Menstrual Disc FAQ

Our menstrual disc FAQ is designed to help answer some of the most common… and obscure (but important and valid!) questions that we hear. Learning to use a menstrual disc can be exciting but also overwhelming; we hope that you find this resource helpful in your journey.

Stated simply, a menstrual disc is a reusable tampon alternative worn inside the vagina that collects flow rather than absorbing it. Discs are typically round and similar in shape to a contraceptive diaphram (though discs themselves are NOT a contraceptive). They have a firm rim with flexible “catch” or “bowl”. They are available in silicone reusable options and also in disposable options made from medical-grade polymer (plastic). They are a safer, healthier, and more comfortable way to manage your period.

Yes! Luckily there are a variety of sizes to choose from and there is no wrong age for choosing the menstrual care of your choice. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with and what meets your needs.

A properly fitting and situated disc should be entirely mess free while worn. Removal however can take a little practice. The “catch” part of the disc is quite flexible which can cause some mess. Practice makes perfect, and “auto-dumping” before removal may help.

Auto-dumping is what the community refers to when they intentionally cause the cup to empty its contents into the toilet by bearing down while seated on the toilet. Not everyone can do this and it’s not really clear if it’s a good idea or not. Bearing down, especially with much effort, is not great for your pelvic floor, so proceed with caution (talk to your physician about this!).

When you have a disc that fits your needs (that’s where The Disc Quiz comes in) it should be entirely undetectable (or at least very close!) If you do notice the disc, it may be that it’s not inserted properly (remove and try again). If that doesn’t help, it could be that you have a disc that is too large for you. A smaller disc may help.

No. At the end of your vaginal canal is the cervix (the opening to the uterus) and it won’t allow anything past it… except sperm. If your disc happens to be small and seems “lost” and you can’t reach it, again, remember it’s not going anywhere. Use your muscles to work the cup down low enough to reach by bearing down, the same strain you use to poop. Once you can reach it get it out of there and consider a larger disc.

No. As mentioned before, the cervix is an exit only. Your flow cannot go back inside the uterus or other areas of the body.

No. Blood typically only has an odor when it comes into contact with oxygen. That said, if you wear your disc for longer than 12 hours you may notice it has a scent once removed.

We do have The Disc Quiz to help with this! The size range of discs isn’t quite as prolific as menstrual cups, so that’s a plus. Generally if you have a high cervix, a standard disc (large) will work for you, medium cervix (medium), and low cervix you may want to try something more low profile (small or medium). There are a few other things to consider, which is where The Disc Quiz comes in. If you need help finding how high your cervix is, check out the video below:

Yes. Discs are folded in half to be about the size of a tampon. They will open some when inserted, but the fold should help make insertion and use possible.

Yep! Just be careful not to cut the rim of the disc.

When inserted properly, the disc should feel comfortable and securely in place with the back of the disc securely hooked under the cervix (with the catch below the opening to catch the blood). If you have no leaks, you’re good to go!

No. Most users wear no back up at all, however, we do recommend wearing backup when you first start wearing a disc for peace of mind and extra protection while you are learning to get the disc positioned properly.

Every 10-12 hours your disc must be removed and washed (or disposed of it not a reusable option). If you have a heavier period you may need empty the contents more frequently. Discs do hold 4-6x more than a single tampon or pad so you will still get to wear it for longer stretches.

Discs can be worn safely for up to 12 hours but we recommend checking it after 4 or so when you first start using a disc. Within a few cycles you’ll have a better understanding of your flow and how often you need to empty it.

Not usually. For most people it’s easy and causes no discomfort. That said, there are a couple of specific things that can be uncomfortable for some users: 1) a larger diameter disc leading to sort of a stretching feeling for some 2) the disc not wanting to let go of it’s hold behind the cervix, which which case some people describe it as a “cervix scrape” which is just as lovely as it sounds.

Yes! Because the disc does not absorb fluids, it is perfectly safe to put in if you think your period could show up. We might argue that this is one of the best things about using a disc or cup.

There is no right age to begin using a menstrual disc — it’s completely up to the user’s comfort.

“Breaking your hymen” or “popping your cherry” is a bit of a myth. The hymen is just a piece of skin that can stretch and also heal… so to speak. The hymen can be altered by regular activities and the usage of a disc is no different. See video below for more about the hymen myth.

Yes. As we answered in the question above about hymens you can wear a cup even if you haven’t yet had penetrative sex or even tried penetrative forms of masturbation. Also, the conventional idea of virginity is a heteronormative social construct that we don’t really ascribe to anyway.

Yes! You have both oral and penetrative sex while wearing a disc. In fact, it’s a marketing point used by most brands. “Mess free” period sex can be a thing with disc use. Just be sure to empty before!

Oh yes! In fact, we highly encourage it. External clitoral stimulation of all kinds work great (and orgasms relieve cramps we hear) and discs are penetration friendly, if that’s your thing.

Yes! Discs (and cups) do not inhibit any normal functions. You may want to just check for proper placement (to make sure your rim didn’t slip from any bearing down) before carrying on with your day.

All good! One of our founders is the proud owner of a retroverted (or tipped/tilted) uterus. So long as the disc is able to hook behind the cervix (with the catch below to catch the blood), you are all good.

Yes. Depending on how low your cervix is, you may want to choose a disc with a smaller diameter. Our menstrual disc comparison chart is a great tool for this.

Yes. Not sure how this weird rumor got started, but we have heard that cups and discs cannot be work with endometriosis because of menstrual backflow. That is a myth and we’re sad to know it exists because there is anecdotal evidence that cups and discs may actually help relieve some symptoms (perhaps simply by not further irritating the area like other products do).

Most likely, yes, but it may require some patience (and well worth it). We have heard from users in our group that smaller sizes work best. When inserting, a silicone safe lubricant will help. 

It’s worth noting that users who were unable to wear tampons, due to discomfort, have reported being able to successfully use a disc.

Yes, however it is always important that you remain aware of your strings! Discs do fit a bit different than cups and don’t require pinching the cup (and possibly the strings) during removal, which makes discs a great choice for anyone concerned about choosing a reusable product with an IUD.

Yes. Just wear as usual and let the disc do its thing.

We don’t know of any studies to support this, but we have heard from lots of happy disc and cup users that their periods have either lightened or shortened in length.

We have heard from disc and cup users that say they experience less painful or no cramps.  This would make sense because these products don’t introduce anything that would further irritate the area but we don’t know of any studies to prove this as fact.

Most likely, yes. Discs and tampons are both internal devices, but that’s where the similarities end. Tampons are rough, drying, and irritating – which can be painful when worn and removed. Discs are smooth, do not absorb vaginal moisture, and do not have irritants to leave behind. Many people have told us that they were unable to use tampons but comfortably wear a disc.

NO WAY! Due to internal tearing during labor and delivery any internal device is a risk for infection. Besides…. OUCH.

Absolutely! And because most menstrual disc have no strings you can feel confident knowing that nothing is hanging out (if yours has one, you can tuck it!). Some people do report that water gets into their disc or cup (likely due to the muscles used during their watery exercises) but this won’t harm anything and can obviously be emptied easily.

We can’t speak from experience, but we have heard from several people who have either taken scuba lessons with their disc in or gone diving (both cases under high pressure) with no issues.

Yes! Running (and any exercise) is great while wearing a disc!

Disposable discs are pretty common in most box stores and you may find the Ziggy in select pharmacies or box stores. Online is the way to go here, if you’re looking for options. Check our disc chart for an easy list and clickable links.

Compared to the price of a box of tampons, we understand that there can be some sticker shock. Menstrual discs range in price from $25 – $50. Keep in mind your disc lasts several years, which will pay for itself multiple times over. Be sure to take our menstrual disc quiz to help reduce your chances of having to buy more than one disc to get “the one”.

If you’re using a reusable disc you only need disc cup at a time. Simply remove, dump contents, wash, and replace.

If you plan to use disposable discs you will need approx. 8 discs to get you through the week. More or less depending on your flow, and some people do use a single disc for a full cycle — though it is important to note that they not made or approved for use this way.

Absolutely not! If so this site wouldn’t need to exist. Every person’s needs are different and luckily the menstrual disc market has something that will work for just about everyone, which is where our resources come in!

Our understanding, is yes. But be sure that you are aware of the brand and ask the seller to boil the disc before sending (if they haven’t already stated it). Once you receive it, boil again and it’s good to go.

Maybe. Discs come in different sizes, but the Flex Disc and Softdisc are similar in size to several of the reusable discs on the market, making them a good way to see if you like the concept before making a bigger investment.

The years stated depend on the brand, but most we have seen state 3-5 years (as opposed to cups which are often listed as 10+ years — we think this may have to do with the thinness of the “catch” portion of discs.

We suggest replacing your disc only when it shows signs of deterioration, like becoming chalky, cracked, or sticky. A stained disc does not need to be replaced simply due to discoloration.

We suggest replacing your disc only when it shows signs of deterioration, like becoming chalky, cracked, or sticky. A stained disc does not need to be replaced simply due to discoloration.

No. You may be familiar with the risk of TSS associated with tampons, which is due to their materials and the environment for bacteria that they can foster. These conditions are not created with discs or cups. TSS is a risk if the bacteria (most commonly Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep) or Staphylococcus aureus (staph)) can enter the bloodstream. There have been just two reported cases of TSS alongside (not caused by) the use of a cup (not a disc, though they are materially similar) when a woman scratched the inside of her vagina and the cup was not worn as directed. You can read a lot more about TSS and menstrual cups here.

No, and they may even help alleviate the risk. These conditions can be response to an upset in the vaginal environment. If you do get an infection, be sure to boil your disc to prevent reintroducing the infection.

Yes. Silicone is not a form of rubber or latex and is safe to use for those with a latex allergy. 

Maybe. We are unaware of any non-silicone discs, but you may be able to use the Flex or Softdisc, which are both disposable and made from a type of medial-grade plastic.

Yes! Because the disc does not absorb or disrupt the vaginal environment it is safe to wear before your period starts — or when you’re having particularly heavy fluid days.

Discs can be safely worn for up to 12 hours. If you do forget and wear it longer, change it as soon as you remember. Discs do not create the toxic environment that tampons can but they still need to be changed as directed.

You may be interested to know that medical grade silicone refers to silicone and dye that has been tested to be safe for implantation in the human body for several weeks. Basically this means that they are thoroughly tested for safety at extreme lengths that you would never intentionally replicate.

No! The myth that we’ve most often heard is that there is some form of menstrual fluid back-flow caused by menstrual cups and discs that leads to Endometriosis. The exact cause of endometriosis is not known and ‘retrograde menstruation’ is one theory, however it’s not possible for menstrual blood to flow back into the uterus from the menstrual cup. It’s perfectly safe to use a disc and avoiding the toxins in traditional products may actually help and be less aggravating for your whole pelvic region. All of this said, if you have any concerns at all, you should talk to your physician.

Soap and water, that’s it! You should be washing your disc at least once every 10-12 hours (if you empty the disc more often than this you can opt to simply replace the disc without washing but it’s up to you). Use hot water and a vagina friendly soap or look for washes specifically formulated for discs or cups.

No. Boiling discs is not necessary for normal use as long you are properly washing your disc. If you’ve had any sort of infection then you would want to sanitize the disc before using it again.

To boil your disc we suggest placing it inside of a metal whisk and resting that in a boiling pot of water for 1-2 minutes. There is no reason you can’t use the same kitchen utensils you use for food, so long as your comfort allows.

Yes, if you would like to sanitize the disc microwavable breast pump part bags are a great option. Milton Sterilizing Tablets are also safe to use and affordable. Do not place your menstrual disc in the dishwasher.

Stains may be unsightly but are part of using a menstrual disc. If they bother you, a hydrogen peroxide soak (3% solution as sold in most pharmacies and grocery stores) overnight should remove all traces of any stains. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub any stubborn spots. Please note many brands recommend against this, but we feel it’s ok to do infrequently.

It’s possible if you have a forceful and very heavy flow. Outside of that it’s very unlikely that any blood will be dripping down in the small amount of time it takes to wash your disc. If you do find this is the case you can wear liners as backup and pull your underwear back up during your washing. Other ideas in this video below.

If you find yourself in a public stall without access to your own personal sink you can remove your cup, dump contents, wipe the cup rim with toilet paper, and reinsert. Wash as usual when you are back home. There are also portable single use cup wipes available to keep in your purse if you choose. If you do have access to a sink in the public bathroom use only water and not the public soap since you won’t know what ingredients are in it that could potentially be too harsh.

No. Standard body scanners only scan through clothing and do not penetrate the body — so no disc or other internal device can be seen.

The consensus is that you should only wash your disc with potable (drinkable) water. If you have enough to spare use bottled water or if you have a way to boil the water, do this first. See this discussion for other ideas and advice.

If the disc is still usable but it’s just not working for you there are swap/for sale groups (PACII Cup Swap) where someone else may want it. If you’re disposing of your disc because it’s old and in need of replacing you can either burn a silicone disc until it’s ashes (totally safe) or look for a place that will recycle it for you.

Most brands include a small cotton pouch to store the disc in. If you are choosing your own bag be sure it’s breathable for long term storage (PUL waterproof bags are ok for short stints in your purse).

No. You can buy and wear a cup at any age. Your body is your own and you get to decide what period protection you want. Hopefully your parents are supportive but if they aren’t just know we are here to help.

Yes. Even though we are not are medical professionals we know more than most OB/GYN’s when it comes to menstrual cups. Together we decades of cup/disc/period experience. We have also collected information from others through years of in person and online classes, appearances, and discussion.

Take all of this advice under consideration but do weigh it against your own good sense. You can also look at other reputable websites (most brands have their own FAQ pages but these reflect their own biases and restrictions) and join menstrual product groups

We hear this from time to time, and the answer is simply, no. Your vagina and all of the tissues in and around it are quite elastic. It’s been a long-held myth that sexual activity (among other things) will stretch you out and make your vagina “loose” — we are assuming that is at least part of where this question comes from. The reality is that all vaginas and vulvas are different. Some are more roomy and have more folds than others because it’s how they were made – not because of your choice of menstrual device.

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