Until earlier this year, I’d never heard of menstrual cups, and I’d certainly never thought I’d get one myself. I was content with getting tampons every now and then and keeping a few in my backpack in the event that I got surprised by my period during class or practice. I thought it was necessary, and that the expense and awkwardness of my monthly flow came with my anatomy.
But as you might’ve predicted, this year something changed. As I barreled through the reviews and notes of Epiphora, Girly Juice and Oh Joy SexToy, I learned of a product I found immensely intriguing. It was the menstrual cup, specifically the Diva Cup. Epiphora reviewed the Fun Cups earlier this year as well as the Diva Cup, and Oh Joy Sex Toy reviewed them as well as the Moon Cup. And they loved them! And I loved the idea of a reusable menstrual product that would save me from bleeding all over my cute underwear.
So I decided to test this by doing what everyone does: I walked myself all the way to the Whole Foods close to campus and bought the Diva Cup size A and the DivaWash. I felt guilty walking all the way back with a forty dollar hole in my pocket since it would be weeks until my next period. I spent that time with a sense of worry in the back of my mind that it wouldn’t work for me and that I’d wasted a bunch of money. But really, I shouldn’t have worried.
I will tell you now that the DivaCup is the farthest thing from a waste of money. Yes it costs more than two boxes of tampons, but it’s worth it. Not buying tampons or pads has saved me money and time. I don’t have to run to the store to pick up more disposable pads and tampons and that money that might’ve been spent on menstrual products on more fun things instead.
Menstrual cups are a bell shaped silicone device that catches your menstrual flow. The Diva Cup specifically is a colorless, translucent silicone cup that is made out of a fairly stiff silicone and has markings on the side denoting how many milliliters of blood you’ve filled the cup with, which is helpful for tracking your flow. You insert the cup into your vagina by folding it and pushing it past your pubic bone. If you look online, menstrual cup enthusiasts will have several folds they can explain to you, tips and tricks known to those who’ve mastered the art of effortlessly inserting their cup. I personally use the C fold method, not really patient enough for fancier folds.
Once inserted, your cup should open up against your cervix to catch your flow. When it opens up, it’ll form a seal and this is what prevents leakage. If there isn’t a seal, you’re likely to leak. What I do to ensure a good seal is twist the cup inside myself until I feel it fully open. After its opened up and sealed against my cervix, I’m good to go for the rest of the day.
Removing it is pretty easy for me. I insert my thumb and first finger into my vagina, grasp the stem and bare down with my PC muscles, et voila, the cup appears. Don’t think that this isn’t messy though. If the cup is particularly full or I don’t get a proper seal, I can get blood all over my hands. If you’re squeamish, the menstrual cup really isn’t for you.
During the day, I don’t usually feel the cup, and it’s much in the way a tampon is. The feeling of having something inside you might be a little unusual at first, but you get used to the feeling and go about your day as normal. Pooping with the cup in is not always the most comfortable, as the cup can shift with your bowel movements. Most people don’t report any problem peeing, but it can press against your bladder and cause discomfort. I once experienced sharp, agonizing pain similar to a UTI when I peed with the cup in. However, I only experienced it the once and it’s never been repeated. I personally attribute it to poor placement, but for some people with bladder issues it might be good to look into cups with softer silicone.
In terms of maintenance, keeping your cup clean is pretty easy. Boil it between menstrual cycles for about five minutes and you’re good to go. If it starts developing some staining or smell, leave it overnight in a cup of hydrogen peroxide and it’ll be all good to go. Diva Cup sells their special soap along with their menstrual cup, but you don’t really need it. I bought it out of paranoia since I had little access to boiling things and thought that would be a good way to keep it clean. But after I found out that peroxide does the trick, I really haven’t used it. It’s more of a talisman now, something I have that wards off my anxiety.
Is there anything wrong with the DivaCup? In my eyes, not really. Reviewers have commented the very gendered marketing of the DivaCup is disappointing and it truly is. It’s all very rah-rah girl power from the 00s and tiresome, and frankly, as someone who doesn’t feel very femme, it feels a little alienating. But as for the cup itself? I really can’t find fault with it. It was well worth the 40 dollars and I think a worthy cup for anyone wanting to stop spending so much on menstrual products every month.