Recently, I switched my period products and have to tell you about the success I’ve had with them. This year I’ve realized the importance of my sexual health, including my period care when I have to deal with my monthly visitor. I’ve been curious about alternative period products for a few years now, and two months ago, I decided it was time to experiment and try out other products because tampons are just not cutting it for me anymore. Specifically, I want to discuss the Soft Discs menstrual discs made by the Flex Company.
I grew up thinking tampons, pads, and panty liners were the be all – end all period products because of their longevity on the market and my familiarity with them. I’ve been loyal to Kotex for almost six years now too. I never gave much thought to alternative period care because of the “mess”, “clean up”, and the intimacy of it. Menstrual cups and discs require you to empty, clean, and/or change the product every 8-12 hours, in addition to being comfortable touching yourself and self-inserting the devices.
The main differences between discs and cups are that menstrual discs block the cervix and catch period blood at the opening of the cervix, while menstrual cups sit lower in the vaginal canal and catch period blood before it exits the vagina (where a tampon would usually sit). Menstrual cups are usually reusable and made of silicone, and menstrual discs are typically disposable (though there are some reusable discs on the market). Both types of products are NOT linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (which you can contract from using tampons).
Nevertheless, I have prior experience with the NuvaRing birth control which requires you to insert a ring-shaped birth control device into your vagina up to the cervix, so inserting a menstrual discs was not a big transition for me to be comfortable with. Soft Discs are a BPA-free, phthalate-free, latex-free menstrual disc that you can wear for up to 12 hours a day. You can swim, exercise, sleep, and even have SEX with them in (more about the sex part later). They hold up to 5-tampons worth of blood, and can be worn during heavier and lighter flow days. Because they do not absorb blood, they decrease odor; and also decrease cramping, and dryness. This isn’t as important, but they’re a cute pink color and come in discreet purple packaging (I’m a sucker for cute packaging). Way cuter than a tampon!
To insert properly, you should wash your hands, sit on the toilet, and relax your muscles. Pinch the sides of the Soft Disc, and push the device up into the vaginal canal, and then down to fit up towards the cervix. Push it down until it rests under the public bone. With the disc under the pubic bone, it creates a seal that shouldn’t leak. The pushing down part of this process is important, because if you just insert it straight up like a tampon, it won’t slip into place and create the seal. You can use your fingers to adjust and push it further up and down into place as you see necessary.
To remove, you should wash your hands, sit on the toilet, and relax. insert a finger, hook it underneath the rim of the disc, and pull it down and out. If you can’t get a good grip, bear down on your pelvic muscles (think like doing Kegels) and it should move the disc further forward so you can grab onto it. Empty the contents into the toilet before wrapping the disc in the wrapper it came in and toilet paper to dispose. I’m right-side dominant, but I use my left hand for removal, so try both hands and see which is most comfortable and easiest.
On my heaviest days, I have to change my disc three to four times, and I also wear panty liners in case there are any leaks. My cramps are intense, and they cause my vaginal muscles to contract pretty hard which sometimes moves the disc out of place if I am being really active. If your flow is heavier in the beginning like mine, expect a bit of a mess removing, dumping, and inserting a new one. I carry around baby wipes with me while on my period, so if I am using a public restroom, I wipe my hands before I leave the stall, and then obviously wash my hands again afterward.
This product has been GAME-CHANGING. Once you get passed the learning curve of learning how to insert the product, I feel almost as if I’m not on my period. I can sleep over my boyfriend’s house with confidence knowing I won’t have to wear a fat diaper-like pad, or won’t leak and stain his sheets. I can go swimming, or hit up an Orange Theory workout without worrying about soaking through my tampon halfway through my treadmill run. Even more importantly, I don’t have to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome, or yeast infections due to the period product I chose to use that cycle!
Now here’s the best part – you can have mess-free period sex with this product. You don’t have to ruin towels or sheets, or even worry about making a mess on your partner. Let’s face it, your hormones RAGE while you are on your period, but if you’re like me, you probably feel the least sexy during that week of the month due to the blood and the bloat. But Soft Discs are a great alternative to the old “put a towel down and hope for the best” method.
The only thing I suggest is changing your disc to a fresh one before you and your partner do the deed. If it’s been in for a few hours and full of blood, sex could cause leaks. But I have tried this (sorry mom/grandma if you are reading this), and it WORKS. With a new disc inserted before, I’ve never had an issue. Also, if it is inserted properly, your partner can’t feel it.
**Worthy to note – this period is NOT a vaginal diaphragm, so it will not protect you against STIs or pregnancy. In your throes of passion, be vigilant with your birth control and STI protection, ok? Especially if you have more than one partner.**
I just completed my second cycle with Soft Discs, and I will probably never rely on tampons again if I don’t absolutely have to. The Flex Company also makes a product called the Flex Disc, which is a tad more expensive, but available in a monthly subscription for a slight discount. They retail about $14/box, and apparently the Flex Disc is made slightly differently. I’ve read it creates a better seal and molds better to your anatomy. I am probably going to try the Flex Discs next month to see if I have a better experience on my heavier days. Also, how pretty is the gold and black packaging??
In short, if you’ve made it this far in my post, thank you for reading. If you’ve been curious about alternative menstrual products but haven’t felt brave enough to try it, take this as your sign to try something new. The worst that can happen is you hate it and never use it again. Be prepared to learn how to use it, and if you experience insertion issues, or leaks, remember back to the first time you tried inserting tampons. I remember that took me three months to figure out (and I’m not ashamed to admit it). I sat in my upstairs bathroom with a box of Playtex and tried to insert it until I relaxed enough to get it inside. Which took three cycles. But your girl finally figured it out eventually. It’s the same with the discs. It takes experience and practice, but eventually you will learn how to use it most effectively for your body.
I hope you found this article helpful or insightful, and if you have any questions about my experience using this product, feel free to comment below! I would love to try to help in any way I can.