Advice for a first time user of a Diva cup
August 4, 2009 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I bought a Diva Cup and I'm about to use it for the first time. Is there any piece of advice you can give me along the lines of "I wish someone had told me this before I started using one...."

I read most of the AskMe posts on Keepers and Diva Cups before I finally decided to get my very own. I also know about the Livejournal community, where I know there's tons of information (and I'll be slowly going through it).
I'd still love it if the mentrual cup users here can pass on some basic advice or tips. Info on inserting it, taking it out, clean up, travel, etc.

Specifically, I bought the small size Diva Cup. I haven't tried to do anything with it yet.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Health & Fitness (68 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
My wife (Oh, she'll be overjoyed that I chose to share this!) has a rather strange allergic reaction to it that caused her a good deal of pain. Also, some of the edges weren't exactly smooth, I think? An artifact of the molding process or whatever and that was also not so great. I think she loved the idea and concept, but her body didn't agree. So. Keep an eye out!
posted by GilloD at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2009

You might be surprised at how much of the stem you end up cutting off. It took me a few days to really feel like a pro at it. I like the C-fold the best, and some moisture on it goes a long way to making it a whole lot easier to insert.
posted by Zophi at 10:36 AM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you have to use it in a public restroom, ie a restroom with stalls, where you don't get your own sink: take paper towels in to the stall with you. Wiping off the cup with toilet paper doesn't really work all that well as toilet paper tends to shred when wet. Also, you may want an extra paper towel in case you need to dry off your hand before you leave the stall and wash your hands.

If it leaks at first, don't worry, you'll probably figure out why soon enough, and you'll probably be able to correct the problem.

FWIW, everybody I know who has such a product (not necessarily Diva Cup, but one of the various menstrual cups ) really likes it.
posted by Cygnet at 10:37 AM on August 4, 2009

Wear pantyliners or something for the first month, until you get a feel for what 'full' (aka emptying time!) means.

Be aware that until you get the hang of it, it will in fact look like someone has been murdered in your pants. This won't take ages, but expect to get blood everywhere the first time around.

Honestly, I remember it being pretty straightforward -- you'll figure out the best way to get it in and out for your body. (Although taking it out, I found that standing with one foot up on the toilet seat, a la the little diagram that comes with tampons, provides the most, uh, let's call it 'upright delivery'.)
posted by kalimac at 10:38 AM on August 4, 2009

Advice: It'll be tricky to insert the first couple times but you will get the hang of it eventually. Just keep at it. Also, restrooms with a sink and toilet in one space (as opposed to lots of stalls with one sink area shared) are your friend, especially until you're really comfortable using it.

I'm on my second Diva Cup, having bought the larger size, as per the instructions, after having a baby and I'm still thrilled with it. I use the "C" fold and it works great for me but I think everyone come to their own favorite method of insertion.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:38 AM on August 4, 2009

I don't worry about rinsing it on the go - it goes straight back in and gets rinsed at home - makes life a whole lot easier.

Also ended up only leaving a tiny stem.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:40 AM on August 4, 2009

My tip? If you choose to sterilize by boiling, keep a close eye on it - I accidentally melted my first one through sheer absent-mindedness.
posted by medea42 at 10:41 AM on August 4, 2009

Oh also, you need to clean out the little air holes on the top rim and be sure they don't get clogged with blood as then it won't seal well and you'll experience more leakage. The easiest way to clean the holes is with a straight pin but if you don't happen to carry one around with you, I've found that folding the cup with the hole on the fold line and then sort of rolling the fold line back and forth across the hole really does a good job unclogging it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:42 AM on August 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Practicing putting it in in the shower helped; I could bend and reach with one foot up on a footstool I've in there.
posted by tilde at 10:43 AM on August 4, 2009

I've been using the Keeper (same thing, but in rubber) for a little over six years now. GilloD, I had the same thing happen when I tried the Diva. I was disappointed, but I went back to the Keeper and I've never had it happen again.

Yes, you'll cut off most of the stem. If you have a hard time getting it in folded the way the advise, there are many, many imaginative ways to fold it in the LJ community. Give it three months before you give up on it -- once you get the hang of it, you'll never want to use anything else. Many women are worried about having to empty it in a public restroom, but I can count the number of times I've had to do that in six years on two hands. Dr. Bronner's soap is nice for cleaning (but if you use peppermint, make sure you rinse well!). Practicing in the shower was key. You can clean out the little air holes by filling it with soapy water and making a seal against your palm, forcing the water out through the pinholes.

I love my Keeper to the point that I've thought about buying a lifetime supply just in case they become hard to get, but I'm worried the rubber would degrade before I could use them.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:02 AM on August 4, 2009

The most useful tip I could possibly offer: cut the stem. I know the instructions advise against cutting too much of it off, but I ended up trimming it all the way to the base of the cup, and it's so much better now.

Don't worry about washing it out if you're in a public restroom. That's just not convenient. When I'm at home, I wash it out with Dove bar soap, which is nice and mild. And at the end of the cycle, the best way to clean it is drop it in boiling water for 20 minutes. At the top of the cup, you'll notice four tiny holes. Keeping them clear is kind of a pain, but definitely necessary. The boiling water really helps with that.

And as for inserting it, this is a potential TMI warning. Sorry.

I've found the best way to do it is to put your finger on the rim and push it down into the base of the cup. That way, it's rather compact at the top, so there isn't any discomfort trying to get it in. Plus, it expands easily that way once you've got it in.

Getting the seal is the tricky part, and it might take some getting used to. Rotating the cup like the instructions suggest is a good practice, but it doesn't always create the seal. The best way to be sure you're getting a good seal is to take a finger and go around the entire upper edge of the cup once you have it in place, pushing gently out against the vaginal walls at the same time. The little push gives enough room for the cup to expand fully and create the seal. You might feel a little pop from the cup when you get it into place.

And to take it out, I've found the best way is to pinch it at the base, which breaks the seal. Pull it out slowly, otherwise things might get messy.

I absolutely love mine, and can't say enough good things about it. Just be patient and you'll get the hang of it. Good luck!
posted by Todd Forklift at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm a tiny dainty person and I didn't end up cutting any of the stem off. And I was freaking out about it poking me rather severely - instead, I got used to it immediately.

One awesome tip is to rinse it in cold water instead of warm, as this allows the material to pop back into shape with much less struggling on your part. And to check if a seal has been made, try rotating the cup after insertion. If one side of it is still dented, the feel of rotation will be noticeably different.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:06 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some things that I've learned along the way:

- I found it painful to take out the first handful of times I tried it. The key for me was making sure I pinched it around my index finger before removing it. This can get messy if the cup is too full.

- I tried boiling the first few times but found soaking overnight in a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide just as effective without the risk of forgetting and melting it.

- If it's day one or two and I'm about to do something like situps or yoga, I try to empty it first. Horizontal exercise + a full cup = messy.

Mostly though, I just wish that I had started using it sooner!
posted by platinum at 11:07 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find that the only way I can put it in properly is while sitting on the toilet -- I can't do it right in the shower, as it ends up going higher (I think?) if I try to insert it while standing (it sits more like a tampon that way, which isn't right). I also do the rotating thing to make sure that it's in properly -- you can feel if the edge is dented. Sometimes I need to pull it back out and try again from scratch. Really, it sounds like trial and error is the way to go until you figure it out.

It did change my life for the better, though! I love not having to worry about whether or not I have a tampon with me. I hope it works for you. Good luck!
posted by cider at 11:12 AM on August 4, 2009

As others have said, trim the stem to start, but likely you will end up cutting it off altogether.
The first few times you have to remove it, be at home. Not in a public restroom. I ended up having to completely disrobe and squat in the shower with half my arm all up in my business before I figured out how to remove it. Several times.
Definitely clean it, in a water/peroxide mix, to avoid bacterial infections.
The first month is a trial run - there's a learning curve which feels ridiculous and horrifyingly adolescent at first, but you'll ramp up and be a proper diva diva in no time. Good luck!
posted by 8dot3 at 11:16 AM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

My standard advice echoes some already here - practice at first in the shower, where you won't worry about any mess and can rinse and re-try, until you get the hang of insertion and removal. I, too, pretty much cut the whole stem off. I used a nail file to gently file down the sharp edges from cutting it off.

I love mine, and only wish I had started using it earlier.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:18 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're at all squeamish, be prepared for what is essentially a little cup of blood. Intellectually, I understood that's would it would be, but I was not prepared for the visceral reaction of "Holy fuck I'm bleeding to death!" -- even though I bled no more than usual when using the cup.

Seconding the suggestions to take it out at home rather than in public, at least at first. It can be a little tricky.
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2009

I put mine in in the morning and didn't take it out till night. I have never had to remove it in a public rest room.

The first couple of times I removed it, I did it by squatting in the bathtub. That was very smart of me! It was a murderous mess. Now, I have more of a hang of it and that is not necessary.

Also, it says this right in the instructions, but I didn't listen. Make sure upon removal that you break the suction before pulling it out. Otherwise it will feel like you have sucked your uterus right the hell out and inverted it inside out. That is a mistake you only need to make once. (Or hopefully, not at all!)

There is a bit of a learning curve, but you will really like it after you get the hang of it. (Second or third period for sure.)
posted by Bueller at 11:33 AM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Keep it cold. It will be stiffer and open up better. If you have been trying for awhile, run it under cold water again to get the stiffness back, or else it will get too soft and not open up properly (at least in my case).

Also, I cut the stem off completely, to hard to grab such a small thing anyways.

I love it, btw. Best. Thing. Ever.
posted by Vaike at 11:42 AM on August 4, 2009

Sometimes overnight the cup can migrate up a lot closer to the cervix than near the vaginal opening (where it's supposed to sit). This can make it seem like the cup has disappeared, which is very alarming if you are not expecting it. It also makes it hard to reach for removal. Bearing down (doing Kegels) can help speed up the cup's journey back down to a place where you can reach it to pull it out.

It's really important to stay calm, because panicking makes it harder to remove. (Ask me how I know.) Anyway, the Livejournal advice threads are VERY helpful and reassuring for anyone learning to insert/remove the cup.

(Also, on preview: I can attest to what Bueller says about being sure to break suction before pulling it out. Otherwise it hurts like HELL.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2009

I can't use those; they hurt me. I've tried both, in the smallest size, several times, and I had to give it up- when they're in it's OK, but man, it just hurts to put them in and take them out. I was disappointed, because I love the idea of them, and also because collectively they cost like $90.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:00 PM on August 4, 2009

Response by poster: I just did a little trial session in the shower. I could get it in and out ok, but I'm not sure if I got it to seal. I tried the "c" fold and it got in fine, but once it unfolded, I couldn't get it to rotate. How do I get it to rotate if it feels like my vagina is "holding" the cup?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:15 PM on August 4, 2009

I think it's OK if you can't get it to rotate. My measure of success is whether it's leaking or not, not whether I can rotate it (I usually can't). Also, it took me nearly a year of practicing to get it to work satisfactorily, but it was worth it.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:25 PM on August 4, 2009

If you're having trouble rotating it, try relaxing your muscles as much as possible. I've noticed that I tense up sometimes, which makes it almost impossible to get the cup in place.

Like I mentioned up thread, rotating doesn't always create a seal. Use your finger to feel around the lip of the cup - you'll be able to tell if it's fully opened up. For me, it's the best way to create/check the seal.
posted by Todd Forklift at 12:30 PM on August 4, 2009

If you can't get it to rotate and you've felt the unfolding and suction, you're probably fine. You might want to check to feel if it has actually completely unfolded until you get a hang of the sensation. The rotating is for when it hasn't, and you need to encourage it to do so.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:34 PM on August 4, 2009

The way I insert mine is I do the foldy thing and insert (while seated) and then pull it back out slightly until it pops open and sucks some air in and then turn a little to make sure it doesn't crumple when it turns. Once it's open all the way it should stay ok. If you feel it at all, any pinching or pressure, take it out an try again.

I have a very heavy period and don't use the cup for 2-3 days when I am heaviest because I have to empty it ever hour or so. And when it overflows, it's a MESS. But otherwise, it's awesome and saves a bunch.
posted by threeturtles at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2009

Yea, the cup method! I love love love the cup method! (I use a Keeper.)

Don't accidentally drop it in the toilet and flush.
posted by aka burlap at 12:51 PM on August 4, 2009

Here is a handy-dandy guide of DivaCup Folding Techniques, with pictures.

It took me a long time to get used to it and figure out exactly where it should be. Even so, sometimes when I think I've got it in right, there's still some leakage and clearly it's not in the right way, so beware of that. Otherwise it's amazing; I love it and have told a million people about it.
posted by pised at 1:19 PM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I love mine!

One thing I wish I had thought about earlier was getting a different storage baggie for the cup when not in use, since the cloth bag with a drawstring that it comes in is too small and sometimes it will fall out. Not a big deal but potentially embarrassing for an overnight trip!
posted by Pomo at 1:42 PM on August 4, 2009

I never really understood the "rotate" business either and have had no trouble with a seal. Usually I insert it, run my finger btwn the cup and the vaginal wall on both sides (not really sure why), bear down a once or twice to let it settle and then a little tug to be sure it's sealed. And then carry on with my day, freed of the tampon tyranny!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:52 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The advice that helped me the most was: don't try and force the getting-used-to-something-new learning curve. If you get sore or frustrated during one cycle, it's okay to just go back to pads/tampons and try the Diva again next month. Personally, it took me about three cycles of trying various folds, techniques and such before I was completely comfortable with it.

I rotate mine every time - easy rotation means (for me, ymmv) that it's locked and loaded. But if it's hard to rotate, try pushing it in a little further. I found that sometimes the Diva will try to pop open too early and get "stuck", and that if you push it up a little more, or take it out and reinsert a little higher, suddenly it's a lot easier to get it to pop open, rotate, and seal correctly.

It's so worth it to persevere though. I love my Diva and I'll preach this thing till menopause!
posted by snowleopard at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2009

i hope no one minds if i piggyback a question here-

any of you cup users also suffers of chronic urinary tract infections? does the insertion and removal flare any of that up? i've not used the nuvaring because i hear for UTI prone girls it just makes it worse and i assume the same is for the i wrong?
posted by nadawi at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2009

To clarify, the rotation isn't really a spinning, and it doesn't happen if you hold it near the bottom of the cup or on the stem... for me, at least, it's more like, you put your finger up alongside the cup and use that finger (near the rim of the cup) to push the cup around in a circle until you've confirmed that none of the edges are folded in.

But as some people are saying it's not necessary, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by cider at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2009

definitely try inserting and removing in the shower to start.

always put some tissue in the bowl first and empty on top of the tissue. otherwise, you may have to flush several times.

you may be lucky and not ever need to empty in public, however i have learned to do this out of necessity. it's a bit tricky at first, but can definitely be done. carry a small pack of wet wipes to clean hands before and after. in a pinch, urine is sterile.

above all, you'll figure out what works best for you!
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:40 PM on August 4, 2009

I love everything about my Diva Cup...

... except for the cleanup after removal. I've gotten used to it, since it's been several years already that I've been using it. But, I do find that after removing the cup and when attempting to empty it out, I often have... strings... from me to the cup to the water. Since there's not a whole lot of room to maneuver on a toilet, I often have to employ some TP to help... sever the cords. Disgusting, I know. I end up using a lot of TP for cleanup, which could be a problem, depending on the toilet's flushing capacity. Anyone have cleanup tips to share?

Also, listen to your body. There have been times when I haven't put the cup in quite right, and I'll get intense pain. Removing it and trying again will fix the problem. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of fidgeting to get it to pop open and create the seal, but it's totally worth it.

I've never had a problem with leakage - like ever. The few times I have, it was because I wasn't really paying attention and didn't empty it out as often as I should have during the heaviest time of the month. In fact, I've been able to keep it in for over 24 hours with no leakage problems. I know that's not recommended, but I haven't had any issues.

Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful world of the Diva Cup. :)
posted by MsVader at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2009

Oh, I love my Diva Cup. I'll tell anyone, anywhere, all about it (even if they don't want to know.) It's made my life a trillion times easier.

One thing I've recently learned, after years of using the Diva, is to insert it halfway and wait for it to 'pop' open all the way before gently pushing it into place. Prior to that, I'd insert it all the way and then I'd often experience a highly unpleasant "POP!" sensation (ow!) or have it open and immediately suction somewhere in there that it shouldn't be suctioned.

I've never been able, nor needed to, rotate it.

For washing the cup at the end of my period, I put it in a narrow glass that's filled with a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water. Let it sit for a while, rinse with tap water and it's all good. Don't bother with the "Diva Wash" that's available to purchase.

I agree with everyone who's mentioned that the first month is the hardest - getting used to putting it in, taking it out, not spilling it all over the floor (just me?), and all the rest of it. Second month is awesome!
posted by VioletU at 3:06 PM on August 4, 2009

From Ms. Vegetable:

First, yay!

I always put my Diva in while taking a shower. This means a shower in the morning and a shower at night, but I don't mind, and it tends to be a quick one. A hand-held shower massager is AWESOME for cleanup.

To check for a seal - I don't try to rotate with just the stem of the cup, I tend to pinch the bottom slightly and rotate it a little, and then it seems to reseal well when I let go. It took me a LONG time to figure this out - many cycles of not doing a good job with it. I also leave it in for 12 hours - because I found the more frequently I tried to take it out/put it in, the more likely I was to fail and not seal it well. And sometimes it would feel like it had popped open, but hadn't.

Get some cloth pads to use as backup. I recommend Hag Rag, party in my pants, and New Moon. I still use them, mostly for the fun underpants decorations to cheer me up during my period. (Wow, who thought I'd ever write that out loud?)

Just keep trying - and when you get it, congrats!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:11 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been using a Keeper for a few years and love it but don't have much to add to the above excellent advice, except this: I've read a few horror stories (probably at Vagina Pagina?) involving women dislodging their IUDs by pulling menstrual cups out without releasing suction. Ow.
posted by ecsh at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2009

nadawi, I suffer the occasional UTI. For me, spermicide causes it to flare up, but the diva cup does not. Other folks have mentioned hydrogen peroxide for cleaning - I hadn't thought of that! I use tea tree oil, which also works well. I find the cup to be much more comfortable and less irritating than tampons.

In other menstrual cup news, I met a woman recently who told me that she empties hers into soil. She said it's good nutrition for plants.
posted by aniola at 4:25 PM on August 4, 2009

Chuck toilet paper into the water before emptying your cup. If you're not a very quick worker your gory detritus can settle in the loo while you struggle with cleanup/reinsertion, and can require a few flushes to get gone. Throwing a bit of paper down first saves flushing more than once. :)
posted by springbound at 5:11 PM on August 4, 2009

I've been a user for over 13 years, and I still love hearing from other people who use them!

Don't worry about the public toilet thing - I second not cleaning it, but I've emptied mine in public facilities more times than I can count, and as long as you don't drop it in the toilet or forget to make sure that there is tp in the stall before you start, you'll be fine.

Incidentally, it is also great for camping - with a bit of extra water, it prevents having to deal with gross paper waste (and the animals that might be attracted to it).

I don't know your age, but if you're young and bought the small one, know that you get bigger inside as you age, even if you don't have kids. About 7 years in, mine started leaking a lot - I got the bigger one and it works like a dream.

I would recommend carrying the little pouch and tampons around with you for the first few months just in case you do have problems away from home that you don't feel up to dealing with.

Oh, and don't lose it - I pity the person who found my first one. I'm not sure how and when it escaped from my clutches but I feel really bad for the person who might have stumbled unknowingly upon it.
posted by scrute at 5:21 PM on August 4, 2009

Not to be all Debbie Downer, but reading this makes diva cups and the like sound really... unpleasant. I know this is the 'what do you wish you knew' thread but can anybody weigh in with the 'what makes it worth all hassle?'
posted by Space Kitty at 6:52 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Space Kitty, they can be a bit of a hassle at first and take some getting used to. There's a learning curve, especially if you've been using pads and/or tampons for over 20 years, like I had been when I got my cup.

What makes it worth it?

I made a $40 investment that saves me at least twice that much per year. It's supposed to last 3 years, so the math adds up. As long as you take care of the cup, it's healthier. No bleached cotton jammed up next to my cervix. No toxic shock worries. It seemed less abrasive to my bits, once I got the hang of it. There are only two days a month where I have to worry about it while I'm at work. It's also much easier on sewer/septic systems (if you flush) or the landfill. I tend to use pads/liners as backup, which I also did with tampons, but I use a lot fewer of those now, too.
posted by lilywing13 at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2009

Why I prefer a cup:

I don't get many cramps, so the irritation of menstruating used to include the smell, the constant changing of tampons and panty liners, and the cost. And the feeling of blood being around. With a cup, the blood doesn't come out until I take it out, so I don't smell it or get it on me. The cup also holds more than a tampon, so while I might have used 2-3 tampons a day, I would only think about my cup in my morning shower and just before bed. Plus I bought it once and it was free forever after that. It took a little bit of getting used to, but you get the hang of it pretty quick. So other than a small check in my morning shower and just before bed, it's almost like I don't have my period at all. It's a beautiful thing.

Ok, tips:

Try the different folds they talk about in the LJ community. I personally love the punch-down fold. And feel free to cut the stem off if it's getting stabby.

If your period isn't entirely predictable, feel free to put it in early and check it periodically. It's fine if it's in there and not collecting blood so long as you've cleaned it (boiling it or soaking it overnight in diluted hydrogen peroxide both work great). This can save you from nasty surprises!

I've talked to some women who can have sex with a cup in, but I never could manage it.

It's definitely much easier to put it in when squatting in the shower. And if you are having trouble reaching it to get it out, it'll move down if you bear down (just grunt and you will engage those muscles!).

There will be things other than blood in it. Weird mucousy stuff. You'll realise it's not all clotty, it's different from day to day. You might be disgusted by it, and you might be fascinated by it.

To clean out the air holes at the top, either run them under the showerhead while pinching the sides to open up the hole, or fill the cup with water, turn it over in your hand, and force the water out through the holes like a sprinkler.
posted by heatherann at 9:17 PM on August 4, 2009

Space Kitty - Oh it's so worth it. The expense is one thing but just not having to deal with slimey smelly gross messy tampons and pads ever again is really the biggest plus for me. Once I figured it out, it became a lot more reliable for me too. Tampons have a much higher failure rate for me than the Diva Cup. And I actually became sort of fascinated with my, um, output. It's kind of cool and forces you to be a little more in tune with your body. The blood actually seems a lot less gross to me in a little cup than smeared all over a wadded up piece of cottony fibers. It really is awesome. I'm sure if you were to describe using a tampon to anyone who had never used one, they'd have a similar reaction to yours about the Diva Cup!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:36 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Space Kitty:

Well, they're completely awesome. Best invention ever. It sounds a little gory when discussed in detail like this, but they're incredibly convenient, cost-saving, waste-saving, better in every way than any other option out there.

tampons: you must buy a lot of them (and they're not too cheap) and have several on hand. They're all bleached white to give the impression of cleanliness. Their absorption powers makes them a haven for germs so you're not supposed to keep them in longer than 8 hours (last time I checked anyway.) You can't flush them, so they sit around in trashcans. They create lots of waste.

menstrual cups: You buy once (walking past the "feminine hygiene" aisles is total schadenfreude.) They're made of medical-grade silicone, no weird bleaches. There's no unnecessary wastefulness... or bloody things hanging around in waste bins. You can leave them in for waaay longer than anything else (no risk of TSS apparently), or take them out every 2 minutes if you really feel like it.

The one thing to get over with menstrual cups is any squeamishness you might have about blood, but in the long run that's perhaps a feature and not a bug. Also, you have to make sure you keep it clean between use, wash your hands and all that, but that's not a big deal.

Seriously. Awesomeness.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:29 PM on August 4, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, I'm really grateful for all the great advice and pretty useful info. For the first time in my life, I'm actually wanting to get my period so I can try my Diva Cup. I'm not marking any best answers, because the whole thread is very useful for me and for anyone who might want to try a menstrual cup. Can't wait to see how it works out for me so I can tell my sisters.

Would anyone here believe that my best friend is still using just pads? I've been trying to convince her to try tampons for like 5 years...I bet she'd just faint if I told her about this thing.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:43 PM on August 4, 2009

ecsh: I've read a few horror stories (probably at Vagina Pagina?) involving women dislodging their IUDs by pulling menstrual cups out without releasing suction.ecsh: "I've been using a Keeper for a few years and love it but don't have much to add to the above excellent advice, except this: I've read a few horror stories (probably at Vagina Pagina?) involving women dislodging their IUDs by pulling menstrual cups out without releasing suction. Ow."

I was going to ask if any of you ladies have an IUD. I really want to try a cup, but when I went to order one I saw that almost all varieties say they are not recommended for IUD users. Anyone have good or bad experiences here?
posted by peep at 11:12 PM on August 4, 2009

oops, sorry about the double quote there.
posted by peep at 11:13 PM on August 4, 2009

Spacekitty: What makes it worth it, for me, is that it means that instead of thinking about my period every single time I pee, I can think about it twice a day. Seriously, if you hate having your period, this is possibly the easiest way to minimize the amount of time spent on period-related issues.

It's also cheap--I bought my diva for $30 seven years ago. So at the moment, I've spent about 35c a month on "feminine hygiene", and I expect that this cup will last several more years.

There wasn't much of a learning curve for me. I bought it, spent about twenty minutes fiddling with it in the bathroom, and it's been working for me ever since. It's never leaked (save, okay, for a few times where it's overflowed--hardly the cup's fault that I forgot to dump it out), nothing. Also, the fact that I just said "I forgot to dump it out" is telling--I *forgot that I had my period*. It hasn't happened often, but that it's happened at all is, in my mind, an amazing, wonderful thin.

Regarding the original question, what I wish that I'd known before I started using it: Yes, cut off the stem. I've got no stem at all left, and it works great for me. The website claims that the cup sits "lower than your cervix", which I haven't really found to be true--my cup often ends up sort of embracing my cervix. This hasn't affected its performance or my comfort at all, so don't worry if you find that your cup is settling higher instead of lower.

The other thing that I wish that someone had told me is that if you forget to dump the cup, or if you leave it in for about 18+ hours, when you dump it, it will smell. Blah blah, anaerobic bacteria, but the end result is stinking like blood and death, in my opinion. The good news, though, is that it takes about two seconds of drain + running water to get rid of the smell, and also that it's not really noticeable until the cup's been removed--the guy sitting next to you at supper isn't going to smell it or anything.

My cup has seriously changed my life. I love it--you couldn't pay me to go back to tampons.
posted by MeghanC at 11:18 PM on August 4, 2009

Space Kitty, it's worth it because it's cheap and much less hassle than any other method. Yeah, there's more of a learning curve, but once you know what you're doing you can really forget you're having your period except for 2-3 times a day when you have to empty. Plus, it feels weirdly...not feminist, but somehow powerful, to be using this product that really puts you in touch with your body, has negligible environmental impact, costs nothing compared to all other options, and has basically zero marketing other than word of mouth from other women.

I've emptied mine in a public toilet with no real issues...the only difficulty is knowing that anyone else in the restroom is wondering what the hell those noises are.

I knew on an intellectual level that I was supposed to break the suction while I was removing, but I didn't really get what that meant for several months of cervix-shattering pain. Before you get the cup anywhere near outside of your body, gently reach a finger into your vagina and push the rim of the cup away from the vaginal wall. You can hear the seal break. Then, you can pull your cup out by folding it slightly (if it's totally full this can be messy...mine rarely gets that full).

Experiment with folds. Everyone is different. I use the 7-fold after trying a whole bunch of others. Worth repeating: rinse it with cold water right before you in. It will pop open a lot more easily.

I can't tell you how nice it is to have a sink you can reach from the toilet. If you don't have one, you'll come to wish you did.

Oh, also - keep your nails trimmed and neat. This may not occur to you until it is too late. Mine break easily (I blame vegetarianism) and more than once I've gone to insert and realized I have a scratchy nail. Awful.
posted by crinklebat at 12:27 AM on August 5, 2009

I was going to ask if any of you ladies have an IUD. I really want to try a cup, but when I went to order one I saw that almost all varieties say they are not recommended for IUD users. Anyone have good or bad experiences here?

I have a Mirena IUS and I use(d) a DivaCup. I would still be using it, but the Mirena has pretty much completely stopped my menstrual bleeding. I still get the "tenderness" and mood shifts though! Too bad, eh?

I was a little worried about it at first, having read the same stories you've probably read. I tried to remember that people don't usually tend to post when things are going fine, and there were a few people in comments saying it's not a big deal, you have to make sure to break the seal, etc. I was cautious in the first month because if your IUD is going to come out, odds are it'll be in that first month. So I used pads for the first time in years and it was so disgusting in comparison. I missed my cup a lot. So the next month I just went for it. It was always fine. I never felt it tugging or anything.

I think the problem for some who have tugged their IUD out may be that the string of the IUD may have been in the cup and when they pinched it to pull it down, they grabbed the string and pulled that down too. So I've always tried to make sure not to pinch it too tight, to break the seal, and to make sure that the string is up around my cervix before putting the cup back in. But I don't really think about it much, because that's how I tended to do it before.

Yay cups!
posted by heatherann at 6:15 AM on August 5, 2009

I was going to ask if any of you ladies have an IUD. I really want to try a cup, but when I went to order one I saw that almost all varieties say they are not recommended for IUD users. Anyone have good or bad experiences here?

I used my cup for the year I had my IUD, BUT I'd been using the cup without any problems for a year first. Like heatherann, I used pads for the first month, and was amazingly happy to go back to using the cup (byebye, mess, smell and scrubbing my knickers in cold water!) I was just a little more careful about breaking the seal and taking the cup out slowly. (I got the IUD removed for unrelated reasons).

People talk about the learning curve with cups, but think back to being a teenager - months if not years of mess and blood and stained sheets/clothes/EVERYTHING. I never had any kind of curve with my cup; I just put it in, it worked (my sister, unfortunately, trusted me a little too much and experienced some major overnight leakage with hers. I'd really recommend using a pad as backup at first, until you see what works for you). No leakage, no problems - except, as with some other people, very occasionally forgetting that I've got it in. Being able to forget that I've got my period. In those kind of events, remember that if you do keep your cup in longer than about ten or twelve hours, it will smell a bit grim. The smell does wear off after you clean it a few times.
posted by Lebannen at 7:10 AM on August 5, 2009

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this, but I guess I might be in the vast (apparently!) minority of women who has sex on her period. I didn't realize how incredibly strange I am. Anyway!

This is a little gross, but here's my major gripe with menstrual cups (I use the Keeper, for what it's worth): sex can get messy, and I am pretty much forced to go back to tampons if I actually want to have it while I'm on the rag. I'm on the pill and my periods are light, and tampons have the benefit of kind of cleaning out the gunk upon removal. What I realized from using a cup is that menstrual blood is not very liquid-y at all, and having a little cup holding it all up there means that the gunk sort of sticks around. It's not that big of a deal, I guess, since you can just use water and clean it out with your hands, but that squicks me out.

Otherwise, it's a thing of beauty. I only have to empty it once ever 12 hours or so, which is about half as often as I have to change a tampon. Rinsing it out is a breeze. A tip: it's much easier to insert if you're sitting down (I actually have no idea how anyone can insert it in the shower, unless they have chairs there). This is hardly a problem, since you'll be sitting on the toilet already!

Good luck, and don't get discouraged if it feels odd the first few times. It took me a cycle or two to get the hang of it.
posted by timory at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

*who have sex on their periods. Sorry, grammar fart.
posted by timory at 9:13 AM on August 5, 2009

Would anyone here believe that my best friend is still using just pads? I've been trying to convince her to try tampons for like 5 years...I bet she'd just faint if I told her about this thing.

I would. I only use pads, but not for lack of trying - tampons just don't work for me, they can't handle my flow, yo.

As I've said in a previous AskMe somewhere, it's like chucking a twig at a river. I hope the Cup works for you, I should try one someday but I'm afraid of the carnage.
posted by tristeza at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tristeza: You should try the cup. Like I said above, I'm very heavy, but I only have two days that I can't wear the cup due to heaviness. I have to use both tampons and pads those days. The great thing is being able to wear the cup before you really start to catch the initial flood, also for all the lighter days. I'm so jealous of people who can use only the cup, but it's still saved me a fortune in supplies over the years.
posted by threeturtles at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2009

yay for the diva cup!
I didn't cut the stem, but I rarely use it.

For inserting: if I feel still feel it, something is wrong (and not sealed), so I take it out and try again.

For removing: I also use the method of bearing down a la Kegel, pinching at the bottom and pulling slowly.

For cleaning: in public stalls I just wipe it, at home or when there's a sink in the stall, I rinse it - and after the period I wash it and stick it into the dishwasher.

Best product ever.
posted by meijusa at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2009

This is a little gross, but here's my major gripe with menstrual cups (I use the Keeper, for what it's worth): sex can get messy, and I am pretty much forced to go back to tampons if I actually want to have it while I'm on the rag.

You have sex with a tampon in? Am I mis-reading that?

I have sex during my period. I just take the cup out first and put a towel down. My flow isn't usually super-heavy, so it's not that big of a deal to me or the boy.
posted by heatherann at 12:07 PM on August 5, 2009

Wow, thanks for the feedback! I may not be a convert (yet) but you've REALLY given me something to consider the next time I go camping....
posted by Space Kitty at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2009

You have sex with a tampon in? Am I mis-reading that?

Oh grossgrossgross! No, no, no, you are totally misreading that. I meant that *using* tampons makes sex less messy because taking out a tampon removes whatever goop is up there, while a cup does not.
posted by timory at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2009

Oh grossgrossgross! No, no, no, you are totally misreading that.

Awesome. I was hoping I was!

I don't find the "goop" to be an issue, so poster, YMenstruationMV. Clearly. :)
posted by heatherann at 2:04 PM on August 5, 2009

tampons just don't work for me, they can't handle my flow, yo

psst, did you know that OB makes an Ultra sized tampon now? they are my new favorite thing! one size up from Super Plus.
posted by peep at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2009

PS anybody read Microserfs? I'm imagining a bunch of dudes reading this in horror.
posted by peep at 3:55 PM on August 5, 2009

I believe 'strawberries' was the term used in Microserfs, yes?

And if any guys made it this far in the thread, they deserve whatever visuals they get. :)
posted by 8dot3 at 6:19 PM on August 5, 2009

OK, I don't have one of these devices and hadn't really thought about it, and then one of you had to mention getting backup supplies from a company named "party in my pants."

I totally want one now just so I have the chance to patronize an establishment with such an incredibly delightful moniker. Mr. F's looking at me like I've lost it. "Dude! I could get a menstrual cup and then buy pads from PARTY IN MY PANTS!!!"
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:52 PM on August 5, 2009

Okay, this is the thread that finally prompted me to buy a Diva Cup. While browsing around, I noticed that there is a similar cup-type product called Instead that you can wear to have "clean sex" while on your period. Anyone used those? I bought those and the Diva Cup, just in case. I have an IUD, so hopefully it will be fine with that.
posted by booknerd at 10:31 AM on August 7, 2009

Instead is disposable and totally sucks. It leaks like a motherfucker.
posted by peep at 10:38 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

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