I’m coming to you today to talk about period products. There are so many to choose from these days and it can feel a bit overwhelming, so I’m dedicating a few podcast episodes to giving you the rundown of my experience.
I used to always be a tampon girl until I had kids. I don’t know what changed exactly, but once I’d squeezed a tiny human out of my lady garden, it was no longer able to accept a tampon. Whatever I did, they just wouldn’t stay in place any more.
So I moved on to using disposable pads which is absolutely hated! I persevered with them for a few years but I was becoming more and more miserable with my period. So, I tried Mooncup.
My reason for switching to Mooncup was purely for comfort. Tampons hurt, pads felt gross and wet and I needed another solution. But once I started using Mooncup I really started to pay attention to the environmental impact my periods were having.
eliminating period waste
Since then, I’ve basically binned off all disposable products. I guess Mooncup opened my eyes to the amount of waste my period was creating. At this point, I’d like to say I’m pretty passionate about having a sustainable period.
I’ve tried several different reusable products now and I like to think there is an option for everyone. There are menstrual cups, period pants, reusable pads and (the one I wanna talk about today) the menstrual disc.
For me, it has to be Mooncup.
Mooncup is an economical, eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads. It’s my all-time favourite period product and it totally changed the way I feel about that time of the month.
what is a menstrual disc?
So, what is a menstrual disc? A menstrual disc is sort of similar to a menstrual cup. If you know me, you’ll know I’m obsessed with my Mooncup. It’s my absolute favourite period product.
That said, a cup isn’t the perfect option for everyone. Different people have different bodies and therefore require different options, which is why I’m always keen to give other methods a go.
I’m not exactly sure where I first came across a menstrual disc. I definitely remember looking up what a menstrual disc was, and it seemed pretty similar to a cup. A silicone, saucer shaped device that sits inside the vagina to catch your flow. So, the shape is different from a menstrual cup – but aside from that, at a first glance, they seem pretty similar.
If you’ve ever seen a diaphragm, this is pretty much what a menstrual disc is. Although, a diaphragm is a contraceptive device. Whereas a menstrual disc is only designed for keeping blood in. Not for keeping sperm out. So, it’s important to make that distinction even though they look pretty much the same.
With menstrual discs, you can get disposable ones, but the kind I have are reusable. I like to think of myself as a bit of an eco-period-warrior. So, where there’s a sustainable option – I’m going to take it. Reusables all the way!
I know reusable products can seem pricey in comparison to your usual box of £2.99 tampons. But, consider the overall cost per period. If you buy 1 box of tampons each cycle, that’s £2.99 per period.
The price tag of a Nixit disc comes in at £45 – which seems a lot! But, when you consider that a menstrual disc can last you up to 5 years, it could cost you as little as 69p per period. Compare that to tampons which could cost you up to £194 for the same lifespan. It’s a no-brainer, right?
menstrual disc position
One thing I didn’t realise about menstrual discs is that they actually sit in a totally different place than a menstrual cup. The menstrual cup sits low down in the vaginal canal. Whereas a menstrual disc sits lengthways. One end tucks behind the cervix, and the other tucks behind the pubic bone.
I know, that sounds so complex. For one, how the heck do you know if it’s tucked behind your cervix properly? And secondly, what the heck is the pubic bone? I also had these same questions when I first heard this too.
The thing is, once I actually tried a menstrual disc, I found my pubic bone relatively easily. If you head to the show notes, I’ll link a diagram of what this disc should look like inside the vagina. It’s pretty hard to visualise parts of yourself that you’ve never actually seen, so working out exactly where this bad boy would sit can be a bit daunting.
Finding my pubic bone was the part I expected to struggle with, but that was actually the easy part. The bit I had trouble with was getting the disc to sit behind my cervix. So, if you imagine you’ve got the cervix, and then on the front wall of the vagina there’s a little dip in which is a bit like a shelf. The idea is that one side of the disc sits behind the cervix, and then that little shelf (your pubic bone) is where the other side sits.
So, the disc should be right below your cervix catching all the blood that comes out. The trouble I was having, is that I was managing to tuck the disc IN FRONT of my cervix. I still had the other side of the disc in the right place. My pubic bone was holding it in nicely. But, because I had the disc tucked in front of my cervix rather than behind it, the blood just ran down the outside of the disc and straight into my knickers rather than being caught in the disc.
As with all menstrual products, it can take some trial and error to get it right. In fact, when I first used a disc, it gave me horrendous back pain. I felt like I was having labour pain through my back and my legs. Honestly, it was awful!
Once I removed the disc, everything was fine again. It was like instant relief. I don’t know exactly what I did wrong, but the disc was clearly pressing on my cervix, giving me this painful experience.
I know, full well, that sometimes these things take practice. Although I was a little put off by the pain, I really wanted to give the disc another go. I really wanted to make it work.
I wasn’t going to just give up. I could have. I could have just said “oh this didn’t work for me” and never used the disc again. But, I really wanted to get on with it, so I kept trying. I think it took about 3 cycles for me to really get the hang of using the disc.
Struggling to get the rest your body is so deeply craving?
mess-free period sex, really?
Although it sounds scary, the alternative placement of a menstrual disc has one distinct advantage over a menstrual cup. For sure, it may be more comfortable for some people, since the disc sits higher up in the vagina. But, the other main advantage of a menstrual disc over a menstrual cup is that you can wear one during PIV penetrative sex.
So, I think this is what first prompted me to look into menstrual discs. I don’t know where I first heard it, but I was made aware that there was a menstrual cup type product that you could wear during intercourse. My interest peaked and I set about finding out more.
The unique placement of a menstrual disc means that during intercourse, the penis just slides right on by the menstrual disc without causing any discomfort. So, that means you can keep your menstrual disc in while you get jiggy with it, and there’s no mess!
Or at least, that was the idea. I honestly didn’t know if that could possibly be true. Of course, this is a pretty bold statement to make – so naturally I had to try it out.
I won’t get into all the nitty gritty details of my marital relations, but I will tell you this:
1. I couldn’t feel the disc at all during sex (in fact, I was pretty convinced it had fallen out).
2. My husband couldn’t feel the disc at all during sex (and he was also pretty convinced it had fallen out).
3. There was no blood on the sheets by the time we’d finished (I mean, we put a towel down just in case but it wasn’t necessary).
Of course, not everyone is up for sex on their period. That’s fine. But, knowing that the option of being intimate without the period mess is available, really caught my attention. To be honest, I find my desire for sex to be at it’s lowest during menstruation anyway. But, it’s nice to have options.
Just because you can wear a menstrual cup during sex doesn’t mean that’s the only reason to consider one. As I already said, the placement of a disc is entirely different to a cup. So, if you’re someone who struggles with a menstrual cup – it might be worth a try.
is a disc better than a cup?
Another reason why you might get along better with a disc than a cup, is that a disc doesn’t have any fiddly folds to worry about. With a menstrual cup there are several ways you can fold it for insertion. Some people get along with one type of fold over another, but sometimes it can just feel a bit confusing. With a menstrual disc you completely eliminate this problem.
You don’t need to fold a menstrual disc. You squeeze it at the sides and insert lengthways into the vagina. In fact, the way the disc is inserted is sort of similar to the way you might insert a tampon.
It doesn’t work in the same way as a tampon. But, once you squeeze the sides of the disc it becomes long and thin. No fiddly folds, just one simple squeeze. I guess it’s just one less thing to worry about in comparison to a cup.
If you’ve used a menstrual cup before, you’ll know that they create a vacuum seal which is what stops them from leaking. You must break this seal before removing the cup by pinching the base of it before wiggling it out of your vagina.
With a menstrual disc, there is no suction. The disc is held in place in the vaginal fornix by your pubic bone. So, there’s no need for that vacuum seal to prevent leaks.
To remove the disc, you have to hook your finger over the rim of the disc, which is sitting in that dip in your pubic bone. I find it easy to reach for removal but it is a bit messier than a cup. Because your cup comes out upright, it’s fairly easy to hold it steady and avoid spilling it. But, because a disc comes out lengthways, it’s very difficult to avoid spills.
Imagine trying to pull a saucer of milk out of a pipe at a 45 degree angle without spilling any. It’s definitely a difficult task. So, some spillages are to be expected.
Some people swear by “auto-dumping” their disc, which is supposed to be less messy. What it means is that they bear down when sitting on the toilet and the disc empties itself.
I personally have never managed to make this work. I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong or what. But, I’m kinda glad it doesn’t work for me because I could see myself “auto-dumping” by accident when I sit down on the couch or something.
Personally, I still prefer a menstrual cup. When I come on my period, my first choice has always been Mooncup. It’s my ride or die period product.
This really just comes down to the fact that I find the Mooncup easier to place. The disc I find a little more tricky to get right. So, for ease – I reach for my Mooncup.
That said, on the occasions I have got my disc placed correctly, it’s actually brilliant! It’s comfortable. I actually can’t feel it at all. I know I can just go about my day doing whatever I want and it is reliable.
And, of course, the “mess-free period sex” promise definitely lives up to the expectation – which is a massive bonus. In fact, this is probably the only reason I reach for my disc these days. If I’m not feeling like I wanna get down to it, I’ll wear my cup. But, if sex is on the cards, I’ll switch to my disc.
Think your period pants have to be boring? Think again!
ModiBodi are period proof underwear that absorb your menstrual flow without the need for pads and tampons. Simply, wear, wash and reuse. ModiBodi period underwear comes in a range of styles and colours to suit your mood. And best of all? You can try Modibodi risk free for 30 days (see website for full terms and conditions).
which brand of menstrual disc is best?
Having used both, Nixit is my favourite of the two. But, not necessarily for the reasons you might think. They actually both perform similarly. I can’t say, in terms of period protection, one is better than the other. They both do a sterling job if you get the placement right.
One massive factor for why I prefer the Nixit is the packaging. They each come with a little pouch to store the disc in which is really handy if you’re keeping your disc in your handbag. But, the Ziggy Cup came with so much excess packaging.
For the size of the actual disc, the packaging was disproportionate. It came in this huge, hard plastic case which just seemed a little unnecessary. Especially when you consider that one of the selling points of a reusable menstrual product is to reduce environmental waste. So, I wasn’t sold on the packaging.
The Nixit came in a really nice cardboard box. A bit like a jewellery gift box that you might get a necklace or something in. It’s really nice packaging. In fact, I kept the box. I didn’t need to necessarily, because you also get a little fabric bag to store your disc in. But, the outer packaging was too nice to throw out.
I also prefer the shape and colour of the Nixit. Again, not that this has any bearing on how well it performs – it’s just personal preference. The Nixit is a circle shape, whereas the Ziggy cup is an oval.
I feel like the Nixit feels a bit firmer too, but it’s difficult to say if it is actually firmer, or if my mind is just playing tricks on me. Either way the shape and the feel of the Nixit is a winner for me.
Also the Nixit is smooth. The bottom of these discs isn’t as rigid as a menstrual cup would be. The bit that actually catches the blood is paper-thin. I suppose this is what allows a penis to just slide right on by during sex. If the base of the disc was thicker it would most likely get in the way.
So, on the Nixit the paper-thin base is smooth, and I really like that. Whereas the Ziggy has a honeycomb type raised pattern on it. I don’t know if there’s a specific reason for that pattern, or if it’s just aesthetic. But, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t impact how well the disc actually works.
I don’t know why but I’m really particular about shapes. I’m that kind of person that is very choosy about what mug they use, their bowl shape and their cutlery size. Maybe I’m a weirdo, who knows?! But, my particulars on shape, size and colour also come into play when it comes to choosing a menstrual disc, so it seems.
So, again, my preference isn’t really a reflection on how well each disc performs. It’s just my personal tastes at play. Feel free to completely disregard my opinions on this one (I won’t be offended!).
Should I get a menstrual disc?
All in all, I would say a menstrual disc is a good option if you’re looking to switch to a reusable period product. It’s not necessarily my first choice, but I’m grateful to have it as an option. I definitely think it could be a good supplement to your period stash, especially if you’re someone who likes the idea of period sex, without the mess.
If you want to give it a go, I would recommend that when you use a disc for the first time you’re patient with yourself. It can take a few tries to get the hang of it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right on the first go.
You have to give it a few tries before you decide if it’s right for you or not. I think it’s really easy to think “well this is rubbish” if you don’t get it right away. A bit of trial and error can pay off in the end.
It can take some time to get the placement right, so backup options (like a reusable pad or period underwear) are probably a good shout while you’re figuring things out. And this goes for menstrual cups too. You can’t be 100% sure that you’re not going to leak, especially when something is new to you. So, it’s definitely worth being prepared.