My Declaration of Loyalty to the Diva Cup

Cost effective. Environmentally friendly. Practical.

I first heard of the menstrual cup many years ago. At the time I was fretting  the prospect of my first period. Thankfully, I come from a family of many women. They were all there to support me and explain the different options to prevent fearsome leakage of menstrual blood. I was truly under a lot of stress for a twelve year old. I did not want my period. And a menstrual cup… I could not even fathom.  

That feeling of apprehension remained for many years. I resigned myself to the tampon. And month by month dreaded my period.

The tampon experience: running between classes to my locker to find a tampon, asking friends for tampons, speeding to work because I had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up a box of tampons, asking teammates at practice if my string was showing from my swimsuit, remembering (or forgetting) to replace tampons in my bookbag, purse, swim bag. The tampon experience: less than ideal.

When I was seventeen, I served on a backcountry wilderness restoration crew in Yosemite National Park. My crew and I were hiking, working, and living in the backcountry for five weeks at a time. We were miles and miles from “civilization” meaning everything we hiked in had to be hiked out. That is the honor code for any backcountry hiker; a pillar of Leave No Trace. Carrying out my own used tampons, wrapping, and applicators  added up to quite a lot. I learned that tampons are messy..I also realized how much waste they create. This made me question the mass of waste created by all women and all their cycles. Not every backpacker in Yosemite followed Leave No Trace. In fact my crew picked up as much trash as we could as we were working; a recurring item in that trash was tampon applicators! It has been calculated that the average woman uses and throws away 11,000 tampons in a lifetime. As an environmentalist who is all about reusable water bottles, reusable bags, reusable mugs, cloth napkins, and reusable containers, I was appalled that I used throw-away plastics in mass every month. My aspirations of a waste free lifestyle seemed impossible. My period was bad enough, then I learned that it, by chain of events was polluting the Earth too! I realized I was a hypocrite to be so harshly against plastic water bottles and plastic bags and yet regularly use plastic tampon applicators. No, no, no.

Sure, I could have turned to applicator free tampons, but does that not seem like more trouble? I could give myself a pass and say “I did not have the choice to be a woman, and getting your period is part of being a woman.” But that did not work, not once I knew how much trash was created, and I knew there was a waste-free alternative. This also prompted my thinking on other things I hated about tampons: mainly the cost. It is difficult, if not impossible for women to go about daily life activities on their period without menstrual products. And the cost of these products every month add up. On top of that, tampons are taxed as a luxury item. Think about that: tampons are taxed and candy bars are not. For lower income women, purchasing menstrual products is yet another monetary stressor.

So I decided it was time for me to ditch the tampon and invest in the Diva Cup. I use the word “invest” because it did cost roughly $30 which is more than a box of tampons or pads, but it is reusable and therefor pays for itself many times over. My experience with the Diva Cup has been great. At first, I must admit, it was a little weird, and my first cycle with it took some getting used to. Yet with my Diva Cup I never have to worry about running out of tampons, feel guilty about using plastic, or remember to replace my tampon. The Diva Cup can stay in for 12 hours! Which means it is safe to sleep with too. The Diva Cup is easy to insert and easy to remove - and is unnoticeable and entirely leakproof while in place. All it takes is a quick dump, cleanse, and replace on heavy flow days. The Diva Cup comes with a cute little satchel to keep it clean while traveling with you in a purse, gym bag, pocket, or backpack.

I completely understand the hesitation of many women to switch to the Diva Cup, but I swear it is worth it. It will pay for itself in less than three months. Since switching to the Diva Cup I have served on many  backcountry conservation crews and the experience is 100% better that the tampon experience. For women who like to camp and hike and are concerned for the environment, (I would hope we all are) the Diva Cup is certainly for you. But actually, it is for all women. And by the way, nineteen year old me genuinely adores and celebrates her period.