Two years after publishing my first (and only) post about menstruation, I’m dusting off my Diva Cup and getting back into learning more about menstruation options.
Since Plastic Free July is almost over and I’m very passionate about reducing my own use of plastics, I wanted to write this month about a particular reusable period option—the menstrual cup. (Not to mention, a friend documenting her menstrual product use during this eco-conscious month really made me want to put finger to keyboard and write!)
The earliest menstrual cups were actually first patented in the 1930s in the US, though they weren’t widely commercially available until 70 years later, in the early 2000s! While pad and tampon usage has been recorded throughout history, tampons became commercially available also in the 1930s and then pads in the 1970s. A brief history can be read on the website for feminine hygiene brand Maxim. Humans with uteruses (uteri?) have been menstruating for time eternal, so it’s so fascinating to see the mass development of products to manage menstrual flow as pretty recent.
I’m No Diva!
Shortly after I wrote the first Meditation on Menstruation in June 2016, I decided to try out a menstrual cup, so I purchased the Diva Cup pack with reusable Luna pads. At the time I thought, “Ew, cloth pads? I don’t need those!” But now I use them regularly for sleeping since my period is heavier. Although I had only used the cup a handful of times before this and the next happened, I’ve been hesitant to use my dormant Diva Cup for fear that the suction will painfully dislodge my newish IUD; as one gynecologist told me of that risk, another assured me that it’s rare. I’m no diva, but installing that IUD was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and I didn’t want the reverse of that to happen on accident.
Still, I’m trying to pick up where I left off and try different methods of managing my period since it’s more extreme in length, pain, and heaviness than it was before I got the copper IUD. I now use a suite of super absorbent tampons, synthetic and cotton maxi pads, and cloth pads (still feels ew!), but I want to incorporate the cup more into my routine—partly to use less resources and partly to get my money’s worth out of the cup I had already invested in to save money on pads and tampons.
Pictured: Diva Cup in an ugly floral design pouch. Ob tampon to the right for scale.
Push It Real Good
No, don’t do that! Fold it into a U shape and gently insert it!
I’m still a cup newbie. Having used it for less than 6 periods in the past 2 years, the ovulation origami has been a struggle when inserting and removing the cup. Aside from needing to cut my nails (and for those with acrylics, how do you not slice your vagina/labia?!), I have the most issues with suction during removal. The stem at the bottom is so short, my fingers are slick from blood and other goopy goos, and I never fully break the seal so it feels like a vacuum is sucking out my insides!
When it’s in though it’s great! It’s similar to a tampon in that I don’t feel anything if it’s inserted correctly—it’s very much set it and forget it. And I can pee and poop (usually diarrhea if I’m on my period TBH) without worrying about shooting a tampon out on accident! A lot of blood can collect in that little funnel, so I only use it on lighter days and at home since I’m afraid there might be overflow/leakage when I’m out and about. Although blood and needles generally freak me out, I’m unfazed when I need to pour blood in the toilet in a mock murder scene. Maybe the Misfits were actually referring to menstrual cups in the song “Horror Business”…you don’t go in the baaaathroom with me! If anything, I feel oddly more in tune with my body and its byproducts, a witchy woman alchemizing the moon with menses and hailing the lifeblood from which we are all born (this article is WiLd).
While I’ve only used this brand of menstrual cup, there are several others on the market with different sizes and lengths, from the Ruby Cup (with a philanthropic Buy One Give One program) to MeLuna. For those having difficulty with the highly tactile nature of menstrual cups, there’s the Keela Cup with a “disability-friendly design.” Here is a list of other menstrual cups with reviews and links for purchasing. There are also several online resources about considering and using them. Make sure to clean them when you’re done, too, to avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome!
Have any menstrual cup recommendations? Share them below!