I cannot rave enough about the diva cup. I think everyone should try them.
By this point, you are already nodding in agreement, shuddering in disgust or wondering what the fuck I'm talking about. The Diva Cup is a small silicone cup that is used to catch menstrual fluid in the vagina during menstruation. It is different than the Instead Cups - those are inserted much higher up, near the cervix and are not reusable. The Diva Cups are reusable (for years) and sit low in the vagina.
They are fantastic because they hold up to an ounce of fluid (for reference - an average period will contain 3-4 oz of fluid total) and can be worn for up to 12 hours before they need to be emptied and washed. They can be immediately reinserted. They can be worn at the beginning and end of the period as well, and because they are not absorbent like tampons, they don't create that awful dryness (and can decrease risks of TSS*). I have never had a leak with my cup, ever. If you have a heavier flow, you simply empty the cup oftener than every 12 hours. Cleaning them is easy - they are emptied into the toilet, washed with soap, reinserted and then boiled for 20 minutes after the last use at the end of the period. They can be rubbed down with alcohol as well for additional sterilization. They are extremely comfortable - even better than tampons. I cannot feel it at ALL. Since I started using it, my cramps have lessened in severity as well.
There is a bit of a learning curve to inserting them and removing them, especially if you've never used applicatorless tampons or alternatives to tampons (like sea sponges). But it's not hard and once you figure it out, it takes seconds. They are reusable, and because they are reusable, they are far less costly than pads and tampons (and new underwear). They are also green, because outside of the initial packaging - there is no packaging to dispose of and no waste product to dispose of.
It's funny because every single person I've ever talked to who has used them LOVES them. I'm sure there are dissatisfied customers out there, but I haven't met any yet.
Likewise, nearly everyone who learns of it and isn't already into eco-friendly things like cloth diapers or soap flakes and homemade vinegar based cleansers freaks out. They think it sounds messy, disgusting and gross. I think that's funny. I mean, I get it. Sticking fingers in your vag and putting in a cup and taking out a bloody cup must seem pretty gross. But the reality is that for me, it's been far less messy than tampons. First, no leaks. No drips. The outside of the cup is clean and it's easy to take out and simply dump into the toilet. Inserting it can potentially be a little messy, but again - no messier than inserting a tampon on a heavy flow day (applicator or no applicator). I don't get my fingers and hands all bloody like I did before. It's especially helpful if you have clots, imo, because the cup catches them rather than the clots leaking around the tampon, or worse - coming out with the tampon and getting all over everything because they don't really 'stick' to the tampon. Or any gushing when the tampon is removed - ick.
But then, I also know that I'm abnormal with a lot of this sort of stuff in that I am perfectly comfortable checking my cervix regularly and I'm the type to be interested in vaginal childbirth rather than disgusted and I want a mirror to watch my own deliveries when that time comes. I get genuinely puzzled by people who are grossed out by this stuff. It's just really foreign to me.
I mean, no judgements. Everyone is grossed out by different things and everyone finds a menstrual product they are loyal to - but this is mine. If you've never heard of it, I encourage you to check it out further at www.divacup.com - if you have and shudder - well, lol, that's ok too. But I promise it's not as icky as it sounds! It's made me a much happier person when it comes to periods. Far less to dread without mess and hassle.