It’s not called a “flower”, “muffin” or “va-jay-jay”. It’s called a vagina. We know that talking about your vaginal health can be a tad uncomfortable, but we bet you won’t be able to stop talking about it once you discover all the benefits of The DivaCup!After talking to teens and moms about their menstrual cycles, and from the feedback of our Diva Community, we have learned that many women don’t really understand what goes on while menstruating and many others have forgotten the names to “all those parts down there”. By taking the time to learn about your body, and your menstrual cycle, you will be able to better care for your period and the women in your life.
The vagina and all its wonderful parts
Menstrual empowerment starts with knowledge. The best way to learn about your vaginal health is to actually look at your vagina. That’s right; you need to look at the one thing you’ve probably never looked at before. The easiest way to do this is to put a mirror on the ground and look down. It’s not as complicated or scary as you may think. Plus, the first time you insert The DivaCup, you may want a visual of your vaginal area to ensure you insert it properly.
In order to insert The DivaCup there are a few things you need to know. First things first, there is only one opening to the vagina. Second, The DivaCup sits low in the vaginal canal, which means it will not get lost in your uterus, irritate or even come in contact with your cervix. Lastly, because The DivaCup is worn internally it is important for you to know where to find both your vaginal canal opening and your labia. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to look for these. Figure 1 will show you everything you need to know!
Using The DivaCup is easy, and once you’ve found a method that works best for you, it only takes a matter of seconds to insert and remove. For detailed instructions on DivaCup insertion and removal please visit our DivaCup Q&As. And remember, before beginning, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap and be sure to carefully read over the detailed instructions found in your User Guide.
The Menstrual Cycle
We are all familiar with the popular 28-day menstrual cycle formula. On day 1, you get your period. Then on day 14, you ovulate, which means this is the day you can get pregnant. By day 28, if an egg has not fertilized, your body gets ready to start your cycle all over again.
Although convenient, this 28-day formula doesn’t really fit into many women’s menstrual cycle experience. In fact, unless you are on an oral contraceptive (The Pill), it is very unlikely that your menstrual cycle will be consistently 28 days in length. Even more interesting to know is the fact that while on birth control, you don’t actually experience a period, but rather your body is made to believe, through the help of a number of synthetic hormones, that it is going through the monthly motions. Find this interesting? Keep reading to learn more about what actually goes on during your menstrual cycle (See Figure 2).
Your menstrual period begins when progesterone and estrogen levels are low and the lining of your uterus begins to shed, resulting in menstrual flow. Menstrual bleeding can last anywhere between two to seven days. Following your period, your uterus begins to rebuild its lining and your ovaries gradually begin to produce an egg. This process is triggered by a chemical signal to your pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland in your brain. When this happens, the ovaries enlarge, and anywhere from 8 to 15 eggs start to mature. In most cases, only one egg fully matures (or in the case of twins, two eggs) while the rest dissolve.
The egg is formed in a sac near the ovary where it rests until the pituitary gland releases the luteinizing hormone responsible for releasing the egg. While the egg is maturing, the lining of the uterus is thickened and nourished by the hormone estrogen. When released, the egg makes its way through one of the fallopian tubes. The follicular phase lasts until ovulation occurs.
The luteal phase begins when ovulation occurs and lasts for approximately 12 to 14 days. After ovulation, and if an egg is not fertilized, estrogen levels drop and the hormone progesterone starts to increase, preparing the thickened uterine lining to be shed along with the egg.
Note: Although ovulation occurs 14 days before your cycle begins, it does not necessarily mean it occurs on day 14 of your cycle. You can ovulate on day 19, which would mean approximately 14 days later (day 33) you will get your period. By being able to identify when you ovulate, you can better predict when you will get your next period. Paying attention to your temperature, vaginal fluid and the position and firmness of your cervix can also help you to better identify when you are ovulating.
Over the years we have discovered some healthy alternatives to traditional menstrual care. While these may not work for everyone, they are at least enjoyable and relaxing.
Please Note: The following is meant to be informational in nature and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions regarding menstrual or vaginal health we encourage you to consult your physician.
The best thing you can do for your vagina is to stop using conventional feminine hygiene products. Tampons and pads are full of perfumes, chemicals and materials that can cause internal abrasions as well as irritate your vagina. The non-absorbent, healthcare grade silicone of The DivaCup is reusable and leaves no trace or residue after use. Plus it’s comfortable and when inserted properly does not leak.
We all hate cramps. They have a way of creeping up on us, when we really don’t want to hang out with them. Sipping on some raspberry leaf or chamomile tea can help ease the pain caused by menstrual cramps. We’ve also found that limiting your intake of dairy, wheat, meat, refined sugars and caffeine may help reduce cramping, nausea, acne and mood changes related to your menstrual cycle.
A nice soak in a hot bath with sea salts will not only nourish the sensitive skin around your vagina, but also help soothe muscle cramps. Be careful about soaking in scented bath bubbles, salts or melts as the ingredients found within many of these may irritate your vagina. If you suffer from heavy and painful periods, we suggest you talk to a registered health care practitioner about supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals specific to balancing and maintaining good menstrual health.
Work it Out!
Your vagina is no different from the other parts of your body. This means that the most important thing you can do for your vaginal and menstrual health is sleep well, eat well and exercise often.