My foray into the world of DivaCup started with a trip to the Women’s Centre of my university when I was 21. I was there to hear a talk by a local author, but when she didn’t show up, the volunteers who ran the centre asked if I, and the five other students in attendance, had any questions about the services they offered. One female student timidly raised her hand and pointed to a small poster advertising the sassy-named DivaCup. “What is that?” she asked.
The volunteers eagerly began explaining the DivaCup, which they had just begun selling out of the Women’s Centre. “I’m wearing one right now!” they all exclaimed, in a Spartacus-syncing moment.
A 15-minute pro-DivaCup talk followed, with the volunteers extolling the numerous benefits of using the Cup compared to disposable feminine hygiene products. At least, I think they did. Being a full-time student who worked two jobs, I stopped listening after hearing that the $20 each month I spent on tampons and pads would now stay in my wallet. That equaled four Amaretto Sours at the only club in town, which was exactly how many of the sugary drinks I could handle before throwing up. I was in.
Now ten years into being a DivaCup-user, I’ve learned that there are more than just financial advantages for the switch, although the numbers definitely add up.
Paying for disposable feminine hygiene products is what first got me invested in the Diva Cup and for good reason. In 2015, Canada eliminated the Tampon Tax, ruling that feminine hygiene products would no longer have sales tax added on, but importing tariffs or the ‘Tampon Tariff’ were still part of the end sale cost. A study done by the Huffington Post in 2015 found that on average, women who have their period from ages 13 – 51 will spend $1,773 on tampons.
To compare, the DivaCup currently sells for $37.97 at Walmart Canada and can be used for up to five years. For a woman who has her period from ages 13-51, this totals $288 over a lifetime of periods. That’s a lot of extra Amaretto Sours.
There are many other reasons I’ve stayed loyal to my DivaCup, but just to be clear, I am not a doctor, even though I’ve never missed an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. What I am is someone who has used a DivaCup for a decade and can give you an insiders guide to the ins… and outs.
1. What is a DivaCup?
The DivaCup is a small funnel that’s closed at the end and made from health-grade silicon. It’s folded lengthwise and inserted into the vaginal canal, the same way a tampon is inserted, and then pops open to catch blood. When it’s time to remove the DivaCup, simply squat and remove the way you would a tampon.
2. What if it’s not there?
What goes up must come down. The vagina doesn’t connect to other parts of the body, so like a tampon, the DivaCup won’t go rogue for long.
3. Does it hurt?
I get this question a lot. Inserting a DivaCup is similar to inserting a tampon, in that if it’s not placed correctly, it will be uncomfortable. Sometimes it takes a few false starts before achieving a comfortable lift off. There’s a tip on the end of the DivaCup to help grab it, but I find it uncomfortable and cut it, which is something the company recommends if needed.
4. What happens when you need to empty it?
The Div Cup should be emptied every 12 hours, which involves washing your hands, removing the cup, emptying the blood into the toilet, cleaning the DivaCup with The DivaWash or warm water and a mild, unscented, water-based (oil-free) soap. This can admittedly be a tricky process if you’re going to be away from home for more than 12 hours and don’t have access to a private bathroom. If this happens, wash your hands, empty the cup, use toilet paper to clean the cup and reinsert it, cleaning it properly as soon as you can. The ability to wear a DivaCup for half a day, compared to the 3-4 hour life span of a tampon, is another great selling feature.
5. Is that all I have to do?
It’s advised to put the DivaCup in boiling water for no more than 10 minutes once per month. This is a great time to utilize any red Solo cups you have left over from your last BBQ. Letting the DivaCup sit in the sunshine for a few minutes is also a natural way to ward off discoloration, which will likely happen.
6. Will it leak?
Yes. The DivaCup advertises itself as 12-hour leak-free protection and maybe it is, but in my experience I have had the occasional leak. This was most likely a result of me being in a hurry and not inserting the DivaCup properly, but as with tampons, leaks happen. Keep your seven pairs of black underwear on hand.
7. Isn’t it gross?
The ‘ewww’ factor will subside. Eventually, you’ll just get into a routine the same way you did with tampons and pads, except this routine is cheaper, environmentally-friendly, you don’t have to worry about running out of supplies, and unlike a tampon, which “absorbs your vagina’s protective fluid, drying out and disrupting its normal pH levels,” the DivaCup won’t affect your pH levels and therefore won’t cause any smell. Plus, the DivaCup has indentations that allow you to measure how much blood you’re actually shedding. Are you really experiencing the Red Wedding in your uterus or does it just feel that way? Now you can measure.
8. Will other people be grossed out?
Yes and no. A friend of mine was initially very grossed out by my admission that I didn’t have an extra tampon in my purse because I use a DivaCup. Fast forward a few years later and my converted friend is right next to me listing the benefits of that #DCLife to our other girlfriends over glasses of wine.
9. But seriously, kinda gross, right?
I was initially very hesitant to march out of a public bathroom with my fist in the air and declare that I was a proud DivaCup user, but for the most part the reaction has been positive. Nervously telling my partner that the little purple bag in my drawer in the bathroom actually held a DivaCup was followed with a quick Q&A session and then a high five. Plus, your body is amazing. Celebrate yo’self!
10. Is there only one type?
The DivaCup comes in two sizes, Model 1 and 2. They are differentiated by under and over 30 years of age or women who have/have not delivered vaginally or by c-section.
11. Can I have sex while wearing a DivaCup?
12. Are there other benefits to using a DivaCup?
Totes. Using a DivaCup means not having to stock and carry tampons and pads with you during your period, which is especially helpful when travelling. The DivaCup also has a positive environmental impact. The process to make tampons is demanding on resources and chemicals. The average woman uses 11,000 tampons in her life, but the lifespan of tampon in a landfill is centuries-long.
12. Are there other options?
Yes ma’am! If you’re looking for another reusable option, there are cloth menstrual pads, which can be purchased or made at home. Sea Sponge Tampons are similar to a DivaCup in that they can be rinsed out and reused, and unlike traditional tampons, you’re not inserting a non-biodegradable piece of bleached cloth into your body.
13. Anything else?
If you do make the switch to a DivaCup, I recommend keeping a box of tampons or pads in your home for visiting friends. Leave no woman behind.