The Menstrual Cup Revisited
"Is it messy?"
"Gross! I don’t care. I’m never trying that!"
"Does it hurt?"
These are generally the responses I get when I tell someone I use the Diva Cup.
I saw an article, that a family member had re-posted, by Dr. Oz (rolls eyes) on Facebook today that was discussing a certain type of Menstrual Pad brand that was linked to cancer of the bladder and uterus. Just reading the first sentence of this post alone, sent my rage ablaze for this subject. I read the whole thing and decided to respond.
So here we are. Instead of reposting my initial first post about the Cup, I decided to revisit this subject more in depth to answer all of the questions I usually get from friends, plus more.
Here we go.
I first discovered the Diva Cup 5 years ago when I was reading a book that my friend Sarah bought me called - Sleeping Naked is Green by, Vanessa Farquharson. In the book this journalist decides to make changes in her lifestyle, every day for a year, to become a more eco-friendly person. The changes she makes gradually go from small to big and by the end, she decides to stick with almost all of the them. Each chapter goes in depth on the changes she made, why she did it, what the benefits are, what your options are, what worked best for her, and what she’s sticking with.
There was a whole chapter dedicated to the dreaded menstrual cycle. I didn’t know what I was in for when I started this chapter. Let’s face it. We ALL hate it. No matter what sex you are, it is literally the dreaded subject. So, let’s just all be adults for a second, buckle up and face the “ick-factor” while I explain what it is,
The Diva Cup (the brand that I use) is a menstrual cup made from BPA Free, medical grade silicone. The best way to describe it, is that it looks like a wine glass with a stem but, the base is cut off.
There it is in all it’s glory. Does it looks scary? I promise you, it’s not.
NOW, how this little bugger works. On the top of the cup, just underneath the rim, there are 4 tiny little holes. These holes create a suction to the walls of your Vajayjay. This is needed to keep it from falling/sliding out. These holes have to be clean and clear at all times. Even after you’ve washed the cup, there should not be a single bit of water inside those holes or else it won’t create the suction when you put it back in. Making sure that you wipe the cup thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel is a must!
You’re probably wondering, how do you even get it up there? Well, since the cup is made up of bendy/soft silicone, you can fold the cup in two different ways to get it inside. The “U Fold” and the “Push Down Fold” Observe:
THEN! YOU simply slide the cup slowly back into your vagina. I’m going to be honest, there are only two positions you should be in to get the best results for it to slide in easily and in the right spot. 1) In the squat/crouching position like when you’re going to take a poop. 2) Sitting down on the ground (recommended only in your own bathroom) in the birthing position. like you’re about to have a baby or get your special loves checked out by the doctor. You do NOT need to be laying back for it. You can have your torso sitting up but, your knees should be bent.
If all this is too much for you to handle, just please have a little faith and keep reading until you get to the end. I haven’t even gone over the benefits of the cup yet. Just hang tight and THEN make your decision after I’ve made my case. Thanks girl.
NOW! What’s the stem for and why does it have those grooves on it? The stem is to help you get a grip on the cup when you need to take it out. The grooves on the stem are there to help with the gripping AND give you an idea of where to cut the stem incase it is too long for you. Sounds silly but, everyone’s vagina is different in depth, therefore you might have to cut your stem if it’s physically sticky out of you. STOP SAYING “EW” AND JUST HEAR ME OUT. You never want the stem to physically stick out of you. It’s not like a tampon. If you put the cup in correctly, you shouldn’t feel the entire cup, including the stem, AT ALL. Not even for a tiny second. It really should feel like nothing is there and you’ll forget about it until it’s time to change it.
Ok so, you have the cup in. How long does it stay in for? When do you change it? Does it leak? How do you take it out? How do you clean it?
The cup can stay in for up to 12 hours. If you have a little bit of a heavier period, you may feel more comfortable changing it sooner than that. And that’s just fine. As long as it’s in correctly, you shouldn’t have any leaks. The only way to make sure that the suction is 100% is to take your finger, once the cup is in, and run it around the outside of the cup. If it is completely smooth and rounded, and not still creased or folded, then that’s a good sign. The cup opened up all the way. Sometime you can actually feel it unfold too. Again, that doesn’t hurt. After you’ve checked to see if it unfolded, do a little tug on the stem. If you can pull the cup out with the stem, then the suction is not there. If you feel resistance to your tug, you’re golden!
How do you take it out? Ok, this is where you really have to get over the “ick-factor”. It’s not like you’re touching someone elses body. This is your own body. Your own blood. Get the fuck over it girl. Make sure you’re sitting over the toilet. Locate the stem first and pull on it with your fingers to get a grip. Then take one finger, either the pointer or the middle, and stick it inside. Travel all the way up the side of the cup until you pass the rim of the cup and break the seal. Gently and slowly pull out using the stem. Yes there may be a little bit of spillage but that’s why you’re doing it over the toilet. I’m sure you have lots of questions about this part. Don’t worry, I’ll get to those at the end.
To clean the cup, immediately dump the contents of the cup into the toilet and flush. At this point, feel free to wrap the cup in toilet paper if you feel more comfortable that way. Get yourself situated and then travel over to the sink. DON’T WASH YOUR HANDS YET. There is a special wash you have to use with the cup. It has to be washed in pure soap. Oil-free, no fragrance, no anti-bacterial, no goats milk, no exfoliating beads, none of that stuff. Why? Because all of these things will break down the cup’s silicone and could eventually cause holes from erosion which will then cause leaks. The Diva Cup has a special soap that they sell for their cup. It’s not very expensive and you only need a small drop, smaller than the size of a dime. It lathers really well and you can wash your hands with this at the same time as you are washing your cup. This is very important because what’s used on your hands can spread to the cup and cause erosion. Wipe the cup clean, and reinsert.
At the end of every cycle, put the cup in a pot of boiling hot water for 5-10 minutes to sterilize it. There is a little pouch that comes with your cup that you can keep it in until the next time you need it.
1) Can you feel it?
No. Initially when you are putting it in, you can but, as long as it’s in correctly, you shouldn’t feel a thing.
2) What if there is gunk stuck in the holes? How do I clean that out?
Use a toothpick under warm water with the soap.
3) What if it keeps leaking and I’ve done everything to make sure it is in correctly?
You may need a bigger size. Almost every brand of cup comes in two sizes. Some brands only come in the biggest size. The small size is for anyone under the age of 30 who HASN’T had a baby. The larger size is for anyone 30 yrs and up. This is because once you hit 30 yrs old, whether you’ve had a baby or not, your hips naturally start to expand to prepare for it. Mine have started and I’m only 28. Some people might have their hips expand even earlier than 28. If you feel like you’re unsure what size you need, getting the biggest size won’t hurt at all.
4) Can the cup overflow?
No. Yes there may be some spillage when you take the cup out but you have to remember, you’re bending and pulling at the silicone, some of it’s gonna spill out. But, thats why you do it over the toilet.
5) Why am I spotting/why is there residue on my underwear when the cup’s in securely?
Just like a tampon, what ever residue of blood is left on your walls that the cup passed by, may show up on your undies. Don’t worry. If you want to prevent this, take a wet cloth or wet toilet paper and gently wipe yourself to get rid of that residue.
6) Can I use Lube to help get the cup in?
NO! Lube will destroy the cup. If you’re having trouble getting it in initially, put some water on the rim of the cup to help slide it in. That’s all you can do. Anything else will ruin the silicone.
7) What if it starts to discolor?
This can happen. The best way to prevent it is to make sure you wash it every time you change it and sterilize it at the end of every cycle.
8) Can I swim/shower/bathe/practice yoga/gymnastics/dance/ski/sky dive/surf/act/sing/poop with the Cup in?
Yes. Once the suction is created, it’s not going anywhere! Not even when you poop!
9) Can the cup get lost/stuck inside of me?
Haha, no. I wondered that too when I first tried it. You can only stick it up so far. Once you go past the vagina walls, the suction will no longer be there. But, vaginas are longer than you think. You’d really have to have some long fingers to get it all the way up there. Do not fear.
10) Can I use it with an IUD?
They recommend you don’t however, I have two friends who do have IUDs and use the cup and so far nothing bad has happened. As long as you take the cup out slowly and carefully, you should be fine. Honestly, if you can have all sorts of crazy sex with an IUD then, you should have no problem with a cup.
So, what are the benefits to using the Cup over a pad or tampon? Well, the #1 reason is that it is healthier for your lady parts. Tampons and Pads are made mostly of cotton with a little bit of plastic. Cotton has bleach/chlorine in it to make it pearly white. It also has pesticides in it. And don’t even get me started on the plastic. By now, we should all know how dangerous plastic is. Pesticides don’t just disappear over time. Neither does bleach. So, when you’re placing this cotton inside of you or right up against your lady parts, your body is absorbing that nastiness. Why do you think there’s so much cervical cancer nowadays? Hmmm…
Also think about how many times you change a tampon or pad during one cycle. Think of all that waste. Where does it all go? Landfills with all of our other waste. Talk about GROSS! Not only the waste but TIME you are taking out of your daily routines to change this shit 3,4,5 times a day! I literally put mine in the morning it starts or I feel it coming on. It stays in all day with me. I come home, change it. Sleep through the night with it in. Wake, up change it. And the cycle starts all over again. I change it twice a day. Morning and night. BOOM!
Another benefit? Think about how much money you will save! A box of tampons/pads usually averages between $7-10. Menstrual cups can cost between $20-40. Instead of buying a box of chemicals every 1-2 months, you’re saving money on a healthier, longer lasting option.
What are some other brands of menstrual cups out there?
- I use the Diva Cup. You can buy this locally at the Lexington Co-op or online at their website. The co-op sells both sizes plus the wash.
- Soft Cup is another brand sold locally in my area. You can get this cup at Wegmans and the Co-op as well as Walgreens and/or Rite Aid (I think). The only thing about the Soft Cup is that it’s a disposable one. But, it’s still a healthier option for your body even though it’s not for the environment.
- Moon Cup
- Lady Cup
and so many more…
Here’s a website that has a list of the best with their websites attached.
Menstrual Cup Brands
I hope I’ve done a good job of answering all of your questions. I’m really proud of you if you made it this far in my post. If you have more questions, please feel free to submit one. Yes, it may be a little messy. Yes, it may be a little gross. But, just remember, it’s your body, not somebody elses. If you want it to stay healthy in this culture, you have to make some changes in your lifestyle and stop being lazy or always taking the convenient way around things. The information is out there and I’m sitting here giving it to you. You’re held accountable for your own body. If you care about it, make some sacrifices, changes, get over the “ick-factor”, grow up and some healthy decisions.
Thanks for reading and, don’t forget, this is the most sensitive and important part of your body. Take care of it.
Here’s a great video from EcoStiletto.com about the benefits of the Diva Cup!