What if I don’t like the cup?

3 Feb

Those who know me may not be shocked to know that in my younger years I was a bit free-wheelin’ – I had a pretty “hippie” vibe back in high school, which has transitioned into a fairly left – some might say radical – take on most social and environmental issues even now that my hair is cut to a reasonable length.

My combined interest in conservation and lady stuff naturally led me to tampon and pad alternatives. In my early twenties, all the cool enlightened feminists I knew were talking about Diva Cups. I had already read about bleached tampons and toxic shock syndrome, and I also kinda hated the whole process of using pads and how much paper was produced, and the constant possibilities for embarrassment (come on, who hasn’t shown up for class with a pad stuck to their jeans?). So I was pretty excited for something new.

I did my research first, because $40 was a lot of money for me, an unemployed college student. I knew it would save me a lot of money in the long term, but “long term” has never really been a mainstay in my financial vocabulary. So first, to make sure it would be okay for me, I bought the disposable menstrual cup things. They look like a clear plastic bag attached to a livestrong bracelet – you sort of squeeze the rim together and shove it up until it’s sitting against your cervix.

I tried the disposable cups for two periods and I liked them. I bought the Diva Cup. And I hated it.

I tried, I really did. It was forty dollars, after all. I tried using it for three cycles, and then I gave up.

The problem was that I could never get it to feel comfortable. Now I know that I have an unusually long and narrow vaginal canal (thanks, horrible IUD insertion!) and a weirdly tilted cervix, I guess the problem was that I wasn’t getting it in far enough to sit against my cervix. When you’re putting something solid like that into your vagina you tend to get increasingly nervous the further you shove it, and I just didn’t want to push it too far. However, even now that I know that, I’m not sure I would want to try it again. When it comes to menstrual blood, I’m more on the side of flow than containment.

I couldn’t go back to disposable pads and tampons though – I felt like I was losing enough ecofeminist cred as it was. That’s when I discovered cloth pads. Wonderful, lovely cloth pads. Again, they are expensive – but you can use them for a long time, so you save money in the long run. And they can be messy, but if you are diligent about soaking them before throwing them in the wash, it’s really no biggie. I kind of love them. Also, they can be an opportunity to support independent crafters!

It wasn’t until a couple years after I gave up on the Diva Cup that I even said anything about it to anyone. One of the volunteers at the clinic asked me if I had one. Before I could answer, she started to tell me about hers – how much she hated it, how she was trying so hard to like it, how she couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong. I was so happy to have found someone who shared this with me!

I really think that feminists have a code like any other group, silent unwritten rules that vary from chapter to chapter, and one of them (at least in the circle I was running with at the time) was that under no circumstances were you to badmouth any of the great feminist advances – the pill, the Diva Cup, etc. etc. Maybe that was just in my head, I don’t know. But I was so relieved to find there was another feminist (and presumably lots more out there) who wasn’t as stoked about this great device as everyone else.

The lesson, I guess, is that everyone is different. I would never go around badmouthing the Diva Cup (in fact, I promote it as much as I can – after all, most of the people I know who have it, love it), but I’m always careful to tell people who ask me about it that it’s ok to feel like it didn’t work out for you. The more people who are upfront about what’s not working for them, the more chance there is that something else will come along to meet those needs.

So if you are thinking about chucking pads and tampons for something earth-friendly, I recommend doing your research (either online, with friends, or if you have a local feminist sex shop or health store,ask the staff about your options), and considering what features you’re looking for (eg. how comfortable do you feel putting something inside you?, etc.) before committing. Your comfort and safety should always be at the forefront of decisions you make about your body, so don’t be afraid to take some time to choose.

Good luck and happy bleeding!


8 Responses to “What if I don’t like the cup?”

  1. Bridgett February 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I love my Diva Cup now, but hated it when I first got it. It’s too long and I could never get it to be comfortable while wearing. The trick I learned was to wear it inside out.

  2. amelia February 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    +1 feminist who feels meh about the diva cup. it just doesn’t fit me right either. still use it though, because as you say, it was an investment and i can’t just throw that $$ away! have you tried menstrual sponges? if you don’t have heavy flow, they work really well.

  3. Oubli February 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Menstrual Cups Live Journal Community
    http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/ and

    Measurement (Comparison) Chart http://menstrualcupinfo.wordpress.com/cup-stiffness-comparison-chart/

    My advice is try again, there are so many cups out there now of varying sizes and flexibilities. Many women start out with a disappointing Diva cup (they are easiest to find in the US) and if they are determined they will graduate to a something that suits them better. Diva cups never suited me, they are too rigid and too big for my tiny frame but a small MeLuna fits me just right and isn’t a hassle with my IUD.

    And for the days when I am not feeling up to using my cup (or any product), I wear skirts and have a special, extra thick, hand embroidered red towel I made into a thin pillow to sit on. It also serves as a reminder to everyone else in the house that I am busy bleeding, ie get it yourself, leave me alone, I am communion with my body right now.

    Ps – I am that feminist that bad mouths the pill (and all the other BC methods that came after) because the incidence of condom usage in this country was through the roof before these methods came about (upwards 88%), now only a piddly 17% of men do their duty to themselves and their ladies by wearing one. Modern birth control doomed condom usage and with it’s death STDs rates have soared.

  4. shelly February 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    About ten years ago I ditched tampons for The Keeper (similar idea to the Diva Cup; The Keeper is made from gum rubber), and I love it. I couldn’t rid myself of disposable pads, though. In that regard I err on the side of convenience. But there are more eco-friendly disposable alternatives, too. (I’m thinking of the brands Natracare and Seventh Generation; I use both but prefer the latter).

  5. Tricia February 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Nice post! I also always tell people about the first time I took mine out and literally felt like I was sucking all of the organs out of my body through my vagina. Release the suction, friends. Just do it.

    I love the cup, but also love the pads. For the humans out there who are heavy bleeders and can’t make it work with just one catcher-device-thing at a time, try both! I am a huge proponent of the cup and pad combo. It’s a little extra security for those who worry about leakage. I love the cup, but this bullshit about humans who haven’t had babies not needing the bigger cup gets on my nerves. I needed the bigger cup and got talked out of it, so now that I’ve made the investment I try to make it work with some lovely cloth pads.

    Oh! I also found that once I cut off the stem entirely off of my cup, it stopped hurting me all of the time. Thank goodness.

  6. Steph L February 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I just got the Diva Cup and like it – but I have a problem with some leaks. So either I’m not putting it in right or I’ll have to invest in thin pantyliners. Still better than massive pds.

  7. Steph L February 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Also, the DivaCup was around $26 on Amazon when I got it.

  8. Courtney C. March 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Thing is, there’s more than just the Diva Cup.
    I typically have this aversion to some things simply because they’re so popular. I was that way with the Diva Cup. Since I saw it at Whole Foods and other places, I thought, “Eh, I don’t want this. I want something that even fewer have.”

    I had first heard of The Keeper before I heard of the Diva Cup. I ended up buying the Moon Cup, and it wasn’t the one for me. I’d still use it but removing it was a pain. On my first removal, it took me over an hour. =/

    I’m now a big fan of the Lunette.

    I can see why some people don’t want to experiment or CAN’T due to the financial investment. I get it. I count myself as one of the lucky ones in that I had enough disposable income to spend $70 on 2 menstrual cups. I figure it will all even out in that I don’t have to buy any other menstrual products for the next 5+ years.

    I second Oubli’s recommendation of the Menstrual Cup Livejournal community. They were a HUGE help in helping me decide what my 2nd menstrual cup should be.
    There is also a helpful link to a chart that gives you capacity information on different cups, the stiffness of the cup, the size of it, etc.

    If only menstrual cups were more widely available. I’d love to see them on the shelves in WalGreens, Target, etc.

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