Of Sea Pearls and Diva Cups: an Honest Review of Eco Feminine Hygiene Products

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The curse, Aunt Flo, crimson wave, the rag, that time of the month – sound vaguely familiar? For centuries women have been shushed and shamed and told it was inappropriate to discuss – but if you ask me our ability to create a life is amazing. So here at EcoSalon, let’s just use the word “period”, period.

I was 14 when my first period announced itself, and to be honest, I wanted nothing of it. A tomboy and athlete and the last girl in my 8th grade class to wear makeup or a bra, I had no interest in becoming a “woman”. And no, I didn’t celebrate by lighting candles and singing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” as my mom cried tears of joy and shared with me her pearls of female wisdom. Instead, I reluctantly took the tampon from her hand, headed to the loo and spent the next two hours (or what seemed like two hours) trying to figure it all out. I emerged successful, but only because I was on a mission. The next day was a Saturday, as well as my best friend’s birthday party – a swim party. Need I say more?

To wit, I’m committed to making as many green lifestyle changes as one girl can make, and I’m happy to be first in line to try the latest gadget or idea in the spirit of eco-friendliness”¦but I reserve the right to draw a line in the eco-sand.

The idea of a silicone cup (DivaCup) that “catches” my flow for up to 12 hours before it needs to be replaced (or rather removed, emptied and cleaned)”¦well, let’s just say I wasn’t eager. But before the environmental police or eco-gods or whoever keeps track of these things, prepare to hang me upside down over the nearest landfill – please know that I gave it my best eco-effort.

And I tried only because the benefits of reusable rubber or silicone are so significant:

1. The “cups” can last up to 10 years (at what point do they become vintage?), which means less waste from disposed products and packaging. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t passionately support lessening the load on landfills; and

2. Spending only $33 over 10 years versus $8 for a box of 40 once a month? Can you say extra cash?

The plethora of supportive testimonials read like a high school pep cheer – “give me a D, give me an I, give me a V“¦.what does that spell? DIVA!” They are full of supportive and helpful suggestions for the newbie, and the positive reviews far outweigh the negatives”¦

“¦but I walk a fine line between my eco-sensitivities and my need for comfort, convenience and hygiene. The DivaCup┞¢ (or The Keeper or Moon Cup) just isn’t for me.

I also tried the Sea Pearls natural sea sponge tampon, celebrated for its comfort, sustainability, reusability and all-natural fibers (without Dioxin or other artificial chemicals). At $16 for a pack of two, it will also save you money.

In summary, and without getting too specific, the issues I had with the aforementioned alternatives included discomfort (not hmm this feels different, but ouch this is annoying), a number of “accidents” and plain old-fashioned ickiness, especially at work or a meeting or the mall or someone else’s home.

This is one eco-change that doesn’t work for me, at least not today. But let’s give a big round of applause to the converts among us – their persistence and commitment are admirable. But not every eco-option works for every eco-chick, and I’m here to throw some support her way as well.

I, for one, intend to continue using this or this eco-option.

Image: mikecpeck

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8 comments

  1. Sarah I · · Reply

    Ok, I’ll be the first to step up and say I love my Diva Cup, I’ve had it for about 3 years now, and it’s made my menstrual life infinitely tidier and easier. Let’s just say I’m not squeamish about my beautiful body and the natural fluids that come from it. Also, I have been using washable cloth pads for about 7 years, and they’ve worked well for me too. I use organic cotton tampons and unbleached cotton liners when I’m traveling and the Diva Cup and cloth pads just aren’t convenient. Anyway, I think the big lesson is, don’t be grossed out by your body! It’s a pretty amazing, beautiful thing!

  2. Ohhhh, the horror of my first period. I remember it so clearly: a hot Friday in 8th grade, and Bob Zurinsky’s (yes, you, Bob Zurinsky!) endless teasing. For some reason he had decided to pester me all day long – and naturally, we were on a school field trip and the talent show was that very night. Fabulous day all around for one very confused, grumpy, uncomfortable girl. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so out of it! 🙂

    Later, boy, did I ever find out. I finally worked up the courage to tell Mom and she was thrilled, which only furthered my irritation. While she enthusiastically whipped out the box of non-dyed cotton tampons to explain it all, I kept saying “Nooooo! I don’t want it! Put it back!” And I wasn’t talking about the tampons. 😉

    My sense of outrage only worsened when dear old Dad awkwardly patted me on the back and handed me a box of donuts. Huh?

  3. Sarah I · · Reply

    Sara: A box of donuts!?! That’s hilarious.

    Yeah my first experience with tampons was quite confusing. I was at a friend’s house and had to finally go ask her mom to explain to me how it actually worked. She handed me a mirror with a sweet chuckle and gave me some very concise, intelligent instructions so I could go back and try again. She was European and not at all squeamish, so it was nice to have her support in that awkward moment!

  4. What’s with the American squeamishness? I personally refuse to subscribe to women’s magazines because they insist on referring to our body parts with insulting euphemisms like “down there”. “5 Signs There’s Trouble Down There!”

  5. Linda · · Reply

    OMG! 26 yrs. ago I inadvertently began using my rubber diaphragm (old school birth control) as what is now called a Diva Cup…I could have sex while menstruating without the mess. Amazing how if you live long enough everything comes around again.

  6. i wouldn’t give up on menstrual cups so easily.. personally, i find mine way less disgusting than pads, and definitely less than so tampons. there’s something freeing about just rinsing it out rather than being left staring at a bloodsoaked lump of bleached cotton.. i don’t understand what is inconvenient about a cup, really. i’m pretty evangelical about mine, it’s true, but this review is seriously lacking in.. well.. review. (especially considering the self-congratulatory ‘we at ecosalon aren’t afraid to speak frankly’ paragraph that it opens with.) why bother to review something if you’re too squeamish to say more than ‘not for me’?

  7. Hi “s” – thanks for sharing your own views about the alternatives we can choose from. As for your criticism, I encourage feedback on posts, but kindly ask that you think through your criticism and consider sharing your disappointment in a way that is positive rather than negative. Constructive comments, rather than negative ones that make assumptions about the writer, are much more helpful in contributing to a meaningful conversation. I know we’ll all look forward to your positive criticism in the future!

  8. […] Shaped like a bell with a stem for for pulling it out, the DivaCup forms a seal with your vaginal wall which allows the cup to catch your flow. The new ones are made from medical-grade silicone. The sides fold and the cup is flexible, allowing you to bend it when you insert it. They hold about one ounce of blood and should be emptied carefully every 6 to 12 hours. The cups cost between $30 and $40 and can last for up to 10 years with proper care. Kim wasn’t such a fan of the DivaCup, however – read her review. […]

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