In 2005, my GYN thought it would be a brilliant idea to put me on Seasonale (the pill w/ 4 periods). It backfired and I had a year long period instead. Literally, 13 months of non-stop bleeding. Nothing he or I did could stop it. I’d toyed with tampons before, but when I used them, they would fall out. Not a very fun prospect say, in a swimming pool or at the mall, so I used pads. I was spending about $150 per year on them. Even though I doubled up, there were still leaks, then there was the rash. No matter what brand, disposable pads give me a rash. I tried using cloth, but I couldn’t leave the house. Then I tried using cloth OVER the disposable, which helped some with the rash thing, but made leaks worse. I was on the edge. Finally, after buying and using some progestin cream daily for a few months, the bleeding slowed and 2 years later, my periods became more regular. Only, instead of the 28 day cycle you could once set your clock by, I’m down to 26. Why does this matter? It meant that my period would begin on the first day of our 7 night cruise and last the whole time. NO WAY was I going to be miserable with pads or try to suffer through tampons, so I started doing some research. I’d heard of the Keeper before, but have a sensitivity to latex, so I’d brushed it off. Plus, there was a certain “ick factor” for a good Southern Baptist girl.
In my research, I came across the Diva cup. After reading many a late night through message boards, I ordered one for around $20. This was just a few weeks before the cruise, and having read everything from mild frustration to horror stories, I decided to pack along some pads just in case. I did a dry run, mostly because I wanted the familiarity of home before trying to deal with it in a hotel or stateroom bathroom. The stem was poking me, so I trimmed it per the instructions, then realized that it wasn’t really the stem, I hadn’t seated the cup properly (oops!) Once I figured out where it was supposed to go, I regretted cutting the stem so soon.
We embarked on Saturday and my period was due that day, so, using the punch down fold, I put the cup in. It opened, was comfortable, and we were on our way. I had the familiar cramps and a few hours later, felt like the cup was falling out. Let me just say that as a good little Baptist, I had NO idea how much the vagina changes during a period. The cup had indeed moved lower, so I decided to take it out and reinsert it. By now, we were underway, heading through the Gulf Stream (very rocky), so here I was, in a bathroom the size of a postage stamp having my first real experience with the Diva cup! It came out easily, I emptied and washed it and replaced it. I decided there was no way I could handle that in a public restroom at this point. I had to have everything off on the bottom half to manage comfortably. Later that night, I decided to empty the cup before bedtime, only this time it was VERY high up. I did the bearing down thing, but it took quite a bit to get it out. I was desperately wishing I had NOT cut the stem. For some reason, that was the last time I had that problem. Even with my heavy periods, I never *needed* to empty the cup more than twice a day (am bathroom, pm shower) The first few days, I checked it more than I needed to which made me a little sore, but there was NEVER a leak, never a mess with the rinse/replace, and at one point I was near tears wondering why I had to have been such a good little girl when I could have saved myself so much suffering and money over the years.
It’s WRONG that this is not presented as an option to girls who are getting their periods, simply WRONG. Yes, because of the societal mores there is still the “ick factor” to get over, but the benefits far outweigh any of that.
Here’s what I’ve told my older daughters:
Become familiar with your own body. You need to know what is where and how it feels during all of your cycle.
Don’t be afraid of the cup. It looks big, but when you stop and think about it, bigger things go in and even bigger things come out. ;) so RELAX.
Experiment with it before cutting anything off. Even if you have a slight bit of discomfort, see if you can get through it until you see exactly how it’s working for you.
Don’t panic. If something happens and you can’t get it out right away, RELAX. Take a few deep breaths and try again later. I found that as the cup filled, it moved a bit lower and was easier to get out.
Finally, hands wash and so do bathroom surfaces. IF you do make a “mess”, you’ll clean up just fine, which is more than can be said for a leak onto nice undies.