I was too impatient to do more research on brands and wait for an order to come in so, I went to Whole Foods and bought The Diva Cup. As many users have cited, there is some trial and error with the first period when using a menstrual cup. The most common (and my own issue) is leakage. I had no problems inserting or removing the cup. Although, my first removal looked like a slasher scene because when the suction released while pulling it out, fluid went everywhere. Only made that mistake once. Slow-ish on the removal is best. The problem that lingered was leakage. Ugh. I was getting highly upset that I dropped nearly forty bucks on this thing (it's cheaper here) and I still needed to wear a pad with it. Then, YouTube. I knew that I could feel my help coming when I found this darling British teen's video on how to stop your menstrual cup from leaking. Her tips on different folds for insertion and checking for the cup to be completely unfolded once in the vagina were just what I needed. I'm still working on getting some speedy finesse with insertion, especially in public restrooms but, I love using this cup.
There are a lot of brands each with varying degrees of thickness and stiffness to the cups. Most brands have more than one size dependent upon age and/or if childbirth has been experienced. The sort of tulip shape is consistent across the majority of brands with a few exceptions. The amount of fluid that's held is also consistent at one ounce. For ever, I've claimed a heavy flow without really knowing the exact amount. Yet, I can already see a difference from my first flow using the cup versus my second. Of course, in the coming months I will learn if the decrease is coincidence or truly one of the benefits as many have touted. In the past, you couldn't pay me to believe I was bleeding no less than a cup a day--8 ounces! I know, that's a ridiculous thought and I'm a birth worker. I know what the textbooks say as an average and even with every body being different, I was still way off the mark. In my first menses with the cup, I filled the cup twice for a whopping one ounce each time. And that took about 4 hours on my heaviest day. For much of this second experience, I've gone 6-8 hours between removals and found that I only had half an ounce at most...even on my heaviest days.
When I remove it to empty the fluid collected, I rinse all residue in substantially hot water or a cup of hot water with a little soap. The packaging says to avoid fragranced soaps, oils, and alcohol as they could damage the cup. When I'm done for the month, I give it a thorough wash with plain Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, let it air dry completely then, put it back in the included storage pouch until next month.
The one lingering drawback for me is the smell of the cup at the end of my cycle. I've learned that it's not just me who ends up with a weird, broccoli-like smelling cup. It seems it gets this odor the longer I leave it in and, so far, that's only been on the last day when my flow is mostly heavy discharge. The smell did go away after washing and airing out for a few hours.
So, here's a quick recap of my menstrual cup experience so far:
- No discomfort with proper insertion
- No issues with removal as long as it's a bit gingerly
- While it can be left in for 12 hours, I remove a little more frequently to avoid odor
- The biggest learning curve came with getting a proper seal to avoid leakage but, I've conquered that challenge
- With the particular brand I purchased, the DivaCup, the larger size fits well as I am over 30 and have given birth.
- I think this is such an amazingly cost-effective product as they are meant to last for at least a year. This also means a smaller eco footprint because of less waste.
If you've tried one, let me know what you think. If you're thinking about trying one and have more questions, feel free to ask. Please be respectful considering the nature of this post.