Saturday, May 30, 2009

For women only

OK, guys, you're going to want to check out now. Today's topic is something I'm pretty sure you want no part of: menstruation.

Two months ago, I was browsing Ravelry when I happened upon a thread about knitting a washable tampon. Yes, my friends, wait long enough and almost anything will come up on Ravelry no matter how far-fetched. Several pages into the discussion, someone brought up a concept I had never heard of before: a menstrual cup.

Now I know some of you ladies are really in tune with your bodies and have lived a crunchy enough life that menstrual cups have crossed your radar before. But not me. My first menstrual products hung from belts.

I'm much closer to the end of my menstrual life than the beginning. Nevertheless, every month I get annoyed at how much landfill my period generates. All those wrappers and pads and sewage waste. But what could I do about it?

That's why I sat up and took notice of the testimonials about the Diva Cup that appeared in that thread. A silicone cup that catches menstrual flow rather than absorbing it. Dump it out, rinse it off, insert it again. Nothing goes in the trash. Nothing at all.

I ordered one from (by far the best price on the web, reasonable and fast shipping). This was so far outside my experience that I had no idea whether it would work for me. But when my period came around a week or two after I received my package, I gave it a shot. And you know what? The learning curve was much more gentle than I had been led to believe by the many (many, many) discussions on the web about insertion methods. I quickly found that the C-fold worked just fine for me, and that if the cup was in at the proper depth and open, the complete rotation was very easy. (Difficulty with rotation is an easy indication that it's not in correctly -- no guesswork needed.)

Combine that old standard (rubber cups were marketed in the early 20th century; today they're made of silicone) with a 21st century innovation -- -- and suddenly I'm not putting three checks on my wall calendar and counting forward four weeks to guesstimate the next visitor, and I'm not giving Noel detailed instructions on what color box to buy at what strength and count when he comes to the feminine hygiene aisle in the grocery store.

How revolutionary is the Diva Cup? Consider:
  1. Changing a couple of times a day instead of five or six.
  2. No more pads and tampons filling up my purse. I keep one pad in there for backup on the heaviest days, and I suspect that once my supply of pads is exhausted, I'll be switching to the washable, reusable Lunapad.
  3. Only one pouch to pack. As much as I've been traveling lately, I've found myself stuffing my overnight bag with supplies anytime I was in the danger zone, trying to figure out how much to put in my carry-on and how much in my luggage. Won't it be nice just to have my cup in my purse already?
  4. Money in my pocket. The cup has paid for itself in pads and tampons in two months' time, and it will last me until menopause.
Listen, the Diva Cup makes me feel smart. It feels like I'm in control. It feels like I'm not a sucker anymore. And no matter how old you are, that feels really, really good.


Stephanie said...

Haven't used the cup, but when I saw the mention of lunapads, had to make a comment. I give the company a big thumbs up. I know good sewing and their products are very well made. If you end up with one that isn't, they will quickly send a new one. Might be too much info, but I've been using them for about 3 years. For those so inclined, there are a ton of patterns on the web to make your own as well

Ali said...

Hmm... Something to think about. I'm feeling kind of cruddy this morning, and I thought, crap, maybe my period is starting! I haven't had one since before I was pregnant w/ Kate. I went 14 months after Jude's birth, so I guess I'm getting close to that with Kate. One of the wonderful things about breastfeeding... Maybe I'll give the cup thing a try.

Doc Thelma said...

A few questions:

Would the change and rinse aspect be a problem in a public restroom?

Can you swim with it?

And is it something you would recommend for a beginner?

Donna B. said...

1. It is a bit more awkward in a public restroom, because ideally you'd rinse it out before reinserting it. Two considerations that make that much less of a problem: (a) You have to change it much less often. On normal flow days you could go the whole day at work without changing it. (b) When you do need a change but you're in a multi-stall restroom, just empty it in the toilet and wipe off the outside with toilet paper before reinserting. Just so happens that I did that very thing this morning at church. No problem at all.

2. Yes. It forms a leakproof seal.

3. I've given that some thought. The company has a pamphlet just for teens. Thinking about the arcane instruction I was given about feminine hygiene, I really doubt it would be any less complicated. Certainly it's just as easy as using tampons.

Ari said...

I too recommend the Diva Cup! I got it a year ago, and I honestly couldn't be happier with it. I think the best part is that I never have to worry about finding a place to put tampon-related trash away when I'm somewhere and can't find a trash can in the bathroom...not to mention I don't have to have any trash to throw away at home, either!

Donna, I really love your blog (and your Twitter!) It's a joy to read, and I feel like I have a lot in common with your interests (except maybe knitting, but my mother knits enough for the both of us already). I want to thank you for inadvertendly introducing me to BookMooch, which has gotten me interested in reading again. hooray!

Jenn said...

I have been thinking about doing this (being a crunchy-type), but just haven't bothered to order one yet. I switched to OB tampons a couple of years ago because they were minimally packaged and had no extra applicator trash. I may finally make the switch!

Anonymous said...

DonnaB, thanks so much for this post. I had looked at these a couple months ago. The online reviews were fantastic, but I didn't know anyone who had tried it. After seeing your post, I bought one. Hooray!
btw- they are also sold at my local Whole Foods store for a little more.
Connie P

arizona said...

I feel like I'm constantly telling people just how amazing menstrual cups are... I think by the end of my stay in Scotland, all eight women on my program had switched over, and there are a few well on their way where I am now in Tennessee. It's such an amazing tool. Way to go, Donna! Thanks for spreading the word.