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If there’s one thing there’s an abundance of these days it’s period products — tampons, pads, absorbent period underwear, cups and discs, oh my! With this myriad of options for your time of month, it makes it significantly easier to consider what actually feels good (or, like, as close to good as one gets when they’re bleeding for a few days out of each month) for their body. Every vulva is different and every body and lifestyle has something that suits it.
I have been a tampon person for most of my life. It worked when I was a swimmer growing up and didn’t feel as obtrusive as a pad. Since that early decision, I’ve dabbled with various menstrual cups over the years (because the sustainability and long staying power definitely appealed to me) but have mostly kept mine on standby for days when I’m at home and will only be in my own bathroom. But then I came across the Flex Disc and its reusable sister product — and I don’t think I can ever go back to my old reliable tampons now.
My journey was sort of a happy accident: My sister had attempted to pivot to Flex Disc a while back and had a few in her drawer to offer me when my period dropped a little early (before I had a chance to replenish my tampon stash). No stranger to a cup, I wasn’t squeamish about giving the disc a go — even if it was just to make it out the door to the drug store.
I found when I followed the directions and get it seated in the sweet spot at the vaginal fornix (which is between the pubic bone and the cervix), it felt like nothing. Longtime menstruators know that a period tends to feel like a lot of different things (painful, bloat-y, jus plain uncomfy) but rarely does it feel like nothing. So I was intrigued and put off my drug store run to work through the discs I had at my disposal (realizing that they might be worth a review for my SheKnows readers). This was about three months ago and while I did acquire a few more Flex discs (including the reusable one, which I’ll get to in a second), I haven’t once thought about going back to tampons.
So a bit about the discs. They are a little funny looking at first, made with “100 percent medical-grade polymers that don’t host toxic bacteria or disrupt your vagina’s natural pH balance or flora,” per Flex, they look like funny little flying saucers. Like any good menstrual cup, they can be folded to a size comparable to a tampon (so don’t freak out at the size) and are pretty easy to handle — though you have to be comfortable with the knowledge that you might have a tiny bit of menstrual fluid on your hands when you empty it.
Flex Disc (disposable)
I’d say the rim of the disc might be the most intimidating part ’til it’s in your hands just because it looks thick and scary, but it’s actually part of the secret of how the thing fits your body so well. Warming to your body and forming to fit your unique shape, their “ComfortSeal™ technology” is what gives it the extreme comfort and security that makes it wearable when you’re working out, laying around or having sex. Flex also said that 60 percent of users report a reduction in cramps (due to where the disc sits at the fornix) and while my cramps have never been too much of an issue in my own menstrual journey, I did feel like they were reduced even more. So that’s clutch.
The disposable discs are made with 60 percent less waste than traditional period products, according to Flex, making them a solid option as you step into your sustainable period product journey but they remain a single-use product that you take out (after about 12 hours depending on your flow). But they’re new reusable disc, which I’ve pivoted to in the last month, is a double game-changer on that front.
Flex Reusable Disc
As the name states, this disc is a reusable option (made of body-safe medical-grade silicone) that is modeled after the original disc. It has a nifty little notch built into the rim to help you master your fold too — which is excellent for newbs who are still puzzling out how they’re supposed to get the whole thing inside. It offers up to 12 hours of protection as well (flows may vary this a bit). I’ve found with this disc and the others that I didn’t experience much by way of leakage but if I did it was because i needed to take a clean finger and poke it back into its desired spot at the fornix — which isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds.
For folks looking to get in to menstrual discs (or eventually take the reusable disc plunge), I think these are an excellent pick for beginners. There’s a wealth of intel on Flex’s site for how to get them seated comfortably and how to keep it clean (a good boil and storing it in a safe dry space is essential) and it’s a discreet and unintimidating way to change up your period practices for the better.
I took both kinds of discs for a spin during period sex on different menstruating occasions and can report that it was the cleanest ever. Like no mess, no harm done to the towel/blanket put down just in case that first time and my partners didn’t feel it at all during penetration. The one pro-tip/note I’ll give you is that if you’re looking to take out or empty your disc after sex, you might want to wait about 15 to 30 minutes or so or you might freak yourself out. When a person with a vulva gets aroused the vaginal canal can nearly double in length (yeah, really!) and your cervix tends to be a bit higher — so you might not be able to reach it til everything cools down again. This has been a PSA.
But all’s to say, I love my new menstrual discs deeply. While I wasn’t one who shied away from the mess of period sex, there’s something to be said about being able to not worry about any kind of mess and or discomfort and just enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, my old favorite tampons don’t stand a chance anymore in comparison.
Before you go, check out some of the amazing period products to choose from these days. There’s, like, so many.