My life with the Diva Cup

Diva Cup rimNote: This one’s for the ladies! Men, you’ve been warned.

TMI! TMI! TMI!

Too much information, indeed, about things very personal to womankind. Still in? OK then.

In April, I signed on for Crunchy Chicken’s Diva Cup challenge. She offered the chance to win a Diva Cup — an insertable, washable silicone cup that catches menstrual flow, eliminating the need for tampons, reusable cloth pads or disposable pads (well, supposedly — more on that later). In exchange for entering the giveaway, we gentle readers had to commit to use the Diva Cup for three months.

I didn’t win, but I’m a woman of my word, all for the sake of my readers … the things I do for you! :)

The Impact of Menstruation

The Pleasure Puss reusable menstrual pads company estimates the average woman uses 16,800 pads or tampons during her lifetime. The same site says that more than 12 million pads and 7 million tampons are used each year in the United States alone.

The cost of all that bleeding? According to their quick calculator, around $2,665 for me (I was guesstimating the cost of pads — I haven’t bought disposables since I started tracking last June).

The old way

I have quite a stockpile of disposables from my super-bargain-shopping days. But I’ve mostly been using my reusable cloth pads, especially when the weather is nice enough to hang them out to dry, which I think sanitizes them better.

The reusable pads are very comfortable. However, they require soaking and rinsing and washing (pretty high ick factor, especially if they are abandoned mid-soak, as I accidentally did once), and they are bulky to store.

The new way

The Diva Cup is a little cup (duh) with a stem. You fold it (using whatever folding method works for you), insert it, twirl it around (using the word “twirl” loosely), give it some kegel-squishes with the relevant pelvic muscles so it pops open, and leave it be for up to 12 hours. It’s supposed to be comfortable — to the point that you can’t feel it — with no leaks. You remove it, wash it, and reinsert. What could be simpler? (If, that is, you are acclimated to a little gross factor, either from your own disposables or associated body-yuck, like diapers.) And it comes with a lapel pin.

The ladies online rave about the Diva Cup. They LOVE it! The environmental impact is very low, and the cost is excellent (it is supposed to last something like 10 years). So I bought one from South Coast Shopping for about $21 including shipping. It arrived pronto. Just in time for …

My experience – Cycle 1

Day 1: Inserted it. More leaked out than went into the cup. Serious pain removing it. Tried again. Same deal. Gave up for the day.

Day 2: More success – first time worked great. Then it started leaking. Worried, I removed it (painfully). Went online for help and found the “folding” link above. Tried different folds. Cut the stem shorter. Leaking, leaking, leaking. Learned how to remove it more comfortably (Tip: Pull down, not out). Ladybits exhausted, I gave up.

Day 3: Tried the new fold. Got it in. Success! Removed it – it was full, which is an allowable cause of leaking. Tried again. Leaking, leaking. Exhausted. Thank God, cycle ended. Legit reason to quit.

Next couple of days – wondered if I had a yeast infection (haven’t had one in about 13 years). Fortunately, I didn’t. Very dubious about next cycle.

The family perspective – cycle 1

Little Cheap: “What’s a Diva Cup?”

Me: “Er … a thing for my period.”

Little Cheap: “Oh. Why does it have ‘Diva’ in it?”

Mr. Cheap: “So women will feel like they are fancy princesses, instead of hippie suckers.”

28 days pass and …

My experience – Cycle 2

Day 1: With some trepidation (see the phrase “yeast infection” in the previous cycle’s entry) I try again. I used the “punch-down” fold per the folding site. It worked! No leaking. But it was a little bit uncomfortable, so again taking advice from the Diva Cup forum at the link above, I cut off the stem almost completely.

Day 2: Removed and replaced it in the shower. It twirls! It fits! It doesn’t leak! I’m beginning to get the hang of this thing …

Day 3: I have never felt so … well … clean and fresh on my heaviest cycle days. The cup is easy to take out, dump, wash and replace. My garments and I are unbesmirched. I’ve caught Diva Cup fever!

Day 4: I feel like an old pro. The final night of my cycle, I left it out to take a break. The last day, I used a disposable pad to catch any remaining matter. And voila … I’m a Diva Cup user.

But I am so glad I kept notes from the first cycle to reassure you ladies – hang in there!!!

My next cycle is coming up, and it’s thrilling to know that while Aunt Flo has scheduled her visit — as always — to coincide with part of my vacation, I can take along the Diva Cup and a couple of small backup pads, rather than an arsenal of lady-goods.

Even at home, I can convert the pile of supplies at left into the single, sleek cloth-encased-silicone package at right:

The family perspective – cycle 2

Me: “It’s working! I LOVE my Diva Cup! I can’t believe I’ve got the hang of it.”

Mr. Cheap: “Don’t forget to tell Crunchy.”

What about you?

Have you used the Diva Cup or Moon Cup? Are you going to? Come on … what’s one month of discomfort compared to saving $2,000 or more, eliminating thousands of pads and tampons from the sewers/landfills?

56 thoughts on “My life with the Diva Cup

  1. L'an says:

    Hee hee. I’m a confirmed Diva user, but I *distinctly* remember the “what have I wasted my hard-earned cash on?!” feeling of that first month. Nearly a year later, I can’t imagine ever going back to tampons or pads.

    Spread the fancydivaprincess love!

  2. ec says:

    I’ve been using the Keeper for about 3 years — it’s pretty much the same, only brown and maybe a slightly different material. I absolutely ADORE it — generally there is only one day per cycle when I need to deal with it more often than my daily shower. You mentioned leaving it in for 12 hours, but I’ve never had a problem with 24. Emptying it in the sort of public bathroom where the sink and toilet are not behind one lock is tricky/messy, though, so it’s worth planning to avoid. Boiling for a few minutes is the easiest way to clean it.

  3. cheaplikeme says:

    @ L’An, when are you going to start guest posting? You are probably greener than I … I am going on vacation, you know.

    @ec – Yes, the Keeper is natural rubber, and the Diva Cup and Mooncup are silicone. I didn’t get into cleaning them, but washing and then boiling it would be sanitary. Also, a while back I stumbled across this video that addresses the implications of menstrual cups for young girls, those in cultures where an intact hymen is important, and how to clean the cup if you can’t use boiling water or culturally need to keep it out of the kitchen: http://tinyurl.com/5f2vrx

  4. Michelle says:

    I too remember the challenge of the first time pre babies years ago.. I had no support and couldn’t ask anyone for help or advice because I told NO ONE about it 10 years ago, but now almost all of my friends use one. I love Mr Cheap’s response about the hippies. I just got through my second cycle with my ‘number 2’ version! ‘Remembering’ it and how to do it also took 2 cycles for me. I mean it was really my first cycle in about 5 years though.

  5. Crunchy Chicken says:

    Ha ha, you’re cracking me up. I had a similar experience the first month I tried it. I ended up cutting the stem completely off and eventually figured out how to get it to “sit” correctly so it wouldn’t leak.

    I’m glad you stuck with it. It can be a bit of a challenge (hence the Diva Cup Challenge part), but I think if people stick with it, by the second or third cycle you’ll figure out how to work it based on your own anatomy (hence the 3 month part of the challenge).

    As for boiling the DivaCup, their website recommends boiling it for 2-3 minutes. I’ve been using it for over a year and haven’t bothered, I just clean it real good like.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. Melinda says:

    I have been using it since the tail end of Crunchy’s first Diva Cup Challenge – when was that? Sometime at the end of last summer, I think.

    I will never go back. It feels more natural than tampons, and much less bulky than pads (which I gave up years ago because of the waste and bulkiness).

    My only complaint is the tiny holes on the sides of the cup. Very TMI here, but fluid sticks in there, and it has to be boiled or soaked out – washing with soap doesn’t get it out. I always wonder if some disease could be generating in the little holes. Probably way too paranoid, but it does seem like a design flaw to me.

    I actually went with the size 1, because I know I’m small, and haven’t had children. I was afraid to go with the bigger size even though I’m over 30. I think as a result, I haven’t had the same problems of pain and not getting it to unfold – as you and others had. I guess I’ll just play it by ear, and wait until my cup runneth over before deciding to got with the bigger size…

  7. Cecily says:

    Three or four cycles? Try five or six and I still never got the hang of it. It was a total and complete waste of money for me.

    • Shannon says:

      Sometimes it’s the cup that is the problem. I tried it for a year and a diva didn’t work for me very well (very leaky). I switched to the keeper and it was like night and day for me. I now have a lunette and it’s GREAT.

      Go to menstrualcups.org and they can help you with any help. They also have size/capacity charts for different cups.

  8. cheaplikeme says:

    @Melinda, I saw somewhere (on my hours of perusing forums for how to make it work) that somebody had stuck a safety pin in the rim-holes and wiggled it around to enlarge them just slightly … just so they are easier to rinse. I also read about holding it upside down under water and “squishing” the holes to force water through them. I guess the holes are there to make the suction work.

  9. cheaplikeme says:

    @Cecily, BUMMER! I can’t imagine that it would work for everyone … we sure aren’t all built the same, and it’s a weird and mysterious world “down there.” You are a trouper for trying that long. Maybe a rent-a-cup so you could try different styles and see if another works for you?

  10. erin says:

    I know you are green so I have a question…do you worry about what the Diva Cup (or any of the others) are made of? I certainly moved to organic tampons because I was concerned with what I was putting in my body. But I am curious about what research you did on the material.

  11. Me says:

    Okay. This is encouraging. My first two months have been wretched. I am so pleased to know that Crunchy Chicken cut the stem off completely because that is what I am on the verge of doing.

  12. cheaplikeme says:

    @erin – I hear you! I quit using tampons after I had surgery for endometriosis … there’s no proof that it causes the type I had, but then again no one knows what does cause it … and it was expected to come back and hasn’t. So I switched to pads, but natural ones are frustrating/unabsorbent, and reusable ones are a hassle.

    I chose the Diva Cup partly because it is made of medical-quality silicone. I was persuaded by what I know of silicone (that, for instance, you can use those silicone potholders because silicone is heat/breakdown resistant), partly by Greenpa’s comment about it, I believe, on Crunchy Chicken’s blog (he’s, like, a scientist and stuff) — and even more persuasive are some of the facts on the Diva Cup Web site: http://divacup.com/en/home/faqs/.

    @Me – I don’t know if I mentioned it in my post, but I cut the stem down, then off (down to maybe 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch) too. MUCH better – no more pinch/poke sensation where ya don’t want it.

  13. Mrs. Micah says:

    Best buying decision ever. TMI: I’ve been having a fairly horrible day cramps/bleeding wise, but almost no leaking (except when I couldn’t find someone to relieve me at the desk for a much-needed bathroom break/change earlier). Compared with the 2nd day before I started using it earlier this year, it’s insanely better. I think there’s less cramping and more bleeding…seems like my periods are heavier and shorter, but I don’t know why.

    It also cuts down on my fear-inspired trips to the bathroom (because what if my tampon/pad is almost full!?!?! could be crisis) and makes it so much less awkward because I don’t have to pocket a tampon or pad before heading off to the ladies’. I don’t like carrying my purse back and forth either. Also means I have to find fewer people to cover my desk while I take a bathroom break. Saving embarrassment.

    I’m going to help a friend move tonight and what would have been a lot more awkward and hellish seems much less intimidating. Yay for the Diva!

    Also, tip for getting it back out when the stem is short or it slips up inside…bear down and think of pushing out a kid. A Diva is much smaller and comes out much faster. :P

    I also bend it as I take it out. Helps break the suction.

    • Shannon says:

      If you do try again, you could try a different cup. I first started with a diva and got a Keeper from C’elle and it was much better. I now have a lunette and I love it. Cups come in different shapes, sizes, and capacities.

  14. lynne marie says:

    i’ve been using the Diva Cup for about six months, and i wonder why i never tried before. it’s perfect! well, at least, for me. i haven’t had any issues with leaking, and i just feel a bit, umm, fresher during that time than i did when i was just using Glad Rags.

    in the spirit of TMI, i had been naturally ejecting tampons and suffering from that awful dryness from frequent application. so i switched to glad rags about two years ago. i was worried that i would have a similar repulsion to the Diva Cup, but not the case.

  15. Spoodles says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting one for some time now. If I’m ever not pregnant or breastfeeding again, I’ll probably give it a shot, thanks to your encouragement. Right now, it feels like an eternity until I’ll actually have cycles again. I’m 15 weeks into pregnancy #3 at the moment, so I’ll have plenty of time to think about it.

  16. cheaplikeme says:

    @Mrs. Micah – Thanks for all the information! I read to pull down on the rim to break the suction. It’s a whole lotta reachin’, but hey. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

    @kelli – oh, good luck if you try again! Check out that forum.

    @spoodles – congratulations, and you’ll have plenty of time for bargain shopping and getting ready to take the plunge – plus after all those diapers, the yuck factor will be nothing! ;)

  17. Maggie's Mind says:

    I’m glad I read this because it gives me hope. It will just take some practice. I can deal with that. I do wish the instructions had said there may be a (painful) learning curve, but I was glad they did say not to panic when it won’t come out (eventually it did, but I will be working on the technique – down, not out, you say, and I’ll have to remember that).

    Anyway, thank you for being bold enough to share such personal details so that people like me and I’m sure many others know that it can take practice.

  18. Johanna in NZ says:

    I’ve been using a Moon Cup for about 5 years with cloth pads as back up. I sometimes have very heavy periods (on the worst days I used to have to change every hour with tampons!) so I still have to empty fairly often with the cup but it’s a lot less hassle than it used to be. And at least I don’t have to worry about running out of supplies which used to happen before.

    I found it tricky to start with and didn’t really use it a lot for the first couple of years but now (when I’m not pregnant) use it regularly.

    If I need to change in a public rest area I use the disabled cubicle which has a sink, or just wipe it with toilet paper. I boil it once per cycle.

    My favourite part of having reusables is never having to buy disposable pads or tampons – can sail right past them in the supermarket. Love that!

  19. Angel says:

    I’m on my 2nd cycle using the divacup. It has never leaked but IS uncomfortable. I did trim the post but I think I will cut it off completely and try that. I know it is not supposed to be worn high but I feel like it’s too low. I did Kegel exercises through the first cycle and periodically between cycles but it still feels low. Hoping the complete removal of the post works. I feel better hearing real women talk about the different experiences with it. I will definately keep trying because it is very liberating! The “ick” factor is not as bad as I thought it would be.

    • Shannon says:

      If the diva cup is uncomfortable, it could the cup. I had a diva that was uncomfortable. I switched to a keeper and it was much different. I now have a lunette and it’s great. It has the capacity that the keeper didn’t have for me and comfort that is liberating.

  20. randommer says:

    I love, love, love it! But I think cutting the stem shorter will make it more comfortable so thanks for the tip. It took me few goes to get the knack of inserting it comfortably too. I have a very heavy flow, this worked brilliantly for that.
    Only problem is…I used it for one cycle and now can’t find it anywhere. I know I put it somewhere “sensible” and “easy to find”.

  21. Nadine says:

    I LOVED my diva cup! i’ve also misplaced it in a cross country move..things are bound to get lost..lol. i noticed no one mentioned this so i thought i’d ask…do you guys have more than one? i was thinking of getting two this time..wash/boil one and wear the other…what do you guys think about that?

  22. Just Me says:

    This is my first time using the Diva Cup. I really like it. I cut the stem, and never feel it! No leaks, and no real mess. I can’t believe I went this long without on! I have a light flow, so only have about 1/3 of a a cup at the end of my day. I have told a few friends, and think a few will be trying it too. I really can put it in and forget it all day! It’s great!

  23. KarmaAnais says:

    I too am a devoted Diva Cup user. I did take me a few tries to get it right and I find that the “twirl” helps to make the seal and ensure no leaking. My Diva Cup allows me to ride (I work with horses) all day and sleep naked- just like the rest of the month. Gotta love the menstrual cups.

  24. Wendy says:

    I am having my first PPAF, and so I was very excited to break out the Diva Cup and try it out. NOT a fan of the stem. It definitely pinches. I’ve trimmed it once, maybe I need to trim it more? Once it’s in, it is comfortable. Can’t figure out how to twirl it? But, after wearing it for about 4 hours, I feel it starting to come out. I try to push it back in, but I can feel it coming back down as soon as I let go. I have had no leak problems yet, nor any problems with insertion and removal. But then, I have used Instead cups before and I use a diaphragm.

  25. Janet says:

    I have a Mooncup and have mixed feelings about it. Love not using tampons anymore, but I find it does leak a bit, especially overnight, and when it’s full it’s really really messy to remove. (Way, waaaaay TMI here, but blood has dripped on the bathroom floor.) Four months and I guess I don’t feel like I’ve really gotten the hang of removing it — yank with a finger, pull pull pull, hang on with finger and thumb, hope it doesn’t slide out ….. Isn’t there an easier way to do this?!

  26. kanne says:

    love it! divacups rule!!! it IS totally gross to think of all the waste that has been piling up at landfills! but… i replace mine every year (not ten!)- that’s what i was told when i bought it and the website says the same thing. http://www.divacup.com. p.s. i think the idea of donating “leftover” disposable products to a shelter is awesome!!

  27. Cheap Like Me says:

    @kanne – At the time I bought mine (and wrote this post), the Web site was saying 10-year life — just be safe with them, however long you use it. Obviously, if the cup starts showing wear, it could harbor nasty bacteria and should be replaced.

  28. Bea says:

    I found out about the diva cup before going on a holiday to Greece, but only got it in the mail upon my return. That was in June 2005 (can’t believe it’s been that long!). I would never go back to anything else! No leeks, no hassle, I put it in and forget about the period. I do remember some of those initial problems (it won’t unfold, oops, it got stuck somewhere high up, what now?!). I find insertion works best if I hunch down, rinse the cup with COLD water, use the punch-down fold and insert the cup in a straight back movement rather than up. To remove it, I do pinch it a bit, so it’ll kind of fold back into how it came in. This breaks the seal and won’t exhaust the lady-bits. I always wash it cold water first (I find this removes the blood from those little holes best) and then use hot water to finish the rinse. I have gone without boiling the cup for months if not even a year. However, when I start getting a slightly itchy feeling, I do boil the cup, and the itchyness goes away. Hope this adds a bit of extra info to all those posts before. I just LOOOOOVE my cup!

  29. Billie says:

    I LOVE my diva cup. Wearing tampons was like sticking a roll of sandpaper “down there”…

    I recommend soaking the cup in a vinegar solution after use to kill all bacteria.

  30. Bobby says:

    I’m a proud owner of a DivaCup. I got used to inserting the DivaCup quickly, maybe it was the “test run” I did prior to my cycles start. Punch-down method works best for me as there is not much pop with it. Removing is not painful just uncomfortable. If it ever does wander a little out of reach all you have to do is give a little push as if you were having a bowel movement. It pushes it down. I have a light-medium flow and I have not experienced any major leaks just some spotting on the panties, but nothing a liner wont fix. I would just like to know how everyone else is cleaning their DC in public restrooms. I’m going to try flushable wipes.

  31. Shannon says:

    I started with a diva cup but I am now a proud owner of a lunette and I love it. I would NEVER go back to disposable pads again. I always use cloth pads as backup now. It’s great. No rashes any more. No money spent. ^___^

  32. help please says:

    Hey I am considering to use a diva cup but I am unsure as to what size to buy. I have a heavy flow but I am a virgin so I am hesistant on buying the bigger size because I aam afraid it will be painful what do you recommend?

  33. help please says:

    Hey I am considering to use a diva cup but I am unsure as to what size to buy. I have a heavy flow but I am a virgin so I am hesitant on buying the bigger size because I am afraid it will be painful what do you recommend?

  34. THIS SUCKS says:

    So this is not working out for me at all. Woke me up at 5 am, 8 am, and then just now at around 11 am with leaking AND the darn thing getting stuck. There was leaking but hardly anything in the damn cup! Trimming the stem was a huge mistake for me. The leaking made it slippery and then the small amount of the stem that was left was getting caught under my sensitive clitoral area and hiding in the folds around there. It was REALLY painful to repeatedly attempt and fail to free it from the skin and shift it to a correct angle to pull it out. In the end each time I had to just stick my fingers uncomfortably far in and yank it our by the base. WTF am I doing wrong?

    I know I have to stick it out but I can really only try it at home at night. I live in Korea and the bathroom situation is not good at work… aka… I have to bring my own toilet paper in, and there is no soap so I have to go all the way back to the school to the kids bathrooms to wash my hands properly. And with the trial last night being a literal bloody mess every time I had to remove it, I’m not going to even attempt it there.

    I want to chuck it over my balcony!! ARRGGHHH!

  35. cheaplikeme says:

    @help please – Call one of the companies for advice. Sounds like you might need the smaller size — I don’t think flow is the deciding factor. It shouldn’t be painful any more than a tampon is, no matter your status, although you do have to get used to it.

    @SUCKS – I’m so sorry! It’s just as well you don’t want to use it in the days so you can take a break and recover. :( I had the leaking/nothing in there problem at first too. I suspect there’s either a problem with the suction/vacuum, or else it isn’t popping open so it is just sitting on one side of the cervix instead of around it. You might check out the LiveJournal forum for advice: http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups. What worked for me was trying a different fold and then making sure it was open before it went “up” to sit for hours. My habit now is to put it in, turn it around pretty much 360 degrees (just gripping the ridges near the stem), feel with my fingers to make sure it is open, and then twist it up, almost like screwing in a lightbulb (gently!!). I have not had leaking at all since I started doing this, unless it is overflowing. As for where it is poking you, I wonder if that is the same issue — maybe it is wedged in somewhere it shouldn’t be. Take a deep breath and good luck!!!

  36. anna says:

    Nice description of insertion, thanks I will try it. I’m on my first cycle with the Diva. I noticed it wouldn’t open because my cervix was in the way. I couldn’t turn it and it just stayed folded. So I figure if I turn it and get it to open first, then insert further as you do, it might work better.

    I got the Diva because they only sell this one in Canada. I can’t understand how or why our choices are being limited like this. I really wanted a Lunette after doing some research, but for some ridiculous reason only Diva is approved for sale.

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