Monday, June 4, 2012
The DivaCup Review & Giveaway! (Closed)
Along with cloth diapering, eco-friendly cleaning and healthier, more sustainable food choices, another "green" step I've been eager to take is switching to a reusable solution for my period. I first discovered there were many alternatives to throwaway pads and tampons early last year when I began entering blog giveaways, and I was certainly interested in giving 'em all a try! And then came The Tale of the Moldy Tampon - even further incentive that it was time to ditch those disposables. (Yuck!!)
One of the products I came across that I was most intrigued about was The DivaCup. Simply put, it's a reusable silicone cup which is worn inside the vagina during a woman's menstrual cycle to collect fluid. Various other brands offer a similar product, however The DivaCup appears to be among the most popular and well-reviewed, plus it's made right here in Canada! Since first discovering The DivaCup, I've learned that several people I know personally (my naturopath and a coworker, to name a couple) use the product and LOVE it!
As it turned out, I had to wait awhile to try one out for myself as dear ol' AF decided to delay her return until over 13 months after our daughter was born. When she finally announced her arrival earlier this year, I wasted no time contacting the folks at The DivaCup to see if they'd be interested in partnering on a review/giveaway. Lo and behold, they were. Yay!!!
Before I get into my own experiences with the DivaCup, let's look at some product details.
First of all, the DivaCup comes in two sizes. Size 1 is for women under 30 years old and who have never given birth, and Size 2 is for women over 30 years old and/or who have given birth. Model 2 is slightly larger in diameter than Model 1, though both are approximately the same length.
The cup comes with a handy little drawstring storage bag, keeping it clean & dry between uses.
When inserted properly, the DivaCup cannot be felt and can safely be worn for up to 12 hours (including overnight) for a completely leak-free experience. It is worn low in the vagina (not near the cervix) so it is easy to remove. Finally, it is made from durable top quality, healthcare-grade silicone that is free of latex, plastic and BPA. More information can be found on the Product Features and comprehensive FAQs section of the DivaCup website.
All that sounds pretty good in theory, right? So the big question - how did everything work out when put to the test?
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous at first. I'd read a few reviews and forum posts from women who'd had some difficulties, at least getting used to things initially. And lemme tell you, I'm not the most physically adept person myself. Given all this, I was pleasantly surprised to discovered that my own learning curve wasn't steep at all!
To keep things organized, I'm going to break down my experiences (and the review in general) into four sections: Insertion, Wear, Removal and Cleaning/Maintenance.
My first thought upon studying the cup was "How the heck am I supposed to get this thing in?" It's not the tiniest li'l doohickey, after all. (Note - I received a Size 2 given I'm a mama and, yup, the other "condition" is true too! :)
Thankfully, the product directions (which are quite clear and easy-to-follow) quickly solved this "mystery". You first pinch the cup into a u-shape which makes the whole thing narrower and more solid.
As you insert the pinched cup, you rotate it at the same time which causes it to unfold and maneuver itself into the right spot. You continue to insert until the cup has fully reopened, the "stem" is at (or just inside) your vaginal opening and you can't really feel anything. All in all, I was happy to find the insertion process quite easy, and I was readily able to gauge when the cup was in the right spot.
The DivaCup is, indeed, very comfortable to wear when it is properly in place. Physically, it's not really noticeable at all, though doing a kegel makes you go, oh yeah, there is something in there. :) I did find I was quite mentally aware of it the first few times I wore it, but that's probably expected because, well, I had something new hangin' out within a very sensitive bodily area! But this awareness lessened with each subsequent usage.
Apparently the length of the stem can result in a little discomfort for some women, in which case the stem can be trimmed down. I didn't find this myself, however.
As for performance, I'm happy to report no leaks so far! Granted the longest I've worn it was about 8 hours and I have yet to wear it overnight, however I don't see wearing it those extra few hours being a cause for concern, at least not for most women. The cup holds 1 ounce of fluid, and evidently the average woman flows only about 3-4 ounces during her entire cycle. My own flow is probably on the low-ish side, which was echoed by the amount I'd find in the cup upon removal - always well below the half way mark. As for activity level, while I can't vouch for its performance during scuba diving or extreme sports, The DivaCup did stay in place just fine during mild to moderate activities such as walking and household chores.
Note that while my cup didn't leak per se, I did find that a tiny amount of fluid would sometimes sneak downward, presumably because it was kicking around below the inserted cup. Given this, I did feel a little more comfortable wearing a pantyliner during the heaviest parts of my period. This will likely be something that improves as I continue getting used to the product, however.
Of all the stages, I'd say I find removal the most awkward. While it's not incredibly difficult or messy per se, it does take a little getting used to. First of all, the inclination is to pull the stem, however this isn't effective. You need to grab the base of the cup, pinch it and wiggle it a little to break the suction before the whole thing can be pulled out. I found this part a tad uncomfortable at first, but it got easier with each subsequent attempt. Second, as you're guiding it out you need to be careful to keep it upright so the fluid stays inside. Again, not an arduous task but something which requires a bit more focus than removing an absorbent device (i.e. a tampon).
This part is super-easy! To reuse, simply dump existing fluid down the toilet, wash with a natural, non-fragrance soap, rinse and you're good to go! DivaCup sells a product called The DivaWash for this purpose, however I didn't have this myself so I decided to use my daughter's body wash which appears to be working well. I've read some comments that the holes just under the rim of the cup can get clogged quite easily so special attention needs to be paid to these, however I haven't noticed a problem with this myself yet. In the event they do become clogged, a procedure for dislodging the residue is described within the Cleaning and Care section of the product's FAQs page.
While I haven't run into the following scenario, I could see the cleaning process becoming a bit awkward if a change was required in a non-empty public bathroom. I mean, most women would probably rather not deal with those inevitable curious/odd glances, though some might look at is as an educational opportunity. (I'd fall into the former group myself most often, though might dabble in the latter when feeling particularly peppy. :) In any case, carrying a small container of natural wash is a good idea for those occasions when you do need to do a public change, so that you're not forced to choose between the always-questionable bathroom soap and a water-only cleanse.
All in all, based on my limited experience so far, I am definitely pleased with The DivaCup. I have found that it performs well, is easy to care for and the learning curve was surprisingly gentle. And it's great knowing that I'm no longer exposing myself to potentially dangerous chemicals and throwing out unnecessary waste with every change. I'll definitely continue using this as my go-to "monthly solution" and will recommend it to other women looking for an alternative to 'sposies.
Before closing things out, a few comments on cost savings. The DivaCup retails for about $39.99, and the manufacturer's suggestion is to replace it once/year given it is a personal hygience product. Prior to The DivaCup, I'd estimate I was spending $6-7/month on disposable products, or around $80/year. So assuming I do replace it every year, I'm already cutting my costs in this area by close to 50%. That said, given the replacement guidelines are fairly conservative, my guess is that with proper care and maintenance, I could reuse the same cup for 1.5-2 years or longer, in which case costs savings increase up to 75% (or more). That's pretty sweet, as I'd consider saving $$ a fringe benefit on top of the more pertinent health and environmental benefits inherent in making this switch. The DivaCup website actually suggests that the average woman spends closer to $150-200/year on disposable products, which could again reflect that my own flow is lower than average (and/or that I do a particularly good job of sourcing out bargains ;). In any case, however you slice it you're definitely going to save money making this switch!
To purchase a DivaCup of your own, visit the "Buy Now" section of their website where you can view a list of online retailers and find a store in your area.
One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a DivaCup + storage bag of their own! Winner selects size.
To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Diva International. I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge. This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.