A Two-Year Review of DivaCup
Two years ago, I decided I wanted another solution for my period that wasn't tampons or pads.
I stopped taking birth control about four years ago because the hormones were messing with my head. After I did that, the figurative floodgates were opened, and my period has been very heavy since then. Now, I usually lose 5-6 oz of blood and clots each time, and it usually lasts 6-7 days.
During the two heaviest days, I would have to change tampons almost every hour due to large clots that wouldn't absorb into the cotton. I would go through an entire box of Kotex super plus tampons every period, and I still had to use pantiliners or pads as safety during heavy days.
Tampons and pads are expensive. I was tired of buying them and having to panic every time I felt like it was about to leak. I also hated the environmental impact of using tampons. Tampons are not recyclable since they collect human waste, which means they end up in landfills and the ocean. In one day in 2015, Ocean Conservation volunteers collected over 25,000 tampons and applicators from beaches around the world. Um...gross.
So, after I did some research, I found . It claimed to have less environmental impact, the ability to hold more fluids, and more ease of use. I was going to Europe that year and knew I would be on my period while we were there. I wanted to make sure that I had a better solution than tampons since bathrooms would be hard to come by as a tourist. DivaCup
The DivaCup comes with a little drawstring bag for storage, which is very handy. It also comes with a set of directions for use.
Overall, not much to say. I do think they could have made it a little smaller. It's easy to open and navigate, but I don't really feel that all of the cardboard packaging is necessary for anything other than looks.
The DivaCup is made out of medical-grade silicone and is a cup shape that is designed to cradle the cervix once inserted. There are pinholes around the top of the cup to allow air flow, and the bottom has a little tail tip that is supposed to help with removal. There are ridges along the sides of the cup to help with grip.
There are two sizes to the DivaCup: Models 1 and 2. According to the DivaCup website, Model 1 is "recommended for women under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally or by caesarean." Model 2 is "recommended for women aged 30 and over or for women who have delivered vaginally or by caesarean."
The website indicates that the difference in sizing is just 1/8 of an inch. Model 1 is slightly smaller while Model 2 is slightly larger. It doesn't appear that there is much of a difference in capacity between the two. I purchased Model 1.
How to Use DivaCups
DivaCups come with an insert with directions for use. If it's your first time, it will take a few tries to get it right, so I recommend practicing inserting and removing before your period starts.
The easiest way that I have found to insert the DivaCup is to fold it in half, push it in, and give it a slight twist so that it unfolds. You may feel a slightly strange feeling of the cup moving and suctioning into place once it has been inserted, but it won't hurt at all. I've included DivaCup's instructional video below to give you a better visual.
You can leave it in for 12 hours at a time before you need to remove and clean it. For me, that was perfect because that meant I didn't need to do anything at work. I could empty and clean in the morning when I woke up and then do the same when I got home.
On your heaviest days, you may need to change it more frequently. Mine are so heavy that I have to empty it every 3-4 hours, but that is way better than having to empty every hour.
Supposedly, the little tail helps you remove it, but I found that to be tedious because of the level of suction and also the fact that you have to balance the cup. I just don't see the tail as having much use and honestly think it isn't even necessary.
Instead, when removing it I use my muscles to push the cup down a little bit, then I pinch the base above the tail using my index finger and my thumb, and pull down. This way, removal becomes a lot easier and cleaner.
Care and Cleaning
The DivaCup is easy to care for. When it is time to remove it, you just empty it and wash with soap and water before reinserting. DivaCup sells an antibacterial wash, but I have not tried it. I find that hand or dish soap works just fine.
At the end of every period, it's recommended to boil it to remove any residual fluids and keep it bacteria free in between periods.
Even with cleaning the cup will yellow over time. This is not something to be worried about as it will still work the same.
Overall, I am so glad I made the switch from tampons and pads to DivaCups. I've saved about $250 a year by using DivaCup. The estimate includes not only tampon and pad purchases, but also the savings in toilet paper and new underwear and clothes. Based on my average tampon usage each month, I've also prevented over 600 tampons from entering landfills in two years!
During my two heaviest days, I have to empty the cup every 3-4 hours, and I still wear a pantiliner just in case, but you really can wear it anywhere with no issues. On my trip to Europe, it made life especially easy because I didn't have to stay close to the bathroom in case of a leak and I could go sightseeing without worrying.
If I'm in the pool during any day of my period, I usually have to empty it right after exiting the pool as it can sometimes fill with water. I have also used the DivaCup while scuba diving and have not had any issues at all. I have not been below a depth of 75 feet with the cup so I'm not sure how it will react on deep dives, but within standard recreational diving it works wonderfully.
The DivaCup is especially wonderful if you tend to pass large clots. With tampons, I often had issues with the tampon not absorbing the clot, causing me to need to change it even if there was barely any blood absorption. With DivaCup, I never have to worry that a clot is going to slide by and stain anything because the it catches everything. It's really nice to be able to sleep through the night without worrying or getting up every hour.
Once it's fully in place, I can't feel it at all. The only time I feel anything is if it's not inserted properly or if the cup is full and needs to be emptied—which feels like a trickling feeling. When you get that trickling feeling, you need to get to a bathroom fast unless you are protected by a pantyliner or else you may get stains. While this is a minor nuisance, I can't think of anything DivaCup could do to fix that, though.
I also noticed much less painful cramping while using the DivaCup versus using tampons, which is another added benefit.
I definitely recommend everyone try this innovative product. I've been using the same one for two years and haven't had to buy a new one. You'll save money as well as the environment, and you'll feel better too!