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Green tampon alternatives

It's one of those nights when I'm glad no one's going to audit my browser history. Having recently started my cycle again after my last childbirth (a scary-long 22 months), I had been toying with the idea of trying the DivaCup. This month, I finally ran out of the large stock of tampons I'd amassed from before I became pregnant, but I was nervous to take the $34.99 plunge for a DivaCup, so I picked up a package of "Instead" softcups -- I'd never even heard of them before, but evidently they've been around since the mid-90s.

As I had in my head the concept of reducing waste, after the initial test-run I tried rinsing and re-using the Instead.  And so, I've been searching the 'net finding out if re-using temporary brands of softcup menstrual fluid holders is safe. (The manufacturer says "no," but the internet says "yes," as long as you just rinse with water and dispose of the cup when your cycle is complete.)

We've talked about softcups before, and it appears now there is an even greater variety of options out there. Lots of women seem to find them uncomfortable -- and I admit, the Instead wasn't the most natural thing I've ever felt down there (though a long run while wearing one went fine; cut to the stock shot for every tampon commercial, ooh, I should have been playing tennis and wearing white!). And 12 hours capacity? Not for this mama. More like 2-4 hours during my heavy flow. But, going with the one-per-cycle concept, it's the cheapest.

I've got another 28 days now to decide whether to stick with the Instead until my package runs out, buy a cup (which one?) or go Glad Rags (has anyone sewed their own cotton pads? seems simple enough). After much contemplation, cotton pads seems the gentlest on a body, while the DivaCup or similar seems the greenest (no cotton pads to wash). Are any of you considering making a greener change? What have you tried?

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I seriously love the DivaCup! I had a hard time getting myself to buy it but I did it and now I haven't spent money on my cycle in about a year! I forget that I'm on my period half the time because it's so comfortable once you get used to it. I'll have to buy a new one next year because I'm now pregnant with my first baby, but I will definitely be sticking with the DivaCup.

I 2nd the love for the Diva Cup. I LOVE not having to remember to stock up on tampons etc. I am only 5' and 100 lbs and was scared about the comfort of the fit. It looked so BIG to me! But I thought, hey, if I can birth an almost 7 lb baby I can deal with a little cup of silicone right?

Admittedly, I get tired of dealing with it by day 5 and switch to an organic cotton glad rag, but the combo works great and over time I know I will end up saving quite a bit of money.

I had a lot of leakage with Instead cups but loved the concept. Would love to switch to the DivaCup if there's a possibility that its design might work better. Anyone have this experience?

Wondering if I should make my comment anonymous... :) I'm a Diva Cup convert too. Bought one about a year after my 2nd baby was born. I started to breast feed less and my periods came back and I wanted something different. I'll admit that it took several cycles to get used to--both in terms of getting the fit right, as well as the routine of changing it. I referenced this discussion on Enviromom often: http://www.enviromom.com/2008/01/diva-love.html

It's been a year now, and I cannot imagine going back to pads or tampons. In fact, a month or two ago I was out of town when my period started and I had to wear tampons for a day or two and hated it. I've definitely learned a lot about my cycle, and I've gotten (even more!) familiar with my body--which might not be for everyone--but I think it's one of the better green options out there. I'd much rather deal with emptying and cleaning the cup (which I do in the shower and find it much easier) than be washing re-usable pads, which still just seems a little gross to me.

jm: I had a little leakage the first few months with the Diva Cup, until I figured out the right fit for my body. The experimentation was not fun--I questioned my desire to do my part for the planet on more than one occasion! But now that I've figured it out, I can generally get away with nothing other than the cup, although I do usually use a panty liner just in case...

OK, hoping my high school boyfriend is not reading this... :)

I love it, love it, love it. The cup, that is. :) I'm older (41) so I can actually go longer than 12 hours without changing it. I tried it a year or so ago, and thought it was a pain to change, but a friend convinced me that I should give it another go and that practice would make perfect. She was right! It's a piece of cake now. :)

I bought a diva cup about 10 years ago and I was so proud of my decision - made of natural rubber, yadayada. Right away it felt to me like a giant tampon, so uncomfortable, and after a couple of cycles it started to smell bad - even after many attempts to sterilize it. Gross! Glad rags just seem that much more messy to me so I've never used them.

So I switched to Instead (using the same cup through one whole cycle & then opening a new one the next month). It's much more comfortable once you figure out how to insert it correctly. It has to kind of "lock" in place - don't know how else to describe it :) I found that I could put it in and forget about it for 8 hours on normal-flow days.

I should correct myself: I didn't buy a Diva Cup, I bought a Keeper. The Diva Cup actually looks like it's made of much thinner material.

I've been using the Keeper since college (almost 10 years now, yipes), and love it! I would never go back to tampons. It took some getting used to, but now it feels totally normal to me. I haven't had any problems with weird smells, I wash it with warm water and soap each time I change it (usually in the shower) and it seems fine to me. I can't go 12 hours on my heaviest flow days, but can for the rest of my cycle.

Just wanted to mention there's several discussions of the Diva-Cup on thecrunchychicken blog: http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/search?q=diva

I've not made a move on this issue. In the last 5 years or so I developed an aversion to having things inside of me, and Glad Rags seem too messy, so I just use Naturecare pads. I guess this has some impact on the planet, but it's not my top concern, sorry! I do admire the move, though.

I have a question for the cup users. The changing it is what worries me. If you are changing it say 3 times a day or more on heavy flow days, how are you doing this in the shower? I just can't bath that much! And I am terrified that I will have to do something with it at work which is the main reason that I haven't taken the plung yet...

To answer the question of how to change a cup while out in public:
a) it is messy
b) you either get used to dealing to some degree with the fluid, or you don't, and go back to another option.
c) single person bathrooms are your friend. Pull cup, drain, rinse in sink and reinsert. In public stall type bathrooms, reinsert without the rinse, and dry hands with copious amount of pilling toilet paper, or hope you brought something like a hand wipe for remove visible traces of blood.
d) wash hands a lot.

I've used both Instead and the DivaCup, and I greatly prefer the cup for its easier removal-- you pull on a nipple like tip to remove. With Instead, you are angling around for the hard rim, which is sometimes a ... fishing... expedition.

I would never go back to tampons or paper pads. I love my Diva Cup and kick myself for not switching sooner. I also use glad rags. Way more comfortable. I have a VERY heavy flow so the first few days I am emptying the cup every few hours but I am at home and don't have to deal with the stall situation. I would carry wet wipes if that was the norm. It does take a few cycles to master but it's worth the effort!

There are several types of reusable menstrual cups. Check this out: http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups/648061.html

I used the original rubber Keeper for 8 years before having my first child. LOVED IT. At the time of purchase, it was the only one available in the U.S. When my cycle started again and I needed a larger cup, I decided to try out the Diva Cup. As an experienced cup user, I could not get a comfortable fit. It slipped out constantly which was incredibly inconvenient. I think my cervix is too low for the Diva. I'm now pregnant again and once my cycle comes back after this pregnancy, I'm going to purchase the silicone Keeper.

i happily used unbleached, organic cotton, applicator-free tampons for almost 2 decades. but in my early 30s, my periods started getting harder - far more significant cramping, heavier flow - and my acupunturist encouraged me to switch to pads. SOOOO much better for me. i didn't think tampons were making me uncomfortable, but they were certainly contributing.

now i use paper pads or cloth depending on the day, but i'd sure like to have options again. has anyone who had trouble with tampons found that they really like one of the cups?

I used a Keeper and a DivaCup, and while I love the idea of both, I found them to be pretty uncomfortable. For me they weren't big or anything, it was the little tab/stick thing on the end that you use to pull it out. It poked and chafed incessantly.

I switched to Glad Rags and haven't looked back. I used to just take apart the covers and inserts and just throw them in with my regular laundry. Now that I have a baby, I wash my pads with her diapers. Either way, it's an easy option and it doesn't result in any more laundry than I'd already be doing.

My vote is for the cloth pads, but from reading the comments above it sounds like the cups are great for a lot of ladies. Sounds like you may need to try both and see what works for you.

I used the keeper up until I had children, then I needed a bigger size and decided to switch to the Diva cup. But I think things have shifted and changed a lot for me down there, I can't tolerate either anymore. They also seem to contribute to UTI's, but that may just be me.

I use a sea sponge now, and I really love it. I sterilize it once at the beginning of my flow and then when I am done with it (I only use it for my heavy days, after that I use cloth pads). I take it out and rinse it throughout the day (I try not to have to do this in public restrooms because of the extra exposure to germs rather than my own discomfort of fluids...I felt the same way when I used the cups). It is a lot more comfy than the cups for me, and I really hate the leaky-feeling when I just use pads during heavy flow days.

I'm on my second keeper (been using it since college, says to replace at least every 10 years so that'll date me.) I found that post-baby, I leak more so I have to use a pantiliner now - wish I could find a fabric one instead of the bulky pads. But I love the freedom/comfort/savings. The only thing I'd add to above is that I trim the edges of the stem with a nail scissor so it's not so pokey, and I scrub it out with a brush and washcloth to avoid "weird smells". Except on my heaviest days I can change it every 12 hrs in the shower. Hey, I felt better about using disposable diapers because of all the maxipads I'd kept out of the landfill over the years!

I ditto Miss Kris, that I think my cervix is too low for the Diva Cup...I've tried it several times (have 2 kiddos) and it is not comfortable...BUT...thanks so much for this thread -- I learned about Sea Pearls: http://www.seapearls.co.uk/ and am hoping I can find them here...maybe at New Seasons???

Thanks, Sara! Carolyn

I bought my Diva cup at Amazon for about 18 dollars plus shipping. I loved instead-I am still trying to get used to my Diva cup.I like the idea of reusing the instead though!

I'm with the people who have posted that the Divacup doesn't fit quite right. I was patient and trimmed the stem and trimmed some more and tried to give myself time to get used to it. It wasn't as comfortable as tampons for me, but I'd been using tampons for over 20 years, so I thought I just needed to get used to it. I even flipped it inside out to make it shorter--more comfortable, but less capacity and I have heavy periods so it would leak, especially in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning. It was just plain messy! I was having to empty it every two - four hours--a complete pain when you're out and about. Tampons are not messy and are easy to change, at least for me. So . . . I've been thinking about buying a different brand but haven't taken the plunge yet. I'm annoyed with the Divacup sizing--I've had two 10 lb 4 oz babies and I'm over thirty, so I bought the larger size but it is just way to long. Not wide, but long. So I am back to tampons for the time being. If the Divacup fit better or maybe if my periods were lighter, I'd love it. Anyone have a tip for a cup that's shorter than the Divacup?

I bought the Moon Cup (from England) a few years ago. I love it, but it took me a few months to get used to it. I don't know if the sizes are different for it rather than the Diva.

Mirador also sells the sea pearls.

I love my Diva Cup. Really easy to use, and much less messy than a pad. I used a diaphram for years, for contraception, and this is much easier to insert and remove. Occasionally it gets into an uncomfortable position, but that is easily fixed.

As for sewing your own pads, that is super easy too- especially if you have a tool for snaps.

I bought a Lunette cup over the web 6 months ago after much research about dimensions and capacity. I have been kicking myself for not going for it sooner ever since! It certainly takes practice to perfect insertion but once you get folding techniques down it's smooth sailing.

After my second child my periods came back SO heavy and so obnoxious that I was routinely leaking through my clothes even while wearing super-ultra tampons and commercial maxipads. It was awful. But no longer a problem since I switched to combination of Glad Rags and the Keeper. A cup may not be great for the seriously squeamish, but I have found it extremely comfortable, mostly-leak free, and easy to use. Not spending money on tampons is also awesome.

Just an update, Mirador (on SE 21st and Division) does have the Sea Pearls for $18.

Has anyone had issues with their IUD and the Instead? I had one pull out while using it and am wondering if a cup would be any better. As of now I use mixture of paper, cloth and tampons if I want to swim.

I have decided that I am going to try the SeaPearls sea sponge tampons(www.jadeandpearl.com)...they are *supposedly* re-usable for up to 3 months (longer if they are well taken care of, up to a year!)AND! You can have 'non-nasty' sex while on your period! YAY!

I have searched and searched for something other than the cups and tampons and pads! Cups are uncomfortable(IMO), tampons jab when you sit, and pads rub and cause irritation...So, here goes nothin'

Been using sea sponge for first time. Only problem noticed was that it tends to get full of liquid (not just blood, but vaginal secretions) and when you bend, laugh, etc the sponge is squeezed inside and fluid leaks out, sometimes quite profusely. I recommend taking their word that it needs to be rinsed out every 3 hours, if only to wring the sucker out. Also, it is difficult to get it in high enough so that it is comfortable and not in danger of sliding out. I was also taken with the flu and forgot the damn thing was in there for nearly 24 hours - thing smelled horrible when I removed it. Yep. every 3 hours, ladies. Take my word for it.

The menstrual cup takes time to get used to, and requires you to be unafraid to poke around "down there" sometimes to take it out. The position of your cervix can affect the fit, and the cervix can be lower or higher at different times of day and times of your cycle. Although I use the Diva Cup, it would be nice to have a shorter cup for those times when things are...lower. A quick wash with a drop of Dr. Bronners cleans it. I do agree with the public bathroom rinsing issue--it irks me to use so much toilet paper, so I try to plan ahead. Disposable hand wipes seem like a good option. Good luck, everyone! And thanks for being so...well, honest!

new moon pads are the best for me. all one piece and they stay stuck to panties one i put them there. i tried the diva cup but the little pokey thing at the bottom that sticks out kept pinching and chafing and i couldnt stand it. new pads are the best but i have been thinking about the sea sponges.

tara, you can clip the stem on your diva cup. I had the same problem and trimmed mine. much better now.

Can you wear them at night? I suffer from the most crippling craps during the first two days and I have been using tampons for years. If they are the cause then I am considering the cup. But can they be worn all night?

What do you do if you are camping?

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