I started using the Diva Cup after coming back from the Philippines, where I was super concerned that I would not be able to swim and island hop because my cycle was starting. I was having a hard time finding tampons, because culturally, it’s sometimes not common for women to use them in other countries. Also, I was concerned about swimming in water that was unfamiliar with a tampon after reading something in a travel group about a girl that contracted Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) after swimming with a tampon.
I told myself that when I got back to the States I would explore some alternatives, and the first product I picked up was the Diva Cup. I was warned by a fellow traveler that there was a severe learning curve that came from using it, and that was definitely my experience. There were a number of other things that I wish I would’ve known prior to using, and also some feelings I didn't expect to feel about using this product.
For one, I am very comfortable with my body and very familiar with it both inside and out. Soooo… I didn’t really think it was possible to know it any better than I already do. But my Diva Cup experience proved me wrong. And I’ll come back to explain this point further in a minute.
On IG, more than 60% of the women I polled responded that they have used the Diva cup or alternate menstruation products. But nearly 40% have not. So, I’m just going to give you a quick overview:
The Diva cup is made of silicone and come in two basic sizes— before birth and after. The one I have is the pre-birth size. My first month and second month using it, I had vastly different experiences. Here why and here’s a few things I wish I would have known.
Now, some of this, was probably impossible to know until I experienced it, but some of it really would've been helpful if someone would've given me a heads up. I watched a lot of Youtube videos, and some of what I experienced just never came up. So anyways… here it goes.
After reading all of the directions I popped the cup in on the first try with no real problems. Getting it out the next morning, however, was a severe challenge, even though it was not too far in there. A couple of the problems were that:
Although, my nails were shorter, they were square, which made me feel like I was pinching myself while trying to remove the cup. SUPER uncomfortable, traumatizing and concerning because vaginal tears are not cute and could lead to infection.
As a result, I made sure to scrub in like I was about to perform a surgery each and every time I had to go in there. However, now that my nails are longer, they are actually round/almond shaped, and not nearly as dangerous, apparently. I think it’s a combination of using a better technique and also being more relaxed and patient.
You have to reeeally chill and take your time with your body and this foreign-ass object. I didn’t attempt to remove in the shower this month, because I’m in Mexico, so I don’t have the luxury of endless hot water like at home for one. Also, from trial and error, I just know the path of least resistance is for me to sit on the toilet. I do insert it standing, post-shower sometimes. Although, you can shower with it (and I have) the timing to change just happens to coincide with my twice a day shower schedule, in most cases.
The directions said to use your forefinger and thumb to pull the cup out when full. My forefinger simply is not long enough, agile enough, nor strong enough to grip it properly— which probably contributed to a lot of grasping, missing and pinching last month. I'm happy to report all 3 are down by at least 95%. This month I actually forgot about that little rule and intuitively decided to use my middle finger and thumb, which made removal sooo much easier. Like Gawd!! So much better!!!
The directions said that you could leave it in for up to 12 hours. I call bullshit, if you have a heavy flow. My max was about 5 hours until leakage during my heavy days. That's not terrible, but I think the whole 12 hour thing set up a false expectation in my mind, that there would be no leakage for 12 hours. Which, therefore, made me feel like maybe I was not doing something right because it kept leaking, and I had to remove and readjust it often. The first time worked perfectly with no leaking for at least 8 hours as I slept. So the 2-3 days after was quite frustrating.
The second month, again just relying on intuition, I said let me use a liner with this thing whenever I’m out— just in case. You might think that this should've been common sense, but it wasn't because of another false expectation that it wasn’t supposed to leak (which it actually doesn’t when inserted properly and not at maximum capacity). The first month I was fully expecting 8-12 hours of use, because that is what so many other women were saying they were able to do.
*Side bar. Full disclosure: I only started watching reviews once I felt like the device was failing me. However, in retrospect, I think it was more or less user error.
Like I said earlier, I didn’t expect that I could become even more intimately knowledgable with my body until l started using the Diva cup. I can’t count the number of times I’ve finger popped myself as a night cap before going to sleep. But this, this was and is something entirely different. it feels very surgical, but also very primal.
I don’t know if I was expecting to be grossed out— which I wasn’t. I was just like wow, it’s quite juicy in there— but in a different from normal way since my brain knows that there’s blood there. The first month I kept telling myself to relax and breathe to help getting it out. And that women have babies everyday. Pulling out this little piece of silicone should be a breeze, I told myself.
I guess, I was more or less irritated by and focused on the number of times I had to adjust it and re-adjust it rather than feeling squeamish about having blood on my fingers from feeling around. The instructions tell you to twist it and also run your finger around the circumference to make sure it’s fully open. So, yeah, there was lots of juicy blood sloshing around in there. You kinda get over it due to the distraction from self-probing, lol.
AND, if you’ve ever had to clumsily empty one of these things— like I said— learning curve— then you know it can potentially be messy if you’re not careful.
Fortunately I didn’t have any major accidents other than the leaking— which in most cases I felt right away. I’m pretty trained with free bleeding to an extent, because my cycle (it seemed before I started using the cup) tapers off around day 3. But after using the cup, I still had minimal bleeding that pooled in the cup last month.
HOWEVER… this could be because my cycle felt particularly crampy, which is unusual… and the discomfort was particularly heightened due to the distress I was putting my vagina in try to figure out the cup.
Which leads me to [SIX]
I vaguely remember reading some women complained of worse cramps while using the Diva Cup. This was me last month— which I did not appreciate. This month, however, it was back down to just moderate discomfort. This could possibly be because of the lack of sugar in my diet as well as all of the exercise that I’m getting now that I’m back in Mexico, biking and walking daily.
Now that I’ve cleared month number 2, the first day was still pretty sucky— but that’s every month, I think. What's different is that I’ve tempered my expectations, and I feel like I will continue to use the Diva cup, because the second month was significantly better and I anticipate will only get better.
Some other FYI notes:
- If it’s not in right you’ll notice leaking pretty much right away-- less than 10-15 minutes. And some times and alleged leak can just be some residual release from re-insertion.
- I find it helpful to insert and not have to run out and leave the house right away, just to give myself a security buffer time, lol
- I don’t push mines far back, it kinda naturally floats up there on its own, but generally settles in the same spot off to the left. This is something no one mentioned, and I thought might indicate improper insertion. I've since learned that's not the case.
- Some things that I find handy when emptying are paper towels or tissue to set the cup on after I rinse or wash it between insertions. And the sink, of course. Fortunately mines is right next to the toilet at both of my places.
- And thanks to my new method, it’s much easier to take it in and out so that I'm not hogging up the bathroom.
- I also have unscented baby wipes on hand to wipe any residual fallout after reinsertion.
- I haven’t had to empty it in public, but I hear a bottle of water is helpful in public stalls.
- At home about every other time I empty it I use a natural feminine wash by Honey Pot to clean it.