Five years ago, I bought a diva cup — before they became popular enough to find in pharmacy aisles.
I still use that same menstrual cup to this very day.
What is a diva/menstrual cup, you ask?
When I first heard the term, images of gold-encrusted pink chalices with the word “DIVA” carved out in Beyoncè-style lettering danced in my head.
Not exactly. A diva or menstrual cup is a small silicone or latex rubber cup that a menstruating person inserts into the vagina to collect blood. The cup is reusable and may be left inside the vagina for up to 12 hours! Like period panties, cups are a more sustainable-budget-friendly way to period.
When I purchased my cup from Mooncup five years ago, there weren’t many options; in fact, there were two: One for people who had previously given birth and one for those who had not. There are now numerous companies to choose from and several sizes to match the length of your cervix.
What is it like to use a menstrual cup?
It’s kind of like the first time you consensually put anything new in your vagina.
Oh, this feels weird. Huh. Okay. Not bad. Oh, wow! This is amazing!
Before getting to that amazing feeling — where I barely feel the cup inside me— I had to learn how to insert it correctly. Proper insertion and removal are important because you may harm your pelvic floor if this is repeatedly done wrong.
How to insert your menstrual cup
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Make sure there is no dirt under your fingernails.
- Remove the cup from its cloth storage bag and wet it with water. Doing so will make insertion more comfortable.
- Fold the cup in half, with the rim facing up and the stem pointed at the floor.
- With the folded cup in hand, get into a squatting position (I prefer a low one) and insert the cup like you would a finger.
- As the cup finds its way into your vagina, release the fold and rotate it until it sits comfortably inside.
- Lightly tug at the stem. You should not be able to remove it due to suction.
- If the stem rubs against your vagina or labia, causing discomfort, cut it to shorten.
It took me a couple of tries to get things right the first time I inserted my cup. Don’t panic. If the fit is always uncomfortable, you may not have the cup in correctly or you may have the wrong size. Hate the cup altogther but want to be sustainable? Try period panties or reusable pads!
How do I get it out?
- Relax :)
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Squat over the toilet. I discourage squatting over the floor because things may get messy. Insert your thumb and index finger into the vagina, then squeeze the base of the cup to release the suction. Pull out by the stem.
- Dump into the toilet, and clean yourself off as usual.
- Rinse the cup with soap and water until clean, then insert for reuse.
Using a menstrual cup is a personal experience with your body. You see everything, and most cups come with a measuring unit, so you’ll be able to track your flow.
Although some people experience leakage, you shouldn’t if the cup is the right fit for you. But if you want to be safe, purchase cloth pads. I bought a starter set from Tree Hugger Cloth Pads around the same time that I purchased my Mooncup (five years ago); I still have them!
What I know about periods since I’ve said goodbye to pads and tampons:
- Periods don’t smell bad. That foul odor typically comes from using a tampon or sanitary napkin for too long.
- Periods are not gross. Although some may disagree with me here, I find the whole experience kind of cool!
- We have options. Not everyone who menstruates should feel pressured to use a cup or cloth pads — do what works for you.
I love period talk! So freely share any comments and questions :)