Menstrual cups have quickly gained popularity with people looking to ditch the disposables and opt for more sustainable, reusable period products to manage their menstrual cycle.
Slightly different in design, menstrual discs are now making a name for themselves by claiming some seriously alluring features—like better comfort, more capacity, and mess-free period sex.
So what are menstrual discs all about?
The Difference Between Menstrual Discs and Menstrual Cups
A menstrual disc works mostly the same way that a menstrual cup does, by collecting menstrual blood instead of absorbing it like pads or tampons. The main differences between these devices are their shape and how they’re worn.
Cups typically have a longer bell shape and sit below the cervix in the vaginal canal, while discs sit higher and are more ‘disc’ shaped, similar to a diaphragm.
The other main difference between menstrual cups and menstrual discs is how they fit. Cups use suction to stay in place since they sit lower in the vagina, while discs sit higher and stay put by being tucked behind the pubic bone.
Why You Should Switch to A Menstrual Disc: 6 Reasons
Menstrual Discs are Designed for Comfort
Most menstrual discs are made of soft and flexible medical-grade silicone or natural rubber latex that’s BPA-free. They’re designed to flex with your body as you move, and be hardly noticeable as you go about your daily life. Since they sit near the cervix instead of the vaginal canal, discs can be more comfortable than menstrual cups for some users whether they have a low cervix or a high one.
Menstrual Discs Provide All Day Protection
A menstrual disc can be worn for 10-12 hours before having to empty it, without worrying about risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) or other infections. This is because discs collect blood instead of absorbing it, so no other bacteria gets absorbed either.
Menstrual Discs May Offer More Capacity
Menstrual discs hold the equivalent of about five regular tampons or three super tampons (around 40-50 ml or 10 teaspoons!), making them perfect for those with a heavy flow. The wider rim of the disc forms a seal with your vaginal walls, meaning fewer leaks and more worry-free period days.
Menstrual Discs Are Great for IUD Users
As we mentioned, menstrual discs sit higher and closer to an area called the vaginal fornix. Since they’re tucked behind the pubic bone, they don’t use suction to stay in place like a menstrual cup does. This means you don’t have to worry about accidental removal of your IUD from using a menstrual cup, especially if you have a low cervix.
Menstrual Discs Make Mess-Free Period Sex A Possibility
Sex on your period can be amazing, but also messy. Discs make great menstrual products for those who still want to enjoy sex with less mess during menstruation.
Since menstrual discs sit higher in the vagina and don’t rely on suction to stay in place, you can enjoy sex without worrying about menstrual fluid leaking out.
And Finally, Menstrual Discs are Sustainable and Save You Money
Menstrual discs are completely reusable for up to five years, and some companies claim even longer! The investment in a reusable menstrual device like a disc or a cup will save you money every month for years of periods to come, and keep countless disposable period products out of landfills.
Beginners’ Tips for How to Use A Menstrual Disc
Insertion can take some getting used to with menstrual discs. You may need to practice your stance, fold, or pinching to get it just right for you.
Steps for Inserting and Removing A Menstrual Disc
- Wash your hands before putting them near your vagina to insert or remove your disc.
- You can sit over the toilet, stand, or put one leg up to insert or remove a menstrual disc.
- Insert your pinched disc pointing downwards and back up into your vagina at a vertical angle, completely covering your cervix.
- When removing your disc, use your index finger to reach in and grip the rim of the disc.
- Pull your disc out slowly and empty the contents over the toilet.
- If you’re struggling to find and remove your menstrual disc, try squeezing your pelvic muscles while sitting or lying down and your butt and hips are relaxed.
- Rinse your disc, or dab with toilet paper and give it a gentle shake if you’re in a public bathroom or don’t have access to running water.
- Reinsert or clean and store properly, and you’re good to go!
Things to Note About Menstrual Discs
Keep in mind that while menstrual discs look somewhat like diaphragms, they’re not an effective birth control option.
Individuals who have given birth in recent months should consult their OB-GYN before using a menstrual disc, since any foreign objects after such an intense event can cause the body to react.
Finally, we want to acknowledge that having to insert and remove period products like menstrual discs can be uncomfortable, and for some can cause gender dysphoria or other unnecessary stress. Menstrual discs are just one of many options for period management, and it’s worth finding a sustainable system that works best for you, whatever that may be.