After discovering that my favorite tampons, O.B. Ultra, had been discontinued (yes, they're still making regular and super plus), I was inundated with suggestions that I try the Diva Cup. So I did.
Last week, actually. The evening of Sunday, November 21, I got the little twinge that comes when Aunt Flow is about to arrive. I'd already ordered the Diva Cup via drugstore.com. So that night I lay in bed for an hour, reading and rereading the instructions, watching videos online, and examining the thing. Medical grade silicone, latex-free, it seems at once both too large and too small. Too big to go where it's supposed to go; too tiny to do what it's supposed to do. It took me half an hour of folding, inserting, twisting, turning, pulling out, shoving in and so on to figure out where the damn thing was supposed to be. Although once it was in, I didn't feel it at all. I slept.
Monday morning I checked on it, worried it wasn't working. But it was. Oh, it was. I stared at the mucos-y brown stuff I'd collected with fascination, then dumped it in the toilet, washed the cup and stuck it back in. I had a meeting in the Times Square area (shoutout to the online editing class at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism!) and I felt fairly secure, even though I stressed out because my train got delayed and worried that leaving the apartment while testing this thing was a bad idea. But when I got home from the meeting, I emptied the cup and felt impressed. It was working.
Monday evening around 7pm, I went to my usual bingo night and had a couple of beers. By 9:30 I was sure the thing was leaking. I was wearing a pad for backup, but as I went home I could tell that all was not well in Crotchtown. At 10:30pm there was a gory murder scene in my bathroom. Blood in my underwear, blood on my hands, blood in the toilet, blood on the floor. Most of it bright, vivid red, because it doesn't get exposed to the air with the Diva Cup. Maybe I put it in wrong, maybe my period was too heavy, maybe it migrated? In any case, it was a fucking mess, and I had some Lady Macbeth moments at the sink as I tried to scrub away all traces of blood. But I stuck it back in.
Tuesday morning it appeared to be leaking and I decided I'd been shoving it too high.
Tuesday afternoon everything was okay, though I'd begun to take it out, dump it, and put it back in it every couple of hours just to be sure.
Tuesday evening I went to the drugstore and bought Instead, just for kicks. I'd reached some weird state of delirium and obsession, after reading about The Keeper, Femmecup, Fleurcup, Moon Cup, LadyCup, Lunette, MeLuna, Miacup, Mpowercup, SheCup and Yuuki. For some reason — other than one chick I'd worked with, who used The Keeper — I'd been spending my life oblivious to the fact that menstrual cups were a popular option.
Instead leaked like a rusty pipe.
Tuesday night it was back to the cup. At that point, I had washed my hands SO MANY TIMES they were chapped and raw. You have to wash before you take the thing out, wash the thing when you empty it, and wash your hands when you're done. I slathered on the Jergens and tried a new insertion/rotation method.
Wednesday morning things were pretty good.
Wednesday afternoon, no complaints.
Wednesday night? A-Okay.
By Thursday morning — and this was Thanksgiving — I was feeling like I'd finally figured out exactly where the damn thing was supposed to be — and how long I could go without leaking. Of course, my period was just about over by then.
Overall, it was a positive, enlightening, though risky, getting-to-know-yourself experience. If not like Outward Bound, then Inward Bound. I have a whole new perspective on my flow — I know what it really looks like at different points in the cycle, how much of it there is (the cup has measurement marks) and I've had some intimate moments with my vaginal walls. Plus, there's the eco-friendly upside, and the fact that I'm not flushing anything but toilet paper. I can see why ladies like the Diva Cup — once you get the hang of it, it's kind of like that Showtime Rotisserie infomercial: Set it and forget it. But with my heavy periods, I could never really forget about it, and I definitely wouldn't use it without a pad. But I would use it again. Am I fully initiated into the cult? No. I'm actually thinking about getting Mirena. But that's another story.
Earlier: Bloody Hell: My Favorite Tampon Has Been Discontinued
Related, sorta: A Reader's Treasury Of Cures For Your Cramps
[Music is "Crying Blood" by V.V. Brown]