Some women choose to use menstrual cups, such as the DivaCup and the Instead Softcup, rather than tampons or pads. The Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health reports that possibly the first commercial menstrual cup was released in the 1930s. The design of this menstrual cup resembled subsequent reusable models, including the DivaCup, released in 2003. The Instead Softcup was first released in 1996.
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The DivaCup and the Instead Softcup function in essentially the same way. When using either menstrual cup, insert it into your vagina so that it sits below your cervix and can collect menstrual flow. You remove the cup to empty its contents. The Instead Softcup is disposable and intended for single use only. You can reuse the DivaCup. After emptying it, wash it with water and a mild cleanser before reinsertion. The DivaCup website recommends boiling the device for 20 minutes at the end of each cycle. You can keep the Instead Softcup or the DivaCup inserted for up to 12 hours, according to their websites. The DivaCup manufacturer suggests that users replace the device yearly.
The Instead Softcup website states that the device is made with polyethylene and mineral oil. The Softcup is flexible and resembles a diaphragm. The DivaCup is made of silicone and shaped like a bell, with a short stem at the bottom to facilitate removal. The Instead Softcup is “one size fits most,” and the DivaCup comes in two sizes. Your DivaCup size depends on your age and whether you have ever given birth.
The Center for Young Women’s Health states that the DivaCup sells for approximately $35, as of 2010. You can find the device in retail stores or order it online. You can purchase a 24-count box of Instead SoftCups directly from the official website for around $10. Some stores also sell SoftCups. Though the immediate cost of the DivaCup is higher, this may be mitigated by the fact that it is reusable.
Both devices are easily portable, comfortable for most women and safe to use. The websites for both cups explain that menstrual cups are not linked to toxic shock syndrome. You can use the Instead SoftCup or the DivaCup for a greater length of time than a tampon or pad. The Instead website asserts that some women can comfortably use the SoftCup during sexual intercourse. Though you cannot use the DivaCup during intercourse, some women may choose it over the SoftCup because they feel that using a reusable cup is more environmentally responsible.
You may have difficulty inserting or removing the Instead SoftCup or the DivaCup. Both devices can be somewhat messy during insertion or removal, and they may leak if not inserted properly. You may have difficulty using the DivaCup in public restrooms, because you must wash it between reinserting it.