The following is a guest post from my friend Mrs Micah, who writes about “Finance for a Freelance Life”. If you are squirmish about female anatomy, or have the maturity of a 7 year old, you should consider skipping over this post.
According to the Women’s Environmental Network (PDF), as an average woman I would go through 12,000 tampons or pads/pantiliners in my lifetime. Every month, I used to go through a box of tampons and at least half a bag of maxi-pads. I felt frustrated with the amount of waste this created and the constant need to buy more, but as someone with heavy periods I didn’t see a good alternative. All this changed when an old roommate read a post I’d written on generic feminine products and suggested I look into buying a Diva Cup. I was a little skeptical, but since they cost less than $30 on Amazon (and about $30 from the Diva Cup website) I thought I’d give it a go. I can say without a doubt that it’s one of the few products which have revolutionized my life.
It’s nice to try feeling empowered and womanly about my periods, but they always tied me down. I have very heavy flow with terrible cramps on the first 3 days and hated the routine of changing tampons/pads constantly and worrying about accidentally bleeding through them onto my clothes. I can put the Diva Cup in and leave it for 3 or 4 hours on a heavy flow day, 7 to 10 hours if the flow is lighter. Unlike tampons, Diva Cups have not been associated Toxic Shock Syndrome and don’t even have to be changed for 10 hours if your flow is light enough. This was especially helpful when I was working in library circulation and I had to find someone to cover for me if I wanted to use the bathroom. It also means you can sleep in a Diva Cup. As a bonus, you can put the Diva Cup in even before your period has started with no ill effects. If it’s almost time for my period to begin, I’ll stick it in, go to work, and not have to worry about it. The Diva Cup has even changed the way I feel about periods. They’re still a hassle, but they’re no longer something that ties up my life for the first few days and always has me worrying. As a bonus, the cup makes a huge difference in the environmental impact of my period and saves me some cash every month.
1. Insertion: The Diva Cup is pretty easy to put in. There are diagrams on the website FAQs and elsewhere online. Though you pinch it going in, it expands inside you. A small pull-tab at the end allows you to pull it into place until you feel that it’s secure.
2. Wearing: I recommend trying it out first on a weekend or a day you have off work. This means you’ll have a chance to experience a whole day of use, get a feel for insertion and removal, and not have to worry about changing it in a public restroom. I wear a small pantiliner as well, to catch anything that leaks out. In my experience, this is only a few brown smudges on heavier days.
3. Removal: For easiest removal, I suggest pinching the base instead of using the tab to pull it out. This releases the seal it’s formed. Pull gently so you don’t spill anything. Then simply dump the contents into the toilet. If you can’t quite reach it, just push down with your internal muscles.
4. Cleaning: Ideally, you should wash the Diva Cup between uses. But if you’re at work or in a public restroom, the best you may be able to do is use a scrap of toilet paper. Boil the Diva Cup between periods and store in a non-plastic container (they send a nice little bag).
1. Ick! I can’t imagine putting it in and taking it out! I’ll admit up front that I’ve developed a certain comfort with my body. And really, once you’ve had your period for 5 or 6 (or 10 or 20) years, some things stop giving you the same ick factor they did during the first year or two. I find it about as matter-of-fact as using tampons or pads.
2. Can I use it if I’m a virgin? Depends. Can you use a tampon? More specifically, can you use larger tampons? If you can get those in and out, then you should be able to use a Diva Cup/Keeper/Moon Cup. If you have a strangely-perforated hymen or a very small hole in the hymen, or a small hole and thick hymen, they you may have to wait until later. I initially had problems with tampons, but started small and gradually increased the size.
3. Isn’t it dangerous to leave it in too long? It’s dangerous to leave it in for more than, say, 10 hours. But the Diva Cup/Keeper/Mooncup does not change the vaginal atmosphere. Tampons, on the other hand, elevate the oxygen level in the normally anaerobic vagina and increase its risk for TSS. So you don’t have to worry about choosing the minimum absorbency necessary or getting it out of there after 8 hours. Don’t leave it in too long anyway, but within the 10 hour limit, you should be fine.
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