I’m looking at getting myself a Diva Cup for a solstice gift, but I have a few questions. First, how long do they last? I always thought they were pretty indestructible, but someone told me that I have to replace it every year. And second, how should I take care of it so that it lasts? As a girl of the modern world, I have to admit that I like just being able to toss my used tampon in the trash and not think about it. I don’t mind a little work, but honestly I don’t have the drive to really invest a lot of time in my menstruation. Tell me what I need to know! I’m almost due to bleed and I want to be ready.

Thanks much,
Aunt Flo’s favorite niece

Dear Niece,

While I can’t argue with the convenience of toss-and-go period products, I’m glad that you’re looking at alternatives. If you, like most people, use about 20 tampons per period, you’ll throw away about 250 to 300 pounds of menstrual waste in your lifetime. That’s a lot of garbage! If you can find a reusable, silicone menstrual cup that works well for you, it’s a very easy way to reduce your impact on the environment.

It’s also good to note that silicone is a body safe material, and less likely to cause allergies or other reactions. While a lot of people use commercial pads and tampons for years with few issues, it’s still good to minimize our exposure to the bleach and dioxins that those products contain. (Dioxins belong to a group of pollutants known as the “dirty dozen,” and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.)

The Diva Cup may well be the best known of the menstrual cups, but it’s not the only choice out there. My current cup crush is the Fun Cup from Fun Factory. They come in a two pack, are contoured to fit the anatomy of a vagina, and are so colorful! There are several other brands too, all with variations in size and shape. Somewhere, you’re bound to find a cup that meets your needs.

One of the best things about menstrual cups is that they hold about 12 hours worth of blood. You only have to empty twice every 24 hours. Taking care of silicone menstrual cups is super easy, too! While some silicone cup manufacturers will recommend replacing your cup every year, this isn’t usually necessary. I know people who have had their cups for seven to 10 years with no problem. As long as it still holds blood, you don’t need to replace it. The clear silicone cups (like the Diva Cup) will likely discolor eventually, but they’re still safe to us. To care for it, rinse it well every time you dump it out. You’ll also want to wash it (with any soap you’d feel comfortable using on your face) a couple of times during your cycle. And between cycles, boil it once for about three minutes. Most cups come with a cloth bag to store it between periods. Overall, the move to a reusable, silicone menstrual cup has really tangible benefits to your health, your pocketbook, and the environment.

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her a question at [email protected] and she’ll get back to you with an answer.

About The Author

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Lucky Tomaszek, LM, CPM, is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee's only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Most mornings you can find her balancing her cat and her keyboard in her lap, working to make the world a smarter, safer place for people of all genders and orientations.