The famed Diva Cup is the best known in a variety of menstrual cups on the market designed and marketed as a financially and environmentally friendly alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products. It touts an impressive 4.5 stars as reviewed on Amazon–averaging the opinion of over 2000 users; and the math has come in very clearly and repeatably that even at it’s $40 price tag it beats tampons and pads in our check books every time.
However, CUC, one of the almost 100 negative reviewers on Amazon warns, “doesn’t work for everyone, apparently,” and Alex Logan wrote an entertaining and informative piece called, “An Ode Of Hatred To My Diva Cup,” where she describes in graphic and animated detail her every qualm with the product, which involves seven points from the high price tag, to the gory consequences of dropping the menstrual product on the floor, to finally the cup being lost to the auto-flush gods of public bathrooms.
These unfortunate women have a point–don’t we as consumers deserve to be educated on all of our options before committing to one because it’s most accessible? That is really the only asset the Diva Cup has over it’s competition. It’s sold in health food stores, it’s just as easy to buy on an impulse as a chocolate bar or magazine on our monthly or weekly trip to Whole-foods. A quick search on Amazon or Google of the term, “menstrual cup” will show the variety of other options, all touting an impressive user rating–even our normal everyday tampons rock 4+ starts!
Some points to consider as you evaluate your options:
1. Are you ready for a thorough knowledge of your lady flower?
Getting intimate with one’s body isn’t for everyone. Some people are really comfortable with tampons because they come with applicators and then offer a dangly string for extraction. No such luck with the Diva Cup. Part of the instructions involve holding the cup that is inside of you with your fingers and rotating it to ensure proper placement. For those of us who aren’t comfortable with digging around our lady parts but are still committed to the environment, there are also reusable sanitary pads on the market, such as GladRags or New Moon Pads (there are way more than that, these were just a few of the first that popped up upon searching).
2. Location, location, location.
Cleaning a reusable device designed to collect blood can be a scary scene, literally. Since switching to menstrual cups, I am constantly surprised at the view in the toilet bowl as I dump my monthly’s contents for cleaning. Another legitimate concern is the use of public bathrooms, if the instructions say to rinse the cup every time you take it out, how comfortable will you be taking it to that public sink at work?
3. What happens beyond the bathroom?
With the adventurous new trend of spending our days off and away from the convenience of flushing toilets and sinks, for example, going camping or for the extremely extreme, backpacking. The Diva Cup seems unable to stand the test of the our outdoorsy women who do not have access to more than a bottle of hand sanitizer and a facial tissue.
4. User friendliness.
Ease of use is the concern that comes up most often while doing research. To insert a menstrual cup, you have to fold it into a little origami pellet and let it open inside the vaginal canal where it can sit under the cervix. Depending on your anatomy, some cups may be easier to use than others. The Diva Cup has complicated instructions (as noted above, a woman would be expected to fold it up, place it, then go in and rotate it for proper placement, every time).
5. What is our period protection made of?
One of the concerns women have with tampons is the drying effect, and this is the reason they switch to a cup. However, flexibility of the silicone used to make the alternative plays a big role in how easy that product will be to use. The Diva Cup is notoriously pretty firm and inflexible, other products on the market such as the Lunette are said to be much more flexible which eases insertion and tends to be more comfortable.
6. What about when the cup is full?
Then there is the ease of taking the cup out. The Diva Cup has a tiny hollow stem to assist with pulling it out of the vagina–again, a very intimate process, it may be easier to bear down and engage my abdominal muscles and then grab the cup itself instead of pulling by the stem. Most, if not all of the other cup products on the market have a longer and differently designed stem to assist with taking them out.
7. Did they say 12 hours between empties?
A majority of menstrual cups, including the Diva Cup, state that they can be left in place for up to 12 hours without changing, this is because they hold up to or around 30 ml or an oz of fluid where tampons, depending on the size, even Supers can only handle up to about half of that! So if you tend to have pretty heavy periods and are changing your tampons every 2-3 hrs, you can expect that you’ll need to clean out the cup every 4 to 6 on those heavy days. That’s right, that 12 hour promise is pretty well known to be inaccurate for many users, anyone who is new to the Diva Cup will want to empty it more frequently on their heavy days (especially at special occasions)!
8. How discreet can a menstrual cup be?
The Diva Cup comes with a purple Diva pouch to carry it around in when you are expecting to start your flow. That’s right, a bright purple pouch which has the words Diva Cup all over it, imagine taking that out of your purse at the gym, or the bar, or the dinner date when that monthly visitor comes a’knockin’. Quick mention of the genius design of the Lily cup compact, which collapses into a small disc and comes with a carrying case but still offers the environmental and financial benefits of using a menstrual cup!
Despite the company’s claim that the silicone softens in the warmth of the female body, it has been found that due to its inelastic nature, the Diva Cup has inspired more than a few complaints about feeling it on the inside or like something is not in place, or irritation from the stem, the list goes on. Women all have their individual anatomy and each vagina may prefer a softer material or a larger or smaller diameter of cup.
All of that said, the Diva Cup does work well for a lot of women. The take away point being that just because it is the only alternative to disposable products that we have heard of, and the most popular, does not make it the best of these products. If you are in the market for a replacement to those pesky pads or tampons, do some research and find a product that will work for you and your lovely lady flower!
Featured photo credit: Menstruationstasse (DivaCup) mit Stoffbeutel via flickr.com