I used to be really kind of scared of my vagina. I got my period when I was 12 but didn’t start using tampons until I was a senior in high school. Tampons looked like they would hurt and I was not interested in my vagina causing me more pain than it already did. I finally faced my fear when I just couldn’t deal with the diaper look of pads for a second longer. Even then, I would only use tampons with applicators, none of that o.b. crap, because I wasn’t about to get all up in there, you know? Though I’d been masturbating since I was 12, I always did it over my underwear and I didn’t lose my virginity until I was almost 21. Basically, my vagina intimidated me for a very, very long time.
So it’s been with some level of that same intimidation that I’ve initially recoiled at the thought of using a Diva Cup. For those who are unfamiliar, allow me to explain. The Diva Cup is a reusable menstrual cup that a gal uses instead of a tampon or pad. It is inserted inside the vagina and catches your menstrual flow. It can be worn for up to 12 hours. Once removed, you clean it and then reinsert. Green-minded women love it for its low impact on the environment, while budget conscious ladies never have to buy tampons again.
But a woman who is still kind of scared of getting up close and personal with her vagina? Like yours truly? Horrified.
Here are some thoughts that went through my mind when I first heard of the Diva Cup.
I have to shove that thing up in there? And maneuver it around until it’s, like, locked into place? With what? My finger? Excuse me, fingers? How? In a crouching position? And forget about getting it in, how about getting it out?! Where does the blood go? Isn’t is messy? Oh hell naw.
So imagine my surprise when a DivaCup was delivered to The Frisky’s office a few weeks ago and I heard myself saying, “Fuck yeah, I’ll try it.”
First, I should mention that one way I’ve dealt with being intimidated by my vagina is with a steadfast surging desire to conquer and become unintimidated by it. I got all of my pubes waxed off so it couldn’t hide from me anymore. I ditch the undies sometimes during particularly hot and heavy self love sessions. I make vaguely uncomfortable jokes about my long labia in mixed company. And, apparently, I jump on the opportunity to try a Diva Cup. At work. On the first day of the J. Crew sample sale down the block.
In short, I tried the DivaCup not because I was interested in replacing tampons with an environmentally-friendly and frugal alternative, but because using the Diva Cup, even once, brought me that much closer to being unintimidated by my vagina. I did not actually expect to like the damn thing.
I tried the DivaCup for the first time in the bathroom stall at work, which I have to say is not the most ideal setting for using this kind of menstrual product. During insertion and removal, it would really behoove you to have a sink close by that you can access with your pants still down around your ankles.
Luckily, the Diva Cup can be worn for 12 hours, so you could theoretically go all day at work without removing it. The DivaCup is made out of a soft, thick but malleable silicone, and before inserting it, you fold it in half, so it’s less girthy and easier to get inside ye olde vaginal opening. Once it’s inside and your fingers are no longer holding it in half, the cup opens, and those strong vaginal walls of yours keep it in place. The Diva Cup has a tip at the bottom and you want that to be all the way inside you, not poking out.
Those instructions sound all well and good, I’m sure, but how does it really go down? Getting the DivaCup in was a little weird at first; I definitely had to stand in a slightly bent knee crouch of sorts. The instructions also said that I needed to turn the Diva Cup a full rotation once it was inside me, I guess to lock it in place or something, but when I went to do that, my ability to really sense whether that bitch was turning completely broke down. It felt in place. It didn’t feel like I had a plastic cup inside my vag. In fact, it felt like I didn’t have anything in there at all. Good sign right? I put on a panty liner just incase and went about my business, which meant that I walked back into the Frisky office and announced loudly, “I am now wearing the DivaCup!”
A few hours later, after shopping like a diva at the J. Crew sample sale, it was time for part two of the experiment: removing the Diva Cup. The instructions helpfully suggested crouching over the toilet, with your hand at the ready, and pushing with your pelvic floor muscles “like you’re having a bowel movement.” As if the DivaCup could get any sexier, amiright? I’m a half-assed yoga goer but one takeaway I’ve gotten from years and years of downward dog and failed headstands is an awareness of how to activate mula bandha, which is just what removing the Diva Cup requires. As your pelvic floor muscles push down, the little tip at the end of the DivaCup pops out, and you pinch it and pull. If all goes correctly, you can just pour the contents of the DivaCup directly into the toilet. Or into your compost pile, if you’re a hippie and looking to grow some incredible chronic.
Taking out the DivaCup is totally easy. If I’m being honest, and let’s face it I am, it’s a little messy, but hardly the bloodbath I expected. It was hardly like this:
And, if you’re interested in knowing more about your personal menstrual flow, the Diva Cup has little measurement lines inside it, so you can see how many ounces of blood you shed a day. I’m dead serious. I’m weird, but not weird enough to calculate how many shots of blood I expunge during my heaviest flow day. Unnecessary detail, DivaCup people.
So yeah, I really actually liked the Diva Cup! It was completely comfortable in that I did not feel it at all. It wasn’t nearly as icky as I thought it would be, in fact, it was a level of ickiness I could totally handle. I tucked the DivaCup away in my medicine cabinet, not sure that I would use it again, but not feeling right about throwing such a handy little vaginal doodad away.
Which came as a relief yesterday, when my period unexpectedly arrived on Christmas and there was nary a tampon to be found in my apartment.
“Hello, Diva Cup,” I imagine my vagina said. “Fancy seeing you again.”