March 14, 2007

Let's Talk About....MENSTRUATION!

Obviously you guys need to check out Jonniker's post about menstrual cups, because I found myself posting a lengthy response (which I then deleted and turned into this post) in my own comment section in response to Kara, who has also read Jonniker's post. So that's at least two of us here who feel like talking about it, and if the rest of you want to join in you're going to have to visit Jonniker first so you know what we're talking about. Read her comment section, too, because it's pretty great and also gives more information on the topic.

Now. On to the discussion. I want to know who here has experience with these things, and, if you own one or you've ordered one, which of the dumb-named items did you choose? If you've read Jonniker's comment section, you'll have seen my comment, which was this:

I’m not grossed out by the CONCEPT of the cup, but I agree it needs an image makeover. First of all, the names, which are stoooopid. “Diva Cup”? I am not using ANY product that requires me to favor the diva concept, as if I am a 12-year-old with a rhinestone t-shirt. And “The Keeper” is both creepy (because of all the horror novels called The Keep) and also creepy (because of the implication that the point is to SAVE the contents, perhaps forever).

Secondly, the color. I agree that brown is gross, and that clear would also be gross, and so would white be gross. I think it needs to be available in a selection of patterns: a swirling paisley, a jungle floral, a pink camo, etc. I want CHOICES, and I want them NON-GROSS.

I agree with what Kara of Baa Baa Black Sheep said (in Jonniker's comments) about doing your own small part for the environment, and in fact I have a partially-written post on this very topic (not in re menstrual products per se, but overall) that I keep not posting because it wavers between preachy/pious and uncaring/flippant, which in case you are wondering is not a pleasant combination and leaves me looking like a self-satisfied jackass, and so the post just sits there unfinished and unpostable.

Where was I? Oh yes! I agree with the concept of each of us doing the environmental pleasantries that we don't mind doing, and this is one I don't think I'd mind doing. I think there would initially be a mental hurdle involved in using such a product, but I had the same hurdle for using tampons, and in fact for my whole period in general. If this is not too much information, and I think maybe it is too much information, I personally would like tampons best but am too scared to use them because of TSS. I know, it's rare, but I would feel so dumb if I died of it. And so I use pads, which are way worse for the environment, not that I would let that stop me from using them (and in fact, I do use them, so there you are) if I were truly grossed out by the menstrual cups. But speaking of grossness--and now this really is too much information but at least it isn't about me personally--isn't it just as gross to see it on a pad as to see it in a little cup? I think it might be, but that I'm just not used to the cup and I am used to the pad, and that gets us back to the mental hurdle thing from the beginning of the paragraph. See how beautifully that all ties together?

So! Please do tell. What with all the pregnancy and breastfeeding, I've only had my period four times in the last two and a half years, so I need information from people who are on the front lines of this issue, as it were.


Shannon said...

Huh. periods? I'd like to never get mine back after this baby is born. Nasty, pesky things, especially when one is done procreating. I used tampons pre-baby but am not opposed to cup things. I agree though, I want a cute swirly pattern in blue and green. Paisley perhaps? I think my husband would be totally grossed out by the concept, though.

On a somewhat similar but pregnancy tangent...breast pads. Do you use the throw-away version, the washable version, or the lily padz version of plastic? With D I used the washable version (boob biscuits as my lovely husband referred to them as) but am thinking of going the lily padz route this time.

Jennifer said...

I had no idea this was such a "controversial" topic. Should I be laughing? Because I am!

I've had 2 periods in 2 years, so I hardly remember them. I was thinking of going a diva cup type route however when she returns for good.

Swistle said...

Shannon-- Oooh, good one. I like the washable kind. I put them in the lingerie bag with my nursing bras and launder everything together.

Erica said...

In the past, I've used a product called "Instead." ( I didn't have a problem with it at all. It wasn't gross, but it's not like I investigated the contents of the thing, you know?

The things I liked about it:
1. I could wear it all day or all night without changing it. It has a much larger "capacity" than a pad or a tampon.
2. No risk of TSS.
3. No gross mess on my body to clean up.
4. No odor at all.

Now, these are disposable, so not exactly good for the environment. But, you do only use two a day, as opposed to however many tampons or pads you would normally use.

Black Sheeped said...

I ordered the DivaCup, because you can boil it. But now I'm thinking about how I'll want a special pot for that purpose, because...yeah. You get it.

I'm glad someone agreed with me. I felt like I was being really fervent and creepy and annoying, but I've always, and especially lately, been worried about how much crap we throw away.

I hope the cup works out--I find tampons to be too drying, to the point of pain at times. And I think pads are sort of gross, because even though they make the high-tech ones that are supposed to be drier, you still have your blood rubbing against your skin. That doesn't seem right to me. Plus, messy, messy. I'm super excited to try the cup, and have even told Justin all about it. His response was something like, "Well, it's all gross, so do the one where you're not disposing of tons of shit."

I've been thinking about it for about a year, but Jonniker's post pushed me over the edge.

Hooray for blogs!

Black Sheeped said...

And about the hurdle thing...I'll let you know how it goes. (Lucky you, you can be all, oh I can't WAIT to hear all about Kara's new DivaCup!)I was bad with tampons at first, too.

The Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I'll chime in! (followed your link from jennifer's blog) I"m laughing with Jen because I didn't realize it was controversial either. LOL My close girlfriends know I use it and have always been open minded. Or I scare them enough to keep their "nasty" comments to themselves? Hmmm, not sure which? LOL

You're on to something with the mental hurdle idea. I had to think it through for a couple of months to jump those hurdles myself. And I'm gonna be such a deeeeep thinker (snort) and hypothesize that the gross factor of touching your own coochie during AF and possibly get your own blood on you (gasp!) ties back to women being told we're dirty. Yk, we all are so nasty down there that we need special deodorant spray to mask our nasty cooch smell, right? If we cut our finger, we don't think that blood is just too nasty to DARE get on ourselves. But blood that comes out of our vagina is somehow so contaminated that it is unbelievable gross if it gets on you? Purrlease. Honestly though, in the beginning I had to do some mental work that my vagina is NOT gross and contaminated before I could take the Diva cup plunge.

I guess I never thought much of the color either. (I save my thinking for deeeeeep hypotheses that have no scientific merit.) It isn't like I spend a lot of time staring at it in wonder of it's beauty, yk. When AF is imminent, I put it in, remove 12 hours later, wash it up, pop it back in. When AF is light enough I can switch to panty liners, I boil it, put it in it's little drawstring bag and pop it in my vanity drawer, not to be seen for another 28 days. So it may spend a total of 10 minutes every month out in the open. Though maybe I would get a kick out of having a hot pink paisley plunger looking product in my cooch? Could be....maybe I'll write the MFG! I could color coordinate the Cup with my period panties!

Ok, so why do I keep using it and what do I like about it:

My periods went from 7 days to 3 days. And they became lighter too. I was a tampon user before and I swear something about them made my periods longer. I hear that is common when you switch. My sister had it happen too.

There is the money savings but that wassn't such a big factor for me. It isn't like I had to choose between buying my tampons for the month of buying food for the day. But I'll mention it. Haven't had to buy tampons in over 2 years.

The only changing it every 8-12 hours. Never once have I had to change it in a public restroom like some drew the picture of in the comments on the other blog. Seriously, it goes in in the morning when I start my day and I can be gone all day, get home at 6 and can change it then. It's good to go until I wake up the next morning at 6.

The cups don't dry you out like tampons do. I'll leave it at that b/c it could cross over to TMI since it does involve post AF whoopie and KY jelly. stories.

Really, it wasn't such an environmental thing for me when I made the switch. Yes, it's nice that I'm not tossing tampons in the landfill but it's nicer that my periods last 3 days and on the 4th day I can have great moist sex with my hubby. LOL! If there are any specific questions that I didn't think of, I'll be happy to satisfy curiousity!

Wow, I think this is the longest comment I've ever written. I apologize! I should have written my own blog I guess?

Trena said...

I've always wanted to have this conversation with someone other than only my best friend--so thanks for being brave.
I had actually tried the disposable version of the cup thing (I think they're called Instead?) a long time ago and it was okay (other than not getting it to stay where it needed to be) but not my first choice.
I'll use tampons if I have to (like for swimming) but they aren't my favorite either. For me they were always uncomfortable and I always spotted no matter how often I changed my pad and frankly, if I had to wear a panty liner plus a tampon I had a hard time seeing how that was more convenient.
I've always been a pad kind of gal. Since I'm one of those lucky women who got her period back 6 weeks on the dot after pp bleeding stopped, despite exclusively nursing, I'm very much looking forward to being pregnant again only because it will be another almost year without a monthly visitor.
In the meantime though I'm almost tempted to try some of the natural re-useable pads as the sensitive skin issue that I had pre-pregnancy totally flares up every month now that I'm post-pregnancy and something that the pads are treated with really irritates my skin. Not fun.
*Sigh* and to think that at one point in time I was actually upset because I hadn't gotten a period yet.
Oh and for the nursing pads--I used some that a friend who cloth diapers made for me--soft flannel on one side and breathable waterproof fleece on the other. Love 'em!

jonniker said...

HA! Well, I for one am on the fence entirely, and while I'm all for small changes to the environment, the only small change I have the balls to make right now is recycling. I'm not sure I can make this switch, as...well, I don't know why! I think it's that I'm too scared and too unwilling to risk leaks and pain and SUCTION ISSUES.

Kara: I didn't think you were too pushy or creepy or annoying. You were saying how you felt! What's wrong with that?

Black Sheeped said...

I'm always nervous to say things about the environment, because in the past I've known people are quick to dismiss me, saying, "Oh, Kara, you're just a tree-hugger." Or, "Yeah, okay, hippie, whatever."

So I get sort of stressed out talking about green things.

What a fun day. I wonder if Justin is tired of hearing about how I ordered a DivaCup yet.

Tina said...

Ummm...I am new here, and I just want to say hi!. Now, about the cups- there is no way any "cup"-like device could work for me, because since my first child was born my period has caused me to stay to be within 50 feet of a bathroom at all times for 2 days because there is absolutely nothing invented yet for my extremely HEAVY periods. Maybe this is for women on the pill whose periods are scant and light and gone in a few days??? I say, thank goodness I am 8 or 10 yrs away from menopause. (Did I really say that?) Anyway, love your blog!

jonniker said...

Queen of Shake Shake: I don't think my mental hurdle is that I feel like I'm dirty down there, but I'm not sure what it is. I do know that I tried the Instead cup once, and it was a COMPLETE AND TOTAL DISASTER OH MY GOD, which contributes greatly to the fear of the cup. I found it miserably uncomfortable and lo, there were leaks.

As for the dirty/blood issue, the thing is, I don't like to clean up my own blood from *anywhere*, whether it's my finger, my arm, my leg or my hoo-ha. I'm not any more grossed out by it no matter where it comes from, but if my arm leaked that much blood, I'd be just as shocked, you know? *shrug* I never had that kind of issue, I guess, with it being dirty, but I do not dig the idea of having to handle a lot of blood from anywhere.

Tina: The thing with the cup is that it holds a lot, and by a lot, I mean, it should absolutely hold your heavy periods. It's a full ounce in there, and even if you have to change it more than every 8-12 hours, you should still get more than 10 minutes out of them, otherwise you'd probably be in the hospital for blood loss. In your case, this might be right up your alley.

Black Sheeped said...

Yes, it seems the cup is ideal for extremely heavy flows. The DivaCup testimonials are hilarious, but talk a lot about how good it is for even the heaviest of flows.

Jonniker and Swistle, I apologize for my many, many comments today. This is what happens when I'm forced to take time off work, and get excited about something involve my reproductive system. A MILLION COMMENTS.

Swistle said...

Black Sheeped-- Kara, Justin's point of view ("Well, it's all gross, so do the one where you're not disposing of tons of shit") is EXACTLY mine! Also, I LOVE LOVE all your comments, and in fact it was your interesting comments over at Jonniker's that got me all wanting-to-talk-about-this. Multiple comments makes it seem more discussiony.

Queen of Shake-Shake-- Very helpful report! It is SO NICE to have someone who's used it and Knows.

Jonniker-- I agree: I don't think my yick factor is about being "dirty down there," but more, I think, about a new way of collecting the blood that makes me suddenly aware of it again. Also, my mom points out that "cup" makes her think of "sipping," which is yick.

Trena-- I'm kind of interested in the reusable pads, too. I'm a little yicked, but not very yicked--no more yicked than with the cups, I'd say.

Tina-- Hi! What a strange topic to come in on, huh? Normally we're more like baby names and bitching about our children.

Re hurdle in general: I remember the same issue when I used cloth diapers. At first it seemed almost unimaginable--and as soon as I did it, it seemed no weirder than disposables--and in fact, disposables started to seem weirder.

nowheymama said...

Holy crap, I'm gone for a day and I miss the revolution. On my way over to read the original post!

Devan said...

I haven't used the cups of any kind, but have been interested as of late and was planning to try it after all this baby stuff is over.
I'll admit that I've used cloth pads, but I hate all pads in general, so I wasn't a fan.
They did seem to keep me, uh, drier than regular plasticky coated ones though.
I also use cloth diapers, which had a bit of a learning curve at first, but now I'm all about the cloth.

Devan said...

After re-reading my comment, I thought I should clarify that *I* don't use cloth dipes, but I use them for my son. heh

Black Sheeped said...

So, hey, you guys. This got me wondering--do any of you use cloth diapers? If so, can you talk about your experiences with them? We're not planning on trying to start a family for 6 months to a year, but it's nice to know about these things.

kla said...

I can't believe I'm actually writing this, but this whole topic got me really thinking about trying one of these things. My apprehension is in the um, insertion part, but I'm wlling to try it.

jonniker said...

Kara: The Sarcastic Journalist ( is a great resource for cloth diapers, as is Jessica at Kerflop (

Emily said...

I really love my Keeper. I got it when I was in high school, which was a good ten years ago, so I guess I ought to probably get a new one soon.

Here's the thing about the mess: If you change it frequently enough (ie: before it is so full it may overflow, which in my experience after day 1 was only every 12 hours or so), there is little to no mess that gets on the outside of it (the part that is very cuddly with your bits). The mess stays on the inside of the cup. So I would wash mine with anti-bacterial soap and that was that.

The problem I have is in bathroom stalls where the sink is not reaching distance from the toilet. I really would prefer to be able to dump the contents out into the toilet, and then reach forward, or to the side, rinse it out, and THEN put it back in.

But if your concern is the environment, do keep in mind how many tampons you could NOT use even if you only use the cup at home or after your flow is low enough that you can change it at home.

I have also found that it makes my cramps and general uncomfortableness in the first few days of my period much better and easier to deal with.

Also, it's sort of neat, after a while, to be able to see how much blood you actually produce. I felt all earthy-crunchy woman-power after a while.

(And you don't ever have to carry tampons around! I am SO BAD about that.)

You have reminded me, and perhaps I will go back to the cup. It has been too long.

ADDITIONALLY, because this comment isn't long enough, I really prefer cloth pads to pantyliners. I don't like the plasticy feel of the top layer of most commerical pads, and nice soft flannel feels much better to my skin. I only use pads as a sort of emergency backup, but that's my experience. I rinse them in the sink and then toss them in the laundry with the rest of my underwear and whatnots.

Mommy Daisy said...

This is interesting to me, to say the least. I don't know if I'm ready to try something like this though. My mom had told me that she tried the "Instead" product, but it didn't work because of her heavy flow period. I'll keep reading comments, and maybe I'll get brave and try something like this someday. For now I'll stick with Tampax.

Shannon - about the breast pads. I liked the washable ones. I've never tried Lily Padz. I'd be interested in hearing about someone who had. (Maybe I'll explore that with the next baby.) Good luck.

Mommy Daisy said...

To those who use cloth pads:
Where do you get these? I've never even thought about such a thing. Maybe I'd like them. Do you made them? How? Tell me, tell me. Or you can e-mail me. Thanks.

anatomist said...

washable pads are, in my experience, great. pretty convenient, especially if you only really use them as backup. they aren't as bulky as you might imagine and you can make them really easily from scrap cotton flannel. i don't have my pattern available to post, but a google search came up with this pattern if you want to give it a try. i've never tried the diva cup, but i used to use sea sponges when i was a teenager. they were reausable and natural and all, but i got a little skeeved out by the potential water quality issues associated with where they come from so i moved to organic tampons instead. and now this conversation is making me realize it will be a while before i deal with periods again which is a pretty strange thing after all these years!

Jen said...

Tina- I hope you know that your periods should not be that heavy and it probably means you are in perimenopause. You should definately see your GYN. I had the same problem. It can also be a sign of other problems. I'd be happy to chat if you have questions.

The Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I just wanted to add a comment that I didn't mean to direct my comments to anyone in particular. What I said about people thinking the cooch is dirty and all of that. Not directed at Jonniker and anyone in particular involved with these blogs. I was just going with my deeeeeep, non scientific hyposthesis that our culture still has underlying issues with periods and vaginas. Yk, I live in the deep south and it is NOT known for it's advance cultural attitudes.

As far leaks, I have no more leaks with the Cup than I did with tampons so that wasn't an issue for me. Though I have heard the Instead cups are really bad about leaking. But if you have an issue with blood of any sort, then these cups prolly aren't the thing for you.

Suction, there again, no problems for me. You kinda press in on the cup before you pull out. So no toilet plunger sucking sounds are going on.

Pain, doesn't really hurt me either.


jen said...

Before I had my first, I used a keeper. I used it in a stall at work, too, with copious use of baby wipes. Towards the end of its life I started getting leaks but I never figured out why. Then one day there was a tampon sale so I bought 10 boxes of the things. Then I found out I was pregnant without ever getting to use th box. The same thing happened before my son was born. When I'm done with this pregnancy I'm buying a Diva... I could never stand the color of the keeper. I don't even know where it is. I bet someone (probably my MIL) is going to find it while snooping and seriously wonder about me...

Anonymous said...

Here is my question: That little bendy stick at the end? The one that reinforces the whole "plunger" picture? Where exactly does that, um, GO? I am picturing it sticking out through a little hole one would cut in one's underwear. Please, PLEASE, give me a new picture of this scene.

Anonymous said...

Haha, before I went to go do some investigation of these weird cup things, I really thought these were plungers. I was like, plunging all your blood out to get it over with? Sounds kinda gross! But know I know how they *really* work, and it seems kinda cool.

Swistle said...

Anonymous 1: I WONDER TOO. I can't imagine being comfortable with a little plastic stick there.

Anonymous 2: Ha ha! Best mental picture EVER.