Guest Review: The Diva Cup

Even the occasional reader of my blog has probably seen mention of my lovely sister, Danielle. She’s basically my role model, and her countless healthy decisions have undoubtedly influenced the majority of mine. Today she’ll be reviewing the Diva Cup, a product that I’ve heard only positive things about and cannot wait to try. Take it away, Sister!
I’ve been experimenting with alternative menstrual products since around the time I left home for college. All the waste associated with conventional tampons and pads just never sat well with me, and the concept of bleached cotton so close to such a sensitive area really weirded me out. I used unbleached cotton tampons for a while with limited success; while they certainly put my mind a bit more at ease, I still experienced all the other problems associated with cotton tampons like worsened cramps, dryness on light days (almost every day for me), and of course guilt over all those wasted natural resources (cotton isn’t the easiest crop to grow). Not to mention the fact that tampons have just never felt right to me. I’ve always heard that if you’re wearing them right you shouldn’t be able to feel them at all, so I had to conclude that I either wasn’t wearing them right or was somehow made wrong. I’ve always had a leaking problem with tampons, too, which I take as evidence in favor of either one or both of the aforementioned theories.  Additionally, organic, unbleached cotton tampons aren’t exactly within the average college freshman’s budget, so I was paying quite a bit for a product I was barely moderately satisfied with. After doing a bit of research online, I cut up some old t-shirts and felt pajamas to make my first batch of cotton pads.Yes, you can order fancy ones online, but I wasn’t sure if I’d like them and I was just learning to sew anyway and wanted to see if I could make something useful and save myself some money in the process. I didn’t bother using any sort of liner, and I didn’t make them particularly thick either, because my three-day periods are on the light side (though they haven’t always been; I have theories about why this is, but that’s a discussion for the comments section or another post I suppose).  I did use dark colored fabric, however, for what I believe to be obvious reasons. Anyway, this might be the point where a lot of people’s gross-out-impulses would war with their good intentions, but I never had this problem; I am not squeamish at all when it comes to periods and never have been, so my period and me coexisted pretty blissfully for nearly four years. I just made sure to rinse the pads well with cold water in the bathroom sink, and I added a little vinegar and borax to the load of towels I washed them with. Leaking and smelling like a big old period were never big problems for me except on really long days (like working open to close), but I just brought a ziploc bag and kept the dirty pad in my purse until I could get home (again, a more-easily-disgusted person might have had a problem with this, but I somehow managed). My circumstances changed slightly when I moved to Louisiana for graduate school. I started spending a lot more time away from home (twelve-hour days two or three times a week is not unusual for me), and I realized that the heat and humidity in Mississippi is, in fact, not the closest thing to hell on earth. Here’s where I’m going to get gross, so steel yourselves: things got swampy in more than just one way after moving to Louisiana. I started spending more time outside (sitting and talking to kill time between classes, going to get coffee, walking from class to class), and I grew increasingly disgusted by the feeling of a wad of cloth between my legs. When a classmate mentioned her menstrual cup, I did some more research online and realized two things: 1) a menstrual cup is not something I can make for myself at home, and 2) I should probably just suck it up and buy one anyway because they sounded pretty legit. After dragging my feet and debating between the Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and Keeper for much longer than was really necessary, I ordered the Diva Cup with Amazon Prime free two day shipping and waited anxiously by my front door because 1) everyone loves getting mail, and 2) it May in Louisiana and things were getting swampier by the second.
Ingredients (provided at lunapads.com)- “The DivaCup is made of a high quality, soft healthcare grade silicone that starts as a liquid. The molecules are then bound together (or vulcanized) with very high heat to form a solid stable piece of silicone (similar to the feel of soft rubber).The DivaCup is cured after production in an oven at a very high temperature to make sure all the molecules are bound and “chain linked” together. Since the end product is a solid material yet flexible and durable, there is no possibility for anything to leak into the body (no leaching). ”
Some great things about this product:
1. It’s Latex-free, BPA-free, and plastic-free
2. It’s free of dyes, colors and additives.
3. Unlike tampons, it doesn’t create unnecessary waste!

Product Description (provided at divacup.com) -”The DivaCup is a non-absorbent menstrual cup that simply collects menstrual flow. It is inserted in the vagina and sits at the lower base of the vaginal canal. It is worn internally, yet because it is soft and smooth, it cannot be felt nor will it leak when inserted properly.The DivaCup is the most clean and convenient method of feminine hygiene protection. No need to touch the flow. It is worn low in the vagina, not near the cervix, so it is easy to remove. No mess!The DivaCup ends hassles with unreliable disposables in endless absorbencies, shapes and styles. It is perfect for all activities – giving women true freedom without the worry, guessing and unreliability that disposable feminine hygiene products pose.

The DivaCup can be worn for up to 12 hours before emptying, washing and reinserting for use for another 12 hours. It can be used for light or moderate flows and is emptied more often to accommodate heavy flows. Perfect for overnight use.

The DivaCup’s expert, proprietary, patent-pending features make it comfortable and assures ease of use and reliability. Perfect for traveling, running, biking, hiking, dancing, camping, swimming, diving, scuba, yoga, extreme sports and more…”

Price – Around $30
Performance – I’m not sure if I could be happier with the Diva Cup’s performance. At first, like with tampons, it was hard for me to forget I was wearing it. But after trimming the stem of my cup a tad (it was a little too long), and figuring out how to put the cup in correctly every time, I honestly do forget I have it in. I’ll admit that, like with tampons, my cramps may be slightly worse on the first day, but the silicone that the cup is made from feels a lot like skin, and is consequently much more comfortable than a hard, dry wad of cotton. The only minor issue I encountered was the initial process of learning to insert the cup properly, but having used it successfully for three full cycles, I can now say with confidence I’ve gotten the hang of it. (And, to be honest, I used tampons for years and never felt like I was doing that right, so I guess by comparison the Diva Cup is much easier to use.) The trick with the Diva cup is getting the seal right, so being comfortable with the necessary repositioning and fooling around down there is key. Whereas with tampons I was just sticking them in and hoping for the best (maybe not the a great strategy, I’ll admit), inserting the Diva cup properly requires a basic understanding of your own anatomy. You fold the cup easier insertion, then make sure it unfolds properly to cup the cervix (rather than getting stuck, still folded, beside it, which was my biggest problem at first). The cup comes with instructions that are pretty helpful, but I had the best luck with using the cup on a day when I was mostly hanging around the house and had the freedom to spend a bit of time in the bathroom figuring the whole thing out. Now that that whole learning process was out of the way, I’ve had absolutely no problem with leaking whatsoever. To illustrate, I’d like to point out that I just spent a long weekend out of town involving  sitting in the car for hours, using public restrooms, sleeping on friends’ couches and sofa beds, and getting all dressed up. I was never uncomfortable or concerned about bleeding on my clothes or smelling like a period. Dumping the cup in the toilet and rinsing it in the sink was heaps easier than figuring out what to do with a cloth pad or worrying that a tampon would clog the toilet or smell up the bathroom if left in the trash can. I was never one to sleep in tampons, but I slept in  my Diva cup (quite comfortably, and in leggings without underwear because I forgot to pack enough, I might add) with no problem whatsoever.
Rating– 10/10. I haven’t been this excited since I discovered Netflix.
Would I purchase this item again? Actually, I just purchased a second one as a birthday gift for Dawn! (I’m not spoiling any surprises, she knows she’s getting one.) According to Divacup.com, I should replace my own Diva Cup around once every year, but various online sources report using the same cup for up to ten years. I’m not sure when mine will need replacing, but when it does, I certainly plan on buying another one.