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October Unprocessed 2012
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That Cup Does What?

Diva Cup

Diva Cup

We’re doing a quick switch from mama cloth here over to the Diva Cup – a reusable menstrual cup made from healthcare grade silicone  that is plastic free, BPA free, latex free and sanitary.

It was created by a mother/daughter team, Francine & Carinne Chambers, about 15 years ago. The idea of the menstrual cup has been around for a long time, but this is probably the most popularized and available one in recent history.

I actually had a friend tell me about the Diva Cup…oh around 10 years ago now. I think I barely listened to her – my response was probably along the lines of, “Gross!” (Mary, if you ever by any chance come across this blog, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you!).

Up until very recently, the Diva continued to NOT appeal to me…there was something about it I just couldn’t get into. But I wanted to be fair and give it a try – I’m not the type who likes the idea of a pad alone throughout my period, so I wanted to give some of the ‘tampon-like’ products their due.

The basic premise of the Diva Cup:

You fold it in half, push it up there (it does not go up as far as a tampon would), twist it a bit to create a seal, and it catches your flow. Every so often you pull it out, dump it, and clean it with a gentle soap (I just used my all natural bathroom hand soap, but you can buy a special Diva Wash if you’re interested).

You can find a video on how to do it HERE.

I’m trying to think of why I didn’t like the idea so much and I can come up with 2 things – it looks a bit weird and kind of big to be going up there (it’s certainly wider than a tampon) and then there’s the ick factor – you do get a little more up close and personal with your flow than you normally might with a tampon.

But I’ve thought about it a lot and come to realize – this is a natural process. It is something our bodies do that is perhaps not pleasant at all times, but it’s not the world’s grossest event either. I came to feel that if I can pull poop out of a cloth diaper, I can deal with rinsing out a Diva Cup, cloth pad or sea sponge tampon.

I know for me, it’s become part of accepting my body and the way it works – yes, I am closer to my flow…but I’m also learning to understand it better. I’m actually seeing how much is there during certain times of my period. I’m getting to know my body and how it works – in one of the most deeply personal ways.

It seems odd to explain it like this or talk about it at all, and I acknowledge that I am discussing what for many is a very personal subject throughout this week, but I think it’s important. I would rather have my daughter fully understand her period and deal with it in relaxing, non-toxic ways – rather than be ashamed of it and think that it must always be shoved out of sight like tampons hidden in the back of the cupboard.

Maybe it sounds like I’m reaching a little bit here – I just feel with using all these things for the first time, I’ve become closer to myself (and I’ve heard the same from many other women as well).

OK now, was I supposed to be reviewing the Diva Cup or what?

First, I purchased my cup from Caterpillar Baby – an awesome cloth diaper distributor here in Toronto. There are many places you can purchase the Diva, but I wanted to get it from these ladies because I am always thrilled to hand business their way – they have amazing customer service, good pricing, great shipping rates (that is actually how I first found them) and they have the fastest shipping I’ve ever experienced in buying anything online. So just wanted to give them a little shout out through that – if you are in Canada especially you should look them up. :)

I paid $35.99 Canadian for the cup, which came to a total of $46.31 with tax and shipping.

The Diva Cup comes in two sizes – 1 and 2. If you are over 30 and/or have delivered a baby (vaginally or by cesarean) size 2 is recommended. Otherwise, go with size 1.

I will say out of all the reusable menstrual products I tried, the Diva Cup had the steepest learning curve (but it really only took 3 or 4 tries to get it down pat).

My first try was difficult - it was hard to get it in and it felt a bit awkward inside (I’m pretty sure I didn’t have it positioned properly). One thing you need to do when you insert it is turn it around 360 degrees to make sure it creates a seal – I found that hard to do at first. It was also rather painful when I went to pull it out and I did make a bit of a mess. I later realized I had kind of jerked it out too fast – you are supposed to wiggle it back and forth on it’s way down to break the seal, and pull it out slowly.

I actually did that a couple times before I got the hang of it, but with practice it became quite easy – probably similar to learning how to use a tampon, actually. It became less and less uncomfortable the more I used it.

I was actually quite impressed with my first overnight trial, even though this was one of the 2 times my entire period I did experience a leak (and with disposables I would get them all the time, so I’m not complaining!). I think I just left it in an hour or so too long – if I had made it to the bathroom sooner, I wouldn’t have had a problem.

I was also shifting around a lot because Bean wanted to wake up and eat several times that night. I don’t know about you, but when I have a tampon in overnight I often find the need to keep myself rigidly in one position to avoid MAJOR leaks. The one I experienced with the Diva Cup just a small leak – nothing major like I have frequently experienced overnight, even with tampons and pads together.

I tried the Diva Cup in the swimming pool as well, and it worked like a charm.

By my 3rd try with the Diva, I was a pro. It only took a few seconds and creating the seal was a cinch.

In the end, I was quite happy with my purchase – I definitely recommend the Diva Cup to anyone who’s interested.

If you have any questions about the Diva Cup, please leave them below in the comments section.

I also just wanted to mention that there are more menstrual cup options out there that some prefer to the Diva. I didn’t get a chance to try them, but you might like to check out the Lunette Cup or MoonCup, among others.

Tampon Toxicity

If you’ve never considered using reusable menstrual products (like I didn’t until very recently) you may be interested in why I’m making such a big deal of all this, so I just wanted to quickly address one part of that.

It all started with cloth diapering – one of the main reasons I decided to use cloth diapers for my baby bean was concern over the chemicals that run rampant through disposable diapers.

I recently began to see the similarities in my disposable menstrual products and did a little research into it.

“Tampons are not just cotton,” Perlingieri  [author of The Uterine Crisis] said. “They are made of dyes, fragrances, super-absorbent chemicals.” She said research has found a link between uterine problems and bleached tampons. “In the last 25 years, millions of women – teens through women in elder years – have uterine-related troubles,” she said. “Part of the trouble we know from research is directly related to bleaching of tampons.”

The above article goes on to discuss how bleach breaks down into dioxin, a deadly chemical, as well as the high likelihood of fibers from the tampons being left behind in the vagina. She states: “Rayon is a whole other problem…It’s made from wood pulp and during the process of converting wood to rayon, hundreds of chemicals that are used are embedded in tampons.”

Source: Toxic Tampons – http://www.subtleenergysolutions.com/toxic-tampons.html

Dioxins, a known human carcinogenic “linked to cancer, endometriosis, low sperm counts in men, immune system suppression, pelvic inflammatory disease, reduced fertility, and changes in hormone levels” have also been found in pads, along with other harmful chemicals.

Source: Risks Associated with Conventional Menstrual Products – http://www.naturalmenstrualproducts.com/risks.php

Many women have found that when they have made the switch to safer, sustainable menstrual products like cloth pads, the Diva Cup and other tampon alternatives, their periods have actually been more manageable – lighter cramping, fewer PMS symptoms, etc. Most are convinced that their improved visits from Aunt Flo are due to the reduction of these types of chemicals applied to the extremely sensitive areas of our vaginas and reproductive organs – I must say I agree!

I’ve already noticed a huge change in my period – just from removing the toxins that were prevalent in my house! I wrote a longer post about moving away from toxins HERE, but my totally unscientific opinion is that a major factor was cutting out canned food and other plastics in the kitchen (a step that can actually reduce your BPA levels by up to 60%!).

Of course, my biggest motivation is still my baby Bean. If I’m using cloth diapers around her sensitive parts now to reduce her exposure to toxins, I definitely don’t want her to grow up and undo all my hard work by using tampons! ;D And in the end, I’m her example…

Do you use a menstrual cup? What do you like about it?

Do you have reservations about using a menstrual cup?

Disclaimer: I purchased all the products I am reviewing with my own money (though 2 of the pads were a gift). The giveaway has been donated. I am not affiliated with any of the companies I will be reviewing with the exception of Earth Mama Angel Baby – I do receive a small commission from them if you purchase through my link. I am committed to full disclosure and to offering you un-biased, helpful information in this blog.



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27 Responses to “That Cup Does What?”

  • Holly says:

    I just switched to the Diva this last cycle! And OMG am I kicking myself for not trying years ago. Shark weeks is pretty much rainbows and glitter and unicorns now.

    You can order them on Well.ca and get free shipping in Canada.

    Seriously though, I'm amazed at how quickly I got over the "ick factor." The benefits are worth it. I think my favorite thing is only having to deal with it every 12 hours! Seriously! That's awesome.
    Holly recently posted..Being Original

  • Sheree says:

    Love my diva cup. I have had it for 2 cycles now and its the best!

  • Ariel says:

    I have been using my DivaCup for about a year. It's pretty much the best purchase I ever made. :) It took me til my 2nd cycle of using it to really be an expert at insertion, but now I don't even have to think about it. Best thing ever.
    Ariel recently posted..Why I Will ALWAYS Support Planned Parenthood

  • Melissa says:

    I just started using the Diva Cup my last cycle as well.. and it was the first cycle since my daughters birth 9 months ago.. and I agree.. a learning curve.. but as with anything it just takes some time to learn and no freaking out. I freak out about stuff and then later laugh at myself for doing so. I also agree that my periods are now rainbows, glitter, and unicorns.. lol! I actually can't wait for my next cycle so I can see if I have in fact mastered it.

  • Marya says:

    I haven't gotten to try a Diva yet, but menstrual cups are awesome. I recently went to Hawaii, and was SO glad I wasn't packing a giant box of tampons like my mother did.

  • Rosemary says:

    I've just switched over to the Diva Cup this last month and have some Luna Pads coming in the mail. I am SO excited to make the switch away from disposables, and after reading your info on toxicity, I'm even more glad I'm done with them. I'm sharing your reviews with girlfriends too, thank you so much for reviewing so thoroughly and candidly!
    Rosemary recently posted..Inspired by The Great Divide and Hoping to Inspire

  • Cutopia says:

    I switched to cups recently, but before that, I found an amazing difference just in switching from conventional pads to the natural cotton pads. For years I thought feeling itchy and uncomfortable was just a normal part of pad usage, but it turns out it is just the nasty chemicals in the plastic-based pads.

  • Trisha W. says:

    I like how you talked about getting in touch with your body, so to speak. You might wish to learn about Natural Family Planning as well. It can teach you even more about your body and its cycles.

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you Trisha! :)

      I am actually going to begin natural family planning very soon – I just borrowed a book about it from a friend (Taking Charge of Your Fertility) and am very excited to get started! I've already sworn off hormonal birth control, but this appeals to me much better than other options. :)

  • Desiree says:

    "Shark weeks is pretty much rainbows and glitter and unicorns now."

    Oh my goodness Holly, this has me cracking up!

    So excited to buy and try the Divacup. This blog post was the tipping point for me. Thank you!

  • Loren says:

    I found out about menstrual cups a year or so ago and loved the idea as I seem to have an allergic reaction to any other disposable items, as I live in Cairns Australia, I could only find the moon cup which I purchased and couldn’t wait to try. Anyway the day came, I had no trouble inserting it and for the rest of the day was quite comfy but then my period kicked in full force as it usually does and I was leaking everywhere. I persisted, trying different techniques but there was still a lot of leakage. Next month came and I tried again but still the same so I went back to my disposables. A few months later I tried it for the last tine and still had a problem with leakage. I am not sure if perhaps it is too big and therefore not unfolding properly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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