Thursday, February 18, 2010

Diva Cup (Babble)

I’m sure this goes under the category of ‘too much information’ for most people, but talking about my period doesn’t bother me, and I feel I have something useful to share on the topic.

I’m not normally interested in endorsing products, and this isn’t an officially sanctioned endorsement anyway because whatever company makes this thing doesn’t know I’m even doing it, but I’ve never seen an ad for it and I want to speak up.  A couple of years ago I was reading a comment thread on another site where someone was complaining about tampons and someone piped up simply with the words ‘Diva Cup.’  I’d never heard of it, was curious, did some googling, and ended up ordering one.  I love the thing and can’t imagine going back to pads or tampons.  I really wish I had heard of it sooner, so here is my attempt to spread the word a bit in case it helps someone else.

A Diva Cup is a flexible little cup that you insert and forget about all day.  I will admit it took some practice and there were accidents the first two periods I worked on using it, but since then I’ve been accident free and the thing is amazing.  I put it in in the morning, it stays put, I don’t feel it, I can use the bathroom and go about my business all day and not think about it, and at the end of the day I dump it out and wash it in the sink and pop it back in for overnight.  The thing cost about $30, but considering I haven’t bought any tampons or pads in two years it’s more than paid for itself by now.

The trickiest part about using the Diva Cup is learning to put it in correctly, but that’s been interesting.  I figured out the best place to experiment with it was in the shower and that’s where I finally got the hang of it.  For the cup to work right you have to be able to make sure it’s open inside you, and then turn it to form a seal against your cervix.  When I was in labor with Aden I remember finding out that the opening to my cervix was apparently in a really weird place.  I believed all the doctors poking around in there, but I didn’t know what they meant.  Now I do.  It’s funny that after giving birth to three children I finally have a practical understanding of how my body is shaped and arranged in there because I’ve had a need to feel around critically and figure out what’s going on.  I’m glad to know.

In any case, it’s made my whole experience with my period easy in a way it’s never been.  I used pads as a kid, switched to tampons just before college, and it’s always made me grumpy.  Even when I was on the pill for a long time and my periods were lighter, I still had terrible cramps and I’ve never liked the inconvenience of carrying feminine hygiene products around.  The Toxic Shock Syndrome information in my tampax box always freaked me out.  Pads are messy and I hate the feel of them.  But the worst part for me has always been the wasted days.  I hate using tampons in particular when nothing is happening.  I have a day in the middle of my period where the flow stops for awhile, and using products just to avoid an accident has always annoyed me.  Plus now that I’m not on the pill anymore (tubes conveniently tied during the last C-section) I can’t predict exactly what day my period will start.  I hated wasting pads those few days before my period.

But the Diva Cup is so easy I can wear it around a few days before I think my period is coming and it’s no big deal.  I always feel a twinge of satisfaction when I check it and it’s empty and I know I didn’t just spend time with a tampon in for no reason.  And when I check it and discover my period started?  And I didn’t even know?  I’m relieved and happy and mentally thank the woman in that comment thread for mentioning this simple little cup.  It works great at night, and except for when I have to empty it I don’t even remember my period is happening most of the time.  It’s one less thing to have to keep track of in my already overtaxed brain.  And this is probably a complete coincidence that this happened along with using the Diva Cup, but my cramps aren’t as bad anymore.  I’m not sure why that would be true, but for the first time since I was about 12 I’m not rocking in pain for a few hours every month.

Yes, you should be by a sink to empty it out, which makes it hard to use in a public restroom, but I only need to do that at the beginning and the end of the day when I’m usually at home anyway.  The one time I had to check it in a public restroom was in the airport in Alaska before my long flight home, and I just cleaned it out with some wipes in my stall and was good to go.  I’ve had way more inconvenient incidents with pads and tampons, and unpleasant moments come to mind with wads of toilet paper and one truly disgusting emergency involving a sock.  My airport moment doesn’t even compare.

My kids are equal parts fascinated and appalled by the Diva Cup.  I gave up any hope of using the bathroom alone years ago, so I figure if I have to do private things with an audience they may as well learn something.  They’ve seen pads and we’ve talked about why women have periods.  They know all the right terms for private parts of their bodies and we’ve talked about the changes that will happen as they grow.  I’m trying to ease them into the whole menstruation concept so that it won’t seem scary or too weird.  I figure it may be easier to talk to them about these things now before they reach ages where it’s more personal and embarrassing.  It seems to be working because they ask good questions freely, so by the time the information applies to their own bodies they should know enough to deal with it.  We’ll see.  Aden hates the idea of tampons, and I assured her in a few years when she’s ready it’s better to start with pads anyway.

It’s strange to already be thinking about these things with my babies, but I was wearing a training bra at 10 and Aden’s 8, so it’s not that far off.  I don’t know at what age seeing if a Diva Cup will work for them will be a good idea, but I know my high school experience could have been improved at least a little if I hadn’t been lugging around pads and tampons and having to make extra trips to the bathroom every month.  One fewer inconvenience would have been good.  It still is!

So that’s my pitch.  If you’re fine with what you’re doing or don’t have periods, great, but it’s always nice to know there are options.  This was one I wish I’d known earlier.

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