A rousing discussion broke out on The Chris Gethard Show last week about the feminine care product known as the "menstrual cup," also known by the brand name The DivaCup. An eco-friendly alternative to pads or tampons, menstrual cups are what they sound like: funnel-like silicon cups that you insert into your vagina to collect blood during menstruation.
Like me, Gethard Show guest and comedian Nick Kroll wasn't so much interested in the product itself but the sizing: "How big is the menstrual cup, and how…?"
Good question! How does a product that doesn't absorb fluid nor expand to customize to a woman's body come in one-size-fits-all model? Well, it doesn't. The product comes in two sizes, according to the DivaCup website. Model 1 is for women under the age of 30 who have never given birth. Model 2 is for women 30 or older and/or who have given birth.
Wait, what?! The birthing caveat makes sense—but why does it matter if a vagina is older or younger than 30 years old? Is my vagina going to have a spastic attack in my 30th year that no one has told me about?
The website goes on to clarify:
We recommend Model 2 if you are 30 years old or older even if you have not had vaginal childbirth or a c-section because as we age, our hips naturally widen and the vaginal muscles lose elasticity. Because the vaginal muscles hold The DivaCup in place, it is important to use Model 2 if you are over 30, even if you have not had children.
Now, I know that the world places a certain arbitrary significance on turning 30—get that 401K in place, stop wearing socks with holes in them, brush your teeth every night—but DivaCup, you have ZERO chill.
Equal parts intrigued and horrified, I asked Dr. Lanalee Sam, an OB/GYN in South Florida, about this claim—and she assuaged my fears. “They're basically just guessing and generalizing on the sizes. There is no magical loss of vaginal MOJO precisely at age 30,” she told me in an email.
It's true that childbirth will cause some vaginal distention and loss of elasticity that will justify the larger cup size, she continued. "But just being over 30 is not a criteria."
So is the sizing recommendation simply DivaCup's attempt to cover its bases? It seems that way. The difference between the two models is very small, anyway. Model 1 is just .3 centimeters smaller than Model 2. And the cup really just needs to fit over the cervix to collect blood. The cervix, the opening through which a woman's menstrual blood passes, is an extremely tiny space, just about a half centimeter in size, Sam explained.
So, fret not—unless you give birth, 30 is most likely going to be just like 29 was and 31 will be for your vagina. Maybe wish her a happy birthday on the big day anyway, just in case.
Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money's worth.