My experience with the Diva Cup

Greetings dear readers and happy spring! I don’t know about you, but I find myself absolutely overwhelmed in the best of ways by this new season. When I think of spring, my mind automatically jumps to the pursuit of new motivations, decluttering, clean sunlight, and a general fresh, new outlook on the days leading up to rich summer adventures. I know what you must be thinking, “How does all this relate to the hellfire that is menstruation and the enigma of the DivaCup?” Well, friends, the DivaCup has given me a new outlook on my period, and I assure that you DO NOT want to miss out on giving this product a try!

 

Even though I’ve experienced the joys of my period for close to a decade now, I’ve always been surprised by how many uncertainties and obstacles come along with menstruating. Despite how much we womxn plan ahead for our periods, it seems as though the discomfort, mess, costs, and frustrations catch up to us from month to month and quite frankly, it can be exhausting. Following the three months of switching to the DivaCup, however, I can say with 100% honesty that so much of the stress and discomfort brought onto me by my period has been alleviated and I will never be going back to traditional feminine products!

 

Being transparent here, I personally think periods, though ultimately bittersweet miracles of bodily nature, are gross and uncomfortable to experience; and I say this not because I’m ashamed of a perfectly normal and healthy biological function, but because bleeding profusely from downtown against your will is, well, gross and uncomfortable to deal with every month. If you’re one of the 85% of menstruating Americans that are avid tampon users, you can probably identify with a number of frustrations; the first being when you don’t have one on you (a moment of silence for those of us having trialed with the horrors of makeshift public bathroom toilet paper pads). Other problems with tampons include being faced with leakage (which honestly defeats the purpose of using a tampon in the first place), the frequency in which you must change them, risk of TSS or other bacterial infections, subjecting your body to the undisclosed carcinogens, reproductive toxins and other materials they’re made with, the disturbing carbon footprint they leave behind, and the cost to pick up a box when you’re in need.

 

Speaking more specifically about costs (on your wallet, body, and the planet), the average womxn spends over $5,000 on feminine products alone in their lifetime, not including birth control, medication for acne, painkillers, chocolate or other treats necessary to the cause, and other items womxn purchase during their periods which total to approximately $19,000 over the course of their lifetimes. If that doesn’t come as enough of a shock to you, close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. The actual cotton bullet part of a tampon can biodegrade in 6 months assuming it’s out in the open, but the low-density polyethylene (a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene, which is used in tampon applicators as well as in the plastic back-strip of pads) takes centuries to biodegrade. The production of plastic applicators in themselves requires ridiculously high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy. In essence: tampons aren’t great for the planet, especially taking into consideration that each of the approximate 10,000 tampons a womxn will use in her lifetime will have a lasting effect long after their existence. As it turns out, many popular brands of tampons contain ingredients that aren’t healthy for your body either. In March of 2018, the national women’s health nonprofit, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) commissioned STAT Analysis to analyze for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in a variety of different tampons purchased in New York City stores, including organic, mainstream and dollar store brands. The tests detected carbon disulfide, a known reproductive toxin, in tampons that contained rayon, toluene, and xylene (more reproductive toxins), as well as the carcinogen methylene chloride which can be found in paint thinner. What’s even more disturbing? None of these chemicals are required to be disclosed by the manufacturers via the FDA although these products are considered to be “Medical Devices”. Thankfully, there are organic brands with amazing missions such as LOLA that create feminine hygiene products free of any nightmarish ingredients and deliver right to your door, should you be a diehard tampon gal.

 

Now that I’ve discussed the seemingly innocent yet surprisingly sinister tampon, I want to dive into the ways in which the DivaCup is one total rockstar of a period product, as well as share with you my personal thoughts and experience with the product. How I first came across the DivaCup was following HerCampus College Fashion Week last fall when it was included in a gift bag I received for attending the event. Needless to say that I, as well as the rest of my chapter, were pretty skeptical of the product when we first saw it included in our bags. To be fair, I think myself as well as many other young women have seen the DivaCup marketed primarily towards an older demographic of women up until recently which is why it seemed a bit confusing. What were we supposed to do with this thing? It came with… a pouch for storage? As in you reuse it? Having spent the better part of 8-10 years as a young woman being told that feminine products were to be used once and once only, and then having the fear of bacterial vaginosis and TSS ingrained into me, this threw me for a loop. At face value, the product seemed like it was going to be an unsanitary, messy hassle to use. However, I waited until I returned home that night to really delve into what the product was. After reading the information available to me within the little pamphlet included with the cup, it didn’t seem as weird as I had initially thought. In fact, the supposed benefits of the DivaCup seemed almost too good to be true.

 

The brand boasts 12-hour leak-free protection when you use the cup (retailed at $39.99), which is made of unpigmented medical-grade silicone. In theory, that means *should you follow the care instructions properly*, that’s 12 hours of being leakage-free with the risk of infection from harmful bacterias being next to none (TSS? Don’t know her). A womxn’s average monthly flow is between 1-2 ounces of blood; because of the DivaCup’s unique bell shape, you’re able to track your monthly flow, which in some ways seems totally yucky, but can actually help you determine threats to your health such as in the case of early detection of conditions like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Anemia, and Endometriosis. Because the DivaCup is worn internally and creates a sort of airlock downtown, there’s no odor such as with a tampon or pad, as menstrual flow only develops an odor when exposed to oxygen and bacteria. As if the above claims aren’t impressive enough, the cup can last for up to 10 years with proper care and disinfecting (DivaCup suggest you boil the cup and store it in its included pouch between uses). That saves the user around $100-$200 a year for 10 years in terms of feminine hygiene products and keeps approximately 290 tampons worth of harmful plastic and chemicals per user from landfills each year.

 

Unfortunately, at the time of my Diva-Cup unboxing, I couldn’t try the product properly as I wasn’t on my period, so I boiled it 15 minutes for sanitary purposes as instructed in the care guide and tucked it away. However, a few weeks later, a day or so into my period, I ran out of tampons at the absolute worst time imaginable. In a panic, I began formulating my bloody route to the nearest Duane Reade when from the far corner of my mind, I remembered I had a sanitized DivaCup waiting for its chance to shine! The first thing I will say about my experience with the DivaCup is that the included instructions are... not very explanatory. BUT, after some trial and much error, I turned to the handy dandy world of youtube where I found THIS video on mastering the DivaCup (If you’re squeamish about these things, have no fear as the video isn’t at all graphic!). To my surprise, I nailed the insertion on my first try after having seen the video and it wasn’t at all uncomfortable. Then, came the next and utterly terrifying part of the process which was to wait and see what happened. Would I be involuntarily free-bleeding with a foreign object roaming around my vagina? Would taking it out be a crime scene waiting to happen? All I could do was wait and see.  

 

Because this was my first time putting the product to the test, I decided to give the DivaCup the benefit of the doubt and wore it for the promised 12 hours of leak-free, odor-free wear. To my surprise, my time wearing the DivaCup was probably the cleanest, most comfortable day I’ve spent during the peak of my period ever. That’s right, EVER. Despite my keeping it in the longest amount possible, there was no overflow, leakage, or smell upon taking it out. In fact, taking it out was shockingly easy and I was baffled not only at how simple it was to sanitize and reinsert, but just how much menstrual flow my body produced. I went about the rest of my activities that day with only a few fleeting fears related to my period but found upon returning home that there were no traces of leakage in sight. I cleaned and sanitized the cup, took a shower, popped it back in before bed and had the most comfortable and clean feeling sleep on my period, you guessed it, ever. I repeated my daily use of the DivaCup for the remainder of my cycle with zero problems and many praises. At the end of my cycle, I cleaned and sanitized it, as usual, boiled it for 15 minutes as I did initially, and stored it away once again.

 

Needless to say, when my next period came around I was eager to give it another try. Once again I was totally shocked at how amazing this product worked for me that entire week, and I knew at that point I wanted to review it. However, I gave it a third cycle to work its magic just in case there were some developmental qualms I needed to mention. The only development I’ve noticed since though is that I’d now consider myself a master of the DivaCup! Although there is a slight learning curve towards the beginning (not so unlike learning to use tampons), I have found the DivaCup to be a truly resourceful and phenomenal product that I think every womxn should give a try if they’re able to take the leap. Although menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of, I’ve always felt that on top of the aches, pains, cravings, and tiredness I associate with being on my period, such a big added stress is feeling unclean despite how hygienic I may be. Because of the DivaCup, I have a little more energy and confidence during my period!

 

Curious about how you can get ahold of your very own Diva cup? Click here for the DivaCup official webpage and here for options available on Amazon.