How To Look at a Diva Cup

© Copyright 2022 Mimi Ryatt, Toronto Metropolitan University.

Fig. 1 Mimi Ryatt, Diva Cup, February 2022. Personal Digital Photograph. Owned by Mimi Ryatt, 2022.

More than 800 million people menstruate everyday (Sánchez and Rodriguez). From belted rags to pads to tampons- menstrual cups, patented in 1867, continue to be overlooked of all the available options, despite being created before the more commonly used pad option (Renault). Given the stigmas and treatment of menstruation, dating back to the days of Hippocratics to present (Dean-Jones 179), the quality and knowledge of menstrual products remains unknown or stagnant for many. The resultant internalized stigmas, as well as wealth and racial disparities, mean that many menstruating individuals do not have access to or take the time to notice the objects that they use for their flow collection. Menstruating individuals have periods for approximately 40 years of their lifetime (on average) (Office of Women’s Health qtd. in Duquesne University School of Nursing), so let’s look deep at one of the very first period flow technologies that feature our lives on a monthly basis!

The Diva Cup was introduced in 2003. Although more popularized in modern day, many people do not feel comfortable with exploring the mechanisms and form of the the menstrual cup. The longterm financial, envorinmental, and vaginal health benefits of the menstrual cup are however becoming more prominent highlights in the conversation of period education. The Diva Cup is made of a firm but pliable silicone and is approximately 5.5 cm long (see Fig. 1). Folded into a smaller shape and inserted inside the vagina with a suction effect, the cup’s use is mightier than its size and simplicity alludes. The first menstruation cup was “a rubber sack attached to a ring to be inserted into the vagina and removed with a cord”. Some other early cups were made of non-corrosive metals as well (Renault)!

Fig. 2 Mimi Ryatt, Inside of Diva Cup, February 2022. Personal Digital Photograph. Owned by Mimi Ryatt, 2022.

The average menstruating individual loses two to three tablespoons (29-44 ml) of blood during their cycle (Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health qtd. in Duquesne University School of Nursing). The Diva Cup has ounce and millilitre grooved markings on the inside of the cup to indicate the amount of blood collected (see Fig. 2). Designed to be boiled for cleaning and reusing, the cup can withstand varying temperatures and years of wear. The circular ridged bottom has a small tip to be pulled out for emptying the cup, usually 2-3 times a day (see Fig. 3). Advertised as tulip-like products in the ’60s (Renault), the basic shape and presentation of this object has retained through the years.

For so long menstruating individuals have had to rely on hushed word of mouth communication or sexist and nonsensical ancient medics for period tools and information (Renault). Although progress in education and acceptance advanced a bit in the 1890s to the late 20th century (Renault), we still have a long way to go even today. To use one of the earliest menstruation inventions and have informed modern knowledge of it is a source of pride and power for menstruating folk. A holy cup, filled with the blood and shedding from a resilient body. A durable object, a red tulip creation, a symbol of emancipation from hiding huts and whispers of shame (Sánchez and Rodriguez; Dean-Jones 187).

Fig. 3 Mimi Ryatt, Upside Down Diva Cup, February 2022. Personal Digital Photograph. Owned by Mimi Ryatt, 2022.

Menstruation has been a phenomenon for as long as humans have existed (shared by other primates, elephant shrews, and certain bat species) (British Broadcasting Corporation qtd. in Duquesne University School of Nursing). Almost 49.58% of the human population at some point experience periodical periods (United Nations)! So, the next time your cycle comes around, take a look at the patterns of your pads, or the crinkle plastic of your tampon wrappers. Hold the tiny and mighty menstrual cup in your hands and be amazed that for over 155 years such technologies have helped menstruating individuals participate in society and stay clean and healthy during “that time of the month”.




Please see: The Period Purse accepts financial and menstruation product donations. Open boxes are welcomed as well. I have included the link if anyone is interested in helping make period products and education accessible to all.


Works Cited

Dean-Jones, Lesley. “Menstrual Bleeding According to the Hippocratics and Aristotle.” Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-), vol. 119, [Johns Hopkins University Press, American Philological Association], 1989, pp. 177–91,

Diva Cup packaging. 2022.

Duquesne University School of Nursing. “The Ultimate Guide to Feminine Hygiene.” Duquesne University School of Nursing, 3 Dec. 2019,

Renault, Marion. “Menstrual Cups Were Invented in 1867. What Took Them So Long to Gain Popularity?” Popular Science, 23 Aug. 2019,

Ryatt, Mimi. “Diva Cup Photos”. Personal digital photo collection, 7 Feb. 2022.

Sánchez, Erica, and Leah Rodriguez. “Period Poverty: Everything You Need to Know.” Global Citizen, 5 Feb. 2019,

United Nations. “Population by Gender, Age, Fertility Rate, Immigration.” Worldometer, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 13 June 2013,

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.