"Ever since getting married, my husband and I have been more cognizant of our environmental impact. We started making changes in our daily lives by tackling the low-hanging fruit, buying local food for example. Despite feeling good about the improvements we made, I was always plagued by the large amount of waste produced as a result of my monthly period. If I had simply performed a quick Internet search on keywords such as ‘reusable feminine hygiene products’ I would have found a solution, but feeling overwhelmed and slightly apathetic towards the problem, I failed to do anything. Regardless, this was one aspect of my life for which change was very welcome, but I apparently needed a little information and motivation. During one of our Pierpont lunch dates with Darshan, I mentioned my personal struggle and of course Darshan had a suggestion—The DivaCup. He described it to me as he understood it, but I was somewhat skeptical of a man’s perspective (no offense, Darshan!).
Now that I had the information, I started polling my girlfriends to get the motivation. Conveniently enough, my best friend heard a testimony from a mutual friend and was on day one of using her menstrual cup (The DivaCup). She assured me that her experience with it was comfortable and quite convenient, but I didn’t stop polling my friends. I discovered that another friend of mine had been using the same menstrual cup (also The DivaCup) for almost three years. So I learned that not only do these women like it, the reusability factor is high!
For the first time ever, I was excited to start my period (!) so I could try using a menstrual cup. There are multiple brands of menstrual cups and other alternatives to sustainable feminine hygiene, but I decided to go with The DivaCup since that is the product for which I had data. I ended up purchasing mine at Whole Foods for $36. Upon purchasing, I discovered that The DivaCup comes in two sizes, the larger size being for women who are over 30 or have given birth (both the same price).
The DivaCup comes with useful and easy-to-understand instructions...
- “Step 1: Prior to insertion, thoroughly wash your hands and The DivaCup for 15-20 seconds with warm water using The DivaWash or a mild, unscented soap. Press the sides of the cup together and then fold it in half again forming a tight “U” shape. OR place a finger on the top rim of the cup and press it down into the center of the inside base to form a triangle.” Okay, that’s reasonable.
- “Step 2: With one hand, hold the folded sides firmly together with your thumb on one side and your four fingers on the other side just below the top rim of the cup.” Easy.
- “Step 3: Take a comfortable position: standing, sitting on the toilet, or squatting. Relax your vaginal muscles. Gently separate your labia with your opposite, free hand. Insert The DivaCup into the vagina aiming it horizontally towards your tailbone. The DivaCup will open before it is completely inserted; however, continue to insert towards the tailbone until the stem is even with the vaginal opening and does not protrude. DO NOT push the tip of the stem further than ½ inch into the vagina. Inserting The DivaCup too high may cause leaks, and may also make removal more difficult.” Okay, so there is a slight learning curve.
- “Step 4: Grip the base of the cup (not the stem) and turn the cup one full rotation (360 degrees) in either direction or insert the cup about half way, turn the cup one full rotation and then push it in the rest of the way. It must rotate easily as this ensures that it is fully open and that it is positioned horizontally towards your tailbone. You can also make sure the cup is completely open by inserting a finger into the vagina and gently pressing on one side of the vaginal wall to create space for the cup to fully open.”
The entire average monthly flow (according to The DivaCup instructions) is approximately 1 to 1.4 ounces, and The DivaCup holds one ounce. My period is heavy the first two days, so to be conservative I checked it whenever the opportunity presented itself (when I was in the bathroom). For convenience, my friends suggested wiping the cup with toilet paper if I happened to be in a public restroom. This idea appealed more to me than washing the cup in a public sink. I would like to share some lovely prose from the instructions on how to remove the cup because I doubt that I could provide such a wonderful mental image. “Before removing the cup, you should thoroughly wash your hands and then in a comfortable position, either standing, sitting on the toilet, or squatting with your buttock resting on your heels, bear down in a series of gentle downward pushes with your abdominal/pelvic floor muscles (as if you were having a bowel movement).” Next, you pull the stem horizontally until you can pinch the base of the cup, and squeeze the cup gently to release the seal. Honestly, I was nervous that I might spill the contents everywhere and leave the bathroom looking like a crime scene, but this turned out to be surprisingly easy. I simply flushed the contents down the toilet and continued on with my day.
Overall, my experience with The DivaCup was positive. I found it to be comfortable and quite convenient, and I did not experience any leakage (another one of my concerns). The instructions answered the remainder of my questions. Because it is made of silicone, the cup is very durable. The lifespan of the cup varies depending on factors that vary for each woman, but a general guideline is to replace it once a year. Also, women using IUDs should consult with their physicians before using The DivaCup.
Switching to a menstrual cup was a major routine change since I had used pads and tampons from the age of twelve. I am more than happy to accept this change in my life, and my only regret is that I didn’t make more of an effort to learn about my options earlier!"