Your best period starts now, to quote Dot Cup… with their innovative and environmentally conscious period accessory. And if that doesn’t grab you, for each DOT cup sold, one cup is donated to a woman in need. Read on to find out more….
I had never heard of a menstrual cup until recently, when I had the chance to (virtually) meet Betsy, founder — and avid user — of the Dot Cup. Made of silicone and free of nasty chemicals, the cup provides some pretty incredible benefits: no more risk of TSS, no more polluting the Earth, no awkwardly asking your co-workers for an extra tampon or pad. But the best part? Thanks to Betsy and her partnership with World Vision, for every Dot Cup purchased, one cup is donated to a woman who can’t afford or access her own feminine products.
I asked Betsy to share the story of what led her to start the The Dot Cup, what advice she has for curious first-timers (like me!) and what it’s like to make an impact through World Vision:
What brought you to create the Dot Cup?
My journey to this point began with a collision of two circumstances: first, the introduction to (and obsession with) the menstrual cup for my own period care, and second, trips to Cambodia and Kenya where I met strong, smart, beautiful women who stayed home from school and work every single month because they didn’t have access to menstrual products. Since a Dot Cup can be worn for 12 hours and used for 10 years, it is an incredibly sustainable menstruation solution for everyone, especially those living in poverty. The more I fell in love with my cup (it really is love, you guys), the more I felt compelled to find a way to get cups to the ends of the Earth.
What is the first thing you’d like to tell women who are intimidated by the idea of using a cup?
You really can’t feel it, and it holds about 3X that of a super tampon! This means far fewer trips to the bathroom no matter your flow. Keep in mind, it takes most people about 3 cycles to master the art of the cup, so stick with it! It’s an adjustment, but so was learning to use a tampon for the first time, amiright?
What are the funniest questions you’ve been asked about the cup?
Oh gosh, I’ve heard it all! More than one person has asked me whether or not the Dot Cup should be inserted inside of the body or just sit in your underwear (where?!). People have also asked whether the cup opening faces up or down – if you’re reading this and had the same thought, you aren’t alone – but an upside-down cup isn’t going to do anything for anyone. ;)
Do you have a mantra you live by?
I’ve never been asked this before! I guess if I had to choose one thing I’d say, “If we look closely for beauty in the world; in people, in places, in circumstances, we can almost always either find it or create it.”
How long have you been working with World Vision and could you tell us any stories of your experience with them?
Sometimes I can’t believe that I just happened to find myself working for a global leader in international development when I launched Dot. What are the chances?! It was through World Vision that I learned how menstrual supplies are an essential pillar in the cycle of poverty, and when inaccessible, leave a devastating impact. For example, when a girl doesn’t have access to period products, her options are to literally stuff something (rags? newspaper? leaves? mud?) in her pants and hope for the best OR just stay home. I don’t know about you, but I’d stay home. The problem with this is, over the course of her menstruating years, a period a month adds up to more than 2 years of missed school. Many girls end up dropping out altogether, get married young, and the cycle of under-educated and undervalued women continues. A menstrual cup can literally change the entire future of a girl and allow her to chase her dreams! It’s amazing. With World Vision’s help, we’re going to be distributing hundreds of Dot Cups in Zambia this fall and I can’t wait to share more stories!
After speaking with Betsy and learning of the positive impacts a small little cup could have not only on my life, but on the world, I decided it was time to give it a try.
I am a creature of habit. I’ve been using tampons since my sister pushed herself into the bathroom with me when I was 14 years old and forced me to use my very first one. I was terrified, uncomfortable and skeptical, but after a few uses I couldn’t even fathom going back to a bulky pad. Fast forward to today. I am 36 and only just learning that there is another option for my monthly period: a reusable cup that will not only leave no imprint on Mother Earth, but that will also save me lots and lots of money. (Why aren’t tampons free?! That’s a question for another day…)
Day One: First Day of my Period.
I am almost out of tampons so I can’t think of a better time to start using the cup. Look at me, already saving money!
As per the instructions on the Dot Cup website, I wash it with soap and fold it up tightly while putting my leg up for easier insertion. This feels a bit weird, but after some pushing and adjusting, I think I got it. The little “tail” hangs a bit too low so I decide to take the cup back out and trim it. The instructions on the website say to only cut a little at a time until I am fully comfortable with the length so I only take off the little knob at the end. I rewash the cup and put it back in place. It now sits comfortably inside me and I go on about my day. My period came late in the day and is very light so I take it as an easy starting point to this trial.
Full disclosure: for the days I will be trying the cup, I’ll be wearing full coverage undies so I can wear a liner in case of accidents. I don’t know how this will all work so I don’t want to make a mess.
Today I am headed into the office and will be sitting at my desk most of the day. I am curious to see how comfortable this will be. Stay tuned.
First bump in the road: there was a little spotting so I went to pull out the cup to readjust it and… it fell in the toilet. No way that’s going back in until I can get home and boil it. I guess I’ll start fresh tonight.
I get home, boil my cup, and reinsert. I wear it all night without issues. Hurray! I know I can do this.
Day Three: Beach time!
The placement of the cup is proving to be the trickiest part. I wont let it deter me, so I put it back in for my beach day. I am excited at the idea of not worrying about tampons while I run in and out of the water, and lay around working on my end-of-summer tan.
Unfortunately, as soon as I arrive at the beach after an hour’s drive, I notice spotting. In fear of getting any embarrassing stains, I remove my cup and put in a tampon. I am not happy.
My goal today is to make this cup work. I know the spotting is due to my lack of practice, so I intend to become a pro. Life is just too good when I don’t have to worry about changing tampons every time I use the bathroom, or about running out of them, how to discard them when I am not home, etc.. The more I handle this little cup, the more I love it.
Maybe it’s my mindset, or maybe I am finally mastering it but today, it works. I wear it all day and it feels like a brand new life!
A co-worker who has used the cup for years heard I was trying it for the first time, and suggested I empty it twice a day — in the shower — so today I follow her advice and even the emptying/adjusting process is much smoother – aka I don’t drop it in the toilet :P
Day Five: Last Day of My Period.
It’s Monday, which means I rushed out the door to get to the office a little early and get ahead of my work. The cup was fine all night. I emptied it in the shower and put it back in, but I can already tell while on my commute that I didn’t put it in correctly. I pull it out as soon as I get to work and vow to try again next month because, as Betsy said, it takes a few cycles to truly master it and I’m not giving up.
I’m already proud of myself for learning to maneuver it — I know the rest will come with practice. After only a handful of days I understand why Betsy loves it so much! I am starting to love it myself and when I get my next period, I will be reaching for my trusty cup.
Follow Patrizia on Instagram.