The Diva Cup: How to Use it and Why You Want to

I was told by many to try the Diva cup. It was the best thing to use while menstruating for countless reasons. If you don’t know what the Diva cup (or menstrual cup) is, it is a silicone cup about 1 inch wide and 2 inches tall, that you insert into your vagina and it captures your menstrual flow. The cup is made to replace the common menstrual pad or tampon. You can leave it in much longer than any tampon or pad, up to 12 hours depending on how heavy your flow is, because it holds 2 ounces of flow. The first time I read that, I was nervous, but my curiosity got the better of me. I ignored my programmed mind that kept saying, “Ew, that’s gross” and channeled my intuition that said “Yes, let’s try it!”

The Questions

What do you do when you are out and have to change it? Your hands get all gross and bloody; what if you are not near a sink? Isn’t it possible for the cup to get stuck? How do I remove it properly? Am I going to spill blood all over the place? Won’t it leak? Isn’t it uncomfortable? These common fears about the cup were eliminated once I actually tried it and used it through a menstrual cycle (and many more since then). To be quite honest, I loved it the moment I got the hang of it, and there is no going back. Let me explain.

First couple times I was testing it, I was unable to insert it properly. It seemed to never go in correctly or get suctioned like it was supposed to. I had read the instruction sheet, but I hadn’t heard a real person talk about it. The cup sat in my cupboard for the first few months after buying simply because I was ignorant on how to use it properly. After doing a little research, specifically this YouTube video, I was sold.

The four things I finally nailed down which were crucial in actually using this cup were: how to fold it so it could fit in easier; how to rotate it so you ensure it suctions to the walls of your vagina; how necessary it can be to trim the tip so it doesn’t stick out uncomfortably; and how to remove it correctly.

How to fold it

There are two ways to fold the Diva cup to insert it. The first fold is the “U” shape fold where you fold it in half and then in half again. This is what I was doing that was not working for me. I was unable to put it in far enough without it opening up. So finally I tried the second way, despite it looking more complicated. To do the second fold, place a finger on the top rim of the cup and press it down into the center of the inside base to form a triangle. This makes the top rim much smaller to insert. The video above helped me tremendously with this. Then simply insert the smaller tip while gently pushing on the base until you have it in about half way.

How to Rotate It to Ensure it Has Suctioned

The video previously mentioned goes over this as well. Once you insert your diva cup half way, rotate it 360 degrees by grabbing the base and turning it. I do at least one full rotation, sometimes more, until  I feel it open up and suction. You may also hear a suctioning noise, which is a good indicator that it is sealed. Once you do this a few times you will know what that feels/sounds like and you will know no leakage will occur.

After rotating it a few times, the cup will naturally have moved up into your vagina, but not entirely. To be sure it is far enough in, gently push it up until the tip is no longer sticking out. It cannot get stuck because your cervix is in the way. Your diva cup will be inserted and reach your cervix and will not be able to go any further. Your cervix is about 2 inches high, which is about the size of the cup.

Trimming the Tip

Once your cup is inserted, the tip should be a half inch into your vagina. If the tip is sticking out, and you cannot push the cup in any further, then you know you need to trim it so that when inserted it is completely inside you, but no further than a half inch. I needed to trim mine about a quarter inch so that I could no longer feel it sticking out. I simply used scissors to cut it off. Some people cut the entire tip off. This is something you will have to feel for and decide for yourself.

Removal

At first I thought you just reached up and pulled on the tip. This is not the best way to remove it. Instead you will need to use your pelvic floor muscles to push it out. This is called kegel exercises and you can practice this when you are not on your flow to get the feel of what it feels like. Doing kegel exercises uses the same muscles you use to push out a baby. It is also the muscle you use to stop urinary flow. Once you do a few kegel exercises, you will notice the cup has moved down and should be sticking out a bit at this point. When you feel the tip sticking out, that is when you pull gently on the tip until you can reach the base of the cup, or you can just reach straight for the base. Squeeze the sides of the cup to unsuction it from the walls of your vagina and gently remove it.

Cleaning

Once it is removed, you dump out all the contents (it is quite amazing to see all the blood in one place don’t you think?), rinse it out with soap and water, and re-insert as before. If you are out and don’t have access to a sink immediately (in a stall), all you need to do is empty the cup, wipe it down with some toilet paper, and re-insert. You can wash it out later or next time you need to empty it. Then just wipe your hands down and wash in the sink when you get there. **More details on this situation below** I would say maybe at the end of every cycle, give it a good cleaning by boiling it. Bring enough water to a boil in a pot so the cup is fully submerged. Place the cup in boiling water for a few minutes. Remove and let dry. It will be ready to use again next month.

Troubleshooting

Alright, you’ve done everything mentioned above and you are still having trouble. That’s OK, I still have trouble getting it to suction now and then. For whatever reason the cup doesn’t open up no matter how many times I rotate it. I then remove it, rinse it out, and try again. Usually, I will walk around the house and try at another time.

Something that may be the problem is the tiny holes at the top of the cup are clogged. Make sure those are clear before using. Simply fill the cup up, cover the top with your hand and squeeze. Water should come shooting out from all those holes, and if they don’t you know it was clogged.

I generally try to make sure to change the cup at home, or somewhere with a sink before going out. But sometimes I am out and about for a long period of time and know I won’t get to change it within the 12 hour time-frame allotted to have it in. If you are out and must change, you could use the handicapped toilet, as they sometimes have a sink.

If not, you can either bring a small bottle or cup of water into the stall with you. Once you removed the cup and poured out the contents, give it a little rinse with the water, wipe down any excess gooey bits and reinsert. Sometimes you won’t able to fully clean out the holes at the top and it is possible for this to affect the suctioning when reinserted. What you can do if the holes are clogged and it is not suctioning when reinserted, is to roll the top of the cup where the holes are so that the clogged holes become dislodged and squeeze out. Then rinse it with water or just wipe it down with some toilet paper, reinsert, and you are ready to go! Rinsing with water is not necessary. You can simply wipe down and reinsert right away. It’s up to you what you are comfortable with and what you have access to at the time.

I bought my cup about a year ago and am just starting to think I should probably replace it soon. Some signs you need to replace your cup is if it starts to get very discolored, or smells weird. My cup doesn’t smell at all, but it is discolored even after boiling to clean it. Soon I will get a new one to replace it.

The internet is very helpful! Good chance someone has run into the same problem as you. Look it up, see what you can find, and try again.

Try not to get frustrated if something doesn’t go your way. This is a new process, and it will take time getting used to.

Benefits

There is a long list of benefits from using the cup as opposed to using tampons or pads. Here are just a few that I have come across.

1. The cup can be left in much longer than a tampon or pad (up to 12 hours as previously mentioned). No need to worry about it every couple hours. What a gift!

2. You can sleep in it. No, it will not spill. Some people worry that the contents will leak while you are sleeping since you will be horizontal. Since the cup will be suctioned to the walls, it is not spilling anywhere despite being right-side-up, horizontal, or even up-side-down.

3. It is environmentally friendly. According to the diva cup website, one woman will use up to 240 tampons a year; that is roughly 9,600 a lifetime.

4. It is chemical-free. There are no longer chemicals or additives leaching into your body. Even if you are buying organic cotton tampons, they still leach out cotton bits. I can do without that, thank you. The diva cup is made of 100% chemical-free silicone.

5. Have worry-free poops. Ever have the problem where you just put a tampon in, and have to poop? You then have to take out the tampon and re-insert a new one because you just pushed it out. With the diva cup, if it gets pushed out a bit, you can just put it back in; no harm, no foul.

6. No more pesky tampon strings. Anyone go to a concert and need to pop-a-squat ‘cause there ‘aint a bathroom around, and you forget to pull the string aside? Or it hangs awkwardly and pulls so you feel like your tampon is going to fall out? No thanks!

7. It can be used until the end of your cycle, or before it has started. No more dealing with “not enough flow for a light tampon, but too much for a panty liner” situation. The diva cup can be inserted right before your flow starts and used until you are completely done. No leaking!

7. Periods may be less painful. I have heard women who use the cup experience less menstrual pain. I personally did not notice much of a change there, but if you do, power to you!

8. Become more intimate with your body. I was so removed from that area of my body. I was trained to be scared of it. Even tampons come with an insert and string to put it in and pull it out without touching yourself at all. God for bid if you got some blood on your hand! Now I feel more connected to myself. It is a freeing feeling to not be “scared” of that time of the month anymore.

9. Have experience doing kegel exercises for when/if you want to get pregnant. I had never needed to practice kegel exercises, but now every month I get to. So if I ever want to have kids, I’m at least a little bit versed in that area without even thinking about it.

10. Comfort. I will insert the cup in the morning and go all day without even thinking about it because it is that comfortable.

The bottom line is I recommend the diva cup 100%. I don’t dread that time of month anymore. No woman should have to go through another cycle being uncomfortable in any way. Now you know what it is and how to use it. Go head, try it for yourself, and see if it works for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Great post! I’m definitely less intimidated by it now. I’ve wanted to try the Diva Cup for awhile. Thanks, Tia!

  2. Thanks Tia!! I just started using this last month, great article. I feel this has totally changed the way I feel about that time of month 🙂

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