Seriously guys, this is girl talk... best be moving on...
I have found a fabulous, low-cost, minimal environmental-impact way of handling my menstrual cycle.
If you have never heard of the Diva Cup, or Moon Cup in the UK, let me educate you. The Cup is a silicone, reusable cup that you insert much like a tampon. About every 12 hours (more-frequently if you're having a heavy month), remove, empty, rinse/wash, and re-insert. After each cycle, give it a boil. No monthly run to the drugstore, no more flushing tampons down the toilet, no wrapping soiled pads.
For anyone who has never used one, you probably have a lot of questions... is it messy? will it fit me? what can I do or not do while wearing it? how do I handle using one in a public restroom stall? what about health concerns? Trust me, you are not the only ones who have had these questions. Diva Cup's website has a fabulous FAQ that answers just about every question you might have, so I do recommend reading up to get your specific questions answered.
In the meantime, I'll give you the practical bits of info to help you get started... don't be squeamish, cuz I'll get descriptive.
Is it messy? Number one concern. Ever.
There will be an adjustment period as you get used to the proper insertion technique (ie, you might have some leakage to deal with). So don't throw away those panty liners just yet... you'll want to have them as a back-up for the first few cycles.
When inserting the cup, there is usually very little messiness involve. Of course, always wash your hands after, but it's not bad otherwise.
When removing the cup, I find it's best to do while actually seated (just slide back a bit on the seat) so you can remove and dump without risking drips elsewhere in the bathroom; use a piece of tissue to set it aside for the rinse/wash. Clean yourself, do your business, etc. Then wash your cup and re-insert while wet. Doing all this in a shower is certainly feasible too.
As for changing the cup in a public restroom stall, while camping, etc... on those very few occasions I ever actually have to deal with that, I carry a small pack of toddler wipes with me; they are moist and flushable (please note that Diva does not recommend "pre-moistened wipes" on their website, as they may damage silicone, and some parents complain that "flushable wipes" are not very flushable... so take my advice at your own risk!). I remove and dump, then wipe it off with the wipes. I hold it in one hand while cleaning myself. Then I reinsert and use another wipe or two to clean my hands. Another wipe on the seat (hell, before too) if necessary. Do a courtesy flush mid-way if you're worried all those wipes will clog the toilet!
As their website says, changing more frequently than 12 hours is a personal, flow-related decision. I find that for 95% of my cycles, I am near a private restroom during those two times a day I remove and clean the cup, thus having more flexibility to set the cup down and rinse off in a sink (clean up behind yourself!). That other 5% of the time, prepare with wipes, or bring those few leftover tampons you have to get through.
Is it hard to insert? Will it fit me?
There are two sizes, mainly based on age and whether or not you've birthed children. I've never heard of anyone having terrible difficulty with the size that the company recommends.
As for insertion, it is similar to inserting a tampon, in terms of angling toward the tailbone. You'll want to fold the cup, much like how your tongue looks when you hot-dog it. A pinch along the side will help keep that fold, and then you can use the bottom of the curve to slide up and in. There is a stem which you can use to help push it in a bit further until it is comfortable. I find that the fold does not immediately pop open, so a few minutes later I'll feel a little butterfly as the cup fully opens. If the stem is too long, you can trim it, but keep in mind that it is your primary grip for removal, so you'll want it to be long enough to grab.
If it's not in far enough, you will know... you'll feel the base of the cup (not to mention the pokey stem) when you sit. No worries, just push it in a bit more. And if it's in too far, it'll be hard to get hold of. But from my experience it's really hard to get it in so far that you can't get it out.
It does take getting used to, and there may be some leakage if it doesn't settle in correctly. But it is fairly easy to get the hang of and there is nothing saying you can't practice during other times of the month!
How/how often do you clean it?
During the cycle, rinse or wipe during each removal/insertion. You can use mild soaps, but nothing harsh or abrasive to silicone. Please reference the list in the Diva FAQ's of cleansers they do not recommend. (Note they do NOT recommend using pre-moistened wipes; I believe there is a difference between pre-moistened towelettes and the toddler wipes and feel comfortable using the toddler wipes as infrequently as I do.) They also sell a cleaner of their own.
There are tiny holes along the rim that allow for air flow. These need to be kept clear, so keep a toothpick handy for that if necessary. I normally check thoroughly between cycles, unless I have a particularly heavy cycle or see a problem on a visual check. To check for certain if they are clogged: fill the cup with water, top it with your palm to seal it, flip it over, and gently squeeze. If the water comes out of the holes, they are clear. If not, break out your toothpick.
After each cycle, boil it for 5-10 minutes to completely sterilize it.
You may find some discoloration over time, but the boiling and a gentle scrubbing with an old toothbrush (for this purpose only!) will help remove any residue.
Other than that, there's not much to it. New things are always a little scary, but I've been using the cup for 6-7 years now and have been very very happy with it!
For those that use the cup, do you have any other suggestions/advice? And now that the boys have left the room, are there any other topics or questions you ladies want to pose to the room?