Dear male readers: Why don’t you do yourselves a favor and sit this one out? There are some things you don’t want to know.
There’s a woman on Instagram who has a pic of a jelly jar full of her period blood. In the caption, she advises that giving your plants a “blood meal” is good for them.
There’s another woman who does #yonipainting. In case you didn’t know, “yoni” is another word for vulva. So that would make yoni painting, what, exactly? Does she paint her vagina? Does she paint with her vagina? No. This woman paints with her period blood. She’s #periodpositive.
Good for her.
Me? Not so fucking much.
I’ve never had dreams of harvesting my period blood for anything at all. But now, thanks to my new DivaCup, I have a whole relationship with my period blood. And also my yoni.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about “relationship” on some esoteric level, where I’m embracing my womanhood in a new way—I mean on a physical level, where I’m elbow-deep in my own bloody hoo-hah.
What is the DivaCup?
At age 47, my period is like the drunk party guest who just won’t leave. Not only do I not particularly welcome her presence, she makes a mess of everything and keeps me from just carrying on with my life. Every month it’s like, “You again? Fuuuuuuck.”
My guess is that she knows her days are numbered, so she’s decided to go out with a bang. I have one to two days every month where I feel just awful—almost like I have the flu—and I really don’t want to venture too far from a bathroom or get up too fast. I also usually have to get up at least once or twice in the middle of the night to deal with stuff.
These days, pads and tampons don’t always feel equal to the task.
Enter the DivaCup. This is a reusable silicone cup that you insert in your vagina and bleed into. You then empty it at least every 12 hours and then stick it back in. Simple concept, right?
Or so I thought.
Just hearing how this device worked definitely put me on notice that yes, this was going to be bloodier than changing my tampon. My friends who use this talk about how it gets you acquainted with your flow, because you see how much comes out when. Honestly, this was not information that has ever interested me in the least, but I was prepared to deal with it.
What I was not prepared for was basically having to fist my own vagina to get the damn thing in. And then … there were those precarious 10 minutes WHEN IT GOT STUCK and I had to talk myself out of a panic attack.
But … despite all that, I’m not ready to write this device off just yet. People online say that it takes a few cycles to perfect the insertion, so I’m willing to hang in there another month or two. Why? Because when it worked, it worked really well.
The gory deets
The DivaCup is about the size of a bathroom-sized Dixie cup, only it’s shaped sort of like a cone. It has a little “stem” on the bottom that you can use to grab and pull the device out.
Now, I know that vaginas are constructed to be resilient, but I found the DivaCup’s size a bit intimidating when I first took it out of the box. I was relieved to read you have to fold it up before you stick it in. Then, once it’s inserted, it opens back up to do its thing. This makes sense in theory.
But in practice it’s a whole different thing. Once you’ve gotten the thing inside of you, the directions say to turn the device 360 degrees to ensure it has opened all the way. Now I don’t have a lot experience with other people’s vaginas, but my vagina was not having this. At all. She was like “Let’s talk about my job description for a minute. I can suck things in. I can push things out. I cannot, however, rotate things.”
Still, I persisted. The directions are clear that you do NOT use the stem to rotate the cup, but rather grab the cup itself. Grabbing the bottom of the cup got me nowhere. I needed a little more leverage, but the top of the cup was well past my pubic bone. Trying to jam a couple of fingers INSIDE MY SKELETON to get close to the top of the cup was nearly impossible. Yes, the pubic bone expands when you’re going through childbirth, but otherwise, it’s just the size that it is.
So I gave up on the twist. Another option was to hold your vag walls back to let the thing expand. However, the whole point of a vagina is to be squeezey. You put something inside your vagina, and your vagina gives it a big old hug. What your vagina does not do is politely step back while you rearrange furniture inside of it. So this interaction was basically the equivalent of me yelling “Get your feet off the damn ottoman! I don’t have it where I want it yet!”
Finally, I decided to just assume it was open and hope for the best.
Things seemed to be going well for a while until I felt the cup spill inside of me. Yes. I felt it spill. Inside of my body. I mean, I was the worst waitress you ever saw back in my waitressing days, but this was an entirely new type of spill for me.
I popped into the can for a coochie check. Yes, my pad was wet, but not terribly so. Then I reached up to get the cup … and got my hand totally full of blood. It was like a teeny, tiny acting troupe was staging the shower scene from Carrie while simultaneously murdering a pig … in my vagina. I cleaned up and then proceeded to fish out Ms. Diva. (Ooooh. Should I name her Carrie? That’s probably not a very #periodpositive thing to do.)
Like Carrie, I expected to find my DivaCup empty and bereft. But there was some blood. I mean, not enough to paint a portrait or anything, but more than I expected. Apparently the spill wasn’t a total spill.
I decided to try again.
By this time, I had watched a few Youtube videos where people explain (but thankfully, do not demonstrate) how they insert their Divas. I decided to try a technique in which you short of shove it in part-way and then give it a little press to open it. Then you gently push it the rest of the way in while also sucking it into your vagina like a vacuum.
And … success! Total, complete success. Wore it for hours. No leakage. Yes, yes, yes!
And then … there was an issue.
I decided to remove Ms. Diva while in the shower (another recommendation from YouTubers). That’s when I discovered that apparently I was a little too vigorous with the vacuum action, because the cup was so far up my hoohah that I couldn’t get a solid grip. I could grab the stem, but then it would slip out of my fingers.
I took some deep breaths. I reminded myself that my vagina was basically a sealed unit so I didn’t have to panic about losing the cup in my uterus. I reminded myself that I had pooped a baby out of this very same vagina, so I must have some measure of talent at evicting things from my lady parts. I also reminded myself that, despite my earlier difficulties in inserting the DivaCup, vaginas are constructed to be tough old broads. She could take a punch if she needed to.
So after several more tries, I just had to get serious, strap on my proverbial mining helmet and get the fuck in there. I figured if the Thai navy SEAL unit could rescue that team of soccer players, I could certainly spelunk far enough into my own vagina to fish out some wayward silicone.
Two hands, ladies. Two. One as the speculum and one as the SEAL team. I knew my pelvic bone wasn’t going to open to help me out, but I got as many fingers past it as I could. And finally, Ms. Diva was out.
Was it traumatizing? Yes. Seriously … I came downstairs looking for chocolate right afterwards. What is the link between vaginas and chocolate? I don’t know. But I desperately needed some.
What did I do next?
Yep. Stuck it back in. I wore the damn thing for the next seven hours during a massive shopping trip in which I had to try on a rack full of clothes. Not a single leak on a very heavy day. Didn’t feel a thing. Came out with no problem. It was pretty awesome.
I generally only need heavy protection during the first 2-3 days of my period, so I went with the usual supplies for the rest of the week.
My final verdict
Yes, I will try it again next month. I had some trouble, but I think I know where I went wrong (tip: don’t vacuum stuff into your vagina). Like I said above, when it worked, it worked well.
This is definitely not the solution for everyone. You have to be patient, be willing to get very, very familiar with your own vagina, and you have to be willing to deal with a little mess until you figure out what you’re doing.
As for me, I’m willing to stick it out (or in, actually) for a few more cycles to see what happens. Once I get the hang of this, I’m hopeful that it will make my periods easier to manage. I love the idea of being able to go 12 hours without having to worry about pads or tampons.
I will report back. In the meantime, I hereby authorize anyone who read this far to go eat some chocolate. You’ve earned it.