My girlfriends who are still using tampons look confused when I tell them I actually look forward to my period now – but that’s just because they don’t know about the Diva Cup yet. “It’s ovalutionary!” I exclaim, but that doesn’t help me appear any saner.
When I first heard about the cup, it sounded a little too…rustic for me. Despite my decidedly feminist leanings, I was attached to my tampons. They were fresh and white, (unlike the way I felt once a month), and when I was done with them I could flush the evidence into oblivion without a second thought.
That said, shelling out $15 every couple of months for a pile of disposable cotton made me crazy, especially knowing that on top of bleeding every month, I was ‘being bled’ by massive earth-destroying corporations. At the time, I had no idea that I (and 70% of 73 million menstruating women) was predicted to use about 11,000 tampons in my lifetime. Or that, in the USA alone, 7 billion tampons and 13 billion sanitary pads and their packaging make their way into landfills and sewage systems every year.
The truth was I just didn’t know I had options. It was only when Macleans Magazine ran a controversial story in December 2005, called The End of the Period, that I started to learn both about my power as a consumer, as well as my responsibility.
The article was about a new contraceptive pill called Anya, which allows women to suppress menstruation altogether. It sparked a heated discussion between my friends and I about how little we trusted pharmaceutical companies, and how targeted women are by corporate marketing, especially through the pathologizing of our bodies’ functions.
While some of us leaned towards celebrating the monthly ‘gift,’ others were all about reducing the torture. But we agreed on one thing…using daily hormones to suppress menstruation altogether seemed reckless at best. It was then that one of the coolest, smartest women I know told me about the Diva Cup.
The Diva Cup, a Canadian-born, mother-daughter-invented company, created a breakthrough product which makes disposable feminine hygiene alternatives look medieval. It is a silicone cup that simply inserts into the vagina and catches every last drop. Almost before trying the thing, I was ready to declare that I would never use tampons again. Now that I’ve been using it for a year, here are my top ten reasons why:
1. It’s comfortable and easy to use
The website and packaging give detailed instructions for insertion, but it still took me about 3 cycles to get the hang of it. You may find it looks daunting to insert and remove, but once you get your system down, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it.
To make it extra-comfy, I trimmed the ‘stem’ at the base, which I found irritating. It’s also not as messy as you might think. Since it’s made of medical grade silicone, you can boil it briefly before your period and then rinse it thoroughly with hot water after each emptying. You can wash it with it soap, but be careful not to use one containing glycerin because the sugar can cause yeast infections.
2. It doesn’t leak
The only time the Diva Cup leaks on me is if it hasn’t been inserted properly. Once you learn how to tell when it’s fully open, it functions about a hundred times more efficiently than a tampon or a (shudder) pad.
3. I don’t have to think about it
The Diva Cup holds about 4 -6 times as much as a tampon, so even on my superheavy flow days, I only have to change it 2 or 3 times in a 24 hour period. If I don’t have cramps, I actually forget that I’m bleeding. Unlike the tampon which, when it isn’t inserted properly, is like “riding a cotton pony.”
4. I get to see what I made!
Okay, so I’m a nerd – but the truth is I love this part. I never had any idea how much I bled until I got the Diva Cup. The “feminine hygiene” industry is all about hiding, disposing, keeping our ‘visitor’ quiet – but people – the truth is, we’re bleeding from the crotch! And it’s kinda cool. Did you know that on average, a woman menstruates three to four ounces every cycle? That’s, um, almost 12 litres in a lifetime!
5. I don’t have to pay corporations for supplying me with toxic, environment-killing products!
If I had stayed on the tampon train, even using natural cotton, I still would have created about 300 pounds of waste in my lifetime. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to never have to buy disposable products again. The Diva Cup generally sells for around 30 dollars and lasts approximately ten years! It may seem like an investment, but it pays for itself in less than 6 cycles.
6. I can sleep naked during my moon
Now you know the whole truth – I’m a naked sleeper. I despise wearing panties to bed just to house one of those winged diaper beasts. Which brings me to my next point…
7. I won’t destroy 80 % of my underthings
8. It’s safe
Whereas the tampon has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome because of its high absorbency, (especially through prolonged use), the Diva Cup is non-absorbent. It is only a receptacle and doesn’t disturb the natural moisture level of the vagina. Absorbency enhancers in tampons can cause peeling of the mucous membrane, vaginal dryness, ulcers and lesions.
9. Rewrite childhood traumas
I’ll never forget being 12 years old and getting my period for the first time. My mother was never very forthcoming about womanly things, so I was kind of on my own about it. I didn’t realize you had to change your pad many times a day. The popular girls cornered me one afternoon and demanded to know when last I washed. Eep. Unlike pads and tampons, the Diva Cup is totally odourless!
10. It’s made in Canada!
By women for women. Yes.
Now if my top ten hasn’t gotten you jazzed yet, I hear your plants could benefit too.