Menstrual Cups

Goal # 23 completed: Switch to eco alternative DivaCup

Boys: this is your hint that this article is not for you, however you can read it and recommend it to all the ladies you know 🙂

Pads and tampons – oh the misery of spending you money on something that you are throwing away instantly – one use products stink! If you are anything like me this pisses you off. Back in 2008 I was reading some blogs and happened to come across this thing called a menstrual cup – I think the article said something about saving money. Score! Who does not want to do that? So away I went googling and internet shopping! At the time, I bought a DivaCup and I bought it strictly to save money – I had not even considered the environmental impact it would have. I tend to be one to jump at new things (ie. moving to Norway) so I ordered my DivaCup, told my roommate it was coming so she would watch the mail for it and waited anxiously! First of all at this point my roommate thought I was loonie or a hippie or something, something that I am now just used to people saying.

So my cup arrived (prefectly timed for it’s use!), I was super excited to try it out! I read all the instructions – which I highly recommend – then was off to use it. If you want to ‘practice’ using the cup when you are not menstruating – to have a less messy way of learning, it is suggested to use only water (not oil) base lubricant. After 20 minutes in the bathroom my sweet roommate came to check on me, we had a good laugh at the fact that I still was just trying to figure out how to use this. But I finally figure it out – and wow was it comfortable. There are many different types of ‘folds’ to help with insertion, and if you are having trouble a quick youtube search should help. Personally, I found that the ‘fold in’ works the best for me. Don’t be intimidated if you think that it looks huge, try the fold in and it is actually the same as a tampon. You can do it!

Let’s discuss the actual health side of things – did you know that there are harmful chemicals in tampons and pads? Ekkk!! Your vaginal skin is very sensitive, there is no need for synthetic fibers and bleach to come in contact with you there.

To our utter dismay, there are no federal regulations concerning listing ingredients in tampons. So, for those approximately 11,000 tampons you’ll use in your lifetime, you are actually slipping chlorine-bleached rayon or rayon-cotton blends into your body. In fact, the USDA reports that U.S. cotton farmers dump approximately 55 million pounds of pesticides into the cotton fields. [via]

Hold on, wait up! Did she say 11,000 tampons in our life! WOW! So let’s sidetrack here for just a moment. Say a box of 50 cost $8 USD (just did a search around – seems average). Then we would need to buy 220 boxes to fill our 11,000 need, which would cost us $1760. While that is a big number, it of course is not going to buy you a new car. (That cost would be much higher in Norway!) Now lets say from age 15 – 55 you need your menstrual cup, that is only 4 of them, since you can use it up to 10 years – that is a total cost of $120 USD. What a nice savings! [PS. If you watch for it online, it is generally easy to find a 2 for 1 deal or 50% off – keep those eyes pealed!]

OK so besides that huge monetary savings, we are going to be avoiding bleaches, rayon and pesticides.. yay! Tampons and sometimes pads too, absorb your vaginas natural moisture – this is a bad thing, you need this since it is obviously there for a reason. Then since there are not chemicals present there shouldn’t be irritation or the chance of TSS! Wow, the fear of my teen years could have been avoided! Also, since there are no fibers present, then no fibers can be left behind to cause irritation.

So lets go through some of the basic questions asked – remember I have only used DivaCup, but from what I hear they are all the same.

Is it hard to insert?
I think that if you have learned to insert a tampon it is not to different. You just need to get the feel of it. Some people suggest that if you are having trouble learning to squat and insert it then. This aligns you better for insertion, so if it is being tricky try the squat method and be patient while learning. Always remember to ‘aim’ for your tailbone. It seems like there is alot of work to do and lots to learn. But really it is not different the learning about tampons – it just seems more foreign since most have never even heard of it.

Does it leak?
When you are learning to use the cup – for the first one or two cycles – you will have a chance that it leaks. When learning it is recommended to used a pad just incase till you get into the swing of it. Once you have learned to insert it correctly, then it is very very rare that it will leak. In my experience, I think I have only had it leak once because I was in a hurry and inserted it wrong. If it ‘overflows’ the cup the seal is going to keep the liquid in your cervix, which will not harm you – however I would not recommend allowing this to happen for hours. Again with once you learn and are one your second cycle you will start to know what your flow is and how often you should empty.

Is it messy?
In my opinion, not really. But I guess it is a tid bit more then a tampon. However if you are blood squeamish, then you are going to be having another set of problems at this time. Basically, you could have a small amount of blood on your fingers, nothing the toilet paper can not fix.

Is there odor?
Since there is a seal between your nose and the contents of the cup – you will not have that typical unpleasant chance of a smell.

Can you feel it?
If you have inserted it wrong – yes. But once you know how to insert it right for your body -then no. Some people say that it takes a minute for theirs to ‘pop’ open once inserted – then of course you can feel that. But it is not a pain, just a small feeling. Some people however can feel the stem, which then is recommended to cut to a length that you can not feel it. Make sure however you buy the right size, there are pre and post birthing sizes. You will need to read on the products website to know which one to buy as they all size there own way.

Can it get stuck?
What I can say it that is can not go missing, there is no where else for it to go. So don’t worry there. It can feel like it is stuck if you are to tense, if you try to take it out and have trouble – don’t freak out. This will make it worse. Relax. If you tense up, your muscles are holding it in place and you are going to have a huge problem getting it out. So relax, and if needed push down with your muscles (like if you were constipated) and that will help push it out. I have only once or twice had this issue. Relaxing and not freaking out is the trick.

Can I do sports in it?
Yes. Just in case you worry though – read this from the DivaCup website:

The DivaCup holds one ounce (30 ml). The entire average monthly flow is around 30 to 40 ml according to the Mayo Clinic. Theoretically, the flow could slosh around inside the cup and reverse out of the cup slightly, but it cannot travel back through the small cervical opening from which the flow expels. It’s fantastic for swimming, outdoor enthusiasts, aerobics, cycling, traveling, camping, etc. It is perfect for extreme sports also. You will feel fresh, secure, and liberated. No feminine hygiene products to pack (or run out of). No worries about staying close to a bathroom. No restrictions on physical activity. Because you can wear The DivaCup longer than tampons or pads, you have the convenience of not having to think about your period all day long!

Can I sleep in it?
Yes, clean it out before you go to bed and reinsert. Just like in the sports quote above, the liquid can not backtrack when lying down – so you are safe. Empty and rinse when you wake up, and again reinsert.

How do I know when to empty it?
This will come with time. On average a woman’s period it is 30 – 40 ml, the cup can hold up to 30 ml. If you just pay attention to your flow the first time around you will start to know how often. However, you could probably just leave it in 8 to 10 hours then see what the results are and go from there. Many ladies leave theirs in 10-12 hours at a time. It is recommended that in the span of 24 hours to empty it twice with a rinse/wash.

What if I am in a public restroom without sink access?
Use toilet paper and wipe it out. I personally don’t wash mine every time, it is ok to just wipe it clean or just dump it and reinsert it. Just wash it when you have the chance. But still try to wash/rinse it at least once a day.

What is it made of?
The DivaCup is made of medical top quality silicone, which is 100% latex-free, plastic-free, BPA-free and odorless. This is safe and practically no one is allergic to it. There are also some other brands made of pure rubber.

How long does it last?
This one comes with some debate. Some of the companies are saying that you should get a new one every year – but of course this is to help them with business. I have had mine almost 3 years and it is still A-ok! Some of the menstrual cups produced in Europe are said to last 10 years – said so by the manufactures. It is not a Europe vs everywhere else thing – I think it is just a more honest not so money hungary thing. As long as you are properly caring for it and not cleaning it with harsh chemicals, I vote at least 5 years – but try 10 if it seems fine. What a money saver!

Let me know if you have any questions I have not addressed.

Many people feel that there period has magically gotten shorted when they start to use a menstrual cup – there are no proven studies of this though. I think that since you can just insert your cup in the morning and not worry about it till the night, it makes you feel it is shorter since you don’t have to constantly worry about it! I had the same thought not to long after I started with mine, but I counted the days and it is the same.

If you are unsure of which brand to try, I suggest watching this video. It is a collection of cups with comparisons in sizes.

A list of menstrual cups are listed below:

Keeper Moon cup
Mooncup UK

Also you can check out this youtube page for individual reviews.

So what do you think? Will you make the switch?

5 Responses

  1. EcoCatLady February 17, 2011 / 21:43

    I switched to the Diva Cup about a year ago and I totally love it. I’ll never go back! It’s so much more convenient than any other system because you just have to empty it once in the morning and once at night and then you can forget about it!

    I do have one word of caution though, especially if you’re the scatterbrained type (as I am). Use a timer when boiling it!

  2. EcoCatLady February 17, 2011 / 21:46

    p.s. Hilsen fra Denver! I spent a year living in Trondheim when I was in school and in general I think the Norwegians are much more sane than Americans!

  3. Whitney March 8, 2011 / 23:07

    Where can one buy one in Norway?

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