This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short. If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on. I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.
Today, I’m featuring two guest posts written by friends of mine who both love using the DivaCup, which is a reusable alternative for tampons. I haven’t used the DivaCup myself and I wanted to give you their perspective about a reusable option other than cloth pads. They’ve both written fairly extensive posts so I’m going to publish them in two parts.
Many thanks to them both for taking the time to write their thoughts for us!
Here’s the first one, from Erin:
Why did you start using the DivaCup?
I had been an avid tampon user since I was about 13 years old. I dislike the sensation of leaking or sitting on a wet pad, and so I have never liked using disposable pads. In my early 20s, I started noticing a lot of irritation, itching, and dryness at the time of my periods that would subside a day or two after I finished. I tried using pads at night to give myself a break from tampons, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. The only alternative I was aware of at the time was using cloth pads, which didn’t appeal to me for aforementioned reasons, so I suffered through the discomfort.
Two cycles into the return of my fertility after my second child was born, I finally got fed up! It had also been on my conscience that I was contributing a lot of waste through my use of disposable products, but the real impetus for change was that awful itchiness. I had read about the DivaCup online, and so one afternoon, I called around to see who had a DivaCup in stock and promptly went to purchase it. I absolutely loved it and have used nothing else since.
Is it difficult to use?
There is a learning curve to using it, and the first cycle, I had a few instances of leaking until I got the hang of positioning it correctly. But it didn’t take long to master the technique. (One tip: when they say in the package insert that you should be able to turn or spin it, they mean rotate it slowly. I had imagined based on the instructions that I’d be able to twirl it like a pinwheel!)
Why do I love the DivaCup?
- The itching/dryness/irritation went away completely once I stopped using tampons and pads. I’m guessing that the various chemicals used to make disposable products absorbent and bright white were affecting that very sensitive mucous membrane.
- I also have noticed that I have no cramping and a slightly shorter period since I made the switch. I’ve had enough statistics/epidemiology to be hesitant to assume causation: it could also be related to getting older, hormones regulating, etc. However, a quick internet search through various blogs and forums showed me that other women have had similar experiences, so it’s possible that the changes could be related to not using tampons.
- Except on the first day of my period, I only need to empty the DivaCup every 12 hours. It’s convenient (especially looking ahead to med school rotations!)
- I like never needing to worry about whether I have the appropriate products on hand. When I know I’m approaching my period (which I can predict very well because of using NFP [natural family planning]), I just throw it in my backpack.
- There is no odor—in fact I found the smell related to tampons and disposable pads was far worse.
- I can swim and exercise while using the cup with no problems.
- Provided that you follow the cleaning instructions, it is very safe to use. In fact, one study found that there was less risk of TSS than with tampons, as the cups did not grow bacteria at all when tested in a lab.
- Saves money! I just replaced my first DivaCup after almost 4 years of use. The company used to recommend getting a new one each year. However, the package insert of my new one states that although they suggest annual replacement, it’s up to the consumer to decide.
For those of you who like studies, you can read the results from a randomized controlled trial of a menstrual cup here: http://www.cfp.ca/content/57/6/e208.full.
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