But because of my crazy early years of menstruating, I've always felt vaguely guilty about the number of pads and tampons I've gone through, kind of like I used up my lifetime menstrual landfill quota sometime in the early 2000s. (As a university student, when things were very bad, I would literally use a $14 pack of pads per week sometimes. Expensive!) Two cycles ago I researched cloth pads on a whim and made myself a stash of pretty pads with snaps, but I didn't particularly like the bulk and the constant soaking/laundry involved. I had heard about menstrual cups a while ago and thought I would pick one up next time I dropped by our local organic foods market. I've never been squeamish about blood (how could I be, with my history?) or about trying new things so there was no apprehension there.
Becoming a Diva I picked up a Divacup (the only brand stocked there) about two weeks ago. Not wanting to spend ten minutes reading the package exhaustively in the middle of the grocery store, I settled quickly on the size 1 even though I'm 30 because -- again, not a virgin -- I know I have fairly tight kegel muscles as I've always had very good bladder control and *ahem* sometimes not really enjoyed sticking things larger than a tampon up there, at least at first. (Not that it's really stopped me doing so, obvs.) On Tuesday I started getting some spotting. It was time!
I hadn't discovered this community yet, so getting the Diva in was something of a comedy of errors. The booklet said to test the cup's suction on the palm of your hand, and that it should release in 2-3 seconds. Well, it wouldn't stick at all so I figured it couldn't be very strong in terms of its grip. So I got the thing in using the C-fold, had it pop open in an uncomfortable position, and yanked it down to try again. Ow. I yelped, folded it a little, and just as it was exiting, it popped again and suctioned onto my labia. Ow. Luckily I kind of enjoy this kind of private slapstick so I was more amused than put off. Anyway, with some more experimenting and a few more in/outs, I got the Divacup in. By this time you can imagine my vag was not amused and I was a little sore, probably having given myself a little tear with my suction antics. In the end, what worked best for me was sitting on the toilet and using the C-fold, inserting halfway, letting the cup pop, and kegeling it up into place. I did have some trouble getting the cup to pop out of the C-fold but the only other method listed in my booklet was the punchdown, which was really uncomfortable. Anyway, it was a qualified success.
I had some time to kill so I surfed the web and found this community, read obsessively, learned quite a bit more about how to get the cup to pop, etc. I was delighted to read about others with a really heavy flow who found the Divacup adequate and even than it could reduce their flow, as this was my hesitation. I had thought that maybe menstrual cups would be like tampons for me - all very well and good for those "normal" people but completely incapable of dealing with my Stephen King periods. But it seemed that maybe this was a good solution after all!
Long story short: thanks to this community, I spent a good part of yesterday reading and poking around in my vag (thanks guys! hahaha...), finding my cervix (who knew it was RIGHT THERE? I was literally a human physiology major in university and I always thought my cervix was, like, MILES AWAY), and mostly being amazed with how well the Divacup was working. It seems that many of you had some trouble finding the right cup but so far, the Diva seems to be doing the trick for me, even the size 1. (Because I'm a pessimist, I ordered the size 2 online yesterday, figuring I might well need it to cope with those extra special days.) I did have to trim the stem a little so it stopped poking me in the vag but otherwise the cup is as comfortable, or more, as any tampon has been. I have had some spotting so I've been wearing a panty liner for back-up but it's usually only the first time I go to the bathroom after reinserting the Diva so I think it's just the blood that made it down my vag while emptying the cup the last time. The Diva has only ever had blood on the inside so it must be sealing fine. I can't tell you how amazing it was to wake up yesterday morning having FORGOTTEN that I had my period, get all the way into the bathroom and remember - oh hey!
I'm like a little kid with this thing. My flow seems to be moderate this time around but I can't keep myself from checking the cup every 3 or 4 hours. It's half paranoia and half amazement, I think, though the cup has only been half full once, on my first night. Luckily I'm getting kind of expert with inserting and removing because of my cup-checking OCD. The 7-fold seems to work best for me, followed by the origami fold.
The rave review bit Amazing things I have never experienced before now, after nearly 20 years of menstruation:
1) Purchasing a menstrual product that actually works as advertised. Before this, I'd always soaked through the biggest baddest overnight pads and tampons and leaked everywhere. (If you think I'm exaggerating with the flow thing -- once I managed to leak through to HALFWAY DOWN MY THIGH. THE FRONT OF MY THIGH. AT SCHOOL.) But the Diva is keeping pace so far. It's AMAZING.
2) Waking up in the morning during my period and *not* doing the desperate dash to the toilet to reenact that bit out of Exodus where the Nile turns to blood.
3) Moving around freely during the day, sitting cross-legged or standing up suddenly or giggling or sneezing, without worrying that my pad is about to get soaked through.
4) Heading to the bathroom in a restaurant and leaving my purse sitting on the chair behind me!
5) Most importantly, trusting my body. In spite of my many gory periods, I can honestly say I've never *hated* getting my period. I've always felt vaguely happy that my body works, if a little betrayed that it doesn't work as advertised sometimes. I've been blessed with a general absence of cramps and, as I say, a lot more regularity the last few years. But with the Diva, I suddenly feel like I can trust my body to menstruate how and when it likes without needing to feel constantly panicked about its schedule and its plans. Heavy day, light day, long period, short period -- this cup is making it so much easier to let go of the control issues and just forget about the details. It's so freeing! Yay!
A Caveat Of course, this period is not yet over and, moreover, seems to be of the "normal" variety. The true Diva test will come when those elevator doors open. If the Diva (size 2) manages *that* as gracefully as it's handled *this*, I will be preaching the cup to the high heavens!