Sex Toy Reviews for Experimental Fuckers #13
I’m not posting a sex toy review this time, but menstruation is still part of a woman’s overall sexual and reproductive health, so I’m reviewing a menstrual cup called the DivaCup. A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped device that’s soft and flexible.
It fits inside the vagina during a woman’s period to collect rather than absorb menstrual fluid. The DivaCup is just one version of this device, and there are a lot of options for women who are thinking about switching from pads and tampons to a menstrual cup. I ultimately chose the DivaCup, which I bought on Amazon for about $25. I recommend doing some research before buying a menstrual cup to choose the appropriate size and find information about the stem type and length among other dimensions.
I honestly wish I had known about menstrual cups earlier in my life, and there are plenty of good reasons to use one. First, the DivaCup and most other menstrual cups are silicone, so they’re body safe and nonporous. The DivaCup is even regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I wouldn’t recommend buying a menstrual cup that’s something other than silicone. With tampons, there’s a higher risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), caused by bacteria, because tampons absorb menstrual fluid, which exposes that fluid to the air. While TSS is rare, it’s potentially fatal. Menstrual cups collect fluid rather than absorbing it, and because the DivaCup creates a seal inside the vagina, the collected fluid isn’t exposed to the air, which means significantly less bacteria and a significantly reduced risk of TSS. Even better is the fact that there’s no odor. Another reason I love using a menstrual cup is because they’re environmentally friendly. They’re reusable, so I don’t throw out wrappers and cardboard from pads and tampons every month. Using a menstrual cup reduces my carbon footprint. Plus, I’ve already saved a lot of money not buying pads and tampons. A menstrual cup pays for itself within the first few months of use. In fact, while DivaCup recommends replacing the cup every year, it can last up to ten years. I don’t like pads because they make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper. The DivaCup is comfortable to wear. I don’t even know it’s there and can’t feel it as I go about my business. I can wear my DivaCup for up to 12 hours, and the seal keeps it from leaking, so I can do anything while wearing the DivaCup, including swimming and sleeping. I got rid of my period panties once I started using a menstrual cup. Finally, using a menstrual cup is educational. It’s easier for me to track my period when I can see how heavy my flow is, what color the fluid is, and whether or not there’s tissue from my uterine lining in the fluid.¹ That said, I imagine that people who are squeamish when it comes to bodily functions and fluids, especially blood, have a difficult time using a menstrual cup, including the DivaCup. I get blood both on my hands and under my fingernails when I insert and remove the cup.
Before I bought the DivaCup, I did a little research and tried a box of disposable menstrual cups called Instead Softcups. I used the disposable cups for a couple of months with little success. They leaked, and I don’t know that I ever was able to insert them correctly. It also didn’t seem like they held very much fluid, and I was changing them every few hours. The issue, I think, was that the disposable cups were much thinner than the silicone DivaCup. They were very flexible and flimsy with a ring that was too big and not stiff enough and a cup that was some kind of crinkly plastic.
Rather than collecting fluid, they just became coated with fluid and made more of a mess than pads and tampons. I haven’t tried the reusable version. Use one cup per period rather than throwing away every cup upon removal and inserting a new one. The reusable version looks like it’s a different material, so perhaps they’re more effective than the disposable version. In spite of my experience with the disposable cups, some female friends convinced me that I’d have more success with a reusable cup, so I bought the DivaCup and hoped for a better experience.
I chose the Model 1 size, which is for women who are younger than 30 years old and haven’t given birth. The Model 2 size is for women who are older than 30 or have given birth. Choosing the correct size helps to prevent leaks. The DivaCup is much easier to insert than the disposable cups and fits way better. I’ll be completely honest and say that inserting the DivaCup correctly takes a bit of practice, but I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to get the hang of it. I still insert it wrong every once in a while, but I just take it back out and try again, which I can’t do with tampons. There are two recommended ways to insert the DivaCup. The first recommendation is to fold it in half making a “U” shape with the cup.
However, I prefer the second method. The second recommendation is to fold the side down into the cup making a more triangular shape.
Using lubricant to make insertion easier isn’t recommended, but I really don’t think using only a water-based lube will hurt the cup. I insert the cup and allow it to pop open before I pinch the stem and gently twist the cup inside me to create the seal. When inserted correctly, the DivaCup sits low inside the vagina beneath the cervix. Remove the DivaCup before having sex. The DivaCup holds up to one ounce (almost 30ml) of fluid.
The seal is strong, and the cup won’t fall out. In fact, I feel the suction when I remove it. For this reason, women who use the NuvaRing and women with intrauterine devices (IUDs) may dislodge their birth control device when removing a menstrual cup. I’ve found, however, that I’ve rarely worn my NuvaRing and DivaCup at the same time. Even so, I’ve found that I prefer sea sponge tampons when my period hasn’t quite ended before I insert a new NuvaRing. To remove the cup, I pull down on the stem until I can pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal. Once the seal breaks, gently slide the cup out without spilling the fluid and empty the menstrual cup into the toilet before cleaning and reinserting it.
Cleaning the DivaCup is pretty easy, but there are a few special instructions. When washing the cup, DivaCup recommends avoiding cleansers like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, wet wipes², hydrogen peroxide, and bleach. Also, don’t wash the DivaCup in the dishwasher. Chemicals and detergent residue inside the dishwasher can harm the cup, which means replacing it, or cause irritation during the next use. The four small holes around the rim of the menstrual cup create the seal inside the vagina. Make sure these holes are clear of debris and fluid. Boiling is a safe method to use to clean the DivaCup. Just watch the pot and don’t let the cup touch the sides or bottom. Another option is the official DivaWash, which is pH balanced. When I’m at work or in another public place, I usually don’t have the opportunity to clean my DivaCup before reinserting it. When I’m in a public bathroom, I wipe it out with toilet paper, reinsert it, and clean it thoroughly the next time I remove it. Wet wipes come in handy in this situation. My DivaCup has discolored a bit around the rim and four small holes near the top of the cup, but discoloration alone doesn’t mean that I need to replace it.
The DivaCup doesn’t require replacement as long as it’s still intact with no degradation of the silicone. The DivaCup comes with a small storage pouch, which I recommend using between periods.
Overall, I’m impressed by how much easier using a menstrual cup makes my life. If I have a daughter, I’m going to make sure she knows that using a menstrual cup is an option because I truly wish I had discovered menstrual cups years ago. I love everything about it, and it’s a big deal to me that I have an eco-friendly option. Using a menstrual cup isn’t as scary as it seems and really doesn’t take much getting used to.
- Menstrual cups create a seal inside the vagina and collect fluid rather than absorbing it, which means that fluid isn’t exposed to the air, so there’s a significantly lower risk of TSS and no odor.
- The seal prevents leaks.
- There are literally dozens of options when it comes to choosing a menstrual cup.
- The DivaCup is inexpensive. It pays for itself in the first few months, and replacing it won’t break the bank.
- The DivaCup is silicone, which means it’s body safe and nonporous.
- Reusable menstrual cups are environmentally friendly, and the DivaCup can last up to ten years.
- The DivaCup is comfortable to wear. I don’t even feel it when it’s inserted.
- The DivaCup is less intrusive than pads and tampons because I can wear it for up to 12 hours.
- Using a menstrual cup is educational and allows women to track their period symptoms and learn about their bodies.
- The DivaCup is pretty easy to clean, even in public bathrooms.
- Disposable menstrual cups aren’t nearly as effective as reusable ones.
- It’s possible for people who are squeamish when it comes to bodily functions and fluids, especially blood, to have a difficult time using a menstrual cup.
- Figuring out how to insert the DivaCup correctly takes a little practice.
- Do not wear the DivaCup during sex.
- Women who use the NuvaRing or have an IUD may dislodge their birth control device when removing a menstrual cup.
¹Maybe that much detail is a little gross, but I believe that every woman should track and become intimately familiar with her menstrual cycle and the symptoms that are typical for her. It’s part of learning about one’s body, which is also an important part of experiencing sexual pleasure.
²I recommend using a wet wipe that’s meant for intimate areas. Try Cheeky Wash Expandable Wipes.