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    I Haven’t Used A Tampon Since Discovering Menstrual Discs — Here’s Why

    While many people who menstruate are loyal to tampons, there's something new on the market: menstrual discs, which offer a happy medium between traditional period products and sustainability-centric options.

    When it comes to period products, innovation isn’t necessarily the name of the game. Recent years have popularized products like the Diva Cup and made way for maxi pads with “cuter” packaging, but those of us who menstruate certainly don’t anticipate the appearance of brand-new period management methods every season.

    an image of a tampon applicator on a white marble background

    Enter menstrual discs (not to be confused with menstrual cups, pictured below).

    Multicolored menstrual cups

    Menstrual discs are something of a meeting point between typical period management methods like tampons and reusable menstrual cups. While they are available in reusable form (Nixit, for example), the most popular brands like Flex are disposable, allowing for use while traveling or when unable to easily access a cleansing method.

    Stock image of a menstrual disc

    My journey with menstrual discs began as many of life’s greatest journeys do: with a targeted ad on Instagram. Perhaps it appeared because I’d been googling menstrual cups or because I’d discussed periods with friends and my phone was doing its typical eavesdropping, but an ad for Flex menstrual discs popped up on my feed.

    A box of Flex brand menstrual discs.

    As something of a penny-pincher, I had a tough time getting over the relatively high cost of the discs. For a box of 12 Flex discs from Target, I paid about $15.

    A screencap of the Flex listing on Target's website

    I’ll admit that I felt guilty about opting for a disposable method when products like the Diva Cup exist, but I know myself. I’m not one to deny my “lazy girl” side, and the idea of regularly washing a menstrual cup felt like one extra annoyance for my to-do list.

    I travel relatively frequently and don’t always have the time or resources to keep a cup clean while on the road. Also, I’ll be honest: The idea of boiling a once-bloody menstrual cup in the same pot where I make delicious pasta seemed a bit…icky. Ultimately, I figured that my personal efforts for sustainability elsewhere in life were enough to make up for choosing a disposable period product. 

    So I’d purchased my discs, told a few curious pals about my new period endeavor, and taken off my pants. The time had come. I opened the box and was pleased to find a pretty thorough brochure with instructions for insertion and removal, along with a link to a YouTube video that provided even more details.

    An image of the disc outside of its packaging in the author's hand

    I chickened out and couldn’t push the first disc far enough into my vagina. The instructions said that it should be placed vertically behind the pubic bone, which forced me to give more thought to the internal structure of my vagina than I had in quite some time. Was I actually feeling the pubic bone? Despite the presence of my cervix, would I somehow be the first menstrual disc user in history to accidentally shove this plastic thing so far into my body that it ended up inside my uterus, never to be seen again? It didn’t help that I was visiting my baby boomer mother at the time, who was outwardly skeptical of this newfangled blood hammock.

    A stock image of the female reproductive system

    Following only a day or two of use, I felt confident enough in this new product to take it on the ultimate period test: wearing it while trying on wedding dresses.

    An image of the author trying on a wedding dress

    Ultimately, my menstrual disc experience has turned out to be a major net positive. While I began with Flex discs, I tried another product from the same company after using up my first Flex box. Known as Softdiscs, these discs feature more of a traditionally “feminine” aesthetic and don’t have the trademarked ComfortSeal technology advertised by Flex, which claims to create a fully airtight seal alongside the cervical opening. Anecdotally, I’ve had a handful of minor leaks while using Softdiscs, so Flex takes the cake for me!

    My voyage into the world of menstrual discs has reminded me that my menstruation experience is just that: mine. I’m not bound by the norms hammered into my head back in middle school, but I’m equally unbound by the pressure to make sustainability and adult peer pressure the sole focus of my menstrual health. While moving forward as a person who menstruates, personal satisfaction and comfort will remain squarely at the forefront of every choice I make.