I attended a conference in Boston last week, at which a Canadian colleague whose research I greatly admire told me he'd done a google search of a psychological construct he publishes about, and found it referenced in a blog he assumed belonged to one of my grad students. I blushed furiously, debated (internally) the merits of lying, then decided on the truth, not because I'm ethical but because I'm too lazy to do the work necessary to maintain a lie. I admitted the blog was mine. At that point we shared a nervous laugh and changed the subject.
Hence, it's with some trepidation that I post about my experience with my new potential best friend, the DivaCup. Now that he knows my blog address, I fear sending my colleague into hysterics with this post. Alternatively, maybe my boss will find this one, although if she's googling "DivaCup" she's hardly in a position to cast stones. Anyway, in one of the funniest blog posts and threads of comments (93 at last count!) I've ever read about female reproduction (about anything, really), my hilarious and honest and totally unpretentious friend Jonna proclaimed her fear of and, later, love of the type of cup-like intravaginal (god, what an ugly word) device that's designed to replace tampons, called, variously, the DivaCup, the Keeper, or the Moon Cup (not to be confused with the Moon Pie, which is useful during the menstrual cycle for completely different reasons). No early adopter of innovative technology, I had never tried such a product, but the posters on Jonna's site were such fans and offered such convincing arguments that I decided to order my own DivaCup. Model 2, of course, for women over 30 or who have had a child (even a c-section -- WTF?). Following Jonna's model of fearlessness and self-deprecation, here's my report, consisting of random observations of the pros and cons of the device. Men (and that means you, Don), click away now.
* The DivaCup comes with a lapel pin. It's an enamel flower adjoining the word Diva. It is far too precious to throw away. I'm waiting for the right person to send it to, preferably at Christmas, accompanied by an inedible fruitcake.
* Installation is both easier and harder than I'd expected. First, may I suggest that you rinse the thing with water the first time you use it. It's easier that way to, uh, put it where it's supposed to be. The diameter of the opened cup is about 1.5 inches, which, folded into fourths, isn't as small as you'd think. It's about the size of 3 tampon heads compacted together, so "gentle glide" is not an apt description. Once it's in, though, the thing snaps open like a golf umbrella in an elevator, and it becomes pretty clear that it's not going to leak.
* It doesn't leak. The manufacturer recommends emptying and cleaning it every 12 hours. On the first day I wore it for 13.5 hours, with white underwear, daring it to disappoint me. It did not.
* You can't feel it. Really. The "stem" is pretty close to the entrance to Hoo-ville, but you can't feel it, even when you sit down.
* HOWEVER: If you have an aversion to blood, stick with tampons. Even 1/2 ounce of blood is a lot. Don't believe me? Fill a shotglass halfway full of water, then spill it on a plate. Now imagine it's blood. I was okay with this because blood doesn't freak me out, but I know people who faint at the sight of a few drops. I had no idea how much blood is absorbed by a tampon until I used the DivaCup, which of course just contains it. So--lots of blood. Can I say blood again? Blood blood blood. Lots of blood--but nowhere near enough to fill the cup. So when you remove it, don't worry about the overspill. But for the love of all that is holy, squeeze the cup to break the seal before pulling it out. You'll see. (Oh my god, it just occurred to me that DivaCups could be used as shotglasses. By a group of a women. At a sleepover. Just before the mass disrobing and pillow fight.)
* The feeling of liberation from tampons is amazing. On Jonna's blog everyone mentioned "no more strings" and avoiding the "pendulum whack" and so forth, all of which is true, but you know what I'll miss the least? Trying, in a public restroom, to minimize the volume of the wrapper rustle that broadcasts "I'M INSERTING A TAMPON" as loudly as a 3-year-old stomping on bubble wrap. Now, I'm not going to suggest that cleaning out the DivaCup in a public restroom is a comparatively discrete affair, but I don't intend to use a public restroom for this purpose. Since you only have to change it before bed and again upon awakening, you can do it in the privacy of your own home (or hotel room or, god help you, tent).
* No more strings. No more fucking strings. Once I got a massage from a man, and he went up pretty high on my thigh, and all I could think was, what if his ring catches the string? Needless to say, the massage did not relax me. No more accidentally (and publicly) pulling a tampon out of my bag when I am searching for a pen. No more worry about changing 'pons in the middle of the day. No more worry about leaking at night. No more worry about toxic shock syndrome. No more worry about clogging up the pipes with undegraded cotton. And it's good for the environment! (Okay, I don't really give a shit about this. I'm sorry, but that furniture set you bought last year when you upgraded to a 3000-square-foot house exceeds the volume of all the tampons you will use in your reproductive life, and probably degrades more slowly. So let's challenge our thinking about what's "good for the environment." But I digress.)
* No more tampons? Not so fast. See the tent comment, above. If I am ever camping, which is unlikely because I loathe it, but you never know--if I am ever camping, and water is scarce, I'll be packing the 'pons. You need water--clean, running water--to use the DivaCup. Trust me.