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Monday, September 20, 2021

Column: Here’s to Divas

Alright, readers. I’m going to lay it out simply: this column is going to be about menstruation and alternatives to the conventional attitudes and methods of “dealing with” periods.

Wait…did you just hear that? …hear what? The sound of uncomfortable readers all over campus hurriedly putting the paper down. Or perhaps, was it the sound of their interest being piqued by the taboo topic?

It’s really quite a shame that menstruation has become so hush-hush. Scientists say that about one in two people menstruates. Statistically, that means it is pretty common. I know tons of people who do it. Heck, I’ve been known to do it every so often.

Omg…did she just admit to menstruating…

Humor aside, menstruation is simply a biological process that need not be a source of embarrassment, shame or uncontrollable blushing. We can hold our “icks” and “ews” in favor of a more mature look at the female reproductive cycle. After all, neither of us would be here without it. If we can allow our discomfort to dissolve, we can start to discuss menstruation openly and even begin to celebrate it.

Let’s open that door. The taboo around menstruation has left us a bounty of conversational fodder.

Have you ever heard of the Diva Cup? I’m not surprised if you haven’t. It is a reusable silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual blood.

Wait…what? INSIDE the vagina?

You read right! With a bit of practice, it is quickly and easily inserted into the vagina and can remain there for up to twelve hours. A woman can then remove and empty it according to need.

Let’s gauge your initial reaction to this. Are you disgusted? Are you uncomfortable? Are you fascinated? Maybe you have had that moment in the feminine hygiene aisle while glancing over all the options that promise scent-free! embarrassment-free! periods and suddenly you see moon pads?! Diva cups?! WTF?!

You are amused. You are laughing quietly to yourself lest the old hippie lady down the aisle be offended. You can’t believe these sort of products exist amidst the freedom tampons promise the modern woman. That is exactly how I reacted before I learned more about these options, too.

But, I suppose curiosity got the best of me. Or perhaps the hassle of carrying tampons around finally exhausted my pre-menstrual patience, and I ran to my nearest progressive grocery store to make an honest woman of myself.

I’ve been using a Diva Cup for over a year now, and let me tell you … it’s been splendid. There is no waste production involved. Every single tampon and pad that has ever been used is still somewhere, still used. Because we don’t see it in the United States, we often don’t think about the waste women’s monthly cycles create. Other countries that lack such waste disposal infrastructure, such as India, have not constructed the mindset that tampons and pads are necessary. Thus, women do not use such disposable options.

I’ve also never been one to trust industry to keep harmful chemicals out of my consumer products. Switching to a Diva Cup meant that I could stop wondering if the heavy application of pesticides on cotton crops were getting into my tampons and thus my nice parts. Chemical sensitivities to tampons and pads aren’t that uncommon, and it’s more relaxing to simply eliminate the question of risk completely.

Perhaps most convincing, though, is the simplicity of it all. Buying tampons is annoying. Carrying tampons is annoying. Disposing of tampons is annoying. Periods need not be so inconvenient.

But you know what is convenient? Carrying everything I need to address menstruation in my vagina. Is there a more discreet traveling case? I think not.

I know Diva Cups are strange, unknown and a bit frightening for that reason, but I’ve known no woman who has tried one and disliked it. For that matter, nearly all these same women will talk at length as to why Diva Cups are the best way to menstruate. A Diva Cup retails for $40, which at first seems a bit shocking. But now think to the cost of tampons and pads over a three- to five-year period, and the shock wears off.

Every woman who starts using a Diva Cup is confronted with the logistics of it all, but it really is quite manageable. Periods become much less of a pain and more of a celebratory cycle.

If you don’t believe me, try for yourself.

To excitedly announce that you too have become a diva, email ELLI PEARSON at erpearson@ucdavis.edu.

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