I first learned about menstrual cups when I was researching eco-friendly alternatives to tampons. I was initially taken aback by the concept — a reusable cup you insert into your body to collect discharge while you're menstruating??? Ew.
However, after having tried it, I've found it is much more efficient than any tampon or pad I have ever used, and it is so comfortable that I don't even feel it during use.
My menstrual cup of choice is the DivaCup.
|The menstrual cup comes with a handy set of instructions, and the name itself is even inscribed right inside the cup.|
The Diva Cup comes in two sizes, Model 1 and Model 2. Model 1 is designed for women under 30 years old who have never given birth, either vaginally or by cesarean section. Model 2 is designed for women over 30 or who have given birth. The difference between women who are roughly under and over 30 years old, apparently, is the width of their birth canals. According to the website, even if a woman has never given birth, their vaginal canals naturally stretch and become wider as they get older, which would make the slightly larger Model 2 a better choice for them.
|Comes with a little pouch to keep it in too.|
You can check the DivaCup website for more detailed instructions, but basically for insertion, you fold the cup in a manner you find most convenient, and you should feel it pop open after insertion. If inserted properly, the device is extremely secure and comfortable. I have personally never experienced any leaks beyond very slight spotting while using the DivaCup, even while sleeping through the night, which means I can sleep comfortably at length without worrying about waking up to check for any stains on my bedsheets.
After using it for awhile you will be able to figure out how often you need to dump out the contents of your cup. There are also helpful measurements along the side of the cup to help you track your flow. Simply pinch the end of the cup and carefully slide it out, then dump out the contents in the toilet (make sure you check the toilet after you flush though, sometimes blood matter settles in the bottom of the bowl and requires an extra flush to disappear). You can wash the cup before reinserting it, or if you are in a place where that is inconvenient, simply wiping it clean with a piece of tissue paper works too.
Menstrual cups, like tampons, take a little getting used to at first, so I would recommend using it only at home for one or two menstrual cycles to make sure you are comfortable with it before making it a regular habit. Don't be intimidated by the size, it really isn't that big, and a woman's vaginal walls are very strong and flexible muscles.
However, I would not recommend menstrual cups for women whose hymens are still intact — unless you don't mind tearing it yourself. Menstrual cups are also probably not going to be very comfortable for girls who have not yet fully developed.
To Leave the Stem or Not:
The DivaCup comes with a little stem at the bottom that is supposed to allow for easy removal after use. However, some people, like myself, find it to be a little irritating and not that useful. This is why I simply choose to cut it off. If you choose to do the same, just be careful that you don't cut too much of the stem off that you create a hole in the actual cup, rendering it useless.
You can purchase a special gentle cleanser for your menstrual cup to clean it, but I personally find gentle soap works fine. It is also recommended that you boil your menstrual cup after each cycle to disinfect it.
At some point, the cup may become stained or discolored. I personally find the best ways to return the cup to its original translucent white color is to make a baking soda paste and scrub it with your fingers, or gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. You probably won't be able to make it look as pristine as when you first bought it, but honestly, who's going to notice besides you?
Should your menstrual cup become damaged or unusable for any reason, you can simply throw it away and get a new one. According to the website, DivaCups will break down in the environment over time. To help this process along, simply use a pair of scissors to cut up your unwanted DivaCup into little pieces before throwing it away.
A box of 54 tampons used to cost me more than $11.00 and would last about three months. This means I used to spend about $44.00 a year on tampons.
The DivaCup cost me about $35.00. Assuming the cup will last me at least five years, that works about to be about $7.00 a year - or 58 cents a month — to manage my period. It is clearly the better and more environmentally friendly choice.
I highly recommend the DivaCup for anyone looking for an eco-friendly, money-saving way to manage their menstrual cycles. Another great thing is that it eliminates the risk of you suffering from toxic shock syndrome, which is a chance you take with tampons.
There are also other menstrual cup brands, including the Mooncup, Lunnette, Miacup, and Softcup. However, make sure to do some research by reading product features, reviews and testimonials before investing in a menstrual cup. This will decrease the chances of you having any regrets or confusion about your purchcase.
I chose the DivaCup after doing a lot of extensive research, and am extremely happy with my purchase. I no longer have to worry about trying to stuff a bunch of tampons into my purse, or how to inconspicuously bring one into the bathroom at work. Not to mention, traveling is much less of a hassle now that I don't have to make room in my luggage for boxes of tampons.