I was not super thrilled my first time either. And to be honest, yes, it was bloody. After my first insertion, my hands looked like they had just participated in a murder. But I think there’s something really intimate and natural about tending to our bodies in this way. It’s our body, and we should be comfortable with touching it in new and mysterious ways. Dealing with our own bodily fluids because they are our own is something largely lost in the 21st century. Too often, as a result of the bloody horror of them, we forget that the purpose of periods is to facilitate the beauty of new life.
So rejoice, ladies. The new (actually quite old) revolution in period care is here. If you’re like me, and it doesn’t work, at least now you know. But if it does…I don’t know how crappy your life has been, but it could just change your life.
If you want to know more about the Diva Cup, I suggest you watch this BuzzFeed video of 4 women experiencing it for themselves.