MOONBLOOD CHRONICLES: THE DIVA CUP EXPERIENCE
Over the course of my reproductive lifetime (about 40 years), it is estimated that I will spend thousands of dollars on about 10,000 period products. Pads, tampons, panty liners, chocolate, ibuprofen (or other medicinals ;); periods are incredibly involved. I was raised on strictly pads and was never encouraged to wear tampons. When I got my period the day of prom, things changed. My neighbor gave us a box of regulars and it wasn't until the very last one that I finally got the hang of it. For the next 15 years, I would use only use Playtex. Don't give me Tampax or any other bullshit. I haven't been on birth control in about 9 years, so my periods are h e a v y, but short. I'd say all of my undies are stained at this point and I do still use pads at night. .
About two years ago, I made the transition to LOLA Tampons. 100% Cotton. I never thought about the fact that my store-bought tampons were made with cotton, rayon, and other synthetic fibers. Often times they contain chemicals and pesiticides. Gross! These tampons are 100% natural, organic, biodegradable AND delivered to your door. You can customize what size tampons come in your box. (My mixture is 10 super, 4 regular, & 4 light.) As well as choose your delivery date. (Mine always come one week before my cycle.) Each box is $10 and you have the ability to skip your order, if you need to. I'll never have to make a late-night drug store run again...except when I want chocolate. Now LOLA offer other products like pads, pantyliners, and first period kits!
When I first started using LOLA Tampons, I had some serious issues with the applicator. It would constantly get stuck and .I was tossing more ‘pons than I was using. Then they revamped their tampons a bit and I hadn't had a problem in about six months. Then it happened the other day. Was it user error? This got me thinking about reusable applicators? Is that a thing or Is that gross? I know that with non-organic tampons the synthetic fibers are added to increase absorbency. Well, LOLA tamps are 100% cotton and I feel like they don't absorb very well. On the first day of my most recent period, I used 3 Super tampons in 3 hours! If you have a heavy ass flow like me, these are things to keep in mind.
Interested in using LOLA? Use my code SO'NEILL2 for $5 off your order!
As much as I love the convenience of tampon delivery, I am still concerned with how much waste tampons and pads actually produce. Plus, I only found out a couple years ago that you're not really supposed to be flushing tampons. (Oops) I've always been interested in using a menstrual cup but it was never at the top of my list to purchase one. At $30, it is quite the investment. However, this price is minimal compared to the thousands of dollars spent over one's lifetime purchasing pads and tampons. After many menstruation talks, a visiting gal pal told me she had been using a cup while traveling and it changed her life.
If you're not familiar with the Diva Cup, it is a reusable menstrual cup. It is made with healthcare grade silicone, so it is free of latex, plastic, PVC, etc. Once inserted, it sits at the base of the vaginal canal and collect menstrual blood. The wonderful part about the Diva Cup is that it can be worn for up to 12 hours. There are two different sizes; Size 1, for women under the age of 30 who have not experienced childbirth and Size 2, for women over 30 and/or who have delivered vaginally or by caesarean. (I am realizing that I was gifted Size 1 before I turned 30 and now I'm 31, so should I get a new cup?!) I was the first of many friends to give the Diva Cup a shot and I'm so glad I survived to tell you all about it.
Initial contact. I intercepted the mail as I was heading out of the door, so I threw the Diva Cup in my backpack. I don't know why I thought that a bathroom stall in the VCU library would be a good place to try my first menstrual cup. The instructions say that you can be sitting, squatting, or standing with one leg up, (my preferred method). You can fold the cup one of two ways; in a U-shape or this other folded shape that they only give you a side view of in the instructions. It clearly says, DO NOT INSERT LIKE A TAMPON; you are supposed to insert horizontally towards the tailbone. This is where I get confused. I'm the kind of person who inhales while smoking a cigar. I don't know what other way to insert. Once it's about halfway in, it's important to make sure that you rotate the cup completely. It's highly possible that this did not happen, even though I totally thought that it did! ANYWAY, after laying on my bathroom floor, I finally got the cup in before bed after 5 or 6 tries.
I woke up the next morning, feeling pleased that I did not leak on my sheets. I was gonna remove the cup, wash it out, then wear it for the next 12 hours. Except things didn't really work out that way. I straight up could not locate the stem. I was texting my nurse friends and trying to get in touch with any cup users for any tips. Did you know that your cervix moves during different stages of your cycle? I scoured the Internet, where I learned that some people keep it in all week; some people have sex with it in. Who really cares when the vaginal canal is only 3-7 inches deep?? I found solace knowing this foreign object wouldn't get lost in my body (remember that lost tampon) but I really wanted the satisfaction of removing it. I went to a hot yoga class in hopes of moving it around but that did nothing. It was time to go to work and I hoped an 8 hour shift, on my feet would get things going.
By the time I got home from work, I hit the 24 hour mark. I wasn't really panicking, but the instructions do say to seek medical attention, if you get to this point. I sat in my bathtub, trying for at least two hours to get it out. Pushing laboriously, I was really getting to know my bod. I could feel the stem but I couldn't get a grip on the cup to de-suction. You are supposed to pinch the area above the stem to release the pressure. I couldn't stop imagining a starfish clinging onto the walls of my cervix. I went to bed feeling defeated. I couldn't even push out tears to cry.
The next morning, I knew it was time for some assistance. There was no way in hell that I was going to Patient First to get it removed. So let me just say this, there is nothing sexy about asking your husband to remove your Diva Cup. When it was finally out, he made me promise to never use it again.
I was heading to Guatemala to spend a week with indigenous Mayan women who were training to be mid-wives. I was supposed to get my period at the end of the week, but of course, it came a bit earlier. I pondered bringing my Diva Cup but I was too nervous that it would get stuck again. Instead, I purchased tampons for a local grocery store. I swear the high-altitude made that period SO HEAVY. I had to change EVERY 2 HOURS WITH A SUPER. The ultimate con of not taking birth control for over 8 years. I was sad that I hadn't brought my Diva Cup with me but it definitely had me thinking about using it in countries where the water isn't "sanitary" or "potable". Would it be an issue to be able to wash it out? Would I feel comfortable washing it in water that I shouldn't even brush my teeth with? If insertion and removal isn't easy for me, how complicated will it be for a someone with less experience? I have this magical idea that my friend Ali and I will travel the world, giving everyone Diva Cups, even though the experience wasn't a complete success. For me, the draw of the Diva Cup is the reusability factor. For developing countries where waste management is an issue, who wants to add menstrual products to the mix? Although, using a latrine in Guatemala had me second guessing everything.
I was traveling to Japan for two weeks and I was definitely gonna get my period on my vacay. I brought the Diva Cup but also an ample amount of tampons. This was the first time that I actually enjoyed using the cup. It still takes me a couple of tries to insert the cup and twice as long to fish it out. Japanese bathrooms are super tiny and I wasn't always comfortable squatting in them. I will say this, the Diva Cup is NOT leakproof. In fact, moments after I inserted the cup, I was leaking. I just used a pad in tandem with my cup, which was annoying because I hate buying pads! Pads really require a certain type of underwear and I'm not always wearing full coverage. I suppose this might be where THINX underwear might work for me. (THINX are period-proof undies that claim to be able to hold up to two tampons worth of blood.) I feel like if the cup is leaking, then its not inserted properly. It's highly possible that it's not fully suctioned to my cervix. Who can really tell? Honestly, I would rather leak a little and be able to locate the stem.
This past weekend I participated in a mindful triathlon, which began with a 5K. I got my period the morning of and popped in a LOLA Super tampon before my 2 hour drive. I changed my tampon when I arrived, before the race, IN A PORTA POTTY (barf). I was about 1.5 miles in when I felt the gush. I was bleeding out and onto my pants! It certainly encouraged me to pick up the pace and finish that shit, so I could figure out my life. Also, my bad for wearing black and white workout pants, but I just didn't think it was going to be a problem. I was definitely having a Kelly from Insecure moment. At first, I was gonna keep my pants on but I thought about the 90 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes of meditation that I had ahead of me. I didn't want to feel uncomfortable. I thought about buying yoga pants but then I remembered why I buy workout clothes at TJ MAXX. $55 for yoga pants? YA JOKING. I walked back to my car and changed into my darker, frond pants and changed my tampon for the 3rd time. Long story short....I bled through my second pair of pants and proceeded to hate the rest of the event. When I got home around 4pm, I was so done with tampons, so I brought my Diva Cup out of retirement. It took me about 4 tries but I got it in, slapped on a panty-liner, and lived the rest of my day. I woke up at 3:45am, leaking in my sheets. I had no trouble finding the stem, so no trouble emptying the cup, but lots of trouble trying to reinsert it. In fact, I haven't successfully be able to do it this cycle.
I haven't found a leakproof way to take care of my period. I want to use my Diva Cup at all times, but the reality is that I still need to use a back-up. My new menstrual plan is to use my Diva Cup on Day 1, then I'll switch to tampons for Days 2 and 3. Mad luv to my girl Ali for gifting me a the Cup, so I could take it for a spin. I doubt I would have willingly purchased it at this point. It's definitely a weird concept and I think you have to be prepared to really get to know yourself when trying to figure out the Diva Cup. It's messy and I don't recommend trying it in public until you feel super comfortable using it.
Find what works best for you, your body, and your period. Let's chat about it!
Thoughts? Are you tampon or menstrual cup? Do you disagree with my review of LOLA or the Diva Cup? Maybe you have some tips for me?!