Diva Cup: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Tampons?

It's environmentally friendly, but is it a hassle or the next big thing?

My daughter recently informed me that she has said goodbye to tampons. She's opted for a reusable menstrual device called the Diva Cup, a small bell-shaped cup that's folded, inserted and worn low in the vaginal canal. It collects your menstrual discharge and then you remove it, clean it and reinsert it. She heard about it from a college friend and decided to give it a try. "I wanted something that would be better for the environment and didn't involve a lot of trash," she said. The economics also made sense to her. "I felt ridiculous spending $12.00 on a small box of tampons." The Diva Cup, manufactured by Diva International, Inc., retails for $39.50. The company recommends that it be replaced annually.

The FDA-approved Diva Cup isn't new. It was developed 80 years ago but fell out of fashion during the 1960s, when disposable products came onto the market. The company cites figures from waste consultant Franklin Associates that show in 1998, women in the U.S. disposed of an estimated 13.5 billion sanitary pads and 6.5 billion tampons. Carinne Chambers, company co-owner with her mother, says as more women look for ways to "green" their menstrual cycle, the Diva Cup is becoming extremely popular. She says the company has "hundreds of thousands of customers," along with 5,000 "likes" on Facebook.

But I couldn't get past the "ick" factor. After all, you need to be okay with removing a container of your own blood. My daughter, home last weekend from college, showed me the cone-shaped device, which resembles a dosage cup that you get with over-the-counter medicine. She says it isn't messy, it's easy to use and allows her to go up to 12 hours before emptying it. "I never intend to go back to using tampons," she said. As for me, I remain squeamish -- I'm not so sure I'm ready for this kind of interactive experience!

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