Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taking the dive into Diva-ness: My review of the Diva Cup

What came in the box: The diva cup,
instruction manual,
handy little pouch, and a Diva Pin!

I’ve never felt so close to my vagina as the first time I pushed and pulled a small silicone cup full of menstrual blood out of it, poured it out, cleaned the cup with soap and warm water, folded it, reinserted it, and ran my (clean) finger around the perimeter of the cup to make sure it was properly placed and unfolded completely.

The Diva Cup has been around for about a decade, but menstrual cups have been around far longer than I had realized- according to Wikipedia, there are patents for menstrual cups as early as 1867, and one of the earliest bell-shaped menstrual cups was patented in 1932. Apparently many early versions were made of rubber, but due to the hypoallergenic and non-porous properties of medical-grade silicone, it has become a popular material for the products to be made out of. MeLuna, a German brand, produces the only menstrual cup made from Thermoplastic Elastomer, also known as TPE. Personally, I prefer silicone, and that’s part of why I went with the Diva Cup. There are also disposable versions of menstrual cups, but part of the reason why I’m using one to begin with is to bring down the environmental impact, wastefulness, and expense of buying, using and throwing out menstrual pads and tampons every month.

As I’m writing this, I’ve just become comfortable enough with my ability positioning the diva cup to wear it without having a pad in case of slight leakage (which there had been, at first, but very slightly- most of the blood was in the cup but a little bit would leak around the edges). It is the 4th day of my period; I’m fairly proud with my progress on that front, I was considering getting re-usable pads before my next cycle to use in tandem with my Diva Cup up until this point; now I don’t really think I need to worry about that.

It’s true that there’s a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to the diva cup; there are two options for folding they give you, you have to insert it a certain way, turn it, slide a finger in and stretch your vaginal wall a little bit to make sure it sits right… reading the instructions was admittedly a little overwhelming for me at first. Surprisingly, though, it all becomes second nature easily and it has been taking me less and less time to perform the ritual each time I do. I only had to read the instructions the first time inserting and first time removing, and I’ve been fine since.

My history as far and menstruation has been pretty straightforward- at 14, I got my period for the first time and used the same old pads my mom bought, which were usually super thick night-time Kotex brand pads, because they lasted longer. I’ve never used tampons, the whole toxic shock thing has always been terrifying to me and at that age, myself and my vagina didn’t talk (I didn’t know very much about my anatomy at the time, and my clit was much more easily accessible for pleasure, as far as I was concerned).

The HumanGear 1.25 oz.
Silicone GoToob I use
to house my Seventh Generation
Free and Clear soap to
Clean my Diva Cup. 
I’ve always had issues with pads. They’re uncomfortable- they were bulky, and the plastic lining always made my inner thighs chafe terribly, the pads always dried out my labia, and I’m pretty sure whatever chemicals they used in the pads to scent them and bleach them were also irritating me. Pads never look appealing- menstrual blood crusts up on them, you end up sitting in moisture when your flow is heavy, it’s all very unpleasant. Over time, I found natural options- Natracare, an organic cotton, non-bleached kind of pad, became my go-to. I’ve also used Wholefood’s generic 350 organic cotton pads with success. Both have been very comfortable natural alternatives that made my pad experience much better, and I’d suggest them if you’re dead-set on using pads, but I had heard a year or two ago about menstrual cups and found myself very curious. I read things about how people who used them found them empowering, and they felt closer to and more accepting of their body and it’s natural functions- not to mention the environmental and economic bonuses were very attractive to me.

I hadn’t gotten around to getting a Diva Cup for myself until recently because I was doing exactly what I tell customers at my store they shouldn’t do- the Diva Cup was more expensive than regular ol’ pads, so instead of saving up to get the longer-lasting, all around better but more expensive option, I was buying the cheap stuff over and over again. It’s pretty self-evident that buying something that’s more expensive but will last longer saves your money in the long run and usually does its job better- that goes for everything from vibrators to menstrual products to kitchen knives. It’s just how things go. So I had a little extra money a couple paychecks ago and took the dive into Diva-ness. I knew it would be a good decision before I even made it, and it has certainly proven to be.

For a very long time, I’ve been ashamed of getting my flow, my period, shark week, a visit from Aunt Flo, whatever you want to call it. I’d hide my pads and shuffle awkwardly when I placed them incorrectly or they shifted around. I hid underwear that got blood stains all over them and kept them so I wouldn’t ruin other pairs of underwear. I hid my used pads shamefully as far into the trash as I could so no-one would realize I was menstruating.

This month, I’ve been talking to everyone about the Diva Cup and how great it has been for me. I’ve been excited to experience my period, even when I was experiencing the excruciating pain that usually comes with my first day or two. I’m proud of my body functioning as it should, and I think everyone should be, honestly. This body happiness and proudness is exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to achieve through promoting sexual health and proper use of sex toys, lubes, and safe conduct while exploring different fetishes and things like BDSM.

I fully support any female-bodied person who experiences menstruation to use a Diva Cup or any other menstrual cup. If you’re tired of buying things just to bleed on them and throw them out, if you’re tired of being uncomfortable and doing the ‘pad shuffle’ because your pad is soggy or mis-aligned, tired of putting chemicals near or in an orifice that will certainly introduce them into your body, and you want to be more comfortable with your body and its completely normal, natural functions, you should definitely consider trying one.  

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