To Diva Or No?

For a long time now, I have considered using a Diva Cup or The Keeper. They are “menstrual alternatives” to using pads during your period. Here is what the DivaCup looks like:
savvyhousekeeping diva cup
A friend of mine recently bought a DivaCup and seems to be enjoying it. I will let the DivaCup people explain how it works:

The DivaCup a non-absorbent menstrual cup that simply collects menstrual flow. It is inserted in the vagina and sits at the lower base of the vaginal canal. It is worn internally, yet because it is soft and smooth, it cannot be felt nor will it leak when inserted properly.
The DivaCup is the most clean and convenient method of feminine hygiene protection. No need to touch the flow. It is worn low in the vagina, not near the cervix, so it is easy to remove. No mess!

A couple of thoughts on these:
They seem efficient. In general, it is satisfying to me to find one gadget that can do the job of many other gadgets. That’s the idea here–you are replacing something disposable with something reusable, and as a consequence you spend less money overall and get to mess with less stuff. In this case, I wouldn’t have to store all those pads and tampons under the bathroom sink anymore. That would be cool.
They are much more earth friendly. The biggest advantage to a menstrual alternative is that it’s more environmentally responsible. Pads are a problem in landfills. The average American women will use between 10,000 and 15,000 disposable pads, tampons, and applicators in a lifetime. About “6.5 billion tampons and 13.5 billion sanitary pads, plus their packaging, ended up in landfills or sewer systems in 1998,” according to waste consultancy Franklin Associates. It takes 500 years for them to decompose. On top of that, all those pads and tampons have to be manufactured, which takes up resources and energy and blah blah blah. By contrast, with the DivaCup/Keeper you have one thing that can be used over and over again for years. Clearly, that is less wasteful overall.
But do they really save that much money? I am not saying this isn’t frugal, but it doesn’t seem like these alternatives would save as much money as is claimed. The DivaCup website says women spend $200 a year on pads. How does that happen, exactly? A bag of pads cost $5. I use half a bag in a month, so that is $2.50 a month. That means I spend $30 a year on pads. According to their calculations, the average woman spends $17 a month on pads, which means they are either going through almost four bags of pads in a month, or they are buying some pretty fancy pads.
The DivaCup and The Keeper both cost around $35. The Keeper is guaranteed for 10 years, or $.30 a month. That means I’m saving about $2.20 a month using it instead of pads. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t saving over $16 a month either. However, these menstrual alternatives would pay for themselves over time.
The people I know who use these alternatives seem happy with them. They swear they don’t leak and are more comfortable than pads. There is also the issue of the supposed toxicity of pads/tapons, caused by chlorine and other chemicals used in their manufacturing. I don’t know if rubber or silicone is necessarily less toxic, but it could be.
I guess what I’m saying is, I would like to try a menstrual alternative. But I’m not sure I want to shell out $35 for one yet.
Have you tried one?

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10 thoughts on “To Diva Or No?”

  1. Great, first-time commenter and here I go, talking about my lady bits.
    I bought my Diva cup about six years ago, shortly after my daughter was born. Without any exaggerating, it has changed my life. Seriously.
    And I know that you’re looking at me and thinking “what, seriously? SERIOUSLY?” But it has! I’m pretty much the first person to admit that I hate having my period. I mean, I actively loathe it. The greatest thing about the Diva cup is that instead of thinking about my period every single time I go to pee (which seriously sometimes made me cry), I can think about it twice a day and be done with it.
    My cup took me about twenty minutes to get comfortable with, and I’ve used it ever since then. It’s never leaked, save for a few times that I forgot to empty it. Which says a lot right there–I *forgot*.
    Because you can wear it for so long (twelve hours is considered normal, but I’ll admit to leaving mine in for more like eighteen to twenty sometimes) you very rarely have to do anything like change it in a public toilet, and even if you do, it’s so fast and easy (remove, dump, wipe, reinsert) that it bugs me far less than tampon or pads, especially since those culminate in having to touch a trash can full of other people’s bodily waste. Ew.
    I don’t think that I’m saving tons of money with this, but at the moment, the Diva works out to have cost me about 35c a month. I expect that the cup will be going strong for a few years yet, too, so by the end of it, it’ll probably be even less. I was probably spending $5 a month on tampons before this, which…well, if I’d saved it all, I’d have a few hundred bucks, anyhow.
    There was a recent Metafilter thread about the Diva cup–the poster asked for advice, but there’s a lot of discussion in the comments about why the cup is so great, as well as potential downsides.
    Also, if you do decide to get one, shop around. Just a quick search led me to LuckyVitamin where it’s $20, and WebVitamins where it’s $19. (No links, as I don’t know anything about the stores and am not shilling.) I bought mine from some motherhood store and got it for $25–lots of legit places have it much cheaper than the official site.

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  2. Meghan,
    Thanks for the feedback. You make a really good point with not having to be confronted with your period every time you pee. I hadn’t thought about that. Also it’s good to know there are cheaper prices for it out there–I had suspected that might be the case, since it’s just a silicone cup. Maybe I’ll shop around.

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  3. I like in the UK and have a Mooncup, the equivalent over here, and I love it. I change it twice a day, when I get up and when I go to bed, and it is incredbily practical. No more worrying about making sure you’ve got something in your bag etc. I’ve had absolutely no problems keeping it in overnight.

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  4. They are great products, but be aware that leaving them in for too long is dangerous and can be a cause of endometriosis. Retrograde menstruation, also called ‘backward menstruation’ occurs when one is ‘plugged up’, whether with a tampon or a cup, and sends excess fluid back through the fallopian tubes, which are open ended. The endometrial tissues that are in your discharge adhere to anything it lands on, the ovaries being a natural spot, and will grow. This is fairly serious and very painful. Don’t go too long without changing your sanitary item of choice!

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  5. Hi,
    I would like to say a few words regarding the alleged link between endometriosis and cups.
    – A cup does not plug you up. Once it’s full, it will leak. Every time.
    – The cervix is not all that open. There’s a reason that we get menstrual cramps: because the uterus needs to actively push, and push fairly hard, to expel the menstrual fluids. The blood inside the cup would need to be forced in somehow in order to flow back into the cervix.
    – There is no pressure inside the cup. There is even a slight suction (underpressure). It would sooner suck menstrual fluid out of the cervix than force it back in.
    – The cup is below the cervix (and in many cases, the cervix is not even in or touching the cup). The fluids would have to travel upwards against gravity to go back into the uterus.
    – Backflow is actually quite normal. All women have a bit of backflow. But we don’t all have endometriosis.
    – There has never been a single case recorded of endometriosis associated with cup use. I’m not saying it can’t happen; I’m just saying there is no known case.
    I hope this is useful.
    If you’d like to know more: I’ve pasted a link to an article which cites lots of sources in the website box.

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  6. I have been reading your website for the past TWO days!!! I had been wondering if you stumbled upon the Keeper/Diva. I LOVE mine and advocate it to anyone that listens. I like it more for the reduction in waste – additionally, cotton production is one of the most pesticide using crops, so there is waste in both production and use. I have been using it since 2003. 🙂

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    • Keeper Lover, thanks! No I am not using one yet, but I am still intrigued by them. I like the idea of not having to buy/store tampons and pads anymore.

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