This blog entry is regarding personal feminine issues (talk of vaginas – specifically my vagina – and menstruation). Feel free to pass on this one if that’s not your cup of tea.
OK, so I know some of my Twitter and Formspring followers wanted to hear about my experience trying out the Diva Cup. For those who don’t know, a Diva Cup is a brand of menstrual cup, which is…to put it bluntly, a silicone cup that is fully inserted into the vagina to “catch” menstrual blood. It can be kept in for 12 hours, emptied, cleaned and reused as an alternative to disposable feminine products like tampons.
For a whole month I contemplated how on earth I would ever gain the courage to put that thing inside me. I mean, the thing is a cup. Like a little (big, in vagina-land) egg cup. It’s scary, especially when the whole damn thing needs to be inside you. But logically I knew that there’s no way it could get lost or stuck in there – the vagina is like a fleshy muscular accordion that stretches out during arousal and child birth but in a relaxed state it’s only about 4 inches deep and ends with your cervix, so there’s no possible way that the cup is going to be sucked into the depths of your uterus and require surgical removal.
I gave it a whirl this month. My very first time inserting it was hilarious – I folded it into the U shape as instructed, then when it popped open I literally squealed “OW!!” out loud, it sort of twanged past my vaginal muscles at the entrance and it sure made its presence known up there. And I could definitely feel it. It was initially a little painful but after a few minutes there was just the unpleasant sensation of having a big cup in my box. So I went back and forth from the bathroom over the next hour, trying to get the thing to sit in a less annoying, not-so-HELLO! I’M AN EGG CUP IN YOUR VAG kind of way. (I just realized that it literally is an “egg” cup in a sense, lmao)
It was a messy venture and I gave up after a while.
Tried again this afternoon after cutting the stem as suggested by the instructions. I cut it just up past the first ring on the stem, if you’ve seen one before you’ll know what I mean. My photo up there is post-trimming. I figured it was the stem that I could feel; it was a sensation of being randomly poked or jabbed as I moved about.
Now I’ve got it in again. It helps me a lot to ensure I exhale deeply as I insert it – you need to relax, because no way in hell can you get one of these in without being relaxed. So, big long exhale, insert it towards your tailbone, never straight up. It doesn’t hurt…but…I just…I don’t know if this is how it’s supposed to feel! I can definitely tell it’s there and I don’t know if that’s normal, if I’ll get accustomed and desensitized to it soon enough…or if this cup just isn’t for me. There’s no pain, just a sense of pressure and a foreign object being deep inside my vagina that actually reminds me a lot of how it feels being in late labour and I don’t like that at all. When I move about I can feel my muscles grinding against it and it makes me feel so grossed out that I almost go to grab at my crotch, so I’m constantly walking around with my mouth screwed up to the side in discomfort.
I guess I’ll persevere with it and see how it goes, I know some women have said it took them a few months to get it all figured out. For anyone who is curious about its actual functionality though – I have a VERY heavy flow and the cup does do a marvelous job at…uh…collecting it. No leakage at all and (aside from those first few uses) it is less messy than you’d imagine. Probably not ideal for the blood-phobic though. It’s also very interesting to see exactly how much you’re bleeding; it’s a surprisingly small amount for me, even though I have a heavy flow.
Anyone who has anything to share of their own experiences with menstrual cups, please do share in the comments below because I’m eager to hear about it. There’s only so much discussion you can do in real life about your period blood catching vagina-cup.
Like I said to my husband, “What kind of conversation IS this? ‘I need to cut the stem on the cup I’m going to stick in my vagina to collect my blood’!? Oh to be a fly on the wall in this house. And especially in my bathroom.”
LATER: So I stuck with it and kept the cup in all afternoon and I did eventually forget that it was there and couldn’t feel it at all after a couple of hours. However there were brief moments where I could feel the pressure again – but I think I know what’s causing it now. Since having children my bits have been particularly sensitive to the uterine contractions during menstruation, it aches (like arms carrying a heavy load for too long is the only way I can describe the feeling – I feel like I want to give my privates a ‘rest’ but can’t!)…I think my vagina itself experiences some muscular contractions too as the uterus sheds its lining and that may be why I occasionally feel discomfort and the pressure of the cup.
One issue that I haven’t solved yet – getting the thing out is a nightmare and even moreso now that I’ve trimmed the stem. I CANNOT remove it as instructed, by slipping a finger alongside it and breaking the seal/pushing the side in before removing it. As you can tell by the photo, this cup is as big as the palm of my hand. There’s no way I can fit a cup AND a finger inside me. It’s just not happening without a lot of pain. So removal for me is an embarrassing contortionist event with lots of yelling and discomfort. Any tips would obviously be appreciated, ladies!