If you have a period, you know.
If you’re an athlete who menstruates, you know how difficult it can be to find comfort in that whole business.
I used tampons for almost as long as I’ve been menstruating but I won’t go back to anything else.
I distinctly remember a hike I was on with my friend, Jared, five years ago.
I was on my period, the tampon string dangling between my upper thighs. I wasn’t wearing underwear. I never wear underwear in athletic clothes (it bunches too much and I want the sweat wicked away from my crotch).
Every step I took I could feel a slight tug on the tampon string thanks to my thick thighs. The terrain became rocky and the sweat poured. Step. Tug. Step. Tug.
“Dude, there’s gotta be something better than tampons.”
A little shocked, Jared replied, “What?”
“My fat fucking thighs are pulling on my tampon string.”
“Oh… Wow,” he said.
I worried the tampon would pop out, roll down my legs, and nestle itself at my ankles where my athletic pants gripped.
Another time I had my period while cycling. I used chamois cream so you can imagine how messy that is with a tampon string.
Not only did I have chamois cream all over the chamois pad and my skin, but it was also all gunked up on the tampon string. I tried rinsing the string during a shower but it always felt unsanitary.
I don’t remember how I found out about the DivaCup. Maybe I Googled it. Maybe a friend told me. I bought one for $40. The one purchase felt expensive but I realized I wasn’t going to have to buy a new one every month.
What is the DivaCup?
It’s a silicone menstruation cup. It’s inserted into the vagina and removed, rinsed, and reinserted every 12 hours. Depending on your flow, this may be more frequent.
There are three models based on age (Under 18, 19-29, and 30+) and if you’ve given birth (Model 2).
How to use it and avoid leaks
There is a learning curve. Sometimes, I still struggle to secure suction resulting in leakage.
You need to fold the cup into something like a taco. I do the “push-down fold.” Then shove it in. You need to rotate the cup once it’s inside your vagina so it opens back up and creates suction. I imagine turning it a full 360°. Sometimes I hear it pop open and sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I can feel it open and stick to the walls of my vagina and again, sometimes, I don’t. Somehow I’ve managed to prevent major leaks. If I don’t feel like the cup has opened and sucked itself to the walls of my vagina, I pull it out and do it again.
DivaCup has a helpful video that demonstrates how to insert it properly.
Using the DivaCup is messy. I get blood on my fingers every time I use it. It grosses me out but that’s life.
I remove it while I’m on the toilet, rarely in public. If there’s a one-room bathroom, then I’ll remove the DivaCup. I haven’t had the gumption to pull the DivaCup out while in a public bathroom. To dump it into the toilet, somehow pull up my britches while holding on to the cup without touching anything, then going to the sinks to wash it.
Honestly, I wear period underwear to prevent leaks in my pants.
How to clean it
After you remove the cup, you need to wash it out. There are tiny holes at the top where blood gets stuck in. Take the time to clean that, as impossible as it is.
I use antibacterial soap (same soap I use to wash my hands) to clean my DivaCup and hot water. Their website says to avoid doing this as it can irritate your vagina. So far, I haven’t had any issues. I probably shouldn’t be taking a chance anyway. I also thoroughly rinse my cup after I wash it.
They recommend boiling your DivaCup for 5-10 minutes before your first use. They also sell their own DivaCup wash, likely preventing quicker wear. They call it DivaWash https://divacup.com/care-cleaning/ so if you want brand-specific you can stop into a shop and pick yourself up one.
What to do in public
I usually carry a tampon with me just in case.
There have been a few times that there was major leakage and I needed to readjust. You know that warm, thick wetness pooling into your underwear? When you know you need to get to the bathroom immediately or it’ll go straight through your pants.
Sometimes there’s been a single-person bathroom and I was able to wash the DivaCup and shove it back in without an audience. Other times I’m not as lucky and am stuck with a stall.
That’s when I’ll have to sit on the toilet seat or hover (depending on what kind of workout I did earlier). I’ll pull out the DivaCup by the stem or base and pour the blood into the toilet. Since I can’t wash it, I’ll dab it a little with toilet paper around the outside and at the rim, trying my damndest to not get any stuck on the cup.
I do this to prevent getting more blood on my hands and around my vulva. Not sure if this is the best practice but I don’t bring around wet wipes.
Then I do the push-down fold and insert it inside again, rotating it 360°, and listening for the pop or feel the suction. I avoid touching anything with my right hand after that business. I wash my hands thoroughly.
Yes, I recommend it
While intimate and at times, gross, this method is better for me and for the environment. I don’t have chamois cream sticking to a tampon string. I don’t have a piece of bleached cotton in the holiest of all places and nothing’s getting tugged as I move.
I suggest learning how to properly insert the DivaCup before you start your period lest you find yourself leaking all over your blue jeans.