I guess I’m hopping on another trend that I’ve seen around the internet. I think I first heard about it and researched it a year ago but never took the plunge. But those damn pesky Instagram ads started targeting me a lot recently and I’m ashamed to say at long, long last, they won… not for the poor brand that targeted me though, haha.
I am also trying to be more environmentally conscious so making the switch to a menstrual cup has been on my mind for a while now. DivaCups seems to be the OG menstrual cup with thousands of glowing reviews. It just so happened that they were only $33 on Bed Bath and Beyond and I had a 20% off coupon. So I finally got one.
I’m typically a tampon girl except on the night of day 2, where I’ll wear a maxi-pad to prevent leakage, since day/night 2 is usually the heaviest flow day for me, so I figured it should be an easy transition.
I got the Model 2 because it’s the recommended model for women who are aged 30+ or have had children. I haven’t had children, so I guess there’s no pretending I’m 21 for the n-th time now :p
These are my thoughts having used it for my most recent period.
It was cute and perfectly sized for the little instructions booklet, a small pouch and the DivaCup itself. As it’s a feminine hygiene product, it says clearly on the package that it’s not returnable.
I boiled the DivaCup in water for 10mins per the instructions, as well as hand washed the pouch with warm, soapy water. Then I let both air dry (the pouch on my clothes rack, the DivaCup just on top of a paper towel) before putting the DivaCup into the pouch and storing it away with the booklet until my period was due.
When the time came to use it, I washed my DivaCup with warm, soapy water (and washed my hands, obv) before inserting it. Honestly, it wasn’t bad. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would and most importantly it did not hurt as I thought it might. I did cry out in surprise the first time because um, you kinda have to… push it into yourself, which I am not used to doing (I use tampons with applicators ok?) but you know, once it was in, it really wasn’t bad.
I think I used a hybrid between fold options 1 & 2 and just squished it together and shoved it in. It went up surprisingly easily but I struggled to do the whole ‘turn it around so it locks’ thing. I don’t know how you’re supposed to turn it 360° inside you; any time I try to turn it, it’s already on so tight it won’t turn. I’m pretty sure that means it’s sealed, but I still get a finger inside to check it’s open all the way. It didn’t leak so that’s all that mattered.
It really is very comfortable to use once it’s in and you don’t notice it. Although I did feel it initially because the stem was poking into me. I adjusted it gently and voila. It didn’t take me long to realise the stem should be facing forward and slightly upwards (following the curve of your vagina), so that when you sit down the stem is in a position where you don’t feel it at all.
Honestly the first time I tried to take it out to empty it… was an ordeal. I tried to get it out on my own, no luck. Read the instructions, tried to follow them – no dice. After about 10min I deferred to Google and other reviewers and other menstrual cup help pages. Nothing seemed to be working.
I just could not get a good enough grip on the stem to pull it out far enough to be able to grip the base. It was just so slippery! After 15min I was starting to mildly panic but lo’ and behold! Somehow, after wiggling and changing positions and wiggling and pushing and whatever else I don’t recall doing, it finally came out enough for me to grip the base and get it out.
Honestly that was not fun. I had a headache and wanted to go to sleep and still needed to shower and I just did not appreciate losing 15min to trying to get the damn thing out, not to mention the emotional distress it caused me during an already emotional time of the month.
The second time (taking it out the next morning) was mildly better but it still took a good 4-5mins. The third time took about 2-3mins, which was better. I made the mistake of thinking it would be full, so took it out around 5:30pm. And because I did not want to deal with the fuss of trying to get it out again before bedtime I decided to just use regular tampons for the rest of the day, and switch out to my Diva Cup again at night.
By day 3, though, having done hours more research on how to get the darn thing out, I learned that 1) Kegel exercises help, 2) wetting your fingers with water also helps, and so 3) taking it out in the shower is probably easiest.
It turns out that if you use your inner muscles to push it out whilst gently pulling on the stem and guiding it out with your fingers… the whole thing comes out far enough for you to just grip the base almost outside of your vagina – as in, no more trying to stick your fingers in to fish it out, your fingers barely need to go in to get a good grip this way.
Once the base is out, just press on it to release the suction and pull the whole thing out. I did this in the shower with one foot on the side of the bathtub (much better angle than having a foot on the toilet) and it literally came out in seconds. I suppose it also helped that I was far more relaxed in the warm water, but honestly…
Relax, and push. (Sounds like I’m training for childbirth.)
I love that I can just leave it in there for 12hrs and just get on with life. Because there’s no string that pokes out from the bottom, I can also just do my business in peace without having to worry about keeping the string to one side or changing the tampon every other time I use the bathroom. This is especially helpful when I typically need to use the bathroom fairly often on day 1, depending on how bad my cramps are, and is great for cutting down tampon wastage.
I did worry for a second that it may be coming out from um… pushing, when I was pooping, but I needn’t worried. It stayed in there very securely and there was no leakage at all.
I’m also very impressed by how much liquid it can hold. Like, seriously. On the day of my heaviest flow, I thought it would be full by 5:30pm so I took it out to empty it. Upon taking it out, however, the cup was barely even half full on the day that is usually so heavy I go through a Tamax Super every 2-3hrs.
Finally, it stays very clean after a mild soapy rinse, and doesn’t stink at all. At the end of my cycle, I’ll just boil it in hot water again and put it back in its pouch ready for next time.
The removal. Read section above if you haven’t already. The entire thing is a disadvantage. Also, this kinda goes without saying but is still worth saying: you may literally have to dig your fingers into your vagina to fish it out. And that means getting whatever lady-fluids you have in there all over your fingers.
The good thing is I have now learned exactly how to remove it without freaking out or taking forever but it took an entire 3 days and many, many hours of research as well as a good hour of trial-and-error. If you want to avoid this pain, click here to read what I learned.
When I used tampons before, getting my blood onto my fingers would gross me out quite a bit. Thanks to the DivaCup, I am now intimately acquainted with my period blood on a level I never wished to be, but thankfully I’m now no longer grossed out, so I guess that’s a… good… thing…? In a way? If you have a really weak stomach though, it may not be for you.
Final Thoughts & Do I Recommend It?
I have to admit I almost considered giving up given the difficulty of removing it the first few times, and in all honesty I did give up for an evening, but now that I’ve finally figured out how to remove it without physical or emotional pain or it taking forever (barely takes 15 seconds now!), I have to admit I love it.
I love that I can literally leave it in and not even need to think about it again until evening or the next morning. It is so comfortable; I don’t feel it at all, and I can just get on with my day without worrying about leaking or changing it out regularly for fear of toxic shock syndrome or whatnot.
Most of all, I love that it replaces the pads that I always wore at night or on my heavier days just in case my tampon overflowed. Pads irritate my skin like crazy and the fact that I never have to use them again is just such a big win. The cup has such a large capacity that even on my heaviest days/nights, it has been absolutely fine to leave in for the entire 12hrs.
I am definitely on the “why didn’t I try this earlier” boat but at the same time, I’m glad I purchased it shortly after my 30th birthday, meaning I don’t need to buy a new one just because I’m older. The amount of money it’ll save me from not having to buy tampons or pads again is also a huge, huge plus. I’ll still keep the existing tampons I purchased in my cabinet for friends who come to visit and may need some.
If you decide to try it, I don’t recommend you try it for the first time on days you get cramping. Getting it out for the first time, regardless of how much research you do, will be tough, so when you’re in pain and just need to sleep, the last thing you want to be doing is spending 15-20min trying to get it out to empty it first. This is even more true if you are typically a pad user, since your learning curve is likely to be steeper.
Do try removing it for the first time in the shower though. You may even want to try using it for the first time at night (put some pads on too, just in case) so that when you wake up the next morning you have time and energy to faff around trying to pull it out, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.
As for me, I’m a menstrual cup girl for life now, and I fully recommend making the switch if you’re considering it.