Bye Bye Bad Periods…Hello DivaCup!

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{Disclosure: I was given a DivaCup Model 2 to review in order to write this post. I was not paid for my review, or endorsement, of this product, nor was I asked to write a positive review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.}

I have always had a hard time with my periods, even before I was diagnosed with a clotting disorder, antiphospholipid syndrome, in 2012. My menstrual cycle has always been heavy, painful, sudden to start, irregular and generally wreaks havoc on my emotions. If I could bury myself in a dirt hole for the duration of my cycle, I would, gladly to spare myself and others the misery of my company. Since my diagnosis, my periods have only gotten worse and while I do have months that are uneventful, my body seems to make up for it the next time with a period like no other.

Throughout the pre-blood clot years of my menstrual cycle, I almost exclusively wore pads (Always, extra long, overnight, jumbo pack) and I continued wearing pads after my blood clot.

My Problem

In the initial months (read first year) of my recovery from DVT and PE, I found that my menstrual cycle was nearly unmanageable in terms of flow. I rarely left the house during my period and if I did, I went armed with a stack of pads (which I changed hourly). I planned out where I was going to go and when I was going to use the restroom. I couldn’t be gone for very long, and I certainly couldn’t do anything spontaneous like drive to another store or friend’s house because I was uncertain of how long it might take. I wore dark pants, multiple pairs of panties and cursed my light car interior. I didn’t sit on anyone’s furniture, as a matter of fact, sometimes I didn’t sit at all for fear of leak.

Flash forward to now, three years after my clotting incident, and my periods are still really heavy, can happen out of nowhere, with no pre-symptoms, and last for an extended period of time. Sometimes, I get a day or two of relief and then it starts all over again. Just when I think it is under control – I tried to wear a tampon at a festival this summer – I am back to running for the car so I can rush home and take care of the leak (by staying in my bed for the next four days). The emotional turmoil and anxiety I feel during my cycle every month is in part due to the fear I have of leaking at work, a friend or relative’s house or anywhere that is not my own room – and even that can result in a fit of tears and anger. It’s miserable, I’m miserable and desperate for relief. 

My Solution 

First and foremost, I was in constant communication with not only my hematologist, but my OBGYN too about my flow and frequency of periods. My OBGYN told me that remaining on warfarin and progestin-only birth control and aspirin will continue to contribute to a heavy flow. He ensured nothing else was going on (i.e. cervical cancer, a miscarriage, etc.) and informed me that my options for controlling the flow included a contraceptive implant, which is not an option I am comfortable with personally. So, after ruling out any medical concerns, I began my search for something to offer the relief I so desperately sought.

What I found is the DivaCup. And the DivaCup is a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally (yes, in your vagina), collecting rather than absorbing your menstrual flow. It lasts for 10-12 hours before it needs emptied, is comfortable, holds my entire flow in a day (no, I’m not kidding either), and is cheaper and healthier than traditional menstrual products like pads and tampons. Wait, wait, it’s gross, right? Hear me out before you make a determination about how sanitary it is and enter to win your own DivaCup to try for yourself.

Cup-Pouch

The Basics

The DivaCup costs around $40 and you can find it online or now at CVS. It is not disposable and you should only need to replace it about once a year, or when it is best as determined by you. It offers 10-12 hour leak-free protection and is made of health-grade silicone. It really holds my entire flow, and I actually found thorough the measurements on the side of the cup that I was not bleeding as much as I thought I was. It comes in two sizes, 1 if you are under 30 and have not had a vaginal delivery or C-Section and 2 if you are over 30 and/or have delivered a child(ren) vaginally or via C-Section. You wear it when you use the restroom, but not during sexual intercourse and it is not a contraceptive device. You wash it using a mild, unscented soap, or the DivaWash, which I prefer to use. Read more details about the DivaCup basics.

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The Pros

I have not leaked at all while wearing the DivaCup, not once, not for the entire 11 or so hours I wore it during heavy flow. The first time I tried the DivaCup I wore it on the heaviest day of my menstrual flow and I was really worried about it, but I did not have any leaks. That to me is worth the entire product. Toward the end of the day, I will say I felt the DivaCup slide down slightly, but it did not leak or spill and I adjusted it upon emptying it. Most people empty it 2-3 times a day, but you may need to empty your DivaCup more often depending on your flow. The great thing about is it is much easier to monitor your menstruation cycle. I don’t have to worry about carrying a bag of pads with me anymore, the DivaCup comes with a discreet cloth bag that I store it in after cleaning and generally I carry it in my cosmetic bags in case of emergency or a sudden start. It’s always available and I’m no longer running to the store at midnight or on my lunch break, praying I make it there and back in time. I save money using the DivaCup (an average of $100-$150 a year) and I am healthier. The last thing I need is a possible health complication, for example, from the ingredients found in tampons.

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The DivaCup has given me back a piece of my self-esteem and self-confidence when it comes to my menstrual cycle. I no longer worry about leaks, stains, unsanitary messes and where will be the next time I need to change my feminine product because the DivaCup holds my entire flow in a day. My periods have become more manageable because they are not managing me for once! I feel like a new woman using the DivaCup.    

The Cons

Wearing a cup is different from wearing a pad or a tampon and it took me a few tries to be able to insert it correctly (although, with practice, it is not too much different from a tampon and I struggled with that at first too). I suggest either wearing a pad with it at first to ensure you have it inserted correctly or wear it in a place (like home) where you know you can handle it right away if you feel a leak. For me, it is very easy to tell if I have the DivaCup placed incorrectly because, much like a tampon, I can feel it. Most of the incorrect positioning comes from pushing it up into the vaginal canal, instead of back, towards the tailbone. You can find great instructions on how to insert it here and the Diva Team is more than happy to help with questions, should you have any. At $50-$55 for the cup and the wash (or about $40 for the cup), it can be expensive to get started, but remember, you are saving money in the long run. Most ladies I have spoken to are most worried about emptying the cup, but when you remove it by pulling is straight down, the contents do not spill out and are easily disposed of in the toilet (then wash the DivaCup in the sink with the DivaWash or mild, unscented soap). The inconvenient part is it is not practical to empty it in a public restroom so I make sure I do that somewhere where I feel comfortable, like my house. To me, it is more sanitary than removing a pad (where the contents are already outside of your body) or a tampon (where there is no container at all). I actually feel cleaner using the DivaCup.

Just For You

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There is hope for healing and you are not alone,

0-BLOG SIGNATURE SARA

Comments

  1. I’ve heard a lot about this. I’m glad to hear your thoughts!

  2. Great information! I have Prothrombin Gene Mutation so I get no help from any other hormones but my own & that results in uncontrolled & unpredictable lady time. I hate doing anything that results in a public restroom or other than sitting upright. This seems like an interesting product to check on.

  3. Thank you Sara for the information! As a lifer on thinners my menstrual cycle is something I dread. And changing pads or tampons while at kids sporting events is unsanitary and nerve racking. I am very interested in the divacup now.

  4. Thank you for your candid review, Sara! A family member of mine recently switched to the Diva Cup because she was moving abroad to a place that had different products than what we are used to in the U.S. Her word for it – “Liberating!” I may have to try this now, as I am tired of frequent product changes throughout the day.

  5. I didn’t really find any posts dealing with just periods so I’ll just ask this here:

    Before I was diagnosed with the pulmonary emboli I was using birth control (just ‘the pill’) to control my heavy, irregular, and never ending periods. I was diagnosed with PCOS (why I started the BC) so I also take metformin to help with that. I do not have any of the typical ovarian cysts that tend to go along with PCOS.

    The problem I face now is that the heavy, irregular, and never ending periods are back (after a few month’s hiatus), and I can’t take the birth control (while we have ruled out the BC as the likely cause, since I had been on it for 10 years without problems) because the emboli were diagnosed as ‘unprovoked’.

    I am deathly afraid that my choices will be “live with it” or some kind of surgery that would render me officially unable to bear children (which is already quite likely because of the PCOS). I cannot imagine living my life with never ending or very extended and heavy periods – as it is I already suspect I am anemic (I’ve been craving hamburgers and other red meats like you wouldn’t believe) – but I also very much want children in the future, even if it means shots of blood thinners everyday for 9 months.

    Has anybody heard about or know first hand what the typical SOP would be in this kind of situation? What my options are for stopping the awful periods while taking warfarin and maintaining the chance I could have children?

    • I just wanted to follow up since I saw my OB/GYN today. The choices are an IUD or depo-provera (shots)- either of these can lighten periods and, after a certain amount of time, some women will even stop having a period all together. Both of these things I look forward to! These are progestin-only choices and thus are a good option for people currently using anti-coagulation therapy (warfarin or other blood thinners). They are also both not permanent so if you choose to stop the treatment to try having children you can (it does take a bit of time before regular fertility/cycles are restored).

  6. Rachel Sullivan says:

    Thank you Sarah! I started on blood thinners when I was 10, and my period was always a nightmare. I have an IUD, but I still have breakthrough bleeding, sometimes for weeks at a time! This post was very helpful.

  7. I would just like to note that, as someone who already had heavy periods prior to using my diva cup and prior to my pulmonary embolism, I still experience leaking with the cup inserted correctly, especially now on blood thinners. The author’s experience doesn’t seem to be the norm for heavy periods. It’s the same as wearing a tampon–you can leak through with enough blood. Wearing a panty liner or pad while wearing a diva cup on heavy flow days can offer more protection. I will say I still much prefer diva cups to tampons because they are less wasteful, but emptying a diva cup in public restrooms with stalls (which sometimes is a necessity) can be tricky.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I do appreciate hearing another experience. As the author of this post, I truly do not experience leaks with the cup – as long as I insert it correctly – which is why I continue to use it. 🙂 If my period is extremely heavy, I may need to change it during the day, which I agree is best to do at home, but I still don’t experience leaks. As they say, every experience is completely different – and all of us are normal. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. It’s great to chat with you.

    • I agree with Beasly. I’ve been using the Diva cup for 11 years now and love it. On heavy days, especially now with blood thinners, it will overflow in a matter of hours (can’t imagine trying to control this much flow with tampons or pads). I ALWAYS wear a liner with the cup because there can be staining just from changing out the cup (not leaks).
      Regarding public restrooms: sometimes you will not have a choice and will need to empty the cup in a public restroom stall. Take several soaked paper towels in with you to do a basic wipe out of the cup (and yourself) and you will be fine for hours until you can wash out the cup properly at home.
      Also, I have not needed to replace the cup annually. If you wash it daily and boil it after a full menses, it will last for years.

  8. I literally found out about the diva cup on Tuesday, bought one on Wednesday, my period started on Thursday and Thursday was my Pulmonary Embolism too. Since being on the anticoagulant, my period is definitely heavier and less clotty now. I will definitely discuss this with my hematologist! I haven’t used the diva since then because my arm and neck are still sore

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