This isn’t my usual kind of product review. It’s not really sexy, per say, but it is vagina-related… The Diva Cup.

M1-M2-boxes

Image from DivaCup.com

If you’ve never heard of the Diva Cup, or any reusable menstrual cup, the basic idea is that it’s a hygienic, reusable menstrual product designed to be more body-friendly than cotton tampons. I chose the Diva Cup as opposed to other brands like the Moon Cup because I was in Whole Foods and hey, there it was. I was not provided a Diva Cup to review. I just really, really love it.

So, why a menstrual cup? Isn’t it sort of gross? How is that thing comfortable? How do you put it in?

I’ve been a tampon user since I was around 14 or 15, when I finally got sick of using pads. Luckily, I grew up in a pretty open household, and was educated on the evils of scented menstrual products. Fragrances can seriously irritate the skin and natural, healthy flora of the vulva and vagina. What I didn’t know was that even unscented tampons can be irritating to the vagina.

Think about it. The vagina is naturally a damp place. It’s supposed to be. Natural lubrication keeps the muscles and mucous membranes happy, healthy, and ready for action. A dry vagina is an uncomfortable vagina. So why was I sticking wads of cotton up there for so long? Convenience.

I’d known about menstrual cups for  a few years, but I was always put off by the idea. Tampons are so readily available, and just so easy. If you leave home without one, odds are good that a friend has one, and if not, you can swing by any convenience store and grab a box. I’d read that you had to clean menstrual cups, and that just didn’t seem appealing. What I didn’t realize is that these cups actually hold a lot of liquid, and they can safely hold it for around 12 hours, much longer and more reliably than your average tampon. So, in an effort to further green my life (how much waste must tampons produce?!), I picked one up the weekend before we left for Germany.

And I am so glad that I did! While some people experience a learning curve with these guys, I found it pretty immediately easy to use. I started using it when I was just spotting, and it was still comfortable to wear all day. The silicone is much, much squishier than I originally anticipated, making it much easier to slide in. To insert, you pinch the cup so that it lays flat, like a mouth, then pinch it again, so that it forms a V or a U. Holding it in that position while inserting is the most difficult part, but for me, it only took two attempts to insert it, and I like to place mine so that the end of the stem (which makes removal easier) is just inside the vagina. Once the sides pop back out into place, it’s sealed, and you shouldn’t experience any leaks. This is where different models come in, though. For me, Model 1 (recommended for those under 35 or who have never experienced vaginal childbirth) was perfect. For some, it can be a bit too small, which is why there is a Model 2. There are also differences in fit between brands, with the Moon Cup being a bit narrower with a longer stem.

When removing it, I definitely think using a private bathroom is the way to go. Because I haven’t had to change mine outside of the house yet, I don’t have any public restroom tips. If I found myself in a position where I would really have to change it in a public restroom, I’d try to plan ahead and at least have unscented baby wipes with me to make the process easier. Basically, you use your kegel muscles to push the cup as far as you can until you can pinch the base to break the seal, empty its contents into the toilet, then rinse it out and clean it before popping it back in. (It was brought to my attention that it’s important to break the seal by pinching the cup before pulling it out, especially if you have an IUD. Thanks, Lauren!) Diva Cup makes special “Diva Wash” and while I’m sure it’s excellent, I’ve had no problems using unscented, paraben-free dish soap, the same kind I use to clean my toys. I would recommend boiling it between cycles, though, just to be sure you aren’t storing it with hidden bacteria.

The DivaCup comes with a silly printed drawstring bag that’s very convenient to use, even though it leaves a bit to be desired as far as subtlety goes. I found mine at Whole Foods for about $35, and it’s said to last for a good handful of years. Quite a bargain, if you ask me!