Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Instead vs. DivaCup for your menstrual cup needs

DivaCup menstrual cup in two box sizes Diva CupsInstead Softcup disposable menstrual cup with box

I am here to tell you that I am currently on the rag. Only it's not exactly a rag. I am, more specifically speaking, on the DivaCup.

I've seen plenty of reviews of DivaCup, Mooncup (UK based), and The Keeper (all reusable menstrual cup options) [ETA: also the Moon Cup from the makers of The Keeper and the Lunette] from those who were switching to a cup from pads or tampons. But I might be somewhat unusual in that I switched to the DivaCup from a disposable menstrual cup, the Instead Softcup.

I bought a DivaCup half a dozen or so cycles ago when I wanted a more sustainable option for my special monthly time. (Wait — I'm going for quaint euphemisms now? When all the squeamish hightailed it after that opening sentence about being on the rag?)

So, I had been using an Instead Softcup, which is the same basic idea, in the sense that it, too, is a collection cup rather than a tampon or pad.

Tampons and pads work, as you probably know by now (and if you don't, hello, little girls, and welcome to your future!), through absorbing the blood flow. Collection cups like the Instead (a disposable brand of cup) and the DivaCup, Moon Cup, and Keeper (other brands of reusable cups) work by catching the blood flow, which you then have to empty.

Many years ago, I found that I greatly preferred the cup method over pads (which gooped me up) or tampons (which dried me out). Any of these types of cups fits snugly inside your vagina and catches nearly 100% of the blood flow if inserted correctly (I sometimes have a little spotting leakage on the early heavy flow days, or as I'm withdrawing a full cup, but a pantiliner is generally sufficient to catch any overflow). However, cups do not catch your natural vaginal moisture — and this is a very good thing! There's no messiness of blood, but your usual moistness stays at its accustomed level. I always found, with tampons, that first of all, it was hard for me to find the appropriate absorbency that didn't wick blood down the string (the squeamish did hightail it, right?), and secondly, toward the end of my period, inserting and withdrawing tampons got downright ouchy as they sucked everything dry.

Another HUGE plus to all cups is that you can get away with emptying them about once every 12 hours, so twice a day. I empty mine morning and night, and that's that. Even at my heaviest flow, I haven't breached any yet. I did come close once, but only once!

(By the by, you're not supposed to use anything internal like a cup or tampon during those very heavy flows experienced during miscarriage or postpartum. I personally did end up using an Instead after many months of miscarriage bleeding, once the heaviest flow had died down, with no ill effects, but I'm not recommending it, just sayin'. I think postpartum, at least after a vaginal birth, a cup would be very uncomfortable and likely ineffective, given how your lady parts would all be knitting themselves back together and not be able to hold a cup very well.)

Menstrual cups also don't smell funky the way that pads can after several hours. My understanding is that the blood smells only once it's exposed to air and oxidizes, so there's nothing to sniff at until you're emptying the cup.

As with tampons, menstrual cups allow you freedom and flexibility to do your regular non-period routines, such as exercise and swimming, without worrying about bulky pads showing through your leotard (hey, it's happened to me!) or needing to hold up your dad and brothers on a trip to the beach but being too embarrassed to explain why you were taking so long in the bathroom trying to improvise something else out of toilet paper (hey, it's happened to me!).

For these reasons, I'm a big fan of menstrual cups. However, following are the reasons I chose Instead and then switched to the DivaCup.

The Instead Softcup

Instead Softcup disposable menstrual cup in a handI don't remember how I first heard about the Instead or decided to try it, but I did worry that it was a little gimmicky and weird. No one I knew used one or had even heard of it, but I was willing to be a pioneer. (I've since discovered that the DivaCup and its sisters were around long before the Instead, but I wasn't quite so crunchy then so we didn't hang in the same circles.)

The Instead is a disposable cup made of a shallow flexible polyethylene plastic bag attached to a firmer but still pliable ring. You pinch the ring flat and slide the cup up into your vaginal canal, ring side up. The ring suctions around your cervix, catching the flow that comes from your cervix. You don't feel it being all suctiony or anything, and I never had taking it out feel painful. You just hook a finger under the rim of the ring and pull it out, carefully, so as not to spill the contents. If there's any problem with removal, I found bearing down as if pushing out a baby (it was good practice!) helped get it on its way.

The Instead is meant to then be thrown away and a new one inserted. Later on, I heard people talk about reusing the Instead cup. It's not what the designer or manufacturer recommends by any means, so proceed at your own risk, but I was, once again, willing to trailblaze. So I started emptying the blood into the toilet or sink, rinsing mine out with clear water, and then popping it back in in lieu of tossing it in the trash. I did always throw it away at the end of a cycle, however. I did that for at least a couple years, I'd say, with no noticeable problems, such as infection or cup disintegration over the course of the cycle.

UPDATE 2015: The Instead Softcup people now do make an Evofem Reusable Softcup designed for what I said above: to be worn for an entire cycle and then disposed of. So it's still not AS reusable as a DivaCup or similar, but it's getting closer.

Here is the beauty of the Instead Softcup:

  • You can have sex with it in! I had to put that first, because it rocks my socks. By "sex" I mean, if you couldn't guess, vaginal intercourse. Because the collection bag hanging down is so flexible and light, it just pushes out of the way, and the ring is snug up high around the cervix, so it doesn't get in the way. Sam and I never had any problems with discomfort or blood spillage. It's non-messy period sex! Seriously, what a treat. Take that, Leviticus (kidding).
  • It's hard to know once you've been using something a whole long time if it's easy to put in because you're used to it or because it's easy to put in. But I'm going to go ahead and say the Instead Softcup is easy to put in. I don't remember any fiddling with it to find the proper position. I did have to discover which way was most comfortable for me to insert it (sitting on the toilet), but that was pretty easy, because that's also the way it was most comfortable for me to insert tampons (some women prefer standing with one leg bent and that foot resting on the toilet — I think it might depend on how your canal is tipped). The Instead Softcup is also very comfortable and unnoticeable once inserted.
  • As with all menstrual cup products, you can safely leave the Instead in for up to 12 hours. I do, even during my heavy flow days, and only one time did I come close to filling it. Usually, I'm not anywhere close. I'd say my flow is on the moderate to heavy side, but just kind of guessing there. There's no risk of toxic shock syndrome as with tampons, because it's not absorbing and therefore building up the type of bacteria that tampons can promote.
  • One size fits all with the Instead cup (as far as my experience goes), though some find it large. It's definitely wider than the DivaCup, but it expands up near your cervix where there's (in my experience, again) plenty of space for it.
  • All of the pros listed above for all menstrual cups: long wearing time, no smell, little ick, still comfortably moist, cost savings over time, undetectable and flexible.

Here are the cons of the Instead cup:

  • You can't use that "But I'm having my period, honey," excuse to call off sex. Just joking!
  • It's disposable and not as environmentally friendly. It's not as wasteful as disposable menstrual pads and tampons, because you use one only every 12 hours, or — if you want to go off-label with it as I did — one per cycle. I didn't personally push it further than that. For one, it seemed to get a little grubby toward the end, and I wasn't sure how to safely clean it other than with water. For another, the polyethylene bag is really so thin I wasn't sure how long it would hold up to repeated use. Now that I know more about BPA and leaching and so forth, I'd want to investigate that further, too, if I were still reusing it. The Instead uses more packaging than the DivaCup or similar since it's disposable; each Instead is wrapped in a little plastic bag (which I always saved to throw it away in), and the wrapped cups are packaged inside a pretty cute little box.
  • Because it's disposable, it costs more over time than the DivaCup, and it seems expensive compared to other disposable menstrual products as well. Now, again, you're using fewer per cycle, so it's not really, but the upfront outlay of cash is slightly higher, and it's harder to find sales and coupons.
  • In fact, because it's not as popular as pads and tampons, it's hard to find on the store shelves! As a tip: Try searching up really high.
  • As with all menstrual cup products, emptying it can be a little messy. I try to hold the menstrual cup (Instead or Diva) really level when withdrawing, then immediately tip and dump the most liquid parts into the toilet. I then do the best I can to slosh any stringy bits (did I mention squeamish people should no longer be reading?) back into the cup as I transfer it to the sink or tub for a quick rinse under cold water. If you're throwing the Instead away, you can catch it in a little toilet paper or the plastic bag it comes in. I figure there's no escaping the ick factor during your period. You either get it every 4-8 hours as with tampons, every time you go to the bathroom as with pads, or concentrated every 12 hours as with a cup. I prefer the last option, but it's up to your squick preference.
  • The materials are not eco-friendly. The polyethylene in the Instead creates pollution in its production (as per DivaCup but I have no reason to believe they're lying). Polyethylene is the same plastic used to make disposable grocery bags, which do not biodegrade and which we already know are a landfill nightmare.

The DivaCup

DivaCup menstrual cup with pink drawstring bagAs I said, I ended up switching to the DivaCup instead. The primary reason was how much more environmentally sustainable the DivaCup is than the Instead, even when reusing the Instead against instructions.

The DivaCup, instead of suctioning up around the cervix, suctions against the sides of the vaginal canal (same with The Keeper and Mooncup). You have to flatten it quite a bit to insert it, and then it's supposed to expand internally and catch any blood that flows down from the cervix.

Here is the loveliness of the DivaCup:

  • First of all, see above for the general pros of all reusable cups, like 12 hours between emptyings, a reduction in the goopiness and stinkiness of blood flow, no wicking of moisture as with tampons, ability to participate freely in activities like swimming and exercise, and cost savings over the long run versus the cost of disposable products.
  • The biggest plus of the DivaCup for me, and why I started using it in lieu of (almost wrote instead of) the Instead Softcup, is that it's almost unlimitedly reusable, which makes it a much more sustainable option. Technically, even the DivaCup is suggested to be disposed of after a year, as per FDA recommendations and DivaCup's expertise. However, in the real world, most women use theirs for years and years without a hitch. This is one of those "It's up to you" situations.
  • The material (silicone) and minimal packaging of the DivaCup are much more eco-friendly as well. If you prefer a different material, The Keeper is made of latex gum rubber; however, my understanding is that more people (a small percentage overall) are sensitive to latex than to healthcare-grade silicone, which makes up both the DivaCup and the Mooncup. As far as comparisons to disposable pads and tampons go, the Diva Cup is light years ahead in terms of sustainability and health, since disposable products contain or produce ingredients that can be harmful to the earth and your body such as plastics, adhesives, bleach, and dioxin. In contrast, silicone is BPA-free, phthalate-free, plastic-free, latex-free, and healthcare-grade. I can't find a lot of information about silicone's production or biodegradability, so others can chime in if they like, but what I have found seems generally benign (see especially the Frequently Asked Questions PDF link). The DivaCup and its materials and accessories (such as the DivaWash) are not tested on animals.

Here are the downsides of the DivaCup:

  • The DivaCup and its reusable sisters all have to be sized to fit based on age and experience of vaginal childbirth, so each brand has one (smaller) size for women who have not given birth vaginally or younger users, and one (larger) size for post-vaginal childbirth or women over 30. (And this is a perfect time for a reminder, ladies: Do your kegels!) If the version you get isn't comfortable or doesn't work properly, perhaps you need the other size. This isn't a huge downside; I bought the post-childbirth model (being over 30 and a vaginal birther gave me two checks on that list!) and had no problems with the fit. But, clearly, there is some risk in shelling out $30 for an item you can't exactly "try on" and then return if it doesn't fit. Read the descriptions carefully, because each brand of reusable cup has its own sizing markers (for instance, Size B of the Mooncup is smaller, but Model 1 of the DivaCup is smaller, so make sure you get the right one for you).
  • Beyond just the sizing, I found that quite a lot of fiddling was necessary to make the DivaCup comfortable when inserted. Now, again, I could shell out $30 more a pop and try out the competition (The Keeper or Mooncup), but I'm frugal (read: cheap) and was determined to make the DivaCup work. I had to look online for alternate folding techniques with pictures, read on message boards about tips and tricks, learn to trim down the stem, and just generally fiddle around until it finally felt right. It took several cycles to get it down, with one cycle being fine and then the next being uncomfortable, and then back to fine. I've gotten the feel for it now, though, and know some techniques I can use immediately if I start feeling uncomfortable again. But, seriously, I can't emphasize enough that there is a learning curve with this thing, so you have to give it time.
          I think why it's so much more complicated than the Instead cup is that instead of sitting right under your cervix, it really has to suction to your vagina on the sides. This means you have to flatten it to get it in there in the first place, then insert it while simultaneously spinning it to encourage it to expand, and then push it around some more until it's comfy. It sounds complicated to explain, and it really is just as complicated to do the first several times, at least (well, for me, anyway!).
          When emptying, you have to gently break the suction on the side with a finger so it doesn't hurt to pull it out (if it hurts, stop and break the suction some more!), and then when rinsing, you have to make sure the little holes under the rim are clear or the suction will be affected. The holes tend to get nice and clogged with blood bits, so I sort of fold that part of the cup while rinsing to pop them out. You can also create a vacuum against your palm, I've heard.
          If you feel like you constantly have to pee (or have a urinary tract infection) when it's in, it's likely because it's pressing on your urethra and needs to be spun to a different direction.
          I also had a problem one cycle where it kept slipping down while I was walking and feeling like it was going to fall out. Try adjusting your internal menstrual cup while walking on a busy path! I still don't know what was going on that time, but I eventually got it back in solidly. It really doesn't sit up all that high even when inserted correctly.
          If you feel a pinching or poking from the stem, trim it down. (You're not supposed to use the stem to pull on, anyway, which makes me wonder why it's there in the first place.) I also sanded mine off a bit with an emery board to make sure it wasn't sharp after being cut.
          I know this sounds like the DivaCup is a whole heck of a lot of work, and — well, it kinda is at first. I think you just have to commit to it (the $30 helps!) and resolve that you will find a way to be comfortable. I did, and now I can't feel that it's in at all. It still feels fiddlier to me to insert than the Instead did, but I've gotten the hang of it and don't have to overthink it every time now.
  • The DivaCup is dandy to travel with (it even comes with a cute little drawstring bag that my two-year-old son lurves!), but emptying it is easiest done at home or in an otherwise comfortable environment like your own hotel bathroom, because of the need to rinse it before reinserting. DivaCup does say you can dump the blood as best you can and reinsert without rinsing if necessary, but so far I've just timed my insertions to be when I'm in a private room with clean running water.
  • Because it's reusable, you're supposed to clean it in between cycles and before storing. Fortunately, washing it is easy. I use just water during my cycle, and then water plus a mild soap after the cycle is over. There's a special DivaWash you can buy that promises to be safe and gentle for the silicone over time, though I haven't bought that. You're not supposed to use anything at all harsh, such as bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, putting it in the dishwasher, etc. The only thing you are supposed to do is boil it for twenty minutes. Yup, boil it. With just plain water. I put this in the cons category, but it could go in the neutral or positive since it's relatively easy to care for your cup and doesn't require anything fancy or expensive. I chose cons, just because I personally always have to try to find a clean pot to boil it in and then sigh because there never is one and then wash a pot and then try to remember that I have a cup boiling without letting it boil down or over, and I tend to put it off till right as my next cycle is starting but then have to let it cool off before I can use it. But that's just me.
  • I think because I don't insert it before the blood flow but after it's started, I have slightly more leakage in the early days with the DivaCup than I did with Instead. It can still be handled by a pantiliner or light pad, but I think the problem is there's already blood in my vagina that comes out past the DivaCup. I'll have to experiment next cycle with really getting it in before the first gush (which means doing the boiling early!). I do appreciate Lunapads' and Arwyn of Raising My Boychick's suggestion of wearing bright red or, in my case, hot pink undies to hide any stains, and I can see just undies working after the first day or so.
  • You have to remove it if you want to have sexual intercourse. Sigh.

My conclusions: Could you make a hybrid, please?

As you might have guessed, I love the environmental friendliness of the DivaCup, enough so that I've switched permanently from the Instead Softcup. But I really loved the ease of use of the Instead and — say it with me! — the fact you could have sex with it in. (I asked Sam, and that was his favorite aspect, too.)

In my ideal world, Instead would get its act together and create a reusable, eco-friendly version (I actually asked them via Twitter and they said they're considering it!), or DivaCup would reimagine a silicone version based on the Instead design. I don't know if it's possible. The little bag hanging down in the Instead is very thin, so maybe a silicone version would be too thick to be practical. Then again, diaphragms! Aren't diaphragms similar? And you can have sex with them in — that's the whole point! (Again with the sex, I know. One-track mind.) So I think it's got to be possible to engineer a marvelous combination of the two, just for me. And Sam. I would so buy it.

Till then, I'm sticking with my DivaCup, now I've got it all nice and figured out.

Stay tuned for another review in this series on reusable menstrual products. Rachel of Rachel's Ramblings is bringing us a guest post on cloth menstrual pad options. I really need to get my game on in terms of cloth pads and pantiliners, so I welcome her expertise! (And any product reviews companies want to throw my way, hint, Lunapads, cough.)

Green Your Period. logo for Hobo Mama

Disclosure: I was not contacted or compensated by 
DivaCup or Instead Softcup for this review. 
I purchased these products with my own sweet plastic 
and just wanted to offer my views.
Amazon links are affiliate links to help 

keep me in reusable cups until menopause.
See my full disclosure policy here.


katepickle said...

Australia has stupid picky laws about these things and so no menstrual cups are authorised for sale here (I think - but don't quite me on that). But that doesn't stop us ordering over the net!

I have a moon cup.. have had it for ages. Used the same one after my first c-section birth and still using it after VBACing a 10 pound 3 oz baby. Love it.

Mind you I like the sound of the instead... just to have something disposable in the bottom of your bag for emergencies, for times when washing out your diva/moon cup might not be so practical, and that sex thing is a winner. Wonder if I can order them online too :)

Missy said...

you always do the best reviews! i had been wondering about the divacup and will have to keep it in mind. hopefully i wont need one for at least a year or so! looking forward to review of cloth pads since i'll need something postpartum! (ugh. pads. i swear that's the worst part of having a baby.) (shh.. dont tell anyone i'm pregnant, it's a secret!) heh.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I recently bought Instead thinking that they were reusable. I suppose I should have read the package. I still haven't tried them yet because I'm nervous about leakage but I told myself that this cycle will be it. Interesting review.

Jenny said...

Hey, I am on the cup right now too! Great thorough (and funny!) comparison. I haven't tried the Instead and it kind of scares me to think of something going all the way up to my cervix. I used to have cramps with tampons and now with the Diva I don't, and I thought it was because there's not a blockage type thing going on up there. However... You can have sex with it in? Really? REALLY? I didn't even realize that was legal. I could maybe force myself to try it for that.

The Diva Cup did take a while for me to get used to. I first put it in when I wasn't on my period, which was stupid, but it had just arrived and I wanted to try it. It got stuck for a few minutes but once I stopped panicking and realized you can push it most of the way down it came out. Then over the next few months I trimmed and trimmed the stem and it didn't help the awful poking feeling, so I hit the message boards and was advised to turn it inside out. This works like a charm--it turns that pokey point to the inside, leaving a smooth, slightly concave surface on the outside. This is probably against manufacturer's advice, but it works SO much better. It's even somehow easier to grab and pull out. Saved me from buying a different brand to try. I just got my very first postpartum period, which sort of sucks, and I just don't know what I'd do if I were now faced with choosing between messy pads and painful tampons.

Thomasin said...

I loved my Keeper until I realized that I had a latex sensitivity. OUCH. So I switched to the Diva Cup and all has been well (except that it's a little pickier about those holes, which do get plugged up and affect suction. That to me is a huge con--not one the Keeper had--but I've learned to keep a diaper pin in the bathroom and I poke out the holes if I'm having trouble reinserting. Works like a charm.)

I also came to the cup after having used Instead. I didn't like Instead nearly as much. Too big, Leaked on me quite a few times (I had trouble fitting it, I guess). And once I totally FREAKED a boyfriend out because he hadn't realized it was in there. I can still picture his face. Hah!

One issue with your review: you CAN TO have sex with the Diva Cup in. Promise. That's a rather regular occurrence around here, and no one has had his junk poked off by the stem or anything. ;-)

Lauren Wayne said...

Thomasin!!! Are you serious?! How far down is yours? Mine's like right at my opening. I will have to test this out tonight …

Had to start with that one …

katepickle: I had no idea Australia made them illegal. Bizarre! You're right about having an Instead floating around in your bag. That's a good idea.

FYI, I've also heard of people using the Instead cup for artificial insemination — go figure! :)

Missy: Congratulations!!! I hated the postpartum bleeding, too, especially with the pads-only decree. Sigh.

Marilyn: You could always put in a pad in case of leakage while you try them out.

Jenny: Inside-out! I never even thought of that. I really can't figure out why there's a stem at all, can you? See my FYI above, and you'll see why some people want the Instead to go up to their cervix. ;) But I wonder if the Instead caught things better for me and didn't slip because it was up so high.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering whether being a virgin makes any difference in sizing. I'm over 30, but not only have I never given birth, I've never done anything that might lead to that. I got the larger size, since the FAQs insisted that every woman over 30 needs it, and the first couple of days the insertion/removal were so uncomfortable I almost gave up.

The LiveJournal boards were a HUGE help, as was this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt6L-POE-b0, which I found more helpful than the still photos of the alternative folds.

I haven't had any of the miracle periods some devotees claim (shorter, lighter periods; reduced cramping; etc.). And while it's gotten easier, it's still more of hassle to deal with than pads or tampons. But I think it's worth it to only have to think about it twice a day.

Anonymous said...

Evidently the stem is there for women like me, who don't feel it at all when it's in and find it very helpful for getting it out. I guess every body's different.

Lisa C said...

I've been wanting to try a cup ever since I first heard of them, but you're not supposed to use them with an IUD.

I've heard of using menstrual blood in the garden (my husband doesn't like the idea, but he also says that roses love blood), and it seems like this would be the ideal way to collect the blood!

Sybil Runs Things said...

I've had a box of the instead thingies for a looong time and just never had the guys to try them. I have no idea why. FWIW I got them at Target.

Anyways, here's my question: is the goal to put them in before the flow starts? Is there any problem/trouble with doing that? Or, like, you know, practicing before your flow comes? I see no reason why not, but just sorta thinking out loud.

Sybil Runs Things said...

And by "guys" to try them out, I mean "guts". Stupid tiny keyboard on my new mini laptop!

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

Hmmm this post got me thinking! I've used both, though I've just got one cycle with the DivaCup under my belt, so I'm still on that learning curve.

Though, when you mentioned how Instead is shaped and worn like a diaphragm, I Googled using your diaphragm as a menstrual cup. Low and behold, apparently that's something athletes and dancers have done for years! There's even a LJ discussion on it -

kelly @kblogger said...

Lauren, Wow! What a fabulous review! I'm off to tweet this right. now. Then to decide between moon cup & diva cup. I've been so hesitant because of the reaching in & grabbing & placing aspect (so while tempting, the softcup is a no for me)... but anything to relieve the discomfort (read:dryess!) of tampons... I think its worth the ick factor to find out. Thanks so much.

lauren. said...

i also love my divacup, lauren! i've had it for two years & have had very few issues with it. like you said, it just takes some practice.

the ONLY time i've had a problem with it not staying in or shifting around to uncomfortable positions is when i have a cold! [what?!] turns out that all of the coughing contracts *those* muscles & moves it around. who would have thought?

[could that be what happened to you that one time?] :)

thanks - as always - for the review & great info.

Anonymous said...

I loved my DivaCup. Unfortunately, I now have an IUD, and apparently they're not compatible. Or, at least, DivaCup says they're not. It stinks, but I love my IUD, and in the long run I'd rather use a pad than forgo my birth control.

Rosemary Cottage said...

I loved my mooncup before I gave birth, but even though I got the next size up afterwards, I discovered that the episiotomy I'd had, coupled with the ridiculously long transition phase (meaning my pelvic floor was knackered) meant I struggled an awful lot with leakage. My pelvic floor is a little better now but I'm still wary of shelling out twenty quid for something I can't send back if it doesn't work. Maybe the instead would work better for me - wonder if it is available in the UK?

[Another small note - I wonder if you'd consider using "PIV" to refer to the type of sex you can't have while you're using the cup? (It stands for "penis in vagina", or I suppose you could just say penetrative sex.) There are lots of other types of sex you can have when using the cup and some of us, especially those of us who aren't in relationships with men, have these types of sex most of the time. :-)]

Lauren Wayne said...

Anonymous 1: It very well might, and I know there's variation in sizing between women in any case. Thanks so much for the video link! I will study it. I haven't noticed the miracle periods, either, but I wasn't really expecting to. It would have been a nice bonus, though. :)

Anonymous 2: Got it! It's just odd, because the directions say never to pull on the stem but on the sides of the cup, so why leave it there to be tempting, you know?

Lisa C: I didn't know they were incompatible with an IUD. I guess that makes sense. It would be ideal for collecting garden blood. I hadn't heard of that use!

mamamilkers: The "guys" part made me giggle, even though I knew what you meant. I don't think practicing would be a problem. It wouldn't cause an infection or anything. Just don't forget to take it back out. :)

Amber: So interesting about diaphragms as menstrual cups! That's actually a great idea. Don't diaphragms have to be fitted to the user? Because that would help with the fit issue, such as Anonymous 1 experienced.

Kelly: Thanks for the Tweeting (and to others, as well!). I think I got over the reaching/grabbing/placing thing pretty quickly, which helped when I had to check my cervix position during TTC, too. :) But you're right that the DivaCup & Mooncup sit farther down (at least for me, not apparently for Thomasina!).

Lauren: Good point about the coughing. I honestly don't remember what was going on that week it kept slipping. I remember being mystified and sending out help-me Tweets.

Amber: I hear ya. We've been using condoms, which I've found easier, but the IUD seems like a nice option. Oh, well! Let me know what pads you like.

Rosemary Cottage: Bummer about the over-stretching. I could see that being a problem. Can you order the Instead online? Oh, here's a list of international distributors: http://www.softcup.com/buy-softcup/international-distributors.html & a UK site: http://oochi.biz/instead/public/. As for PIV, I would use it but I doubt most people would know what I was talking about. Because I do totally get what you're saying, which is why I said at the start that I meant vaginal intercourse when using the shorthand of "sex." Because, of course, even though I'm having the heterosexual type, I also can have sex that doesn't require penetration. :) If I said "penetrative sex," couldn't that mean other areas being penetrated? I don't know — in the end, it all starts seeming a little over-detailed. And to spell out "penis-in-vagina sex" every time I want to talk about it seems a little creepy to me who enjoys euphemisms, but maybe that's just my own hangup. But I will think on this more. On the one hand, I don't want to use terms in ways that limit our understanding of the range of human experience. On the other hand, it's not a post about sex, so if I get bogged down (as I am in this comment…) explaining what PIV means and then assuring people they can have other types of sex, well, it starts feeling a little like a different article than a breezy review. But maybe I'm overthinking it. Or underthinking it. Not sure. At any rate, thanks for the thought stimulation!

Mallory said...

First of all, this review was absolutely hilarious to read!!!

I used the Instead cup during one cycle, pre-baby, and it seemed too big. It was awkward and uncomfortable to me. Plus, it was my first experience with a cup, and I was young and thought it was weird (I definitely wasn't as crunchy as I am now!)

Then, I got a DivaCup to use for my first postpartum period. I think, because there is a learning curve, and because I hadn't menstruated in so long (my "baby" was 18 months old), I was leaking like mad. Of course, if I had emptied the cup more often, I probably wouldn't have had that problem. I still would have thought I was bleeding to death, though! :D The next two cycles (before I got pregnant again) I had a much better time, and I now LOVE the Diva...except I won't get to use it again for a while!

Right now, I have been looking at getting some cloth pads, to deal with the postpartum-no-cups-allowed phase. Have you heard of Party In My Pants cloth pads? I think that is what I am going to buy, because they are all-in-one and they are CUTE!

Melodie said...

I've had the same cloth pads for 13 years now and they are just starting to become tattered. I've always hated tampons, and the diva cup, or anything resembling it has always worried me regarding spillage. I picture myself taking it out in a public place and spilling blood all over the floor. Or getting it stuck (like I used to with tampons - every time I've worn one the "ick" factor gets to me before I should remove it, but I've had to because it was so uncomfortable. It was a mental thing.). I love the idea of the diva and instead, but I think I will stick to my cloth pads. I lurve them best.

Elita said...

I am a recent Diva Cup convert. I won mine online (whoo hoo for freebies!) but I really like it. I used to use an Instead and you're right, I wish you could use the Diva Cup during sex. Huge disappointment right there. Actually, before I had my son that was ALL I used the Instead for--period sex. I stuck to tampons for everything else.

I do find that the Diva Cup provides miracle periods. No cramps, shorter periods. It's great. I don't think they're any lighter, but they are definitely shorter. The only thing I do find that you don't is that there is a stinkiness factor that wasn't there when I use tampons. I think it's because the cup is catching and not absorbing that there must be some blood that just ends up hanging around.

I recently invested $60 in cloth pads to use as back-ups and I am not sure how I feel about them. Yeah, they are more comfortable than regular panty liners and yes, I love that they are reusable but I find that they slip out of place and bunch up just as much as the plastic ones. Maybe it's the brand I bought.

Oh, and you should replace your Diva Cup once per year, according to the site. So if a MoonCup can be used until it falls apart, that is a bonus. $32 a year is still way less than you'd be spending on pads and tamppons and definitely way better for your vag and the environment!

Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries said...

Thank you so much for this. I've never really thought about using a cup but since my daughter was born tampons are horribly uncomfortable (perhaps the moisture thing expounded by nursing hormones?). I'm definitely going to give it a try now!

A Green Spell said...

I totally love my Diva Cup! It rocks my world. I about fell over laughing when you mentioned boiling yours at the last minute and having to wait for it to cool before inserting. That is SO me! I always procrastinate!

Stacey Tabor said...

Thanks so much for bringing attention to all of the amazing alternatives available to women today! Make the switch!

The DivaCup Team

Lisa said...

I love the instead and, like you, use one per cycle. Did you know, though, that the contractions your body goes through during orgasm are similar to the contractions of labor & the postpartum time, and increasing your orgasms while menstruating can lead to a shorter cycle, so instead of bleeding for 5-7 days, you bleed for 1-2 days. yes, I love the instead :)

Jamie said...

Fascinating read! I've heard lots of people saying they like the Diva Cup and Moon Cup but I had never heard of the Instead.

...but I have an IUD. So, sad face, can't test them out yet. Also, not menstruating. Some day.

Lyndsay said...

This was great! Thanks so much. I have yet to start bleeding again, and my nursling is still going strong, but it is great to have this info for when the need arises!

Paige @ Baby Dust Diaires said...

Hey, TMI alert but...

I got my period today and went to the store to buy tampons which have been horribly uncomfortable for me since I gave birth and lo and behold I saw a box of INSTEAD. I just inserted the first one and so far it is completely comfortable. I can't feel it at all.

I have not bought a cup before because I have a high cervix. When I get pelvic exams they have to dig around for the "long" speculum (such an ego boost - too bad "long vagina" isn't something super hot like "long penis") and I've never felt my cervix like many women can. When TTC feeling the cervix for open/closed soft/hard was one of the methods and I would contort myself into 100 positions trying to find the damn thing to no avail. Anyways it made me worried about inserting a cup. So far so good!

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

Hey, I just wanted to let everyone know that I completed my 2nd month with the DivaCup, and it's getting better. Since I bought an extra one when I got it for myself, I've decided to give the 2nd away on my blog. For anyone who's interested :-)

Anonymous said...

Sigh!! I decided about 6 months ago that I would also switch from the insteads to the diva cup. Thus far, it is still not working for me, and is causing me no end of frustration. Like you, I like the idea of the diva cup being more cost effective and envionmentally friendly. However.... I seem to always have the slipage thng going on with it. And of course, when I use the instead, I have no issues at all. The diaphragm thing had occoured to me as well, but I seem to be also having an issue getting one in my size. Apparently the pharmacies in my little tow have no idea where to order on in the size I need. I am a mother of 3 all vaginal deliveries who is also over 30, with apparently a larger size needed for a diaphragm, so I am wondering if maybe my diva cup just might not be big enough to fit me properly.... I too VERY much wish they would make a hybrid of this product!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a happy Diva Cup user. I've always had leaks with tampons, and even the Keeper, but all is well with the Diva Cup.

I tried Insteads a long time ago, and have a total horror story about it - hope it's not too TMI.

I was changing for bed (was completely naked at this point), when I sneezed. The muscle contractions in my body when I sneezed essentially forced a massive Kegel. My Instead Cup completely emptied on my bedroom floor! It looked like a frigging horror movie. It was awful, and took a lot of cleanup.

That's when I switched to the Keeper, which I liked but leaked, and then eventually moved on to the Diva Cup, which has been the best thing ever. No leaks, ease of use, and I can't feel it.

Love my Diva Cup.

Mandy said...

I buy my Instead from Walgreens Pharmacy or CVS pharmacy. They are available online (8.50 at W/greens and $8.00 at CVS).
I use them for a whole cycle, so one box lasts a year (plus two spare in my purse). LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these.

'Becca said...

I love the Diva Cup! I've had mine for 4 years and have never boiled it; you don't HAVE to.

I don't like Instead nearly as much. It must be a matter of individual anatomy: You repeatedly describe it as "up high near the cervix," but to me the thing is freaking huge; the top edge of the ring is around my cervix, but the bottom edge is just barely behind my pubic bone (if I don't bend over or sneeze or anything that dislodges it!!) and intercourse with it in is uncomfortable for both parties because the ring is totally in the way. I was not able to use the smallest size diaphragm for the same reason.

Here are my lengthy ravings on the joys of reusable feminine gear.

MaryW said...

I just discovered the Instead Softcup a couple months ago and am getting ready for my 3rd cycle with it. Today they released a reusable version of the softcup but it is only good for one cycle. Still better than pads and tampons but not quite so "green" as the Diva cup. I have been happy with the Instead so far. Haven't tried sex with it yet. I'm still getting used to it during the heaviest days but the rest of the cycle is great.I had been thinking of the Diva cup but didn't want to shell out the cash until I heard some personal stories about it's use. After reading your review I think I'll stick with the Instead. I don't even know it's in there and really don't want to be fiddling with the Diva and it's fit issues. Thanks for a great article. It really helped me to decide.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Anonymous: Yipes, a whole cup of blood on the floor! You need one of those crime-scne cleanup crews.

Lauren Wayne said...

@'Becca: I imagine the fit must be very individual. Maybe it has to do with length of the vaginal canal or something? Anyway, glad the DivaCup is working so well for you, and thanks for the link!

Lauren Wayne said...

@MaryW: Interesting that there's a somewhat reusable version of the Instead now! I wonder if they'll expand that eventually to be for more than one cycle. I'm glad it's working for you!

Unknown said...

Just thought you should know that they have released a reusable Instead softcup. I used the disposable Instead softcup but like you I reused mine. In fact I reused the same one for two years and only stopped using it because of my hysterectomy. I never had any problem with it, it didn't break down or leak ever. I figured I would replace it when it got a hole of something but it never did. When it got stained from the blood I would bleach it for a few minuets with a 10% solution and it would look brand new again. I stored it in a cloth pouch between periods. Just thought you would like to know,it is ok to reuse over and over, just wash with soap and water.

anonymous said...

I just started using the instead and it is great I love it :) I dont know what it was with me but whenever I would where tampons they would never work and I would start leaking like 3 minutes after putting it in. but I just thought that that was just how my body was and I just had to deal with it. Since im a dancer I would hate it when I would start because I knew tampons didnt work for me but I also didnt want a huge pad outline showing while I was dancing around in my leotard so I would have to wear a panty liner and a tampon and go to the restroom like 5 during practice. and it would suck even more when we had performances (fyi you arent allowed to wear underwear during them) because I knew that I would be in a bad situation. But when I started using these it was like I was never even on my period! They are great. When I first took it out of the package though I was a little scared because it looked HUGE but once I read the instructions on how to put it in I wasnt so scared. Im glad I made the switch it was totally worth it. I can do anything with this thing! I can swim,hike,jump around,sleep, and DANCE without worring about staining my undies. once they are in you cant feel them I love instead! I wanted to try diva cup but after hear about the struggles im totally cool with instead.

Unknown said...

I tried the instead softcup years ago, and I believe the design is inferior to the divacup, which I now use. The orientation of an inserted softcup doesn't create a true seal like the divacup. I had trouble with softcup leaking and had to wear pantyliners with it.

There are a few tricks to the divacup:

1. Wear it low in your vagina close to the opening.

2. For most women the long stem is unnecessary and uncomfortable. I cut mine off completely. It's easy to pinch the base and tilt to remove.

3. When you insert it, make sure it is fully open. This works by air passing through the pin holes at the very top of the cup to counter the "vacuum" that is created upon insertion. It only leaks when the little holes are blocked and it isn't fully open. Often all it takes is a little spin after after insertion to make sure it's fully open and sealed. No leaks! I don't even need pantyliners with it.

4. For public bathrooms, simply dump contents in the toilet and wipe out with toilet paper.

The divacup has changed my life, now I don't have to deal with drippy feelings or gross tampon strings. If you have a dog, there is nothing grosser than finding that your pet has gone after your used feminine products in the bathroom trash, yuck!

I can't recommend divacup more highly, it's a great design and even though it's expensive I have been using mine for YEARS now, and don't expect to need to replace it anytime soon.

canuckchick said...

I have been using instead for a while, I too was swayed by the fabulous ability to have Ick-free sex during my period! I too would prefer a reusable option and I find I do get some leakage. I think it is a bit big for me... one size fits all doesn't work for diaphragms so I sceptical about it really being true for instead. I have already decided to get fitted for a diaphragm. I used one in my 20's as birth control and quite liked it. I read an article that recommended having 2 diaphragms so you can wash and dry one while using the other... genius! Also, being Canadian they are free. God bless the frozen north:)

mylittleone said...

i've just recently found out about the whole cup idea when i got a freebie of the instead online. i really like the cups and the idea of a reusable one, but since im 19 and living in a college dorm, i dont want to be cleaning a reusable cup in my co-ed hall bathroom (eek!). i think i will stick to insteads for now, but maybe in a couple of years, i will invest in a reusable cup!

Hannah said...

@AnonymousAnonymous, I had the same problem, but from laughing really hard, not sneezing. Unfortunately I was a party and the Instead abruptly and completely emptied all over my underwear and jeans... had to borrow clothes from a friend! That said, in general I love them. Just a little more wary about what situations I wear them in, now.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to get an Instead in at all--I'm a petite woman, and I just can't seem to get my hand in far enough to put it in place without the darn thing unfolding halfway up!

I'm hoping the smallest-size Divacup will work ok for me, though. Reading other people's stories makes me think maybe it will work out better in my body. :)

plusandminus said...

fyi, I've been shopping around and I've noticed the sizes don't just correlate to age/vaginal birth experience but also "carrying capacity". If you have a super heavy flow, you may want to consider the "larger" sizes. They don't always seem to have a larger diameter but rather a longer cup to hold more fluid. On the converse, my gyno has told me I have a narrow vagina and when using instead I can EASILY reach the rim indicating a shorter canal, so... I may have to stick with the smaller sizes despite my tsunami flows certain days. It really is dependent on your body!

shmom said...

Hmm, so now I am more confused then ever. I have had 4 vaginal deliveries and have pelvic floor issues. I was thinking of trying the instead but if u can sneeze and it comes out, I wonder if it would be a problem for me with lack of pelvic muscles??? I am reluctant though to spend more money on the diva cup and fiddle around with the fit issues, since I am grossed out by fiddling around in there. Yes I am a prude and okay with that. I tried instead when I was really young, prior to babies and I could not get it in properly. I was thinking of trying it again, wondering if having babies would make it fit better. Since I really like the idea of a cup. Now idk which one would be better.

shmom said...

Hmm, so now I am more confused then ever. I have had 4 vaginal deliveries and have pelvic floor issues. I was thinking of trying the instead but if u can sneeze and it comes out, I wonder if it would be a problem for me with lack of pelvic muscles??? I am reluctant though to spend more money on the diva cup and fiddle around with the fit issues, since I am grossed out by fiddling around in there. Yes I am a prude and okay with that. I tried instead when I was really young, prior to babies and I could not get it in properly. I was thinking of trying it again, wondering if having babies would make it fit better. Since I really like the idea of a cup. Now idk which one would be better.

Lauren Wayne said...

@shmom: It would be cheap enough to give an Instead a try and see how it goes. If it stays in well for you but the fit is too bulky, then you could move on to a DivaCup. I've had only half the vaginal births you've had now, but the DivaCup's still working well for me and I don't have to fiddle with it much anymore.

Unknown said...

I used the Instead softcup once (not one cycle, just one time) i had a little trouble inserting it, but finally did, the problem was getting it out! although i was "bearing down", it still took a little while for me to finally get my finger under the rim to pull it out... and since the softcup is more of a flimsy plastic, it was so collapsable and messy, I didn't want to put my fingers anywhere near the scene of the crime so I didn't put a new one in and since I was at my job, I wasn't getting up and washing it in a public restroom, i don't even know how i'm supposed to rinse it out if i'm bleeding and my "protection" is no longer protecting me because i need to clean it (ah, the catch 22)... since it was my first time using the softcup i brought a clean disposable pad just incase i didn't like the Softcup...

i'm now considering a Divacup or something like it because i'm thinking less mess.. but i'm still unsure because there's no absorption like a pad i can imagine there would still be some mess when dealing with liquid... i really hate wearing pads like i'm wearing a diaper, and after hearing about tampons having fiberglass to make you bleed more, i will never use it again, so i really want this cup thing to work out for me but i can't help thinking that i'm gonna be dealing with a murder scene every time i change it with blood all over my hands etc...

also, with the softcup, since you "bear down" to help get it out, going to the bathroom (#2) would cause some concern and paranoia and I had to keep repositioning the softcup... does this problem still occur with the divacup or did i just totally use the softcup all wrong ...please help! idk what to do but i really want to start the cups!

and again maybe i just did it wrong or something but i didn't think it would be slightly possible to have sex with a softcup, i can feel it only 2 knuckles deep and considering circumference, the tip probably wouldn't fit without touching the cup because as you said, the softcup has a larger rim than the divacup so when it's open it takes up quite a lot of room...

am i doing something wrong or am i just really small?!(i don't care about the sex part, who would want to with cramps anyways?)

if anyone has any tips, suggestions, personal experience, anything to help, please get back to me! Thanks so much!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Erica Bass: Sorry you had such an icky first experience with a cup! I'll try to troubleshoot/brainstorm a little with you, but anyone else can feel free to chime in.

* Cleaning out the cup while still bleeding: I'm fortunate in that I can usually clean from the toilet, lol. My bathtub is *right* next to me, so I just lean over to do the rinsing when I'm home. When I'm out in a public restroom, I usually just wipe with toilet paper and reinsert. I've never had a problem (infection, smell, etc.) with doing that; ymmv. You could also wad up some toilet paper in your undies if you want to leave the stall to get to the sink and then come back to reinsert.

* Scene of the crime retrieval experience: I've had that happen a few times, but it gets easier with practice, honest. I prefer changing and emptying at home for that reason! Maybe if you need to empty while you're out, you could have some wipes along with you for easier cleanup (of your hands, etc. — not on the cup itself) within a stall. There is always some blood drippage/smearing somewhere even with practiced technique, but pretty much anything period-related is going to be bloody to some degree, right? It really does get easier with time and practice, though! And you're right that the DivaCup (MoonCup/Keeper) is much firmer than an Instead/Softcup, so it's less likely to buckle when you're pulling it out.

* Bearing down a little (as with pee or a bit of poo) can shift my cup down farther but I've never pushed it all the way out. Sometimes I grab some toilet paper and hold it in if I need to bear down harder for a bit. If it's going to be an extended session (tmi, much? ha ha), I prefer to remove it entirely and then reinsert once I'm done and wiped up. Again, getting used to fiddling with a cup and getting repositioned correctly becomes easier with use — eventually you just know where it goes and what way to push it into place to feel right.

* Sex with the cup: I never had a problem with sex with the Instead, but all bodies are built differently. We did try having sex with the DivaCup in — well, once on purpose and once by accident, ha ha — and it worked but wasn't very comfortable. This isn't recommended by the manufacturer at all, but I was curious. Like you, I usually find it easier (and am more in the mood) to wait till the heaviest bleeding has stopped and then just go without a cup if I want some action.

Hope some of that helps! If you feel like you can get over the squirminess of dealing with the blood cleanup for a while, and have some patience for getting used to the cup, I'd recommend trying out a DivaCup or similar. I think, based on your experiences, that you'd find it a better fit for you.

Kelsey said...

I just found this post and am new to your blog. Very interesting! :)

My experiences are with with Instead and Moon cup. I used the Moon cup for a few years before getting pregnant. After the initial learning curve I mostly liked it, but after a year or two I found that washing it with just soap and water was no longer enough. If I didn't boil it between every cycle it made me itchy and tended to develop a bad smell by the end of my cycle. Maybe I used the wrong product to clean it or something, not sure. I threw it out when I was pregnant, thinking that it wouldn't fit me anymore postpartum and it would probably be wise to start over with a brand new one anyway given the issues I was having. The only other drawback was that I have a heavy flow for the first 2-3 days and if I was not very sure to empty and rinse the cup every few hours it could overflow. When my flow slows down I could go 12 hours, but only 2-4 hours when I first start my cycle.

After having a vaginal birth and turning 30 I am currently using the Instead cup, one cup per cycle against the instructions. I have a similar problem to a previous commenter in that it seems very large for me, and if I'm not sure to get it very well tucked behind my pubic bone it is prone to leaks. I have also had some pain when removing it at the early part of my cycle when everything is tender. It can get caught on my cervix when I pull it out, not a problem toward the end of my cycle but very uncomfortable for me in the first 2 or 3 days.

I will probably switch back to one of the long term reusable cups eventually, but this Instead cups box should last me about a year and out of laziness and convenience I will probably go through most of the box before finally making the switch. It's interesting to me to learn about other people's experiences, thanks for reviewing and sharing!

Unknown said...

I have a tip for people using period cups, in general. Look up Tabo, which is the Filipino manual version of a bidet. Here's what I do, being the HAPA that I am.

When I withdraw, I do it as level as I can. I suggest cutting off the stem since it does absolutely nothing to help this out. The grips are the key. Once it's out dump it. Then use your cup of water, preferably a recycled LARGE takeout cup (Wendy's is the best, right? lol) and carefully rinse off the diva/instead cup. Doing small, but frequent and fast pours help clean it off most of the way.

If you're next to the tub or sink, use this to your advantage. Set aside a folded paper towel to lay the cup on. This keeps you from getting any junk on your surfaces. Do the whole "Using my wrist to turn on the water" deal, have soap ready, and wash your cup well. You can do this WHILE on the toilet!

If you're not on the toilet next to a handy water source, then go ahead and wash yourself with the left over water. That's what Filipinas do ALL the time. It cuts down on possible yeast infections, and is just better hygiene in general. Use a small bit of soap if you want.

After this, dab yourself dry, and if you need to wash your cup, do so.

Then do your method of insertion. Apparently Divas like to use different methods. If you're using the Diva or Moon cup, make sure you turn it a few times to create a seal.

After about 6 years or so, I've become so accustomed to this that it takes me about 5 minutes, max. Right now I'm lucky to have a bathroom that has the toilet arm's length away from the tub/shower. I also have a very terrible period, since I have a condition with mine, so it's very helpful. Unlike you lucky women, I can't leave it in for 12 hours unless it's on my last 2 days.

Anyway, have a nice CLEAN period from now on.

Megan said...

I always squeeze while I'm going to the bathroom and it empties some harmlessly out into the toilet. I've been using Instead Cups for years with only one leak - when I'd been wearing it all day, hadn't "squeezed" it recently, and was squatting to get a book from a low shelf. I've never leaked from sneezing, coughing, or laughing, and I never bother with a pantiliner.
Now I'm postpartum and using mama cloth (cloth pads), which is way better than disposables but not nearly as comfortable as an instead cup.

Kaelin said...

what would you say for a new user, who is still deciding between lunette, diva and juju? I've got a tiny lady part. :O Well took 3 goes over 3 years for my first pap smear just to give an idea. (doctor suggested waiting, so tried again after a year, failed so tried again year after that, worked! required sex 48hrs beforehand).

Anywho ldr means can't have sex all the time soo can't use sex for helping me with my cup. XD I'm leaning towards the Lunette cup model 1. I'm not sure on the Juju or divacup. I think those would be too big but well I'm newbie to this.

Also australia does sell these now, not illegal at all. :) just I think still hard to find. Juju is the Aussie brand for it. :)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Kaelin: I'm no expert on what size is what, so I looked up size comparisons. Here's a pictorial comparison of various brands. Here is a chart of measurements. The small Lunette seems like a good choice. A small MeLuna might be even better — same diameter, but a shorter length. Both have a very small diameter among all the cups measured. A small JuJu has a slightly smaller diameter and is in between the other two in length. The small DivaCup would be larger than the others. A small LadyCup would also be an option. If I were you, I'd read some reviews online of the top contenders (MeLuna, Lunette, JuJu, LadyCup) and see if other users mention how well it works for those who are on the small side. Plus, you could see what's easiest and most affordable to source where you are.

Jayme said...

I'd just like to say that I tried instead cups years and years ago, in about 2000. I had a hard time with it then, perhaps because I wasn't super comfortable with my body and putting it in was awkward. I recently tried then again, and found that not only does the new, slimmer design work better for me, but now they actually promote using only one per cycle. So one box lasts what seems like forever!

I've been researching the truly reusable cups, but I'm not sure I'll switch. I really enjoy being able to use it during sex. Plus, the "long" design of the cups vs the "round" design of the Instead concerns me, since my cervix sits fairly low. Either way, thus post was very helpful for my research, thank you!

Unknown said...

I never comment on blogs, but YAY DIVACUP!!!!!!
Your review was fantastic, thank you!
I got my first DivaCup a few years ago, a got hella attached to it with reduced cramping, no mess, and no vaginal dryness. My husband loves that I am more comfy!
I found your post because Im thinking of trying the Instead (sex on period sounds like a winner) and I appreciate all your details!
Not squeamish, we all have em and should talk about it more as modern women. :)
Thanks again!

Jenny said...

Thank you for covering the issues with the Diva Cup! I have multiple friends who have told me for years how great it is, but they failed to mention the learning curve. I felt like something was wrong with me the first time I used it. It went in pretty easily but I felt like I constantly had to pee and was afraid to trim the stem so it wouldn't be poking me. The first time I tried to remove it, it took me a long time to realize I had to push it out a little with my muscles, and that I couldn't just grab the stem like it was a tampon! I now recommend the DC but I fully disclose -- it WILL take a little time and effort. I'm quickly becoming a convert because while it may be a pain in the butt in the beginning, it's a lot better, cleaner, and "greener" than tampons.

goodspotto said...

I just want to say: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This post and all the comments have been super helpful for me! I heard of the Instead cup about 15 years ago, bought a box, and then got intimidated by the size of the thing. Just didn't work for me. Fast forward to this cycle and I finally tried them again. I recently stopped using tampons because it finally dawned on me the tampons were causing migraines. Not. Good. But life with pads was no bueno too. The first Instead insertion was difficult-- and hearing everyone's experience on here is VERY helpful. I'm tall and think I must have a long vaginal canal because I don't think I've ever touched my cervix. I have to push the ring up to hook under the pelvis and then I think it sorta stayed (except bearing down I've noticed it slips). Unfortunately, I forgot this bearing down bit when I tried to remove the first time because I had to wrangle the edge of the darn thing to get it back out of my vagina. In the process it slipped multiply times and let out "pockets" of blood-- I was horrified and felt like an axe murderer!! I was lucky I didn't pass out and then call the cops on myself. Gah! Not a good first experience!! Each insertion/removal has been easier (have used 3 total so far) but I'm still a little leery. And I did notice more of an urge to pee so wonder if I still didn't have it in quite right? I will definitely try it again next cycle but think I will hold off on the divacup. Problem is, I'm about to turn 37 and I'm starting to wonder how many more periods will I have? Like, will I hit menopause right after I fork over $40?? Hesitant on that. I will try reusing the instead and see how I like that process. This is all so new, it makes me feel like an awkward teenager again! I will have to try sex with it, oh and I love the advice to orgasm more to make the period shorter-- wonder if it actually works??

Unknown said...

i first heard about the menstral cups, witht he isntead, and my roommate talked me into/purchased the diva cup for me.. well the instead so far is my favorite, i was able to get it in and out easily and coudlnt feel it at all. the diva cup on the other hand.. i could feel it when i moved. when it came time to take it out after 12 hours.. i couldnt even reach it.. couldnt even get two fingers on the tail. after some panicing and bearing down and trying to push it out.. i finally was able to grab it and pull it out.. but now im kinda afraid to give it another try. thankfully i found out that instead does make a reusuable cup now.. good for one cycle, so i might have to give that a try. As a virgin & Tranman - pre hormones, im not at all comfortable with items being inserted in me.. and the diva cup just sets of all sorts of weird feelings for me.

aWalkThruStorms said...

Great article but it sounds like the one downside of Instead Softcup has been fixed. I wrote to them asking about a more sustainable option and guess what? They make a reusable softcup now. It jas a darker rim and a stronger catch basin instead of the crinkly plastic bag feel of the disposable softcup. It's good for up to one cycle but if you hand wash it and store it properly between cycles then it holds up as well as any menstrual cup. They want you to buy a new one every cycle but they are a business after all.

Isabelle said...

Ive been looking through the interwebs, and couldn't find a review that said they had problems with the SoftCup and their IUD, so I decided to buy a pack and put my first in this morning. If your cords are cut short enough, which mine are, apparently there's no problem. Now, I haven't taken it out yet, but I dont forsee any problems, and so far comfort is great.

Raquel930 said...

They make a reusable softcup

Unknown said...

I've just ordered the reusable Instead cups and I'm really excited to use them. Being able to have mess-free period sex would be AWESOME because I tend to be much more "in the mood" while I'm on my period. I hope they come soon!

Lauren Wayne said...

@goodspotto: Slow at replying, but I wanted to comment on the menopause thing — I have a relative who was still bleeding heavily into her 60s — like, *throughout* menopause, heavier than her periods, so I'd rather have a cup available to me during that time than rely on pads/tampons alone. I'm sure that all depends on your genetics and personal fertility history, etc., but I'd think at 37, you'd still have plenty o' time to use it.

Re: the orgasms: There's no downside to trying it. ;)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Noone Cares: Definitely if the Instead feels better for you, I'd go with that. I'm sure it depends on how everyone's built as to which feels more invasive, but the Diva is a little more fiddly on the interior for me, too.

Lauren Wayne said...

@aWalkThruStorms: That is excellent! This post is from 5 years ago, but I should add that info into it — thanks!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Isabelle: That is really good to know! Thanks for passing that on.

aWalkThruStorms said...

@Lauren Wayne I know this is an older post but I thought it worth updating since people still come across it and find it helpful today.

AichJay said...

They're actually as easy as HM says. You fit it back there once, it suctions in to place and you're good to go. I was hugely nervous at first, didn't have it in right, etc.. But now? Easy Peasy!

Oh, and I'm in the camp of using one per period (and cleaning it) because I can't imagine spending $14 on something and using it up in 2 months.

Unknown said...

I refuse to pay almost 42.00 for a diva cup tht is like buying a new pair of pants

Unknown said...

I carry a water bottle with me into the bathroom to wash out over the toilet. I also had a large container I could use to swish the cup around in. Made cleaning in public places a lot easier. Plus, you can dump the container water right in the toilet.

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