? ?
28 June 2007 @ 01:31 am
Hello everyone,
I'm a student of product design and I'm working on a new project -- designing an alternative menstrual product.  

After hearing about menstrual cups from a green site (no impact man -its about a nyc man trying to make no impact to the environment) and finding this forum, I myself have tried a cup (one cycle so far) and think its the best alternative to pads.  So clean!!  (but not yet used to taking it out). 

I told classmates about it, but they don't think it would be easy enough to use.   Generally, I think menstrual cups are intimidating for most women, especially when they aren't too familiar with their vaginas.   heck , even if they are familiar with them!

So I feel like either the cup should be improved, or there should be another alternative that is not as intimidating (easier to insert, easier to remove).  Please let me know, if you gals have any ideas/thoughts about improving the design of the cup.   All ideas and thoughts welcome!  Personally, I wish the tab was thinner, so that didn't have to cut it off.  (I have a hell of a time grabbing the cup, because it goes up really high)

So far this project has been a positive experience.  It feels so freeing to tell guys (my class is 70% guys, many are manly car design majors) about menstruation!  Its fun to hear their suggestions.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  Thanks!
elizabbyelizabby on June 28th, 2007 08:54 am (UTC)
Mmm. I have to say, I think the "intimidating" and "not familiar with the vagina" problems are both psychological, and no design changes can fix those. No matter how easy it is to insert and remove, if someone is too "squeamish" then she won't want to try!

I notice you are on your first cycle with the cup - I found that after the third cycle most of the issues I had with the cup disappeared - I think it was more about my lack of practice than about the shape of the cup!

As for design, I suggest you look at all the different cups on the market before you try designing one yourself. The Lunette in particular has a soft, thin stem which doesn't need to be removed, and holes which are easy to clean.

Probably the best design improvement would be to make them cheaper! It is the initial cost of the cup which seems to stop most people I know being interested in them. :(
beeb2 on June 28th, 2007 09:30 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree with you that the intimidating factor is psychological. Culture has a big effect on this. Many women from Asia are unfamiliar with their bodies, because talking about sex is not as common as it is in Western cultures.

I've looked at the cups and it seems that their isn't much of a difference in them, but I guess the difference is in the small details, that you can't really see from a picture. I would love to buy a lunette, but it is pretty expensive to buy if you're in the US. 30 euros plus shipping is quite a lot for something I'm not sure I would love.

Your comment about the price is totally true as well! The initial investment totally deters potential users! I think the reason why they are so costly is not about the manufacturing cost, but the fact that the cups last so long. Customers don't need to buy more after they have one. Its so sad... Everyone should get to try them. Maybe the companies should give them away to select people around the world, so that they can share their experiences...thereby bringing more customers. ??

Thanks elizabby for your input! You got me thinking about the bigger picture, which is definitely important!

(no subject) - contrary_wise on June 28th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jackieagraciado on June 28th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Just a note, that in general people tend to refer to the "tab" as the stem. ;)

I agree that mostly the reason why a cup is a turnoff to some women is the whole psychological vagina thing and the idea of having to clean the menstrual cup.

When I first saw them I was very intimidated. My first thoughts were there's no applicator and no string to pull it out. Insertion, extraction, and having it stay suctioned are the main complaints on here.
Roslynsontres on June 28th, 2007 11:18 am (UTC)
I wonder if you actually *could* make an applicator... you know, fold the cup up and stick it in some applicator device. I guess it would require lubing the applicator though, which users would probably find annoying. I wonder if that would still be less intimidating for new users though... after all, there'd be less risk of it popping open prematurely and causing pain.
(no subject) - sontres on June 28th, 2007 11:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gemfyre on June 29th, 2007 10:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
Jessicayesca on June 28th, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)
Why don't you tell them what's in tampons and pads? They might be willing to put in a little effort to learn how to use a cup. It's so very easy when you get the hang of it. I think it needs to be a shift in consciousness, not a new design.
Alys Scarlet: mooncup icon by hexengelalysscarlet on June 28th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
I think there's a reason why all the cups are so similar in design - because that's the one that works! No point in re-inventing the wheel. However, I do think the idea of designing an applicator is a good one, if such a thing could be done. If someone could invent one of those that worked, I'm sure it would help first time users and take away some of the 'intimidation' factors.
esthermmesthermm on June 28th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
Are you going to have to design the packaging of the product as well (I don't know your project exactly). If so I would definitely make different instructions and information then the little pamphlet provided with the divacup - I had to read a lot about it to make it work, which is something where not all girls are going to do if they are not comfortable with talking and researching about menstrual products and their vaginas. An extra page with an illustration with all the folds possible maybe?

dialzerodial_zero on June 28th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
The only things I would change about my cup (Keeper) are:

1. I don't like the raised lettering inside the cup that says THE KEEPER. I have to clean the letters with a q-tip.

2. It would be nice if it came stemless! I kept about half the stem on it for the longest time, even though it was sometimes irritating and I didn't need it for removal. I thought there must be SOME reason why the stem is on here. I finally cut it off and found that for me, no stem necessary!
Sarah: divacupflannelgnome on June 28th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
Personally, I wouldn't change anything about my cup except the raised lettering on the inside rim. I don't find it intimidating at all, mainly because the physiological and environmental benefits are so great. I think it's awesome you're helping to educate people-- I say let them know how much waste the average woman generates in her lifetime with disposable products, and how damaging those products can be, and I bet a lot more would be interested in what you have to say!
kitikatz1kitikatz1 on June 28th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
How about a loop?
Ok, many state they can't get the cup out without a lot of fiddling around. I had to cut my Diva cup stem half off so it would not poke me. But I have a bit of difficulty getting the thing out, even when the stem was intact. How about making a loop I could stick my finger through for a better grip? The stem at it's normal length was too short and stubby for me to grab. I kinda have to insert 2 fingers in and pinch it in the "v" to get it down far enough to grab.
Sarasarasnee on June 28th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
Re: How about a loop?
... I do believe that's genius!
Re: How about a loop? - psychethesane on June 28th, 2007 09:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: How about a loop? - gemfyre on June 29th, 2007 10:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: How about a loop? - kitikatz1 on June 29th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: How about a loop? - may1em on July 2nd, 2007 02:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: How about a loop? - daidai_kitty on July 2nd, 2007 05:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
Emilyshakidaisy on June 28th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
I have never used the stem for removal and I cut it off during my first cycle. I feel like if I relied on the pulling on the stem for removal, it would hurt because it would take longer to break the seal. Other than a poking stem, I had no problems with insertion or removal. As someone who has converted friends, I believe that no amount of marketing could inspire a purchase. It takes time to consider buying one, since it's such a personal thing. I have purchased two Diva cups because I wanted to see if the sizing makes a difference. For me, it doesn't, but I'm glad to have two around in case I lose one.
Susanlokte on June 28th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea. As regards to assisting removal, a loop wouldn't help break the seal I don't think. No matter ho hard I pull on my cup it ain't going nowhere if the seal is still intact. Something like a wee pair of tongs would be better, they could squeeze the cup to release the suction and grab it to pull it out. There would probably be more chance of dropping it in the loo though!
Psyche The Sane: find xpsychethesane on June 28th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
Tongs could also help with insertion!! (This is why I was always vice president of stuff but never president. I make a better add-on-to-others'-ideas person than a generate-ideas-on-my-own person.)
exit wound in a foreign nationdyfferent on June 28th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
I love it as it is (mooncup UK, ♥)
jamiehalljamiehall on June 29th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
I'll agree with most here in that the main problems are psychological rather than physical. However, the cups should come with better instructions. This community is a nice place, but if the instructions were perfect they would already contain most of the important things you'd learn by lurking in this community for a couple of weeks - the different folds for starters. I don't know why the instructions emphasize the c-fold so much when it is the one that works the least well.

There was at one point a brand of menstrual cup that had a grabber to help remove it (I can't remember exactly where I read about it) but the company went out of business. Anyway, I expect a grabbing device might make women more likely to buy a cup, but they'd probably throw away the grabber after they learned how to do it with their fingers. No need to carry around a soiled grabber in yet another wet bag.

Maybe one improvement would be a device to tell how full the cup is without removing the cup to look. Maybe an electronic device that looks like a mini-flashlight, and you just shine the beam on the cup bottom to get a reading. I'm sure something like that could be built, I'm just not sure how cost-effective it would be. If it were cheap enough it might encourage more sales of the cups.
awesomeeva on June 29th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Not sure how much "design" base this is...
I love my cup so much (I use a Diva), but one teeny issue I have with both the DivaCup and Keeper are the materials used. The Keeper is latex/rubber, which usually isn't a problem but over time can cause a latex allergy (yipes!). The Diva doesn't have that problem since it's made of medical-grade silicone, and the material has huge advantages, but I wish I used a cup that was made out of something a little more "natural."
KANGAROOS ARE GOING TO KILL US ALLilikerivers on June 29th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC)
I can't use the mooncup I bought because I have a ring of muscles that are too tight, it's agony!
An even smaller design and even softer silicone - especially the rim - would be a good option.

My partner suggests different shapes rather than just a smaller cup for some vaginas. She thinks a cup with a slight kidney-shape would be a good design for some, maybe other shapes for others. A kidney shaped design would/could sit with the concave curve to the front of the vagina and the convex curve to the back. She thinks she's shaped more this anyway.
teenspot16 on June 29th, 2007 10:58 am (UTC)
Have you tried or looked at the smaller Lunette? You can email the companies asking for display samples.
(no subject) - ilikerivers on June 29th, 2007 11:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - reporterxgirl on June 29th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - teenspot16 on June 30th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ilikerivers on June 30th, 2007 12:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
zoarazulzoarazul on June 30th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
I've been a Diva user for a year, and haven't trimmed the stem. I find it's actually a useful way to know whether or not the cup is "seated" properly ... if I can feel the stem being all poky-poky, I know something's amiss and will give it another try. So I wouldn't recommend removing it as part of a redesign -- let the decision w/not to keep it be at the user's discretion.