Updated: Jul 21, 2021
This past week for the first time in my life, I decided to use a diva cup. For the most obvious reasons, pads and tampons have toxic chemicals, fragrances, and who knows what else I don't want to be absorbed into my body. Not to mention they're absurdly expensive for a "necessity." Like let's be honest here, tampons are a much better feeling (since they literally feel like nothing) than pads. So what's something that provides the same experience as a tampon while using but without all the bad stuff? A menstrual cup!! Many girls are scared of menstrual cups because they don't know how to insert one or take it out. Also, they've only gained some popularity recently, so it's understandable to be afraid; I was for a long time. Hopefully, this post will help you be less afraid.
So let's start with the obvious question: how the f do you insert a diva cup????
Well lucky for you, you have two options! My preferred method is the u-fold, which is pretty much like it sounds, you fold the cup in half so that it somewhat resembles a u. There's also the "push down fold" where you push the rim toward the center of the base to resemble a triangle. Feel free to practice both methods and use the one you feel is easiest. Now that you figured that out, let's go into so more questions about usage and removal. You'll know you did it correctly if the stem isn't poking out of you, it doesn't feel uncomfortable, and you don't leak. You can always trim the stem if needed. Also the first time you wear it, try not to think about it too much or you'll end up messing with it all day. The worst thing that can happen is leaking, which we've probably all experienced with a tampon anyway.
How long can I leave it in for?
Max of 12 hours is recommended, and I've been leaving mine in for about 12 hours at a time without any issues. Of course, if you have a heavier flow, you might want to take it out more often. With that, you are definitely able to leave it while you're sleeping! Assuming you don't sleep for more than 12 hours a night.
Does it leak?
It depends. If you incorrectly insert the cup, leaking is possible but when inserted correctly and fully expanded you should not leak. I only had this happen 1 day and the leaking was not that bad. So I suggest the first few times you're using a menstrual cup to wear a liner or pad with it just in case you also experience leaking. If you experience leaking, you can try turning the cup at the base to help create a seal. The Diva Cup instructs you to do this to help prevent leaking.
What do you wear it with?
Anything you want! Menstrual cups offer complete freedom, unlike pads and tampons. I find that tampons would always leak for me even if I didn't have a heavy flow, but with the menstrual cup, I didn't experience any leaking during my heaviest times. I significantly enjoyed the freedom and peace of mind it offered. You don't even have to wear any underwear (if that's what you prefer of course)!
Will I overflow?
I would say this is highly unlikely based on my experience. Even during my heaviest times, I didn't even come close to filling up the whole cup. Of course, this is something that's very personal and varies by person, but if you're worried about this all you have to do is empty it before 12 hours.
How big/small is it actually?
Another it depends on one! Different brands make different sizes, which you can read about on their websites. Usually, they are sized by age or pre/post-childbirth. I went with the Diva cup model 1, which is for those 19-30 and that have a medium menstrual flow. Diva Cup makes a model 0 for those 18 and younger and they also make a model 2 for those over the age of 30 and/or have a heavier menstrual flow. They can fold a few ounces (I think), but I'm not even sure.
Does it ever need to be replaced?
Yes, eventually it does. Again this can vary by individual and by the cup. Diva cup recommends replacing your cup annually, but others say you can use it for up to 5 years. So again this is up to you and there are special circumstances where you would need to replace it sooner, like dropping it in the toilet or if the quality degrades.
How do I take it out?
So this may be the trickiest (or scariest) part of using a menstrual cup, it certainly was for me. The best way to begin taking out the cup is to "bear down" or use your pelvic floor muscles to help push the cup down. Then begin pressing the sides together to break the seal and make the cup smaller. I try to mimic the u-fold as I'm taking the cup out so it's smoother and more comfortable. I recommend doing this while on the toilet or in the shower in case you spill any blood, I found it fairly easy to prevent the cup from spilling. I did find that using two hands can make it easier to take out the cup and definitely takes practice. At first, it did hurt a bit, but that was because I rushed and just wanted it out at first. So stay calm, breathe and remember that you can do it.
There was significantly less blood than I thought there would be like I couldn't believe I didn't bleed more. I found it looked more like normal blood too. So trust me, taking it won't be as bad as you think. If you got it in, you can get it out the same way! Relaxing your muscles will help it to hurt, and try to fold it as much as you can - those are my main tips.
How do you clean it?
Unscented soap and as hot of water as I can get. Also, straight up boiling water. Do not forget to boil the cup for ~10 minutes before using it for the first time, you do not want any germs up there. Another important point, make sure that you wash your hands before inserting or removing the cup. You can boil the cup while still on you're period, I personally didn't do this but I may start to prevent any smell. Toward the end of my flow, I did notice a slight smell but I'm not sure if it was the rubber or me, as I couldn't remember if that's what it smelled like before. I'm pretty sure a slight odor is fine like it makes sense. I read that you can use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to get rid of the smell, but to be honest I don't know how I feel about that.
I think that covers everything! Feel free to ask me more questions in the comments, I'm happy to help. If you'd like me to write about anything else, let me know, as my goal is to help you guys :)