Lauren Schulte had no intention of starting a company, but when she wasn’t able to find a period product that worked for her, she felt that she had no other choice.
She had tried everything: a vegetarian diet, getting rid of all her nice underwear, changing detergents and switching to organic tampons, but nothing helped to stop her yeast infections. Not wanting to use pads, she tried more than 30 menstrual cup products from around the world, but found that none of them really worked for her.
That’s when she developed Flex, a flexible disc that fits into your vaginal fornix, which Schulte, the founder and CEO of The Flex Company, described as “kind of like cul-de-sac almost, or the mouth of a river.” The fornix is wide and there are fewer nerve ending in that part of the vaginal canal.
“When you’re wearing a product internally that’s sitting inside, it’s pushing the walls of the vagina apart to stay in, which can cause pain,” she explained. So between that and having fewer nerve endings, the product tends to feel more comfortable for users.
And while she liked the idea that menstrual cups could be worn for up to 12 hours, Schulte wanted to make the Flex out of materials that were safe and comfortable, and wouldn’t grow bacteria or be prone to infection.
Once she had a prototype, she sent it out to people who menstruate to test it out, and one of the comments she heard most frequently was that the Flex can be used during period sex — something that differentiates it from other period products. With the new angle, Schulte and her team gave it to another set of consumers, positioning it as a product for period sex.
“The results blew us away,” she said, with more than 90 percent of those who tested it saying they would use it during their next cycle. She then tried the “period sex” position on the website’s homepage, and within 24 hours, it went viral on Reddit and they had 30,000 people sign up to be on the Flex waiting list — and that was before the story was picked up by the media.
Of course, you don’t need a special product to have period sex, not to mention the fact that sex itself takes many different shapes and forms, but for those who don’t feel comfortable getting intimate during their cycle, this could be a game-changer.
The Flex Company also makes a point of using the term “period products” instead of “feminine care” or anything that comes with a built-in gender slant to help make the conversation more inclusive of all people who menstruate. They also aim to create more diversity in the products themselves.
“We envision a future in which there are different types of period products for different people, almost like any other product category,” she said. “If you think about chairs or glasses, there are infinite different combinations based on their own personal needs, and our hope is by normalizing this conversation, other companies will join us and change things.”