Going Green – The Diva Cup

I was tempted to not post about this because I felt it may be controversial. But then I wondered WHY it would be controversial. The audience of this blog is predominately women, and predominately women who are between the ages of 18 and 50. This means the majority of you reading this are having a monthly period. As that a post about periods may be relevant to more of you than say wide-calf boots or petite trousers, I have decided to proceed with this topic.

I have been a tampon sort of gal since I got my period at age 13. It was the summertime and I was on a swim team. I remember a big meet was that Saturday and I was freaking out because I couldn’t get a tampon in. My (male, cute) swim coach asked my mom what was up, as that I was one of the top 13 & 14 year old female swimmers on the team and they couldn’t have me miss the match. She had to explain that I couldn’t get in a tampon. My coach suggested these super slender plastic-applicator tampons, telling my mom that he “recommends them to all his female swimmers.” At the time I was so embarrassed I almost dropped the team. Now as an adult I think how embarrassed this young college guy must have been, dealing with all these hormonal preteens and becoming a tampon expert.

I moved on from the skinny pink plastic applicators to the basic cardboard applicators (cheaper and biodegradable). By high school I was a fan of o.b. tampons because they were so tiny (and didn’t have the noisy rustling wrapper), I could hide it in the palm of my hand when having to head to the girls room. No need for proclaiming to the entire class that I had my period (come on, any girl who headed to the bathroom with her purse was telling the whole world she has her Aunt Flo…).

Speaking of which, women don’t like to speak about their periods. We may use it to explain our grumpy behavior, but we don’t like to discuss period paraphernalia. Be you a tampon gal or a pad lady, you have to admit you are creating a lot of landfill waste each month. Not only that, but it’s waste that is… well a bit grody. Even if you use o.b. or cardboard-applicator tampons, there is still waste that is cleaned out of the sewage system and wrappers/applicators that go right into that trash can.

When researching ways to cut waste in 2009 without cutting comfort and convenience, I learned about the Diva Cup. The DivaCup is a latex, BPA and plastic-free non-absorbent menstrual cup that collects menstrual flow. It is inserted in the vagina and sits at the lower base of the vaginal canal (not up near your cervix). It is worn internally, yet because it is soft and smooth, it cannot be felt nor will it leak when inserted properly. It can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time (so it’s great for overnight), and because it doesn’t absorb like tampons, there isn’t such a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. It can be worn for any activity including swimming.

Women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years (11-52). From use of disposable feminine hygiene, an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are dumped into the North American environment each year (1998). More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999. Our revolutionary, reusable product is a modern, viable alternative to disposable tampons and pads.
Most tampons and pads contain surfactants, adhesives and additives. In addition, most pads contain polyethylene plastic whose production is a pollutant. Also, dioxin, a known carcinogen, is a by-product of the bleaching process of tampons containing rayon. In landfills, many of these substances can leach into the environment (groundwater, streams and lakes) causing serious pollution and health concerns.
Although not all women can afford to purchase an energy-efficient hybrid car or convert their home to solar energy, they can reduce dangerous landfill waste by choosing to use a reusable, silicone menstrual cup. When considering the pollution and volume of waste that is inherent in the use of disposable tampons and pads, replacing one’s feminine hygiene with The DivaCup makes good environmental sense and manifests in a positive eco-footprint every month!
Because many women have become accustom to purchasing disposable feminine hygiene products, they consider the expenditure “necessary”. Most women spend $150-200 U.S. a year on disposable tampons and pads. The purchase of The DivaCup results in significant savings. The cost of The DivaCup is equivalent to a moderately-priced blouse or dinner out, yet saves you money!


Considering all this, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try out the Diva Cup. I got mine from drugstore.com, because they offer free shipping for purchases over $50 and you get cash back with ebates. This made the DivaCup a hair over $30 – I have spent that much on a stupid dress from Target that has only been worn once before it fell apart.

Since I was pregnant and breast feeding, I didn’t have a chance to use a DivaCup until recently. I tried it out this past cycle… and I have to say I am a convert. I chose Size 2 because I am over 30 and had a child. Being an ex-o.b. user I am not one to be skeeved out by her body. I found the DivaCup very easy to insert, especially when still wet from washing it. Speaking of washing, the emptying/cleaning of the DivaCup is not as grody as you may imagine. When at home, it’s easy to rinse out and re-insert. At work or away from home, you can wash your hands, remove it, wipe it out with some toilet paper and re-insert without having to leave the confines of your stall. The thing is the DivaCup holds so much, most women can go an entire workday without having to empty it. I really haven’t felt it at all – it is more comfortable than a tampon, holds more than even a super tampon, and is more reliable (never have had a leak, even overnight). Also I personally find the measuring marks fascinating – when using pads or tampons you really don’t know how much flow you have.

And no, I didn’t get paid by DivaCup, and I didn’t get a free DivaCup from this company. I chose to write about this because I don’t think a lot of women know about menstrual cups, and are a bit concerned about them – they may leak, they may hurt, they may be gross or a PITA. I know there are many other products on the market that work in essentially the same manner, but I chose the DivaCup because it was so easily accessible at local stores and online shops.

I think the DivaCup is such an easy way to make a difference with the environment while being kind to your body and not adding burden or discomfort to your life!

34 Comments

  1. Tania
    May 3, 2015 / 2:41 am

    I saw just looking through some old posts on your blog and came across this. Thanks for the info. I looked into this a while ago but somehow forgot to keep going. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. April 23, 2010 / 11:39 pm

    No need to request… I am honored to be linked! 🙂

  3. April 23, 2010 / 9:54 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I know I should have asked to link to your blog first, and apologies for that!!!

  4. Anonymous
    November 4, 2009 / 2:22 pm

    I have been using the Diva Cup for about 5 years. I just replaced my oringal this summer after a great 5 year run. I haven’t bought any pads or tampons in 5 years. My original cup would have lasted longer, I’m sure, but I just figured I’d replace it anyway. The newer one is even more flexible than the one I bought 5 years ago.

    I am a huge fan of the diva cup because of how easy it makes my cycle. I continue to do EVERYTHING I normally do (except sex) when I have my cup inserted.

    To answer a commenters questions about using soap everytime… I don’t normally use soap at all to clean mine. I sanitize it before every cycle by boiling it for 15 to 20 minutes. I haven’t had any infections whatsoever in the 5 years I’ve been using it.

    I do rinse it with warm water everytime I empty it. Even at work or public bathrooms. At this point I’ve got it down and am pretty comfy with it. Also a great benefit is if the bathroom is busy I can leave it in and just go back in a few minutes because it holds quite a bit. But I can tell when it’s getting full and I need to empty it. So there have been times I’ve wet a paper towel to bring with me in the stall to wipe the cup off. But I much prefer rinsing it completely.

    This may be TMI, but good for folks to know… I HAVE to remove it whenever I make a bowel movement. I have heard you can keep it in. But for my body my cup starts slipping out and that freaks me out. lol. So I remove it prior to that and reinsert after rinsing.

    I have had leaks. They usually when I don’t have proper suction.

  5. November 3, 2009 / 2:11 am

    A Diva Cup contest would be fab! Hope I win because I would really like to try this product. I think I have been scared because I have VERY HEAVY periods with clotting. I’m just not sure I want to be that intimiate with all of “that”. Anyone else using the product already that’s like me?

  6. Tish
    November 2, 2009 / 10:28 pm

    I would also like to thank you for that post. I love all the go green info by the way. I am going to purchase a Diva Cup now and try it. I don’t know anyone that uses it so thanks for the review!

  7. October 29, 2009 / 3:37 am

    Hello,

    Thanks for your fantastic post and for bringing attention to our innovative alternative for women!

    To clarify, The DivaCup is made from top quality, healthcare grade silicone. The silicone in The DivaCup does not contain Bisphenol A (BPA)!

    I see a few women have yet to try The DivaCup who read your blog. Should we do a giveaway contest for them?

    Warmest regards,

    The DivaCup Team

  8. October 28, 2009 / 4:43 pm

    I have a feeling the “replace your DivaCup every year” message has to do with some government regulation. They probably don’t have any rules developed for this type of product.

    That said, I certainly won’t be throwing mine out every year, I think that would be wasteful. Especially since you can sterilize it by boiling and it’s non-absorbent. I’ll keep using mine until it shows signs of needing to be replaced.

  9. October 28, 2009 / 1:39 pm

    Keeper says:

    “How long does THE KEEPER last?

    With proper care (ex: no contact with harsh chemicals), THE KEEPER has a potential life expectancy of up to 10 years.”

    http://www.keeper.com/faq.html

    I have been using mine for five years, and it is still completely intact…BUT it is starting to show a bit of age (like any rubber latex product). I will replace it when it looks definitively like it is too old.

  10. October 28, 2009 / 1:34 pm

    DivaCup says to replace every year. Reading online, I guess they used to say it would last for a lifetime.

  11. October 28, 2009 / 1:32 pm

    Hmmm…this is the second post I’ve seen about this product in as many months. I think I’m going to give it a try.

    Do you know how often the DivaCup has to be replaced? Are there tell-tale signs or is it a replace every 6 months kind of deal? Thanks!

  12. October 28, 2009 / 12:07 pm

    I use a similar product and adore it (a mooncup) My flatmate tried it as well and is not a fan, but since I started using it – about 2 years ago, I’ve found many friends who use them. I highly recommend them. Far cleaner, not smelly, environmentally friendly, cheaper, easier etc than any other sanitary product. Oh and you learn a lot more about your period! I do recommend trying them 🙂

  13. October 28, 2009 / 11:35 am

    I LOVE my Diva Cup! It is the best thing that EVER happened to me. Not only am I saving money on having to buy tampons, I also save a lot of space in my suitcase when I travel for work! (I travel for more than 1 month and I travel to a country where people still use RAGS)

    The best part is that my cramps are lighter. Maybe it’s TMI, but I like being able to see my menstrual fluid since it helps me understand what my body is doing.

    My Diva Cup paid for itself in 3 months! What a great find!

  14. Anonymous
    October 28, 2009 / 9:25 am

    Hey Allie, thanks so much for talking about this. I have used the “Keeper” for oh, about 12 years now and have never looked back. The Keeper is the same concept as a Diva cup, just made out of different materials. I carry an O.B. around in my bag just in case I get my period and don’t have my Keeper handy, but in 12 years I can count the boxes I have bought on one hand. I have had a minor leak ONCE in those 12 years with the Keeper and that was due to the fact that I didn’t get the suction seal going.

    I have yet to convert one friend to using the Keeper, though, which makes me quite sad. I have nothing but positive things to say about using it and will continue trying to convert people. Don’t be scared ladies, give it a try. I doubt you will ever look back!

  15. October 28, 2009 / 4:23 am

    I have been considering switching to these, but had some concerns. Thank you for talking about it, I think I’m going to try it out!

  16. Anonymous
    October 28, 2009 / 4:12 am

    Dear Allie, Thank you for posting about this again. I got my Diva Cup last year after reading it on one of your blogs and I have never looked back. I was an o.b. gal as well, but nothing compares to the Diva Cup, it is so much more comfortable, easy to use, inexpensive in the long run, and good for planet earth! I always wanted to thank you for introducing me to the Diva Cup, and I find it so cool that you care about the environment!

  17. October 28, 2009 / 2:28 am

    Thank you so much for posting about this! I am seriously considering a switch now! It just seems….right?

  18. October 28, 2009 / 12:58 am

    Yay, another person is spreading the word about Diva Cups! I’ve been using mine for about a year and I’m a total convert. It took a couple of cycles to get practice inserting and removing it but it’s not that hard at all.

    It’s not an absorbent material so I think that’s why it doesn’t smell. I also love that I don’t get that dry, itchy feeling like I did with tampons (TMI, sorry). Also, I swear that my cramps have lessened since I switched to the cup (apparently this is a common fenomenon, who knew?) which makes me wonder what effect the ingredients in disposables have on my girl bits.

    BTW, after starting the Diva Cup I got to reading online and now I’ve got some cloth pads also (just pantyliners since I use the cup). They are awesome and much more comfy to wear. I got mine from a place on HyenaCart called Homestead Emporium, I highly recommend trying them if you haven’t!

  19. October 28, 2009 / 12:34 am

    Been using my DivaCup for 4 years now (not the same one, obvs), and I would never go back to tampons or (heaven forbid) pads.

  20. October 27, 2009 / 8:53 pm

    I LOVE my Diva Cup but I can’t convince any of my friends or family to try it. It took me awhile to decide to try it, but I’ll never go back to tampons again. Thanks for the post!

  21. October 27, 2009 / 8:29 pm

    If you use Google Images and search Diva Cup, you will find TONS of pictures showing the size of it in comparison to a hand, matchbook, etc. Also it will show people folding it, and how easy it is to fold it.

    FYI, it does a bit of suction when in you; you can’t just yank it out, you need to pinch to loosen the suction. If you don’t realize this, your first removal can be a scary one. 🙂

  22. October 27, 2009 / 8:27 pm

    It is pliable, it’s like rubber. It’s silicone… for those who have used the NuvaRing, it’s like that. A bit firmer than a jelly bracelet in consistency.

    I don’t have a super heavy flow, so I haven’t changed it while at work. However I did try taking it out, wiping it out with tissue and putting it back in. It wasn’t as easy as when it’s freshly washed and still damp, but I was still able to get it in (compare to inserting plastic applicator tampon when you are dry – not as comfy but doable).

  23. October 27, 2009 / 8:20 pm

    I use a product called Instead, which is a plastic ring with cellophane like material attached that collects like the DivaCup. I switched years ago bc I would get a yeast infection everytime I wore a tampon. They can be worn as long (such a perk! Plus you can put it in before your period starts.), but they aren’t reusable and they cost about $0.50 each. I’ve been considering the DivaCup for years, but they scared me. Your review might actually get me to switch!

    I have a couple questions, bc you’re our expert now: Is it truly soft, pliable plastic? Is it really okay to not wash it with soap every 12 hours (like if you’re emptying it at work)?

  24. October 27, 2009 / 7:21 pm

    Ok, I might consider the switch then. I hate, hate, hate pads. I am one of those who get the TSS if I wear a tampon more than 6 hours, and so I can’t wear them to bed. I have ruined more sheets and underwear in my lifetime than should be allowed. Plus my husband is grossed out whenever I’ve got one on. He calls it “Diaper Week.” Yeah, I’m 34 and wear a diaper at night. Waaaaah.

  25. Sonja
    October 27, 2009 / 7:08 pm

    Thanks for writing about this, I’ve been considering making the switch……

  26. October 27, 2009 / 6:54 pm

    I’ve been using a similar product called the Keeper for several years now. I have a Paragard IUD and bleed like a mofo but the cup seems to handle this better than the tampons I used to use did. I especially like that I can wear the cup overnight.

    Agreed on the overall lessening of smell with the cup vs. disposables. I actually hate car air fresheners because they remind me of deodorant tampons. Other people must agree, since the only folks I know who have these in their cars are guys. Ew.

    One other nice thing is that you don’t have to worry about packing enough tampons when you leave the house for an overnight or a vacation – just empty out the cup and you’re good to go again.

  27. Sarah H.
    October 27, 2009 / 6:53 pm

    Thanks so much for writing about this! I’ve been using the Diva Cup for about six years now, and I LOVE IT! Love it love it love it. I, too, used ob before getting hooked on the cup. Every once in a while I’ll have to use a tampon and each time, I’m reminded how easy and simple the cup is. Thanks for spreading the word 🙂

  28. October 27, 2009 / 6:53 pm

    The only reason it would ever smell is if you didn’t clean it. (and that’s pretty gross…)

    Thanks for talking about this…no matter how hard I try, I can’t convert my mom. Ah well…one lady at a time.

  29. October 27, 2009 / 6:36 pm

    Oh I am so glad you asked that! People, feel free to ask all the random questions, I will be happy to answer!

    No smell. Seriously. Less smell than with a pad or tampon, maybe because it’s not out in the air getting all dried up and funky. When you take it out, you’re surprised at how very LITTLE there is in there and how little it smells.

    I hate pads because of the smell, and then all the fake smells and deodorizers they use on them to mask the smell. And I still have my Spidey Smell skill even after being pregnant and I didn’t smell it at all (nor did my husband who didn’t even know I was on my period because there wasn’t the telltale waste in the trashcan or wet underwear in the laundry from accidental leaks). I seriously am thinking of getting rid of all my ugly Period Underwear thanks to the Diva Cup! 🙂

  30. Michaela
    October 27, 2009 / 6:30 pm

    I use a very similar product and love it! The fact that it’s a ‘green’ period option makes me happy as does the ability to keep it in for 12 hours like you mentioned. I agree that it’s weird so many women don’t want to talk about a constant and natural factor in their lives. Like you I went from O.B.s to the cup and will never go back!

  31. October 27, 2009 / 6:30 pm

    Ok, I’m going to ask the one question that I’m sure every lady is wondering, that you didn’t touch upon.

    Is there a lingering smell? I can’t imagine something that collects blood and other joyful materials for more than 12 hours is going to be pleasant. I don’t want to knock people over when I walk by.

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