Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For the Love of a Cup

No, don't you dare laugh at the title of this post. I really do love my diva cup. It has changed the way I feel about menstruation. At one point, far too long ago, I promised to tell you about menstrual cups. Well, recent events have reminded me about that, so here we go. (yes, you interpreted that correctly, I finally have good ol' AF back!)

Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions:
  • Yes, I know it looks like a funnel. I promise, it's not a funnel--there's no hole in the bottom. That 'stem' is a handle that facilitates getting it back out...
  • Yes, it looks pretty wide, but yes, it will fit in you, even if you're a tiny little thing. I promise. Just think about what else can fit in there...this is not any bigger. I promise.
  • No, it's not hard. Geesh, do you think I'm a masochist?! It's soft and bendy...like surgical tubing or, um, I dunno. Something soft.
  • No, it won't give you a massive hickey when you pull it out. Just give it a little squeeze on the bottom and it breaks the seal and slips out quite easily.
  • No, it doesn't invite infection--you wash it off in warm water between uses, and many women boil it for a few minutes after each period.
And, in case you ever tried "Instead" no, it's not like those. Those never worked for me. this works like a charm.

So here are some real reasons to make the switch:
  • Most women experience shorter periods (mine went from 8 days to 3-4).
  • It's eco-friendly
  • It's economical ($30 will last you 10 years)
  • It requires less attention than disposable options (it only needs to be changed once every 12 or so hours)
  • I can't feel it--I could always feel tampons
  • It will never slide down when full...it might leak after 14 hours on the heavy day of your period because you totally forgot it was in there because you couldn't feel it (not that I would know of course), but it will not slip down and become painful.
I have only one caveat about menstrual cups: if you are uncomfortable with sticking your fingers in yourself, well, this is probably not a good choice for you.

The official menstrual cup reviews page includs reviews of, and links to the diva cup, keeper, moon cup, luna cup, lunette, femmecup, and lady cup. They are all very similar, with the diva, moon cup, and keeper being the most common. (The former two are made with medical grade silicone, and the last of laytex rubber.)

Here is another useful review of the diva cup. (The author is highly amusing, she just favors the use of certain euphemisms for her girly regions, that I, um, don't...)

If you've got questions, post to the comments...you know I have no shame and I'll answer them all!!!
Q~Why the shorter periods?
I don't know of any hard science on this, but I suspect two things: one, the cup collects, rather than absorbing. A tampon can absorb only so much, and then it becomes a dam, holding back any additional flow. The cup allows everything to come down as fast as it wants to (the first day especially). I don't know that the total volume of blood is any different, but it seems to be released more efficiently.
The second thing is that I have heard the hypothesis that disposable menstrual products actually contain chemicals that increase bleeding. Whether this is intentional (to increase sales of the products) or unintentional (because the manufacturing process simply creates a toxic product to begin with) I don't know. I have not been able to find evidence to back this up, but I have heard it repeatedly, and everyone I know who has switched to a cup or to cloth pads has reported a shorter period afterward.
Q~Does it really last 10 years? The site says to replace it yearly.
Well, I've had mine for about 3 years...of course, I only used it for about 6 months before getting pregnant. I had heard 10 years from several sources...I've never heard 1. I suspect there is some potential for the cup to wear or crack or something, so they recommend replacing annually as a preventative measure...but I sincerely doubt that it's really necessary to replace that often. For myself at least, I fully expect mine to last 10 years or more...but that's partly because I won't be using it every month during that time due to babies. :)
Q~ What do you think of the diva wash they offer on the site?
I don't know, I've never tried it. I am pretty happy with warm water and a little mild soap + boiling it occasionally...
Q~what if you have a IUD to prevent pregnancy. Do these interfere with those at all (as in knocking them out of place)?
I'm not 100% certain where the IUD sits...but I believe the IUD is "intra-uterine" right? So no, it would not be a problem. The cup sits below the cervix, in the vagina--not up in the cervix and certainly not in the uterus. ☺


TopHat said...

hmm... I wonder what the science is about the shorter periods. That's something that interests me (well, the eco-friendly part does, too, of course).

Samurai Mom said...

Shout out for the Diva Cup. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

Becky said...

This is funny. I was thinking about posting about my menstrual cup soon. Your post is more newbie-friendly than mine would have been, I think.

I wanted to add that I've experienced shorter periods, as well. It's such a gift. I love being able to "set it and forget it", so to speak (like you said, changing it only a couple times a day). It almost feels like I'm not even on my period, most days, which is such a relief from past habits. I've always hated the way pads feel, and the tampons were such an annoyance and often irritating.

Although I do have to contradict you about the cup slipping and becoming painful. Since I've started using mine again now that AF came back only 4 months after the birth of my newest baby, I've had a little bit of issues with it. I'm not great about doing my kegels regularly, and it has made a difference for the negative with the use of the cup. If I sit for long periods of time- say, in a crosslegged position- when I stand up I do indeed notice a very distinct, slightly painful pinching from the cup sliding down just enough to be an annoyance. Still, I know it's something that can be resolved with proper exercises. And even with that issue, it's still a MILLION times better than every other option I've used in the past. Love love love it!!

Brightonwoman said...

I guess I should add (here in the comments, where it's safe, and won't scare anyone!) that 3/4 of the people I know who bought a diva cup got pregnant the month afterward (ie, they only got to use it one cycle before getting pregnant).
Thus it appears a fairly effective means toward conception..........

amy said...

Thanks for the comment over at my blog.

Just another tip, there's a way to set up your blogger account so that you get an email every time someone comments. That way if you wanted to switch off your comment moderation you could. Email me if you want me to walk you through it. momaloy(at)gmail(dot)com.

Becky said...

How have I not heard about this? (Probably because I haven't had a normal period in almost two years, I guessing.) I'm gonna have to try this one out!

Memarie Lane said...

I can't even use tampons because I can't stand the invasion. Bleh.

Carolyn said...

I'm so glad to hear they're not like instead! I used that for a while and didn't like them at all. As soon as we have an extra $30 lying around, I am so buying one.

Jessica said...

I have to say, I'm pretty sqeamish about reaching in that area - I got up the guts to try Instead once and that was enough - but I really didn't have a problem with the Diva Cup. The stem comes down far enough that you really don't have to go in very far. I was asked once if I would get blood all over my fingers from reaching in and the answer is "No way!" The cup contains all the blood very nicely and you just dump it out in the toilet!
As far as the expense, I just waited to get it until I was out of tampons and was gonna have to get something anyway. It really is a great investment.

katef said...

Another cup lover here too... can't believe I went so many years putting up with tampons and surfboards.... even cloth pads are no match for the ease and comfort of my diva cup!

Lisa said...

Oh, this was very informative. I've only started to hear about these in the last few weeks. I'm definitely going to look into this. Thanks a lot! I'm off to click on your link to the euphemism lady (a little nervous about that).

KLJ said...

I think I'm pretty well convinced by now. It sounds like just what I need! Too bad I'm not ovulating again yet (NOT!). :) I do have a couple questions, though. The diva cup site says to replace your cup yearly. Do you do that or are they really made to last 10 years, as you said? Also, have you tried the diva wash that the site talks about? It seems like it would be good stuff too...

Brightonwoman said...

KLJ, I edited your questions (and my responses) into the main post.

asnipofgoodness said...

I can't believe I am 44 and have never even heard of this before!!!

Aprillium said...

Ok, since I'm done having kids I have a question that you may not have the answer to... what if you have a IUD to prevent pregnancy. Do these interfere with those at all (as in knocking them out of place)?

Mommy Bee said...

I'm not 100% certain where the IUD sits...but I believe the IUD is "intra-uterine" right? So no, it would not be a problem. The cup sits below the cervix, in the vagina--not up in the cervix and certainly not in the uterus. ☺

Aprillium said...

I just know that there are "strings" that go down into the cervix so that when the time comes the OB can easily remove it. I will have to do some homework. thanks though! Good thoughts :)

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