Does It Work? A Look At The FLEX Menstrual Disc

Menstrual discs are something we’ve been asked about more times than we can count, and usually it comes in the form of a confusing question about menstrual cups … and then we realize they’re talking about an Instead Softcup or a FLEX.

Menstrual discs are NOT the same as menstrual cups!

Menstrual disc and menstrual cups share exactly one feature. They both catch menstrual flow. That’s it.

They differ wildly in material, shape, insertion, fit, removal, cost, and environmental consideration.

So does it work?

That answer depends on a couple of factors. Does it function? And do we like the way it functions? Check out our video review for all of the details.

As you can see, we aren’t fans. While they do work for some — and that’s great! — they just aren’t a good fit for us. Wear was comfortable but removal was anything but. Amanda found it painful to remove and poor Kim ended up in a horror show situation as a result of a moderate flow day. (If you recall from our Heavy Flow video – we aren’t all that heavy, so we cannot imagine what a disc might be like for someone with even more flow than us!)

The Cost

In addition to our removal discomforts, we aren’t all that impresses with the cost of using a disc. They are not approved to be safe for reusing (though some do use them for a full cycle before trashing them) which poses a problem for your wallet, as well as the environment.

FLEX costs $20 per month for 8 discs that are meant to be worn for 12 hours. This assumes #1 that you have a four day cycle and #2 that you can go a full 12 hours before needing to change. If you are heavier or longer than this, you’ll need more of them. At $2.25 per change – the costs really add up. By contrast, one quality menstrual cup can cost $20-40 depending on the brand — and you only need one. Organic tampons are also cheaper, with most costing around $10 per cycle.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is just our two cents. If you use a disc and love it — let us know. We would love to hear about your experience with discs and why you feel that they are the best option — especially if you’ve also used a cup.

SaveSave

Save

Save

Save

Save

Put A Cup In It

Menstrual education with a twist by Kim Rosas & Amanda Hearn. Thanks for being here!

- Kimanda

Latest posts by Put A Cup In It (see all)

28 Comments

  • I had the same issue with removal but I only had one disk (which I signed up for before Flex launch) but thought it was me causing the issue!

  • I tried a disc years ago (before kids, and before cup) because I wasn’t ready to say “fuck what my social circle says, I want a menstrual cup!”, but still wanted an alternative to tampons and pads. I hated the disc. HATED them. I never got it in right, it did fall out (which I thought was normal…?), and was SUCH a mess. It actually scared me from trying a menstrual cup for about 2 years.

    Now I’m an exclusive menstrual cup and washable pad (for the last day of my period) lady.

  • I have used them. They take bit of work, I will use less of them then a pad. I used Instead Softcup (before they went bankrupt) (also in Canada- which means we get Diva Cup and that is it!!!!!) (not bitter)
    As a soft entry into disc/cup use, they are great, I found that you can get used to placing cups or discs into your body. Leak wise, depending on the day and the flow. I often found that they would leak after about 4-6 hours.

    Stil trying to find my cup !

    sarah

  • I have used it and I’m gonna cut straight the point: flex and softcup are good for having sex during your period, period.

  • I have tried both a menstrual cup (Diva Cup) and the Flex. I am relatively new at both – I’ve done one full cycle with the cup and like it. I’m still working through my trial box of Flex and I’m not very confident about where I am on the learning curve with it. I have been able to easily remove the disc each time but that’s because it doesn’t seem to stay behind my pubic bone very well. I’m not sure if I’m just not getting it in there quite right in the first place? Anyway…ideally I’d like to use both a cup and a disc to completely replace pads and tampons. I travel on business a lot and I would much rather travel with disposable discs than a cup I needed to keep clean. However, when I’m at home doing my normal routine I like the zero-waste aspect of the cup.

    I have a friend who absolutely loves Flex. She did say there’s a definite learning curve when taking it out because it’s messy but she had no problem with placement – but she had the NuvaRing as birth control for years whereas I’ve been a Pill user forever. Neither of us have tried the mess-free sex yet. Me…mostly because I don’t think I’ve mastered placement yet.

  • I’ve used the softcup. I didn’t like it at all. Always felt like it was too big. Hard to get in and out. Often was very uncomfortable. No idea how someone could have sex with it in?

  • I use Soft Cup, which is identical to Flex, I think. It’s great. I’ve tried menstrual cups for 20 years, but the Soft Cup works better for me because I have a heavy flow. The reason why I love it is because you can squeeze your vag muscles while you are peeing, and it will bend the cup enough, inside you, to pour out the contents. So, you don’t need to remove the cup at all during the day – just pee! With the menstrual cup, I would have to empty it at work, and wash it out and re-insert, and it was a whole thing. Too much trouble.

    And I definitely do not throw it out after one use. A doctor friend of mine told me that there’s absolutely no reason to throw it out – just wash it with soap and water and re-insert. I use one cup per period. My doctor friend said that the FDA forced the Soft Cup (and Flex presumably) to say it’s for only one use because they didn’t want women washing them in public restrooms. Material-wise, it’s perfectly fine to wash it and reuse it.

    • Whatever doctor told you that is subject to a lawsuit. That is not safe whatsoever to wash and reuse a plastic ring like flex. That’s like washing and reusing a condom. Can you give me the name of the doctor? They need to be under review. That is scary. Do not wash it and reuse flex. NO. NO. NO. WOW. Comments like this make me scared for people that believe all they read on the internet. Let me say again, NO!!!!!!!!

      • I also wash and re-use 1 flex throughout my period. I toss it at the end of my cycle and start a new one the following month. It works great for me- I have had no issues and have read Many accounts of women using flex/softcups this way for years with no issues. Your comment seems rather inflammatory.

  • Crazy! I love the softcup. My sister mentioned it to me and though at first i was scared to use it i have it a try. Never going back. Like Dunemi my sister mentioned that when you flex your muscles as if youre going per it empties itself out and guess what, it does! But unlike Dunemi I only use new one per 24 hrs. So far I haven’t had trouble with it and I’m going on my 5th month I think. It did take me 3 days of putting one in to finally get it right and another cycle to get it where even my hands come out clean! Lol. I love this things and the convenience. Some people do think theyre over priced but for me I’m paying extra for convenience, comfort, less stress and cleaningness.

  • I actually got started on disks. I have a low tilted cervix, and a cup (any cup) simply would not work for me before delivering my first born. After having a baby I can now use small cups under 2 inches and I must trim all stems off to the nub, or else I become irritated, inflamed, and sore within 24 hours. Menstrual disks are great for me. I adore them. If it weren’t for menstrual disks I would have had to use only expensive and leaky sea sponges, drying tampons, or smelly stinky pads that cause chafing before I delivered a child.

    I dont have prolapse issues, I am a healthy woman, who has an extremely low and tilted cervix. Wearing a cup before the baby was not a possibility. My OBGYN even scoffed at the idea and turned me towards disks. After the baby, I can wear something small and extra soft.

    INSTEAD actually produces an FDA certified reusable menstrual Disk that will last you one complete menstrual cycle. I thought you should know. I noticed that you did not.

  • I see a lot of questions about the placement of the disks. In order to properly place them, squash them together and hold in the middle with two fingers. Insert using a “scooping” motion as if you’re going to scoop somwthing from your bottom side. With the disks, you go BACK during placement unlike with the cup where you go up. These positions are needed due to the size of the contraption. Disks are flater and wider so you want to go more towards the back then up, cups are longer and more narrow so you want to go more up then back. To remove the disks properly you literally just hook one finger under the rim and ease it out. When using the re-use able softcup, I reach in and grab the ring with my ring finger, and use my thumb and pointer to squeeze in a GENTLE nature on the sides to help elongation of the device to aid removal. Disks are not as high volume as a cup is due to their design. You must empty every few hours.

    After you know what you’re doing, and establish the skills needed, wearing a disk is a GREAT thing. These allow people who can’t wear cups to wear menstruation collection devices and reap all the health benefits they have to offer.

  • I find flex comfortable, but removal is a murder scene.
    I really only use flex for mess free sex. And am glad I have it as an option now. So one box lasts for months. Worth it in my opinion. Cup hands down for normal use though

  • So it’s wild to me that so many people are so negative about these. They are my absolute favorite. Tried a cup for two years and thought “this is a game changer”. Not having to going through 15 tampons a cycle was awesome (and the horrible mess and discomfort and suffocation from pads) but it took a long time to find one that fit. No Diva cup would work because it was way too large and the stems stuck out. Moved to the Femmy cup teen size and it started awesome. Then I noticed how many infections I was starting to get. And trust me I watched videos on how to wash and did everything I could to keep clean, but have a sensitive pH balance and it just didn’t work. I also had an IUD 6 months prior to cup use with no problems. Got a cup and the suction removed it…three times. The doctor asked about cup use and said no more. It was causing too many problems. She suggested I try these instead and they were SO much more comfortable. Significantly easier to insert, and, screw my partner, I WANT mess free sex. I have loved these and the softcups brand from Walgreens is somewhere between $7-$12 dollars and I use one cup for an entire cycle. Like another reviewer said, totally fine to wash, but it is sanitary when you start a new cycle. Zero infections, zero pH problems, zero problems with insertion, relatively mess free sex, easy to clean in the shower. It was a totally win for me. We are all made differently so don’t be afraid to try it! And yes, I wish I was waste free, but 12 a year is WAY less than tampon waste. And using 12 a year, I am totally fine spending $1 a cycle.

  • I have used soft cup until they stopped selling in stores and now use a Diva Cup. I prefer the soft cup and actually just ordered a trial of the Flex. I miss it. The diva cup I find is hard to get where it’s comfortable. If I have a bowel movement with it in, it can be extremely painful, and sometimes if the placement isn’t perfect, it feels like I have to pee the way a 9 month pregnant woman has to every 5 minutes. It’s just not working. I can get it to fit sometimes perfectly but to me, the menstrual disc is the way to go. Easy to insert, empties when going potty without removal, not too bad to remove once you get the hang of it, and like the others have said, I reuse mine beyond 12 hours. I wash with a warm water and gentle soap at home before using again. I dispose at end of cycle. I can’t wait for my shipment to arrive and to have a comfortable period again.

    • You don’t need to subscribe to the overpriced Flex. The softcups are available again (finally) in stores & online for purchase.

  • I have used both a discs and a cup. I found the disc size to be too big and I feel like it’s stretching me apart from the inside out. Also expensive and is not as environmentally friendly as a cup. What I did like about the disc it is it’s out of the way and it can be worn during sex which a cup can not be.
    If I could design a perfect product, I would like a medical grade silicone reusable disc, containing little to no plastic material and also provides different sizes like menstrual cups. Someone please invent this!

  • To the person who said you have to change a disk every few hours, that’s not true at all. If you look on their website, the disk holds a considerable amount of liquid.
    I really didn’t like this video because they skipped over several majorly positive aspects of the disc. One being you can leave it in for twelve hours (actually more if you read previous comments) and on Flex’s website they promote the fact that the materials the Flex disc is made of will not disturb your pH balance and the materials have also not been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome. It’s rare, but some cups have been. Flex is also hypoallergenic, so you don’t need to worry about the materials. While it can be a challenge to get in and out, it just takes practice like most things (the cup too!). Flex also molds to your body and has really helped my cramps that way.
    As for the sex aspect, yea maybe you’re like “fuck the guy, it’s about me”, but “me” likes having mess free period sex! I don’t know why you’d want more mess, honestly. And if it makes my guy happier too, then that’s also a plus for me.
    Overall, I really think you guys should give discs a shot. They may not be reusable for years but they help in so many other ways, it just takes some practice and patience.

  • I found them way more comfortable and less messy than cups. Because they close up smaller, I found them less painful to insert than cups. I really hate dealing with menstrual blood, so before switching to discs, I would not have been willing to have period sex; a partner would have to have had a strong fetish and a birthday or something similar.

    I used both for at least an entire cycle before making a decision and I know I am generating less waste than when I used pads because while I used 4 pads per day, I use 2 of these.

  • It did take me three cycles to figure out to place flex without discomfort. Now I can’t feel them. I’m small with a very tender cervix and allergic to pads and tampons. Removal is easy, but they tilt and empty when I pee. I can also reach in and tilt to empty faster. It’s messy, so a toilet with a sink right next to it is best. They get painful when full, like maybe its crowding my cervix, but then I know when to drain it. Sometimes holding it under hot water makes for easier insertion. My only complaint is the 12 hour limit. I go through too many since I really don’t want to ride out the last light day or two with a pad. They also will overflow at night. Haven’t found a solution for that yet.

  • Responding to a couple of comments above: I also was looking for a re-usable menstrual disc option and found the Ziggy Cup by Intimina. Looks like the first re-usable disc (they say it lasts 2 years) on the market, but I imagine other cup companies will start making the discs soon because it’s a much better shape/design for lots of women! I love that I can’t feel them, and that instead of distending the vaginal walls (as cups & tampons do), they are designed to fit in the fornix in a way that is synergistic with the shape of our bodies. yay! And then regarding not wanting to last the last day or two of a light period with a pad – I have found period panties (thinx/ dear kates) to be such a good solution to this! 🙂
    As someone who has tried both menstrual cups and discs, I am a fan of the disc so far. Looking forward to trying out the ziggy cup- the reusable disc. So far I have only tried FLEX.

  • It was perfect on the first insert but once you figure out how to easily remove them… you subconsciously begin to accidentally push them out (basically a kegel) … the second insert (on a heavier day) feels like you’re trying to push a balloon under water smh…. I hated them.

  • I am just trying the flex, and I love it. It’s a lot less waste than tampons which I normally have to change multiple times a day. I tried a menstrual cup before and hated it! It was uncomfortable and I couldn’t couldn’t stand to wear it. Yes, removal is a little messy but it’s worth it for me. Plus you can always take it out in the shower since it’s 12 hour wear. I am considering trying the Ziggy cup which is really a silicone version of the flex.

  • Menstrual discs are what got me started on cups. I don’t even quite remember how it happened, except I think one day I was looking for pads and saw the discs, and thought, “What’s THIS all about”? I I researched it and the rest is pretty much history. I had been looking for some way to have a period where I wouldn’t have to fill up our trash can. I’m not so much concerned about the waste aspect as I was my daughter. She’s nonverbal autistic, and had begun digging around in the trash and chewing on things. Reusable products seemed the thing, and I started out buying cloth pads, then saw the discs, and eventually moved on to cups.
    Whenever I travel, I like using the disposable discs. Having to use reusable products on the road is a major pain Much easier to use disposables, Tampons are dry and hurt coming out, and pads get smelly and nasty after awhile.

  • I tried Flex and hated it. It was too big to fit. I’d gotten Flex to use during my honeymoon, because Aunt Flo was going to visit the day after the wedding. Thankfully that was a shorter and lighter visit, and my new husband was happy to wait until the visitor had left. I tried throughout the week to use Flex and never could get it placed right and had a murder scene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *