In case the warning in the title somehow escaped you, this blog post will be about my periods and vagina. So if you’re not interested in or squeamish about the female reproductive organ – well, mine, anyways – then stop now. Here, below are a few links to less “scary” things you can run away to:
For those of you who stuck around, I’m going to talk about why I use the Diva Cup, and why I find it hard to imagine I’d use anything else from now on.
I started using my Diva Cup in August, 2016. Before that, I’d been using tampons for around…nine years, I think? And before that, pads. Thin pads, thick pads, pads with wings, pads without wings, pads that were 36-40cm long…none of which were particularly comfortable.
I wasn’t unhappy with tampons, they were just fine, but then I saw this video from Buzzfeed in which a few Buzzfeed ladies tried out the Diva Cup, and was intrigued.
Before I go into my reasons why I love my Diva Cup, just a little on how I chose mine. The product comes in two sizes: “Model 1, which is recommended for women under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally or by caesarean section. And Model 2, for women age 30 and over and/or for women who have delivered vaginally or by caesarean section.”
When I purchased mine I was 30, but I went with Model 1 anyway because both sizes actually hold the same capacity of 30ml, and the only difference is that Model 2 is 0.3cm bigger in diameter. After clarification from a friend (thanks, Sarah!) the bigger size is to accommodate women whose cervix doesn’t close 100% again post-labour. That makes sense.
So, why do I love my Diva Cup?
1. It’s easy. It’s so easy. It’s in, I don’t think about it, I don’t feel it (most of the time, but I’ll get back to this) and there’s no dampness or the hassle of changing I have to fuss with throughout the day. Literally, if I’m feeling like I’m about to get my period – and ladies will know we often have signs unique to our own bodies we’ve learnt to read – I put her in, and I forget about it. That night when I shower, I find out if I got my period.
There’s no, “oh, better go to the loo to check if I’m bleeding through my knickers.” I know I won’t be.
2. It’s simple to use. It does take a few practice runs, I’ll give you that, but once you’ve found a way that works for you, it’s pretty straightforward. And as long as you take a few moments to check you’ve got it in there right, there’s little to no room for leakage.
Diva Cup officially recommends two ways of insertion, and I go for the “Push Down”. I like that it almost looks a little like a flower, and then I giggle over Monica in Friends talking about giving some guy her “flower”. I push the lip down inside and towards the centre, tuck it half-way into my vagina, and as it goes in your grip has to scoot down towards the base, so the lip pops back up again once you’re not holding it down, and opens up once it’s inside you. Before I push it all the way in, usually to the point where the ridges on the outside by the base is about to get sucked in (and your ladybits do have a tendency to suck this sucker in) I hold on to the base and rotate it 360°, which helps it open all the way up, in case it hadn’t already. After that, I just push it the rest of the way in, until the tip of the stem is about as far in as the first joint of my finger, maybe a touch more.
I like to push my finger in just a bit and run it around the base to make sure it feels like it’s opened up on all sides, and that’s served me well so far in ensuring there are no leaks.
3. You get to know your body and our cycle really well. I always knew my first day is my heaviest day, but now I know I bleed almost the Cup’s full 30ml in the first 24 hours of my period.
As months go by, you also get to know what colour, consistency, ratio of blood and mucus, and smells are normal for your body. I’m not, like, examining my menstrual blood when I remove, rinse, and reinsert my Diva Cup, but you can’t help getting a whiff. I think this is important for ladies. If you ever see something that’s not normal to you, maybe that’s a sign that you need a checkup. And, yes, you see the blood plain and clear when you’re using a tampon or pad, but I think having been absorbed by something alters it a little. And with the Diva Cup, it’s just sitting there, untouched by anything else.
4. It’s so much more comfortable, physically and psychologically, than pads or tampons. With pads in particular, and even with tampons because you don’t always get away with not pairing it with a panty-liner, the days while you’re menstruating can feel really uncomfortable for your labia. Especially in a city with a tropical climate like Hong Kong, where a good chunk of the year is hot and humid, any kind of pad or liner can be irritating to a degree.
Also, even though tampons with a panty-liner was already a huge improvement on pads, the heat combined with (even the thinnest and smoothest) of liners and the string of the tampon can still chafe a little. There was always a day or two after my period wrapped up that my ladybits and the crease along my inner thigh felt slightly raw and itchy.
The Diva Cup is made of healthcare grade silicone with no “latex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, and free of colours and dyes”, it sits inside your vagina and collects the blood, and you don’t need to wear a panty-liner with it; so in most cases, it really doesn’t cause irritation of any kind.
5. Honestly, and I’m not bullshitting you: you can’t feel it. Not a thing. Once it’s in, it’s just hanging out and you don’t feel it inside you. And I guarantee you it isn’t because my vagina is particularly wide; if it was, the Cup would likely fall out! It’s just super comfortable.
The only time I feel it is when it slides and approaches the opening of my vagina, and that would be because it’s almost reached capacity and the weight of the blood it’s collected is making it slide down. In which case, I know it’s time to go to the ladies’ room, duck into the cubicle for disabled persons (for the sink), remove it, dump the blood, clean it up, and back up it goes. I’ve used the Diva Cup eight times so far, and I’ve had to do that once. Every other time, I change it out twice a day: in the morning when I get up, and when I shower at night before bed.
I went hiking through the rainforest in Queensland earlier this year during their summer, and if I was still using tampons, liners or pads, it would have felt disgusting. I could have been breeding a new tropical ecosystem between my legs. Ew. No, thanks.
6. It’s environmentally friendly. As long as you clean it every time you remove it, this is a reusable product. You’re not throwing away countless pads and tampons until the day you no longer bleed.
7. Because the size is right for me and it really can last for 12 hours before it becomes close to being full, I honestly go about my whole day without having to think about it. I reckon this would be great for women who may not always have time to go to the loo to change their pads or tampons. My sister used to work in mines with mostly men, and used the pill to override having her period for cycles at a time. If you’re not keen on that, this could be useful! Or if you’re just super hectic or might be in an area where there aren’t always toilets nearby, the Diva Cup means you don’t have to worry about bleeding through whatever product you’re using.
Also, because I clean it out and pop it back in right before I go to bed, I don’t even have to fuss with nighttime pads, which I still had to do when I was using tampons. Best part about this: I can continue to sleep naked as is my habit even while on my period.
8. I feel a little badass dumping a shot glass of blood down the drain every time I remove and reinsert. “Heh heh heh…hey, yeah, I produced that. You’re not wanted anymore. Sorry, no baby for you, womb. Bye bye, blood, mucus and lining. Until next month!”
So, yeah. That’s why I’m using the Diva Cup, and why I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to other feminine hygiene products.
The only thing worth noting though, is that removal can also take practise. Especially since I also sleep with it in, it can sometimes get sucked further in while I sleep, and I can’t just pull it out when I get up in the morning.
Oh, speaking of removal, I just bear down on my pelvic floor muscles, sort of like if you’re peeing really hard, and it gets pushed out enough that I can grip the ridged base and pull it out. Just don’t do what I did the first time, which is forgetting it’s not a tampon and yank it out with no consideration for gravity. Yep, I dumped a shot glass of blood on my bathroom floor. It looks like a murder scene. A small one, anyway.
So, in the morning, I get up, pee -and the act of peeing gets it back to where it would normally sit if sleeping hadn’t resulted in it sliding further in – and after I pee, I clean up and then removal it just how I described above.
I can see why this product might be difficult to use if you have long nails. I accidentally clipped a bit of my flesh during the turning it 360° stage before, and the pinch can hurt a little; enough for it to be unpleasant. But other than that, I highly recommend giving the Diva Cup, or a similar product a try. It really does make a typically unpleasant time a little easier to deal with. You’re already dealing with mood swings, headaches, exhaustion, being bloated, feeling listless, irritated, sad, angry, and whatever else. If you can not deal with changing pads or tampons, and worrying about dampness or leaking, why the hell not?