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TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 28, 2020

We Tried: The Bettercup Menstrual Cup

Reusable and sustainable menstrual products have been around for decades but until recently have been eclipsed by their single-plastic counterparts. In this edition of our 'We Tried' series, the team took the plunge and got to grips with menstrual cups. Literally. Find out how we got on with the Bettercup!

With each individual going through approximately 11,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime, disposable sanitary products are no friend of the planet, this much we do know. But if you’re anything like us, the thought of trying a menstrual cup made us clam up. What about leakage and rinsing it out in the sink with an audience? So. Many. Intimidating. Scenarios.

It’s estimated that a whopping 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year, with the vast majority ending up washed up on beaches or in landfill.

What’s scarier than all of the above though, is the environmental cost of plastic periods, not to mention the financial strain on our uterus every time we have to shell out for overpriced tampons and pads. It’s estimated that a whopping 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year, with the vast majority ending up washed up on beaches or in landfill. It’s a sorry story for our shorelines but that’s not the half of it. A recent study from the US found that non-organic rayon-based tampons contain some pretty nasty chemicals – paint stripper, to name just one. How the hell is that allowed near our vaginas? Well, because the menstrual industry basically polices itself, meaning there’s little to no transparency about what goes into the products. Doing a bit of womb washing up a few times a month suddenly doesn’t seem such a big deal after all.

Reusable and sustainable menstrual products have been around for decades but until recently have been eclipsed by their single-plastic counterparts. In this edition of our ‘We Tried’ series, the team took the plunge and got to grips with menstrual cups. Literally. Find out how we got on with the Bettercup!

Lareese…

Hi, I’m Lareese and I’m a menstrual cup evangelist. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. If anyone was going to find an excuse to wriggle out of stuffing a cup up her vagina like some sort of contortionist and rinsing out my innards in the sink, it would be me. Trust me.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been mid-burpee in a body combat class and literally felt my tampon crowning and yet I settled for that life because, well, it’s a period not a five star eat, pray, bleed happiness retreat.Lareese

I’ve been interested in trying more sustainable period products for a while but you know what it’s like, another period rolls around and you’ll just do anything for an easy life, trying out a cup just wasn’t top of my 2020 bucket list. I was so adamant I wouldn’t get on with it that I just got stuck in a tampon rut. When I think about it, I never quite found my groove with them over the years. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been mid-burpee in a body combat class and literally felt my tampon crowning and yet I settled for that life because, well, it’s a period not a five star eat, pray, bleed happiness retreat. Little did I know that such a retreat does exist – and I only had to go to my bathroom to find it. It’s no Bali, but it’ll do.

Working from home during lockdown presented the perfect opportunity to give the cup a good go and honestly, I wish I made the switch sooner. There’s certainly a knack to getting it in there, especially on the first few goes – I quickly learnt that there’s really no elegant way to do it, just fold it up like a gift and present it to your vagina, and when I say present I mean literally shove it in its face. After getting over that first hurdle, I got a bit ballsy and headed straight out on a run. It was always going to be a risk – did I put it in right? Will I leave a Hansel and Gretel-like trail of bloodcrumbs behind me? Will it disappear into the abyss and burst out of out my eyeball? Nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the cup didn’t even budge one bit. I couldn’t feel it rattling around inside of me, it just slotted perfectly into place.

The next day, full of this new-found period confidence, I went down the beach for a swim. I popped the Bettercup in first thing in the morning and didn’t give it another thought until I emptied it before bed. I’d say that’s one of the best things about converting to cups – the freedom! I can leave the Bettercup in all day and it doesn’t hold me back from doing all the things I enjoy! No crowning cotton to deal with, no peeing on the string (you can pee and poo as normal with a cup in btw), no more getting caught out and doing a mad dash to Boots. Who knew periods could be this convenient? And I really did put it through its paces.

I’ve yet to navigate the rinsing it in a communal sink situ but I know wiping it down with tissue, reinserting and rinsing at my earliest convenience is still ok if I happen to find myself in a toilet with an audience and only one sink up for grabs. I’m so glad I’ve discovered a period product that works for me and the planet (I mean, it lasts for 10 years! That blows my tiny mind), and lets me live my blooming life without worrying. Periods are never going to be the most enjoyable event in our monthly calendars but this game-changing little cup is proof that they can certainly be better.

Danielle…

Let me start this off with the headline, which is that I am absolutely a ‘cup convert’. I’m so pleased I gave the better cup a whirl and I urge you to do the same!

So. I have a fairly regular period, lasts about four days with the heavier days being the second and third. Trialling the cup whilst working from home was a dream, as I’m sure, like many, my biggest concerns were the mess/getting it in and out which are all made easier in the comfort of your own bog. I’m a tampon girl usually, I opt for super (sometimes regular) and prefer Tampax pearl, which I think we can all admit are expensive and pretty crap for the environment.

The first time I put it in was a little tricky, I won’t lie when I say it is quite beefy and there is an element of shoving to get it up before it unfolds but it was not painful.Danielle

I came on during a Sunday afternoon this month, the first day is usually more of a “Hi I’m here” than a “WHAT UP BITCH MOTHER NATURE HAS ARRIVED” so I chilled out and decided I’d pop Mr cup in before I went to bed. I must admit I was pretty excited to come on and give it a go. The first time I put it in was a little tricky, I won’t lie when I say it is quite beefy and there is an element of shoving to get it up before it unfolds but it was not painful. Immediately I liked the feel and even though I knew it was in there it didn’t feel any more foreign than a tampon. My only worry at this point was getting it out (especially after knowing Zoe had some trouble).

When I woke up in the morning I was ready to see what the situation was and when I tried to pull on the little plastic bit to get him out it was like pulling a bag of sand with a headphone jack, absolutely not happening. This is because part of the cup’s deal is that it works with suction and you need to break the seal for it to come out easily. I had a small panic and took the advice so many left in Zoe’s YT comments which was to stand in the bath and ‘bear down’ LOL. The cup came a little further south and I was able to grab the base and pinch it leading old’ cup to pop right out. This then became my way going forward, and although it’s good to feel the little plastic pull so you know where the cup is, I always reach for the base of the cup to remove.

As previously mentioned I was now excited to see how the cup held up in my heavier days and I have to say it was fantastic. absolutely no leakage, left it in for hours at a time and the cup was never overflowing. I’m annoyed it’s taken me so long to try a period cup and I’m so pleased that all I have to bring with me when I’m travelling is the cup, it’s also discreet enough to have in your handbag so I’ll never be caught short again. This is probably TMI but here we are, my favourite thing about the cup is not having to worry about changing my tampon when using the toilet for OtHeR things. My stomach basically explodes during my time of the month which is super fun, and now I don’t have to worry about pulling out a dry tampon.

If you’re thinking about trying a cup DO IT. It might not work for everyone but it’s so worth trying!

Zoe…

I wanted to start my review with a stat that I saw on the BetterCup instagram page which had me SHOOK. ‘On average, each person will dispose of 11,000 tampons and pads in their lifetime”, that is a LOT of landfill and waste and that statistic alone made me excited to give the cup a go! Much like Lareese and Danielle, I’d heard about menstrual cups, but I just ignorantly thought I’d never get on with them so never tried.

I was actually first introduced to a menstrual cup back in 2012 when I worked for a charity trust. They had one in the toilets with a poster behind it listing all the environmental benefits, but it just looked absolutely terrifying. Fast forward 8 years and I’m sitting on the toilet, folding the better cup in my hands and squeezing it in. I didn’t really know what to expect with a menstrual cup but had a lot of fun researching different cups, different insertion folds and watching others reviews online before trying myself. I’m a tampon girl, always have been, so inserting the cup wasn’t alien to me, in fact, I’d say I pretty much nailed it… or nailed myself if you like. If you are a pad wearer and aren’t as used to anything being inserted, it might take you a little longer to perfect this stage, but I’ve heard that’s quite normal and that it’s something you get used to the more you do it. So the cup is in and I go about my day.

I’m already absolutely loving it. Cups can be left in for 10-12 hours depending on how heavy your flow is and the joy of feeling like I could go about my day until that evening when I’d be going to bed, was PURE HEAVEN. I didn’t feel the cup once it was in there either and I’d almost go as far as to say I almost forgot I was on my period.

My cup seemed to have completely disappeared into the abyss that is apparently my vaginal canal.

Moving swiftly into the evening, it was time to empty the cup, give it a rinse and pop it back in. Here is where I had trouble. My cup seemed to have completely disappeared into the abyss that is apparently my vaginal canal. I pushed down (hard), I got into every position imaginable, I pretty much fisted myself trying to grab the cup. I could just about reach the tip of the stem with the tips of my fingernails but as the cup is kept in with the help of a vacuum, in order to release it you must first break that vacuum seal, so pulling down on the stem doesn’t actually help in any way. It felt like my insides were being sucked on. After hours of trying, I eventually had to ask my boyfriend to help me for fear of having to make an appointment with my GP. After an hour of awkward poses, being naked from the waist down with the “big light” on and a lot of laughing so hard we were crying, it flew out across the bathroom. We sighed in relief at the sight of the safe arrival.

Day two, I didn’t even consider not trying again, I was not going to be defeated. I found it easy to insert again, didn’t feel it all day and, despite last nights issue, I was a cup convert! I felt like my life had changed for the better (or the BetterCup, excuse the pun). Evening rolled around, 12 hours was up and it was time to give removing it another go. I had a really good feeling about it too! Fingers reach in and…where’s the cup? It had disappeared again. SO high up I could barely touch it. Long story short, I tried removing the cup at 10.30pm and eventually it was removed (by my boyfriend again) at 2.15am. Hours and hours of watching every YouTube video about cup removal, googling “my cup is stuck” and reading every search result. This time there was less laughing and more panic. I really didn’t want to have to ask my doctor to remove it for me. I also felt so defeated and sad. I loved it so much but realised in this moment that trying it for a third time would probably not be the best idea.

I wanted more than anything to master the “pinch the base of the cup” technique and wiggle it out, but I just couldn’t get that far up. After much googling, I found a lot of people had mentioned that the length of your cervix can really alter the size or length of the cup you should use and that it’s good to measure it and find out. I also noticed that some cups can suction themselves to your cervix, so I’m thinking one of those two things probably happened with me due to the nature of how I’m built down there.

I found it very easy to insert, comfortable to wear, no leaking, can wear it all day, lasts 10 years, better for the environment. Zoe

I’m definitely going to try a few suggested “longer” cups and see if I can make those work for me, but I do feel sad that BetterCup clearly felt too cosy in there and didn’t want to come out. I don’t think my experience should put you off trying, however (it certainly won’t put me off trying again). I found it very easy to insert, comfortable to wear, no leaking, can wear it all day, lasts 10 years, better for the environment.

There are certainly more positives with my experience than negatives, but my one negative sadly prevents me from easily removing it, which is kind of a vital part in the process haha! The menstrual cup will not defeat me and as no two vaginas are the same, it’s about finding something that will work for me and my apparently cavernous cave of wonder.

Darcey…

Let me start this off with the fact that I was very, very anti-tampons, so I became a sanitary towel kinda gal and have been for years. I have always found tampons really uncomfortable, even if I shove them as far as they can possibly go, I would feel it still or it would just make it’s way back down until he was basically poking out. I hated the dryness too of pulling a tampon out on a lighter period, which I had when I was taking the contreceptive pill. So, when I came off the pill in January my periods became more regular and heavier, lasting 4-5 days with my second and third day being the heaviest. So I was after something a bit more sturdier than a sanitary towel to accompany my new flow. 

So when the team discussed trialling out a cup, I was intrigued, but also certain I wouldn’t get along with it. I mean firstly, it is bloody massive at first glance. I know vaginas are made to push out a child, but the cup can be intimidating that’s for sure. I also thought if I don’t get along with tampons, will I really get along with a cup? I was unsure but I wanted to give it a go! So the first day of my period arrived and I got my cup ready, sterilised and ready to be inserted. I had to hype myself up at the fear it was going to be impossible to get in, but to my surprise it quite literally slipped up there no problem. I’m not sure how or why I had the technique down so quick, but I couldn’t believe how easy it was! 

First time wearing the cup I only left it in for four hours and set a timer to remind me to go in there and check he hadn’t made his way up to my cervix (especially after Zoe’s cup experience!). Four hours passed and my timer buzzed, when I realised I had completely forgotten it was up there! I could not feel a thing. Taking the cup out first time was fairly easy too, but I was lucky that I was the last out of all of us to trial him out, so I had all the tips and tricks passed to me! I think with the cup is you have to be comfortable with just shoving your fingers up there, no messing around, to break the suction and pull it out. 

I then wore the cup to bed that evening and probably had it in for around 10-11 hours, I did find after a long wear the cup did travel slightly up, but not out of reach. I found using my pelvic muscles (I think that’s the right name ha) and pushing down made the cup go lower, to the point where I could just grab it and break the suction. Removal is fairly painless, but I do find sometimes the cup folds when I’m removing it, then reopens when it’s nearly out, basically stretching out my vagina at rapid speed which can be uncomfortable haha! But other than that, which I think is something you get better at with practice, removal and inserting has been fairly straightforward for me. 

All in all, I am fully converted. the cup is so convenient, I have no fear of leaking and it is so comfortable to wear. It’s great because you can just leave it in alllll day stress free, no faffing around changing it mid-day because you are off somewhere and need a fresh pad or tampon in. I haven’t tried cleaning out the cup in a public toilet yet, but I think that will be stress free too as you simply just have to wipe it clean until you have the privacy to rinse it in a sink. 

If you are thinking about trying a cup, I would definitely recommend it! The cup has honestly changed my period experience for the better and I can’t see myself ever going back. Also, it lasts TEN years!! Think about all the money you will save not spending a fiver a month on pads or tampons, which lack in effectiveness at the best of times combatting leaks etc. The cup is worth a shot, it may or may not work for you, but if it works it’s going to be a real game changer!

Will you be giving The Bettercup a go?

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Sarah
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Sarah

Also, you forgot the mention that for every cup bought, Bettercup donate a cup to a girl in Africa! Win win!

Roxanne
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Roxanne

Such a great article! Loved to hear about each of your experiences with the cup. I really want to try it myself! Like Darcey, I am not a tampon girl. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t a problem for her, so it makes me more confident to try the cup! Not gonna lie, Zoë’s experience kinda scared me but all of you seemed to have loved it so much that I have to give it a go!
Thank you so much for writing this article, so helpful!!
Lots of love from Switzerland,
Roxanne

Humera Khalifa
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Humera Khalifa

I love how honest you all were. Thank you for sharing your experiences! I’ve tried a few cups now but always end up leaking! Ive bought another one to try because I hope once one works, I will be set for life and hopefully make a difference to the environment. They are definitely not a one size fits all kind of thing as mentioned in the post. Thanks again for sharing your experiences- I’m sure it will inspire some people to give it a go x

Parvinder
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Parvinder

Really considering giving it a go…i never liked tampons. Like Darcey says they always felt gross n dry n they came out so I was sure I wouldn’t like the cup but her review is what has really sold me. Thank u for this!

Sarah B.
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Sarah B.

I would do ANYTHING to try one these cups and have my period again. FYI- to all you menstruating folks, don’t let a doctor just give you birth control if you haven’t gotten your period and instead ask for your hormones to be tested. I stopped telling mine that I hadn’t gotten it and would lie about it because birth control just doesn’t make me feel very good at all. Anyway, this year I finally spoke up and lo and behold it turns out that I’m in menopause in my thirties. No baby for me and no more periods either.… Read more »

Ellie
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Ellie

Yes

Christiana
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Christiana

This has made me very interested in giving the cup a go. Ive had the same thoughts about how messy it can be and about the in out process.

After hearing all the benefits too i may give it a go next month!!

Joelene
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Joelene

You should research the Flex Cup. When you pull the stem it breaks the vacuum seal for you without having to pinch the base. It also comes in 2 sizes. So maybe that will help with removal. I’ve been using it the last couple months and I think it works great!

Lizzy
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Lizzy

I have been using the Saalt Cup for a few months now and am a total convert! I never used to be able to comfortably insert a tampon but I think a menstrual cup has really taught me a lot about my own anatomy and I have gotten to know my body better. It is an easy sustainable swap to make with lots of brands offering softer or firmer cups of different sizes.

I’d love to know what other cups Zoe tries and if she finds the one, haha!

Olga
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Olga

I am using a Moon Cup and it has a ring at the bottom to pull it out (rather than a stick). So much easier to use. I got mine in Germany on one of the trips but you can buy One online too and they come in three different sizes.

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