Friday, 19 May 2017

The 7 Stages of Buying and Trying a Diva Cup

      Last month, I finally bought a Diva Cup.  I thought I would never try one in a million years, but apparently even I am capable change.  I feel a lot of existential guilt about the trash I leave in my wake.  I also feel a lot of moral outrage that I have to produce waste for some natural process that I did not ask for.  A menstrual cup seemed like the final frontier of sustainable living in a female reality. 
      Anyway, according to Diva Cup's (2017) Eco-Divas info page, the average woman uses approximately 9,600 tampons across her 40 year menstrual life cycle.  That's a hell of a lot bleached cotton and rayon leaching dioxin into the environment!  It's also probably not good for our internal lady bits in the long run.  Disposable menstrual gear is the norm right now, but the plastic covering ends up on washroom floors, and the paper flaps static cling to your clothes to be tracked through the house.  It's a mess, and it's not cute.
     On the other hand, I really thought it was disgusting and horrifying to shove a silicone cup up your vagine to collect menstrual blood that you have to deal with hours later.  However, my opinion was swayed by the savings on pads and tampons and alleviating some of my personal contribution to the degradation of the environment.  This paradigm shift was assisted by fate drawing me to London Drugs and noticing that Diva Cups were on sale for $5 off.  You can also purchase your own Diva Cup at Shoppers Drug Mart for those sweet, sweet Optimum points. 
You can also get them here:
Expect to pay about $40 with tax ($37.99), but it is totally worth it!  Let me weave you a yarn of penultimate satisfaction with this innovative product.  

Meet my Diva Cup.

 Hey, it's a Diva Cup.  It's like 2" tall.  Doable.

With all the preamble out of the way, let's jump into my actual experiences!  As my cycle progressed and I got more practice with the Diva Cup, I noticed several marked changes in my state of mind.  Maybe there weren't 7, but I liked the way it sounded, so we're going with the 7 Stages of Buying and Trying a Diva Cup.

1. Excitement

I was really jazzed when I bought my Diva Cup.  I had watched some YouTubers chronicle their experiences and read some reviews beforehand, I finally felt ready to commit.  No time like the present to begin a new menstrual chapter.  I was unstoppable!  The box was like a special secret in my purse on the bus going home. 
"I'm a modern empowered woman, yes, this natural glow is my divine feminine confidence because I am saving the world one period at a time."
If only I had such positive self talk all the time.  I couldn't wait to get home and boil my Diva Cup.  Strong start!

2. Horror

After the cup was sanitized through boiling, I was good to go.  The only problem was that I was about a day early.  Things were not in high gear yet.  However, I thought it would totally be a good idea to do a dry run...literally.  Getting it in there was so easy.

Let me tell you, it is a lot easier to shove something up your vagina than it is to pull something out.  If anyone else has had sex with a tampon in, then it got so rammed up inside that you have to dig your fist in there in sweaty horror, praying that you do not have to go to the hospital to get it removed because the string seems nowhere to be found, you know that certain visceral terror.  The horror is twofold.  It is a total lack of feeling in control of your own body, and the crushing embarrassment of being afraid of your own genitals. 

3. Disgust

I'm a 300% sex positive person.  I just have zero desire to reach into the muscular bag that is my vagina.  A menstrual cup kind of relies on our ability to be able to at least put a finger and a thumb in there.

In my panic, I got in the shower and tried to relax.  Relaxing never works when you need it to.  Relaxing then "bearing down" like you're pooping seem like contradictory instructions.  Timidly trying to coax a foreign object out of there while you're freaking out is not productive, I learned.  It was suctioned to my cervix; gravity was not on my side because it wasn't full of blood and mucus and junk.  I tried a new technique I've been using to calm the crippling anxiety in my daily life: mantras.

As it is said in the old and revered hymn by Riff Raff featuring Katy Perry,
It's no big deal.  It's no big deal.  It's no big deal. This is no big deal

This is how we do, yeah, chilling, laid back
Straight stuntin' yeah we do it like that
This is how we do, do do do do, this is how we do

With a mighty push and a violent act of fumbling dexterity from desperate yet nimble monkey fingers, she was out!  Lesson learned: wait until there is more than spotting.

4. Intrigue

Over the following days, it was interesting to get a feel for the removal process.  There is something quite fascinating about seeing all the goop that comes out.  Now, I only remove and clean my Diva Cup in the shower.  I am not yet confident enough in my skills to do it over the toilet.  Getting to pour the cup full of blood down the drain is like the call of the void, both inviting and intrusively perverse.

The other benefit of removing the cup in the shower is that you bathe twice a day.  I usually use my period as an excuse to be as gross as humanly possible and wallow in my own filth.  But with the Diva Cup, and specifically when taking it out in the shower, you can take the time to look at the measurements on the side and keep track of how heavy your flow is.  This is another stat provided on the Diva Cup packaging, but the average period is 1-2 ounces.  In my first month with the Diva Cup, I measured 2.5 ounces over 4 days.  This month was a shorter, lighter period for me, with just shy of 2 ounces over 3 days.


5. Satisfaction

It's always really satisfying to feel like you're getting better at something.  Every single time I took it out, I got a little faster.  I felt a little more relaxed.  I was able to put my fingers in there without panicking so I didn't end up pinching my business with my beautiful yet pointy active oval finger nails.

I only used one big overnight pad for the duration of my period.  I did go through two regular pads and one pantyliner, but that is less than I would normally use in combination with at least 6 tampons.

It is great to see that menstrual cups really do reduce feminine hygiene products going into landfills.  The amount of spotting and leakage was so insignificant, it really blew my mind and made me confident in the cup's staying power.

 I was supremely impressed by how little made it past the Diva Cup after 13 hours on the Tiger Force (heaviest flow) day of my period. 

The Diva Cup promises 10-12 hours of protection, but it was a long day.  I think the Diva Cup would be a game changer for swimming.  I still haven't tested it out at the gym, but I am working on it.  I am a lazy cretin.

6. Empowerment

As I gained confidence in the product, I decided to talk to friends and family about menstrual cups as a legitimate option for period gear.  I had the most wonderful conversation with my mum.  She shared that when she was growing up, menstrual technology was that of a belt with a cotton tube like a sumo's mawashi.  It was bulky and legit tortuously chafey.  She's watched the rise of pads, then tampons, and now this new option is amazing, scary, but amazing.

We have a wonderful relationship, and I can talk to my mum about anything.  But our conversation made me aware of my own taboos around menstruation, and having a positive relationship with my own vagine.  I realize that being comfortable with your own vagina is also beneficial for your health in general.  It is an opportunity to figure out your personal normal and track changes.  Not just from menstrual flow/colour/consistency/duration, but what if you found a lump?  At least you have a baseline.

I wish I had switched to a menstrual cup years ago.  I hope there are tweens starting out with cups instead of tampons.  I don't think pads will ever disappear completely, but we should retire tampons fer suuuure.  The menstrual cup is the way of the future.
 I wish I knew you when I was young.

7. Excitement

I boiled my Diva Cup at the end of my last period and tucked it away in its fun pink drawstring bag in preparation for the cycle to begin anew.  As I looked upon the little pouch, I got a brief pang of excitement to try the process again.  After a second period using the Diva Cup, I can honestly say that I have no regrets!  It has totally exceeded all of my expectations and I really hope more women get on board.

The Diva Cup isn't the only menstrual cup game in town.  No ma'am!  There are other shapes, sizes, and lengths too.  A lot of them look very similar, so here is a sampling of the ones I thought seemed the most visually diverse. 

Sticks, ribs, tubes, lengths in any combination.

I like the Diva Cup because it was designed in Canada and manufactured in Ontario.  Considering the environmental and health benefits, supporting Canadian innovation is a pretty good bonus.

Hopefully this post inspires some more ladies to try out reusable menstrual gear.  Find what works for you.  I mean, apparently we have around 40 years to get it figured out.  I've spent the last 12 years ripping through pad wrappers, yanking out tampons, and scrubbing blood stains out of my period undies.  I have already spent approximately 1.6 years of my life bleeding onto a weird foamy plastic sheet.  Existing shouldn't have to be this hard.

 If only we could get PMS, cramps, and migraines figured out. (feat my squirrel neck pillow)

We're all in this together.  Be brave.  Be kind.  Shove a cup against your cervix.