Menstrual cups have been around for nearly a century. Invented in the 1930s, this sustainable period product only recently gained popularity. And with the rise of menstrual cups came the DivaCup. A mother-daughter duo founded the company in 2003, and DivaCup has become the most well-known menstrual cup brand globally and has helped millions of menstruators ditch their tampons and pads. The cups are good to wear for up to twelve hours and produce far less waste than other products. As an avid tampon user, I was intrigued yet terrified.
I decided to try the DivaCup for four days during my recent period. Before I received them in the mail, I did some research to manage my expectations. I asked friends and family if they’ve tried the product and heard back from five women who shared their experiences. All of them said the same thing; it’s a learning curve. Hearing how challenging it can be to get used to a new product was intimidating. After all, I only had a few days to try it before having to wait another month. My expectations were pretty low. It looked wide and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t imagine the messy process of changing it. But still, I was determined to get it right.
Shortly after reaching out to the DivaCup team, I received a starter kit in the mail on the first day of my period. The package had the Model 0 DivaCup, menstrual cup wipes, a cleansing foam, a pouch, and a shaker cup. And the best part, there was a full-length manual with instructions for how to clean and insert the cup. I read the manual cover to cover, boiled the cup, and got ready for the experience.
The manual offered two methods for insertion; the “U-fold” or the “push-down fold.” At first, I tried the U-fold, which folds the cup in half. With this method, I quickly ran into problems. For one, I had on acrylic nails. Every time I brought my fingers up toward my vagina, I felt sharp pinches and jabs. The U-fold also made the cup wide and felt five times bigger than the tampon I was used to. The U-fold felt impossible, so I switched to the push-down fold and finally got the DivaCup in.
Getting the cup in was hard. And twisting it to seal the cup was even harder. With every pinch and slip, I thought to myself, “do people really do this every month?” But for what it’s worth, the hard part was over. During the day, I completely forgot I was on my period and didn’t feel a thing. The cup was comfortable inside of me, collecting blood, and didn’t hang out like I thought it would. I did leak during the first few hours. However, I suspect that’s because I had some trouble twisting to seal the cup.
Day one was overall a success! My only true complaints were how challenging it was to put in and take out. But the challenging process of taking out the cup was definitely worth the reward of seeing my period blood measured. Something that menstrual cups have over tampons and pads is its connection to your actual period blood. Holding my DivaCup with my blood helped me get over the squeamishness I felt towards menstruation. It no longer felt like a disgusting secret because I was holding it in my hand.
The next two days ran more smoothly. I sealed the cup and didn’t notice any more leaks. However, the process of changing the cups didn’t get much easier. It was still more time-consuming than changing my usual tampon and was much more invasive than I was used to. I also felt uncomfortable changing my cup in public spaces, where I’d need to clean and empty the cup. However, on the flip side, I had 12 hours in between each change, which gave me plenty of time to menstruate carefree during the day and overnight. My period is around 3-5 days, so I would only need about 5-10 total changes instead of 10-20 with my usual tampons. So while the changing process is super-inconvenient, it happens very infrequently.
Aside from the inconvenience of changing the cup, the DivaCup was surprisingly comfortable. It did its job collecting my menstrual blood, and I couldn’t ignore the list of other advantages. Each model of the DivaCup is only CAD 39.99 and lasts up to a year. Forty dollars seemed like a lot at first, considering a pack of tampons is half the price. However, studies show that most menstruators spend more than $40 per year on average, making the DivaCup a more worthwhile investment.
Additionally, menstrual cups are a much more eco-friendly alternative. Disposing of one cup a year is far less detrimental than 20 tampons in just a month (that’s about 240 tampons in a year). Especially considering it can take around 800 years for a single tampon to decompose. So, there are major advantages to DivaCup. I was pleasantly surprised with the comfortable and leak-proof cup, despite some of the challenges in using it. I do anticipate that the process becomes much easier with more use. And considering all the great benefits of the product, I would definitely consider another round of the DivaCup.
To learn more about the creation of the DivaCup, check out our podcast interview with the CEO of Diva International, Carinne Chambers-Saini.