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Hello all, I'm looking into getting a cup for any number of reasons (desire to be more eco-friendly, travel ease, the cost of pads/tampons, etc.), but I have a few questions. My sister has been using a Diva for the past year and absolutely loves it but I'm not sure if the Diva would be the right choice for me. (Apologies if it seems like you've answered all of these questions  before!)

A few of my questions/concerns:
  • I'll be studying abroad in the British Isles from August to December of this year. I'll be travelling with about thirty other people (six guys but otherwise women). We'll be staying in many different places from hotels to cottages to college housing. How feasible would it be to maintain the cleaning on a cup whilst travelling in a group setting where I wouldn't necessarily have my own kitchen/pot/etc.?

  • For the Diva (in particular though others as well), the website says to only clean it with water or the Divawash. How strict is that? Because if I were to get a Diva, I don't think I'd really be able to bring Divawash with me through customs. I don't mind if I have to pick up something over there.

  • I'm twenty (on April 24th), a virgin, and have only been using tampons for the past four or five years. I can insert one finger easily but two is less comfortable (from the last time I checked which was a while ago). Do you think these would affect using a cup? Because I'm not entirely sure what size to look for (other than the smaller size with the Diva).

  • Tampons are sometimes irritable, especially when inserting or removing. This might be due to the fibers involved. In your experiences with cups, are they more comfortable than tampons? (I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this question but I figured I'd raise it anyway.) I'd like something that allows the ease of movement that tampons do but without the discomfort. I also have only used tampons with applicators (both cardboard and plastic, which kills the eco-friendly side of me) and I'm not entirely certain how similar the application process tends to be. The Diva website said that the user manual is more in-depth than the online explanation.How similar/different are the application processes (cup v. tampon)?

  • Of the cups I've looked into, I'm interested in the Diva, Fleur, and MeLuna. (Part of the thought with the Diva is that I can drive five miles to a Whole Foods Market and pick it up now instead of waiting for it to ship.) I've looked at some of the charts but one thing I can't quite figure out is the comfort aspect. I know that it'll be different for everyone but before I, on my univ. budget, make a purchase, I'd like to know as much as possible. Comparison thoughts or cup suggestions?

I'm currently on my period (which is why I'm kind of leaning toward the Diva because I'd love to start using a cup as soon as possible). Any tips, comments, suggestions are welcome and appreciated! Thanks, everyone!

Edit: I've just ordered a medium Meluna with a ball stem. Thanks for all your advice and help, everyone!
Serpent: neutralserpent_849 on March 29th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
-i was also a 20 yo virgin when i started using cups. i have never used tampons either. my first one was a small lunette, one of the narrowest and that was good. however, i realized i need a wide cup to fit around my cervix, and already on my next cycle i was using one of the widest cups, a large ladycup. no problems. if you have a heavy flow i recommend taking advantage of a large+small size offer (or getting a meluna - they normally send free samples in a different size). if not, go for something 41-43 mm wide and decide what length you need.
-comfort: i picked a medium stiffness cup as my first one. the others i got are VERY soft but i don't feel any of them. here's a stiffness chart: http://menstrualcupinfo.wordpress.com/cup-stiffness-comparison-chart/ some are sensitive enough that, say, 2 vs 3 makes a difference, but that's quite rare i think. just avoid the stiffest ones like the large lunette etc (though i've seen and squished it at a store in finland - it was much softer than i expected it to be!)

-cleaning: you don't need a kitchen/pot. you'll have access to a sink i'm sure? :D most of the time at least. when you don't, it's fine to just reinsert. also, many simply use water, however i find that it causes staining. i use johnson's baby shampoo and i'm very satisfied. anything is fine if you rinse it well really...you may want to use fragrance-free and avoid the stuff that suggest residue, like "extra moisture" or "antibacterial protection", this is more difficult to rinse off. the company-produced wash is more of a marketing thing. it's also a safe choice for a beginner, especially if you're prone to yeast infections.
for tips on discreet use, check the dorms tag.

-choice: been to the sizecharts yet? it's better to know where your cervix is. if you're sure you can't reach it, a diva is a good choice. if you're not sure where it is, don't get a diva. if you know it's low, don't get a diva.

-tampons: a common mistake is inserting a cup too far. whether you need to insert it as far as you can depends on your cervix position. though you can let it open even before it's in (in my case, as soon as the rim is in! my cervix is VERY low), this works for many high cervix folks as well. also, aim towards your tailbone, not up. oh and there's far more room for experimenting - the ways of folding, facing the fold this or that way, your pose (i don't think it's easy to insert a tampon in the shower?).
Caitmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
I like the look and sound of the Meluna so I think I'm going to go with that. I'm not entirely certain where my cervix is (tried locating it but to no avail) so starting with something smaller than a Diva sounds like a good idea.

The dorms tag is my new best friend. I've actually brought up menstrual cups with two of the girls I live with (my roommate and section mate). They've both heard of them! My roommate said she's used disposables and the other girl said she would use a cup if not for her depression (because she wouldn't be able to keep it clean). I was so excited to get some affirmation on cup use.

As for insertion, I've only ever used tampons with applicators. But you've said it doesn't go that far in? Would the cup then sit closer to the vaginal opening?

Thank you so much for the tips! (I've also never inserted a tampon in the shower. I would just do that at the toilet prior to showering.)
misheymomisheymo on March 29th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
i like my lunette cup--which i think might be comparable to the fleur maybe? i don't use the company's wash with it or with any of the other cups i've had, keeper and diva. i actually use bedroom toy cleaner.
Caitmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
Okay, thanks! I think I'm going to try a meluna first but the fleur might be the second because I do like the way it looks.
Kai: 2Cupskuradi8 on March 29th, 2012 12:30 am (UTC)
Pick the cup that you think would fit you best. http://sizecharts.livejournal.com/

ANY soap is fine -- as long as you rinse all the residue off the cup and your hands. No, you don't have to boil it. Washing sanitizes almost as well as boiling.

If you're comfortable inserting tampons, you probably won't have an issue with cups. Again, an educated guess as to which cup will fit you best will increase your chances of success and shorten the dreaded learning curve as you learn to trust your cup.
Cait: Donna Noble : Fur Coatmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! (And thanks for all the tips you've given! I keep seeing your comments on backlog posts.)
(no subject) - kuradi8 on March 29th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Arrow_Bright: Anne Patharrow_bright on March 29th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
First things first, since you're on your period right now, the first thing you should do it so find your cervix. Reach into your vagina with a finger and feel along the front side for a fleshy lump that feels kind of like the tip of your nose. If you don't have to reach far to find it, you have a low cervix and should look for shorter cups (which would not be a Diva--it's the longest cup available, even the small). If it's difficult to reach (e.g., you have to reach all the way in with your finger to reach it or can't barely reach it), then you're better off with a longer cup like the Diva. If it seems somewhere in between, then a medium length cup. Once you've located your cervix, take a look at the size charts: http://sizecharts.livejournal.com/ Once you've figured out how long or short a cup you need, you can start eliminating brands and picking out the ones that you think would work best.

Other questions:

Cleaning - If you look through the cleaning tags, you'll see that there is no one way to clean a cup. It's really all about personal preferences and convenience. Some people boil their cup between each period, some people boil every few months, and some never boil. So when you're abroad, you don't necessarily have to boil your cup if you don't want to, as long as you clean and rinse it well. If you really want to boil, you could buy a mug or bowl and boil in the microwave, if you have one. There are other methods to disinfect, though, such as the Lunette disinfecting wipes.

Using the company's product is not a strict thing. Personally, I just use Dr. Bronner's natural liquid Castile soap for mine because there's no added glycerin (can cause yeast infections) and no artificial fragrances or dyes (can be irritating), and it's organic (better for environment). You mentioned having a Whole Foods near you. The Whole Foods near my school has a large selection of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, including a 1 oz trial/travel sized bottle that you could probably take with you (also a lot cheaper). You only need a couple of drops for each cleaning, so it would last the whole time. You might also be able to pick up a soap over there.

Virgin & Cup Use - I can't give any personal advice on this because I wasn't a virgin when I started using cups, but I do know that there are several users who are virgins and use cups successfully, even without having used tampons before. I'm guessing a narrower cup would probably be more comfortable, and maybe a not very stiff one as well. You can also check out The Virgin's Guide to Cups: http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/1243131.html

Comfort - This is all personal experience, though this also tends to apply for others as well. For me (and from what I've seen of other users), cups are MUCH more comfortable than tampons, provided you use one that fits you well, of course. Once you get the hang of it, insertion is more comfortable because they slide better (but if not, you can use a water-based lubricant to help it along). Removal is much, much better because you don't have to worry about pulling it out dry, unlike with a tampon (*shudder*).

I think what you're asking is about softness/stiffness. Generally, you feel soft cups less or not at all, while stiffer cups are more noticeable (though not necessarily painful). However, stiffer cups pop open more easily and the seal breaks more easily, while soft cups can need a bit of coaxing. You might want something in the middle or on the softer side.

Cup v. Tampon Insertion - This subject is really up to personal use. There are many different insertion methods. However, for me, I'm able to insert mine approximately the same as I did with a tampon with an applicator. I use the same body position (on the toilet, knees spread, pelvis tilted slightly forward). Once I'm in this position, I fold the cup and insert insert it while gripping bottom half firmly, and push it in until my fingers are slightly in my opening, and then let go. I then push it around a bit and slide it a bit upwards until it's comfortable. It's sort of like a tampon, I guess, except it's a bit more "hands on," I suppose. Of course, like I said, everyone's millage varies on this one.

I hope I've answered some questions! Feel free to ask more!
Caitmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
I actually couldn't quite locate my cervix. I'm not sure if that's because it's high or because I wasn't entirely certain what to look for. I know that my sister uses a Diva comfortably so I'd assume it's higher but I don't want to take any risks so I'll avoid a Diva until I know. I'll be going to my first gyno appointment in the next few months so I'm sure I'll find out them.

I'm glad to see so many options for cleaning. It really lightens up my concern, because when I was first looking at cups, the only thing I saw related to cleaning was the Divawash. I also think it'll be so much nicer to travel with a cup rather than a bunch of tampons and pads while I'm abroad. More space for other things!

Thank you, you've helped so much with my questions! Everyone in this community is so nice and willing to help out! I think I'm going to go ahead and order a Meluna because I like the look and sound of it. It seems like a good investment and, if it doesn't work out, I can always look into another cup! (I am so glad that I got a job this semester even though it's only 8hrs/wk because now I can actually spend money.)

I wish I had more questions to ask right now because I just want to hear everyone's stories and opinions. Thanks again!
Chasechikchasingtides on March 29th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
1. I've been living in and out of Occupy camps since October and have used them in hostels and other group living situations. (I've even gotten my period during a camp eviction and while dealing with cops - and both times I was super happy I was dealing with a reusable cup and not pads.) In group living, I actually find my Lunette easier and more discreet because there's no trash.

2. For cleaning, I've never used more than water. I've boiled it maybe twice in the more-than-a-year that I've owned it. It's super discolored but I've never had a problem with smell or infection. The one time I did, a quick boil in clean water did the trick.

3/4. I was not a virgin when I started using a cup, but I had not (and still cannot) comfortably use tampons. They irritate and cause problems and are generally terrible for me. I can now fit more than a single finger, but when I started using the Lunette, a single finger was a tight fit and I couldn't find my cervix. I went with a small Lunette and haven't looked back. (I rightly assumed that I have a high cervix.)

5. My advice? Don't overthink it. I liked the look of the Lunette - the thin rim, the ridging on the tail, etc. So I went with it. It had a learning curve (I think all cups do) but I went with the one that looked like it would be comfortable inside me and I was, mentally, prepared to use. (And there is a learning curve. It took me about four months to figure out how to position my cup so I don't feel like I need to pee all the time. Now I don't even notice when it's in.)
Cait: Donna Noble : Fur Coatmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
Okay, great. I was hoping a cup would be easier and more discreet because I'll be travelling all over the UK for five months and would like to be able to go without broadcasting my period. (I hate the sound of pad and tampon wrappers so much.)

I'm not the biggest fan of tampons, which is part of why I didn't use them for a long time. But I'd love to get a cup for so many reasons, including the ability to move on from tampons.

Thanks so much. I really like the look and sound of the Meluna so I think I'm going to go order one of those tonight. All of your comments have been so helpful!
Lebannen Luitreath: not quite zenlebannen on March 29th, 2012 10:08 am (UTC)
It's pretty easy to stick a cup in a mug and microwave it for a bit if necessary - when I was living in shared accommodation I only did this the time I dropped my cup in the loo, and usually just scrubbed it in the bathroom sink. These days I have an old toothbrush that I use for cleaning my cup and other small things, and I use the same non-soap fragrance-free cleanser stuff that I put on my face (but if you use an anti-acne product containing banzoyl peroxide, apparently you shouldn't use that on a cup).

If you're travelling for that long you will want to be checking a bag. You can put whatever liquids you like in checked luggage, so the contents of your washbag will not be a problem for security (I'm assuming here that it's security rather than customs that's causing you concern, customs will only care whether you are carrying illegal drugs or too much alcohol/cigarettes without paying import duty). Just make sure you put it in a plastic bag in case the lid comes off something and it leaks everywhere....

One of the best things that I find about using a cup is NEVER GETTING that horrible feeling of taking out a too-dry tampon. It's smooth and easier. Yay.
Caitmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
I've never travelled abroad so I probably got a bit mixed up on the terms. Do you mind if I ask where you're located? (Because you used the term loo and if you're in the UK, I might have some more questions for you regarding products and where to buy hygiene stuff.)

That is a really horrible feeling, I agree. (It happened to me yesterday because I decided to use a tampon whilst going up to dinner and I did not enjoy it.)

Thanks for your tips!
(no subject) - lebannen on March 29th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 10:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lebannen on March 30th, 2012 09:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 30th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ashatenlegspider on March 29th, 2012 11:31 am (UTC)
Not boiling is fine, just let the cup dry completely between periods and store it in something breathable.

Have you tried using lube to help get stuff into your vagina? If you haven't used it before, it's amazing how much is decreases resistance.
Cait: Audrey Hepburn : Holly Golightlymscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Breathable like a small cotton bag? It seems like that's what most people use.

I haven't ever used lube before but I'm not necessarily against it. Is there a particular brand you're fond of?
(no subject) - tenlegspider on March 29th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliiie87 on March 30th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 30th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
gkathi on March 29th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
personally i think that there IS a huge difference between tampons and cups, especially the ones with applicators. while i lived in the us i used them a couple of times and i still remember how surprised i was that i pretty much didnt have to touch myself at all compared to insertion of a non-applicator one.
when using cups you really have to be comfortable with touching yourself and be prepared that especially on the learning curve you might end up 'digging' to get the cup out.
it really isnt a big deal to me but i could understand if some people are not. it's just a personal matter
Caitmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
Alright, thanks for the heads up! I've only ever used applicator tampons but I'm a lot more comfortable with my body now than I was in high school.
karenoh on March 29th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
Cup Thoughts
1) Cups are super easy to travel with! I've had my Divacup for about 7 years, and only needed to boil it in a kitchen pot once or twice over that time. I rinse between insertions, and wash it out with an unscented soap like Dr. Bronner's at the beginning and end of my cycle. Or really, whatever soap or cleanser I have on hand!
2)The website says use DivaWash so they can make more money. Use whatever soap you use for yourself --preferably as natural, unscented and with as few additives as possible.
3)Not sure. You could try a medium or small MeLuna or soft MeLuna. Others probably have additional cup recommendations.
4)Honestly, inserting and removing a cup can be more uncomfortable than inserting a tampon, in my experience. Once it's in, though, I can't feel it at all! Once you get over the learning curve, this will improve.
5)I own a DivaCup, a medium meluna soft, and a medium meluna regular. I highly recommend trying a Meluna. The soft cup will be more comfortable, but also more likely to leak and more difficult to pop open (both pretty annoying downsides). As you might have read, MeLuna often sends a free sample when you order a cup. I would recommend you start with a medium --maybe a small-- MeLuna, not a large. Unless you have a very heavy flow, you probably won't need anything bigger than the MeLuna medium anyway. For what it's worth, my MeLuna (plus free sample) shipped quickly and were worth every penny. The DivaCup is a longer cup, as others have probably pointed out. The holes in the DivaCup are also difficult to clean. The DivaCup worked just fine for me for over 6 years, but now I'm trying out my two melunas in hopes of a bit more comfort. I love the MeLuna ball stem, which pokes less than the DivaCup stem.

Edited at 2012-03-29 07:05 pm (UTC)
Cait: Rose Tyler : Puffy Earmuffsmscaitlinpotter on March 29th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Part of why I want a cup is to help with the ease of travel when I'm abroad. I'm so glad to hear it works pretty well! I think I'm going to go with a medium meluna classic with a ball stem. I really like the look and sound of the meluna. I also like the the look and sound of the fleurcup too but I think I'd like to start with a ball stem though.

(no subject) - karenoh on March 29th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 30th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - karenoh on March 30th, 2012 04:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - serpent_849 on March 30th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mscaitlinpotter on March 30th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)