Sunday, February 20, 2011


All right, ladies. It's time we discussed something very personal, something that only we struggle with. Something that we have to sit down and have a talk with our daughters about (well, I assume that's how it works; I never got that talk and I've no daughters). It's something that can make us into a raging maniac or a crying pile of unhappy. No, it isn't chocolate. Or Robert Downey Jr.

Let's talk about periods.

I grew up using pads, and got to figure out tampons on my own. I hated pads - always did, probably always will - because as a big woman, it was hard to keep those damn sticky tabs in place. The moment I would sweat, the tabs came unstuck, and the rest of the pad usually followed close behind. They bunched and scrunched no matter how or when I wore them, regardless of size or intended absorbency. They didn't last long enough, and I was in a state of constant worry that they would leak out - which is when I turned to the tampons.

Tampons were great, in comparison! They didn't leak as frequently and I knew that bunching up and unreliable sticky adhesive were no longer a factor in my period comfort. I had the ability to finally bleed for seven days without dying and not be completely uncomfortable, if you didn't count the fact that I could rarely get them positioned right, and the fact that the larger sizes I was forced to use thanks to a heavy flow (TMI, anyone?) carried a far more significant risk of toxic shock syndrome. Of course, like a lot of women, I was an irresponsible user: I rarely changed them when I was supposed to, often left them in too long, and likely used much larger sizes all the time than was necessary. I ignored how yucky they eventually made me feel, and the constant discomfort of having them improperly placed (which, by the way, I blamed on an inability to put them in right - without thinking that tampons were not designed for EVERYONE'S comfort in mind). I learned to think of tampons as science's gift to womenkind, despite my issues, and used them for years on end.

Then, after my period returned once A was born, something strange started to happen.

Tampons became uncomfortable beyond a doubt. I could no longer get them to sit so that I couldn't feel them, well, bulging out. Size and absorbency were irrelevant to my plight; nothing fit, nothing worked, nothing was comfortable. Even stranger, using them made me feel ill. Not throw-up-and-die ill, but mildly feverish, mildly nauseated. I only felt this way within an hour or so of putting in a tampon, and if I removed it, in just as long I would feel better. It was the strangest thing, a phenomenon I couldn't possibly explain: my body's chemistry had changed enough that I could no longer wear a tampon.

This was a problem.

Coincidentally, I had just begun looking into alternative options for taking care of myself during this longest portion of the month. Options were pretty limited; fewer (or no) periods thanks to hormone birth control was not an option, as I'd had a number of unpleasant experiences with every one I had tried, never mind the fact that the idea of nixing a period entirely felt more than a little wrong. I could get and tried using reusable cloth pads, or "mama cloth", and while I didn't particularly dislike them, and they did manage to overcome the problem of dysfunctional adhesive, they still slid all over the place because of the snap fastening, only came in one absorbency choice, and were not half as absorbent as I would have liked - never mind the fact that they did not soak in as quickly as disposables did. I had cut out the angle of toxins and the impact of disposable pads on the environment, but had brought in a totally new angle of problems I had to deal with.

Then, I heard about DivaCups.

Okay, I won't lie. I had heard about them a few years ago, and laughed. The idea of having to shove uncomfortable-looking latex cups into my body, then dump and wash them after usage, disgusted me. I looked at them as a huge hassle, and was positive that they could in no way make my life any easier or better. They were unattractive, and I couldn't imagine for the life of me justifying spending $40 - if not more - on a single product, even if it was reusable, and even then it needed to be replaced yearly (or so). I saw it as a massive drain on my budget, without thinking about the obvious - the cost of a box, or two, of tampons, which I could easily go through in one cycle.

Then, it slowly came to me.

A single box of tampons cost me around $10 a month. That was $120 a year, and I often used more than one box in a cycle (or was guilty of buying multi-packs that had different sizes in each, but I'd never use all the sizes). Add in occasional pads, worn at night, and that price was jacked up to $140 a year. A single DivaCup and the wash for it (which I've never used, by the way) was all of $50 - less than half the price. Even being replaced once a year, and occasionally buying more of the wash (which I assume normal people do, haha), it's still less expensive than tampons.

Hey, wait, that makes sense.

Usage was a bit more of an issue for me. I am a bigger woman, so it's a bit harder sometimes to reach around properly. I won't lie, it took a couple of usages for me to get it inserted properly and comfortably, but once I got that part down, it was a breeze to insert and remove. I think it takes a unique position for every woman to get it in just right, and there's nothing wrong with that. It took me a while to figure it out, but I got it, and now it's easy to do. Cleaning is still a bit of a pain, and I won't lie and say it's done without mess, but it's an improvement over how it was when I first started using the DivaCup.

So now I throw away less money during the month and year. I use it easily, can use it day or night, and never have to worry about leaks staining my clothing. There's no smell, no difficult cleanup or laundering involved, and it's COMFORTABLE. In fact, I typically forget I'm even using it unless I specifically think about it - and best of all, if I leave it in a few extra hours on accident, or because I have to, I don't have to worry about potentially poisoning myself. No big deal, just empty it out and wash it when I can, then reinsert and go again. No bunching, no staining, no discomfort. The DivaCup is perfect, everything I ever could have asked for, and it makes me feel good to use it, too.

So, go get one and give it a go. Visit the DivaCup site and get the one that's right for you and give it a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

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