The Diva In Me
TMI Warning: read no further if you are squeamish, or have issues with discussing menstruation.
I finally broke down and ordered a Diva Cup.
For those of you who don't know, the Diva Cup is a menstrual collection device made out of medical grade silicone that looks like this:
I used to have extremely sporadic periods. They were light and fairly painless. I enjoyed that a lot until it came time to have babies, and then I realized that periods are good. Because periods mean ovulation. Ovulation means babies.
I did manage to get pregnant on my own, but it took some concerted effort. It didn't really take that long, it just took...dedication.
The first time I got pregnant, I had absolutely no idea until I was 9 weeks along, because the standard and usually reliable indicator of a successfully established pregnancy; absence of one's period, meant nothing to me.
It was only when I began to experience extreme fatigue that I caught on to the fact that maaaaaaaaaybe I was pregnant.
Anyway....like the boob fairy when I was 15, the period fairy visited me when I was about 37. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, my periods became like clockwork, which was quite a novel thing for me. But with increased regularity, came increased everything else; cramps, clotting, and flow. My god, the flow.
I went from scarcely needing a pad or panty liner, to needing a full herd of adult sheep to stuff up there each cycle. They would have fit too. I gave birth to a nearly ten pound baby, doncha know.
It got to the point that some days, I could scarcely leave the house because of the heaviness of my flow. A medical exam assured me that there was nothing physically amiss. My doctor, a woman, looked at me sympathetically and said "That's just what happens when our bodies start to age. Things change, and not always for the better."
Great. So I'm not dying of uterine cancer, but I have to put up with this crapola for another 15 years.
Hysterectomy began to look like a very attractive option to me. I don't need the damned uterus anymore, why not just yank it out? This coming from someone who is extremely phobic when it comes to surgery of any sort. Unfortunately, they do not offer hysterectomy as an elective surgery. And if they did, there is no way any health insurance company would pay for it.
Then we'd have backalley hsyterectomies happening all over the place. And nobody wants that, right?
I have several friends who have been using the Diva Cup for a couple of years now, and have raved about it. To hear them tell it, the Diva Cup is the best thing since the Rabbit.
But I was skeptical. I'm not that big a fan of the rabbit, so I know that one woman's Diva Cup is another woman's Peter North ejaculating dildo. Interesting in theory, but in practice, kind of a mess.
So I dismissed the Diva Cup and continued spending ridiculous amounts of money on products that are really terrible for my body and the environment, and really don't do that good a job. Even the Super Ginormous Plus Plus size seemed to leak, even before they were fully saturated. And sometimes they would slip right out at the most inopportune moments.
Plus, I felt so self-conscious buying them. I might as well have donned a placard bearing the legend...
"My Uterus Will Be Fully Visible In 20 Years."
I finally decided enough was enough and last month, after my period had ended, I ordered a Diva Cup.
I really had doubts about it staying where it is supposed to stay, due to the birth of the aforementioned ten pound baby and the lamentable need for about a gazillion stitches after his passage into the world.
Did you know that they won't actually "take a few extra stitches"? They don't think it's very funny when you ask either.
It's as if you are asking them to compromise their professional integrity or something. They are reconstructing vaginas, which to them, I suppose, are a very utilitarian part of the female anatomy. They are repairing a piece of machinery, not sculpting a work of art.
Frankly, I would kind of prefer that my vagina resemble a Picasso rather than a Peterbilt.
But I digress....
My other fear was the mess. I really couldn't understand how one could extract and empty the thing without spilling the contents everywhere.
Those fears turned out to be completely unfounded.
It does stay put. The trick, really is finding out where "put" actually is. There is a learning curve with this product, but once you have determined where to position it most comfortably and effectively, it is a dream come true.
I had a trial run before my period started to experiment with where and how to position the cup. I highly recommened doing so to anyone considering trying this product. Everybody's body is different, and it turns out that it works best for me sitting slightly higher in my body than the directions would have led me to believe.
Wearing it lower caused it to tip back towards my spine, breaking the seal. Also, the stem chafed my labia a little. As any woman knows, labia chafage can be a deal killer. It's why I could never really get excited about thongs, lack of panty lines notwithstanding.
But the most disconcerting thing by far was the fact that I could feel the bell sitting in my vagina. It wasn't painful at all, but rather similar to the senseation one gets towards the end of pregnancy that makes it feel as if one is perched atop a bowling ball.
It was just very...evident.
So I tried wearing it higher, after discussing it with my Diva mentor, and found that so positioned, the seal remained intact, I could not feel it at all, and the tail end did not protrude from my vagina. Voila. I found "put".
And it stayed there, even after I relieved myself. Number 2, not number 1.
Geez, here I am talking about capacious vaginas and I can't just say I had a bowel movement? How ridiculous. Well I did. I had a bowel movement with the Diva Cup in, and the sucker didn't move so much as a millimeter. Sold.
I started my period today, so with some trepidation, but a lot of excitement, I inserted the Diva Cup. Insertion was easy, since I had already practiced. And I was a bit smug about that. Until the second time I emptied it.
To insert, one is supposed to fold it into a c-shape, insert it into the vagina, and then rotate it until it pops open and forms a seal. All that happened the way it was supposed to. The first time.
The second time, I could not get the dad gummed thing to pop open. So I just shoved it in unfolded. While this method is perhaps lacking in finesse, it works just fine.
Now, here's the best part. There was NO leakage, whatsoever. The first time I put it in, I wore it for five hours and it was only about 1/2 full when I took it out to empty it. I could easily have gone another two or three hours before emptying; perhaps longer.
Unlike Tampons, there is no risk of toxic shock from prolonged wearing. The Diva Cup can be worn for up to twelve hours if you do not need to empty it more frequently.
The second time I emptied it, I had been wearing it for six hours and it was about 3/4 full. I sat through an entire ball game and did not have to change tampons in the nasty, disgusting park facilities. I did not have to stuff my purse with tampons and pads. I did not have to resort to desperate clenching as a rogue tampon tried to make it's escape from my vagina.
Really, you could be out for multiple hours and never have to worry about emptying it in a public facility.
I found, however, that extraction and emptying were very easy and not at all messy as I had feared. I suppose if the cup was overflowing it would be, (Update: Yes, it is. Do not wear it so long that it exceeds maximum capacity) but as I said, I wore it a very long time and did not fill it up. I think the only time one would come close to reaching capacity would be after a full night's sleep (Update: Yes...and then some)
Anyway, one simply pinches the bell to break the seal, and then pulls it straight out. The sides are rigid enough that they will not collapse when full, so there is no danger of spillage unless you pretty much upend the cup completely. (or, leave it in so long that it exceeds maximum capacity. Lesson learned.)
If I did have to empty it in a public restroom, I would not be nervous about it at all now.
They say that you really need to use the cup for several cycles to know if it's right for you, but after only one day, I'm convinced. I don't know why somebody didn't think of this 40 years ago.
Here's an instructional video that some brave soul put together. It's very informative and helped me a lot. I must also thank my Diva mentor Lisa, for answering all my very graphic questions without batting an eyelash.
If you have questions you'd like to ask about the Cup, please feel free to ask. I'm not the most experienced user, since I've only used it for one day. But if there is something I can't answer, I can consult my Diva mentor and then post her answers here.
Cost effective, good for your body, easy, clean and convenient.
Who could ask for more?
Isn't it time you put a little Diva in you?
UPDATE: My first night with the Diva Cup was slightly less successful than the first day. Apparently, my flow increased dramatically overnight. By 6:00 am, the cup was full, (I went to bed around midnight) and I learned a valuable lesson. When the cup has exceeded capacity, the seal will simply let go. I felt it when I rose from the bed. It won't fall out, but it will make a big, fat, mess as you run for the commode.
Still, I consider the Diva Cup a resounding success. With tampons, I would have been rising every couple of hours during the night to change, despite doubling up with a heavy duty pad. I anticipate that today I may have to empty the cup every 2-3 hours. That's still a vast improvement over tampons. On my heaviest flow days, I would normally change tampons every hour, sometimes even 30 mins.