Leaking blood for 6 or so days at a time is an experience all its own. If you're like me and have a heavy flow (sans wide-set vagina, for my Mean Girls fans), you are familiar with the arsenal of products necessary to maintain the tide. I used to be loaded up with super tampons, extra long maxi pads, liners, wipes and a backup pair of period undies. These items ran me nearly $15 a month — a whopping $180 annually — for something I couldn't stop without medical intervention (and spending more money).
Up until recently, federal women's' prisons required that inmates purchase their OWN sanitary products to disperse the cost. The price tag of this natural bodily function sent me in pursuit of other options. I was familiar with menstrual cups; their eco-friendliness and longevity peaked my interested a few years back. I chickened out then, but I knew the time was near.
So in November 2016, I did it. I bought a DivaCup.
After opening a very pink box and cradling a cute little silicone cup in my palm, reviewing guidelines and watching tutorials, I felt ready to take the plunge. Here's why I'll never go back to anything else:
1. Just like air — you can't see it, but you know it's there.
Anyone who wears a menstrual cup will tell you that the hardest part is getting your own technique down. Do you fold with a crossover or a standard 'U' shape? Do you spin it as you put it in or use a finger to gently unfold once inside? To trim the stem or not to trim?
All of these questions have more to do with your anatomy and your dexterity than anything. I actually got my cup in with ease the first time (pro tip: get used to putting it in and taking it out before your period actually begins), but the stem was so long and bothersome that I trimmed a bit of it off. Then it disappeared off into the abyss and I felt it no more. This was a welcomed change from dangling cotton strings and diaper-like pads.
2. That secure suction though.
I tend to move in my sleep, but periods triggered me to sleep stiffer than a mummy. Don't roll over too quickly, don't fling those legs apart. 'They' say you can sleep in tampons, but they are not intended to be worn for such a long time. I was stuck between running the risk of bacterial infections or waking up with blood everywhere but on the pad (how does this even happen!?). When inserted properly, the DivaCup fits snuggly in your cooch. All blood flow is then captured into the cup, far from sight. The cup has tiny holes along the rim to allow for removal when gently squeezed. I feel like I have a Tupperware seal going on down there, and I'm back to sleeping with ease!
If you do not have a good seal, you will likely experience leaks. I recommend liners for the first couple months on the cup, at least until you feel confident in your seal.
3. Hours and hours of freedom.
The standard size DivaCup can be left in for 12 hours. Given that I have a heavier flow, mine tends to be full after eight, but that is still EIGHT hours of worry-free time. I have practiced yoga, gone swimming and worked entire days without thinking about my vaginal shot glass. I was not worried about forgetting to bring tampons with me everywhere. That peace of mind was worth the purchase price alone.
4. Breaking free from patriarchal capitalism.
I can't express how liberating it has been to not purchase any sanitary products for months. My eco-footprint is shrinking, my wallet is flourishing, my edges are snatched. I shuttered at the initial purchase price, but I recognize that this is an investment. I will reap the benefits of this cup for years to come. There are also plenty of other brands available, so feel free to shop around!
All in all, I rate my menstrual cup a solid 10/10. Periods might be unpredictable, but they are no match for the cost-effective, eco-friendly, hygienic little cup between my knees.