September 21, 2017

Getting Gross About the Diva Cup

I once got really drunk at a party shortly after getting contacts. When I got home, one lens came out just fine, but the other remained stubbornly in place. I spent all night clumsily trying to get it out of my eye, then falling asleep, then trying to get it out with a hangover. There was crying and warm towels and saline solution and— when I realized the lens had fallen out on the sofa and shriveled into a tiddly-wink some 24 hours prior—there was regret.

The thought of repeating the experience, only with my vagina, hardly seemed worth the tampon savings.

Still, I remained curious about these weird self-service implants women were using in lieu of tampons. So I threw the question out to Facebook, and women suddenly came out of the woodwork to tell me about their experiences. My wall was covered in overwhelmingly positive responses, questions from those who were just as curious and wanted to come down the rabbit hole with me, and a note from my high school AP teacher praising the correct plural of cervix.* Interestingly, there didn’t seem to be any negative reviews. Every woman who bought one was either still using it and loving it, or was disappointed that it didn’t fit properly (as apparently can happen with a tilted cervix or other normal bodily variances). This was enough for me to give it a shot.

On a friend’s recommendation, I used the Pixie Cup rather than the Diva Cup. The only differences of note were that the Pixie Cup was half the price, and had a flat stem rather than a pointed stem for easier removal. Based on online reviews, the most likely problem with the device was that it would migrate north and I would be unable to retrieve it from Darkest Peru, so a grippier stem seemed like a good investment. There were two sizes: had a baby or is over 30, and did not had a baby and has young vagina. I was the former.

My period was approaching, so I tried to bone up with online research so I could jump right in when it showed up. Despite the helpful FAQs on the website, there were still a few unanswered questions that (possibly only) I wanted to know: can I pee with it in? Will it leak? Can I go running? Can it get stuck up there? Does it smell weird? Will it feel all sloshy if it gets full and I’m walking around? (Spoilers: Yes, no, yes, maybe, no, and Lord no, respectively.)

The Unboxing
It arrived on Flow Day 3, which was pretty much a trial by fire for any menstrual aid. It’s pink, which is a little on the nose, but since it’s literally made for a vagina I’ll give it a pass. It has gradations to measure your flow, in case you might want to do that. I didn’t, but I thought it was a nice feature from a design perspective.

Like the gift bags at the Oscars, minus the taxes.

The instructions make insertion pretty clear, so it only took me a minute to pop it in. As with tampons, the most comfortable method depends on the wearer. For this wearer, insertion was easiest Captain Morgan style, but yvmv.** I made sure to move it around once it was in place to open the cup, activating the vacuum. Yes, it works due to the science of vacuums. Your vagina is the universe.

The Details

Does it feel weird? Interestingly, the Cup migrates higher or lower depending on your vaginal topography. Some go high and are virtually undetectable, while others may be so low that the stem pokes out (the stem can be trimmed if this is annoying). I can sort of feel mine when it's in, but it's not uncomfortable—certainly not like when you have a tampon in the wrong way, or when your low-hanging cervix bumps the tampon and gives you cramps.**

Does it leak? This is going to sound insane, but I physically could not get it to leak. The first night, I went to sleep, warning my husband that I might wake him up if everything went all Game of Thrones. Mah dudes: nothing. We went on an all-day excursion with my in-laws on a boat, and I constantly panicked that I would stand up and have bled everywhere: nothing. I got up one morning and decided to go running before emptying it: no leaks. I still wear the Insurance Pantyliner, but I haven't needed it once.

How do you empty it? My preferred way was to whip it out and down while sitting on the toilet. The Pixie comes with a few handy wipes to clean it before reinsertion, or you can use hot water (or boil it. Really, you can boil it). In the morning, I often removed it in the shower, cleaned it, and popped it back in.

Is it gross? That depends on whether you think touching your vagina is gross. I don’t think touching one’s own vagina is any grosser than touching one’s own elbow (and it definitely isn’t grosser than touching one’s own butt). I’ve gone from pads, to tampons with applicators, to tampons without applicators, to this—so on the whole, I’ve become cooler with touching my genitals over time. As long as you wash your hands before and after, it’s perfectly sanitary. That said, if you have gagging problems or problems with blood in general, it might not be for you.

Is it cheaper than tampons?
Yes. By a lot. If your flow is heavy, this is probably a much better choice.

Can it completely replace tampons?
I don’t see why not. I used four tampons in one cycle (the first and last “light” days that bookend the whole lady shebang) whereas I normally use at least that per day. I opted for tampons on those days for no other reason than I was running out the door and had one handy. The instructions also say there is no risk of TSS, and since its made of silicone, you could theoretically leave it in indefinitely.*** And the biggest pro: you don't have to take it out to pee. No more wasting expanding or shifting tampons every time you have to go to the bathroom.

The Review
5/5

* Cervices.
** Your vagina may vary.
*** Don’t, though.

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