Friday, September 2, 2011

I fought the Diva Cup (and the Diva Cup won)

We stock a selection of reusable menstrual products (pads and cups), naturally, customers contemplating the switch to reusables have questions about how everything works. With respect to LunaPads, most women ask questions about how the different pieces fit together. Given the crowd we attract, I usually liken the system to cloth diapers -- you have AIOs and AI2s -- the pad and the liner are akin to a cloth diaper cover and an insert. When women pick up the Diva Cup, they only ask one question, "What's it like to use this?", the question is often accompanied by a raised eyebrow, and a knowing exchange of glances between us. Their real question is: "How does this fit up there?" "Will it get lost?" "Does it hurt?" I am upfront and I admit that while I have not used a Diva Cup personally, I have many friends who do, and they all swear by it, proclaiming:

  • it's comfortable to use while playing sports

  • you can leave it in for up to 12 hours before emptying it

  • it can lessen the cramps associated with menstruation (have I ever mentioned how awesome menstruation is? Women are so lucky. So. Lucky).

For months, I've been meaning to make the switch, but the timing has never worked out. I finally remembered to pick one up at the start of my most recent cycle, and I plucked up the courage to give it a shot, I mean, how hard can it be, right? Right? I figured I'd pop it in, and write a review that went something like this:

"ZOMG, I cannot believe how long I lived without the Diva Cup! It was *so* easy to use, and it works so well! Every woman should have one, why, I'm going to lobby the Harper government to hand them out to every girl as she transitions into womanhood, I mean, it's just so great! So. Great! Long live the Diva Cup, Diva Cup forever!"

Of course, everyone had warned me that making friends with my Diva Cup would take a bit of practice (and patience), however, I was confident we'd hit it off instantly. Sadly, my love affair with the Diva Cup has gotten off to a bumpy start.

When it came time to try out the Diva Cup, I got myself settled into the upstairs bathroom, the kids were downstairs watching TV playing harmoniously together, mommy needed a little privacy to wrap her head around what was about to go down (er, go up?). Like most women, I had my fears about how things would work out. I was worried that once inside, the Diva Cup would float upwards through my innards, like my vagina is a portal to some sort of blackhole and the Diva Cup would get lost for years, never to be seen again until I cough it up like a hairball. The wonderful instructions that accompany the cup kindly explained that my vaginal walls are only 3-4 inches in length, proving my 'lost in space' fears to be unfounded. As an aside, the Diva Cup instructions also pointed out that the average monthly total flow output is in the neighbourhood of 1 to 1.4 ounces -- just enough to fill a shot glass! Total!! Is it just me, or does that estimate seem, well, a little low? Judging from the apparent carnage I seem to suffer through every month, if I were to estimate what my average monthly flow output is, I'd put it closer to a liter, not unlike what must ooze out of a severe gunshot wound, but perhaps that's just me.

So there I am, Diva Cup in hand, I've reassured myself that it's not going to get lost, but now I'm starting to freak out about how big it is. Prior to this moment, I had been mentally preparing myself for the size/fit issue, but I've birthed four babies, one of whom was so big he practically walked out of my vagina with a cigarette in one hand, a bottle of JD in the other, and he was all 'sup, bitches? to the midwives, so really, I've got this, it will be OK. But there I am, doing the Diva Cup origami as is kindly suggested by the Diva Cup instructions, and no matter how I fold the damn thing, it's just so fucking huge!

The Diva Cup instructions, which are starting to get on my nerves, kindly suggest that I should 'relax' my vaginal walls before inserting the cup, and I'm starting to feel like maybe I should have taken her out to an expensive dinner beforehand and told her she looked pretty, because I can tell she's as nervous about this as I am. So I take a deep breath, and shove it all up there, but the cup unfolds before I've got it in place, and the idea of pushing it up further while it's unfolded kind of makes me want to cry. I withdraw, apologize profusely to my vagina, and read the bloody instructions again, which suggest it's completely normal for the cup to unfold while it's being inserted. Oh, well isn't that great, I was kind of hoping that it would unfold after I was done launching it up into my nether regions, but I guess that's too much to ask. I take another deep breath, apologize to my vagina again, who is now about as relaxed as a virgin on her wedding night, and we give it another go, this time with moderately more success. I manage to launch the cup further up into my nether regions than the first time, but I don't feel it unfold. No worries, I'm actually quite OK with that, let's push on, shall we?

I'm not quite finished yet, because now I need to rotate the cup 360°, which at this point, is about as appealing as a root canal performed by a drunk monkey. So I grab the cup's stem, twisting it slowly, beads of sweat dripping off my brow, and I think I can feel my vagina quietly weep each time the cup moves (not that it was particularly painful, but my vagina at this point was decidedly unrelaxed). After the cup has been rotated, I tentatively stand up, and take a few steps. While having the cup in place certainly wasn't uncomfortable, I could feel the sensation of something being up there, quite frankly, it felt like I had a thighmaster launched up my hooha. To say I had the gait of a cowboy who had just rode in on the Pony Express is an understatement, every step I took was more bowlegged than the last, as my brain worked overtime to convince my vagina that it was playing host to an uninvited guest. At this point, my vagina and I decided we'd both had enough, issuing the Diva Cup its eviction notice. My vagina and I both released a sigh of relief as the cup signalled its exit with a defiant 'pop'.

With what I have to assume is the worst of it out of the way, I will give the Diva Cup another go next month, things can only get better, and besides, I like a challenge. The idea of using the cup is so appealling, perhaps the next time we attempt to make friends, I will buy my vagina a box of chocolates and a dozen roses to help her relax beforehand.


  1. I just got one two cycles ago. And I must admit that the "feeling" of it being there, is still there when I am using it. I find it distracting but I have continued. I have to admit that I am only using it when my flow is lower because I still have left over heavy flow tampax to use up. I am hoping that the "feeling" will go away as I use it more. Or I guess I will just get used to it. On a side note, I ran with it (20 minutes) and it worked fine and didn't bother me. So that is good. :)

  2. It takes time. My first month was BRUTAL. Looked like a murder scene in my bathroom *TMI*! Month two was much closer to "normal" and by month three I was happy to host the Diva in my hooha. Now, 5 years later, we still get along famously. I do tend to wear a Luna Pad liner as a back up plan, but find it no more troublesome than tampons, and so much nicer!

  3. I have a prolapsing cervix (like... almost at the vaginal opening!) and can't imagine using the DivaCup [do not even think of saying "kegel" - I've heard it over and over...]

    That said, I *love love love* my Jade and Sea sponge tampons!! Super comfy, holds a LOT and fit!

  4. I often find it doesn't unfold as the instructions seem to indicate happens after insertion. I often have to 'encourage' that by gently sliding a finger alongside the still folded cup and pushing the top of it past my cervix. Cervical position makes a huge difference and mine isn't in the usual position, so it requires more, uh, encouragement. ;)

    Never turn it for the 360 unless it is open! LOL

    If it is properly positioned, you won't feel it. It did take me three months to get the hang of it. ;) Warming it up under running water first makes a big difference, I find. LOL

  5. I just got a Diva Cup from you actually as my old Keeper has dried out over the 2 years of no periods. Sorry to hear you had a rough go of it. I'd suggest that next time if you can still feel it after insertion, try first moving it up a little higher, then if that doesn't work trim the little end piece - I had to do that with my Keeper as it can catch or rub on the walls if it's too long for your body. Also, I'd suggest holding it furled up with your first four fingers until your hand is in up to about your 2nd knuckles, hopefully that will keep it from unfurling mid-insertion. Good luck, I hope the next time goes much better! It is pretty awesome to not have to worry about whether you have enough supplies with you when you head out for the day - also great for swimming. Also PS to Crunchy Mom, I also have a very low hanging cervix (like 1cm in) and if you do it right the cervix can be tucked into the cup...start off tucking in to one side then lower it with a little tug once it's open. God I can't believe how graphic we're all being on a blog.

  6. I've been waiting to read a "true review" of this so-called wonder product. Please keep us updated. I'd like to make the change but I'm still a bit chicken.

  7. Okay, first off you just made for a very awkward conversation with my husband after he asked me what I was giggling about. Apparently he doesn't find menstruation stories as funny as I do.

    But to help, try trimming the stem right off and turning the cup inside out before insertion. This little trick made my vagina and Diva BFFs for life (well, at least until menopause)!

  8. I am one of those people who could not live without it. I used tampons for many, many years, but after birthing two babies, they just don't work for me anymore. I hate a mess, so pads are out. But, the Diva Cup is GREAT (as much as menstruation can be great).

    It does take some fiddling around with and getting used to. It took me a few months to be good friends with it and even now that I am, there are times when I re-insert it and then notice five minutes later that it just isn't sitting right and have to adjust it. But, for the most part, it is SO much better than tampons.

  9. I broke up with my Diva Cup. No problems with insertion & positioning. Went 10 hours without even thinking about menstruation. Then...I couldn't get it out. Seriously. I was squatted on the floor of the bath bearing down and all, and it wouldn't break free. Not even after breaking the seal. Not with tweezers. Not even when my husband tried his hand at it. I had to pay the walk-in clinic doctor my $75 co-pay to remove it because that's the only place open at 9 pm on a Saturday.

    Did I mention this happened twice? With the same doc on-duty? Mortifying. I promised him I wouldn't try it a third time.

  10. I think, just like using cloth diapers, it seems complicated at first, but then it just seems normal. :) My first time using it, it seemed to be pressing on... well, I guess my g-spot! lol! It certainly wasn't uncomfortable!

    Definitely if you feel it, then it's probably too low. But that being said, I've had the opposite issue of thinking that it was too low and placing it higher and I had a huge amount of spillage!

    I was wondering about the 1 oz flow thing. I 'collect' about 1-2 oz per day of 'good flow' during my period, so that's at least 5 or 6 times the 'normal' amount. I was getting worried and thinking maybe I should see the doctor about it. But maybe that's normal?

  11. I have been a Diva Cup/The Keeper user for about 10 years, and I LOVE it! I would like to reiterate a few comments and add a few of my own: (1) TIME and PRACTICE; (2) don't turn until fully open; (3) feeling it usually means that it's too low -- try "corkscrewing" it upwards; (4) make adjustments by holding onto the ridges at the bottom of the cup, not the stem (except for the final tug); (5) sometimes needs encouragement to unfurl (as described by Melissa/refashionista); (6) I find that I can get it in more easily, with a better fit, if I'm sitting on the toilet rather than squatting or standing with a leg up; (7) to encourage your vaginal muscles to relax, clench them first (that's what my midwife had to get me to do for my 6-wk-postpartum pap, because I was so nervous about the speculum going into my vagina full of just-healed stitches -- awesome!) I hope that some of that helps, and that you don't give up on it!

  12. Your story sounds a lot like my very first time, three years ago. It took about 3-4 cycles before my diva cup and I made friends, but I can't imagine going back now. I also have a low cervix, which added to my learning curve. Once I figured out how to scoop it back in, my cycle went much better.

    An unexpected bonus to using the diva cup is that all of my children are learning about menstruation. As they don't let me pee in peace, I have gotten a lot of questions. And to be honest, I much prefer "Why is there blood in the toilet?" to " Why are you wearing a diaper, Mommy?"

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