Product Review: the FLEX Menstrual Disc
Why the FLEX menstrual disc?
As part of my continued journey of trying as many menstrual products as possible, I am reviewing the FLEX menstrual disc. I realize that there is likely no perfect product for everyone. So my goal with these reviews is to give a real, unbiased opinion about how varying products worked for me. You can see my reviews on other products you may not have tried before, including a menstrual DIVA cup and reusable menstrual pads. After this, I will review some other, more traditional products, like Playtex Sports Tampons.
So why would a woman want to try the FLEX menstrual disc? Well, menstrual discs are meant to be for use during menstrual bleeding in a woman’s cycle. The disc is inserted below the cervix, with the FLEX company reporting that it should sit above the vaginal canal, higher than tampons or a menstrual cup. The goal of a menstrual disc is actually to collect menstrual fluid, not to absorb, like most other menstrual products aim to do.
It is also important to note that these discs are disposable, so they do not require washing and reusing like a menstrual cup or reusable pads. They are thrown out after each use, just like a tampon or disposable pad. One other unique characteristic of a menstrual disc is that the FLEX company claims it can be worn safely during sex without either person feeling it, since it sits where a diaphragm would be placed. (I have to admit that I didn’t try this, so I can’t comment on if this claim is true.)
All of these really unique traits made me very interested in trying a disc and hopeful that it would work for me!
Who Might Use a Menstrual Disc?
This product is designed to be used by women menstruating, or having cyclical bleeding. I assume they could be used for any type of unusual vaginal bleeding, including a pill bleed; I wrote a separate post about how bleeding on the pill is not actually menstruation. This menstrual product is used internally, so just like tampons or menstrual cups, it is NOT appropriate to use for postpartum bleeding until after you have had a 6 week postpartum follow-up with your doctor to determine if you are healing normally.
Which style did I choose?
I chose to try the FLEX menstrual disc. There are other companies producing similar products on the market, but I honestly really liked the FLEX company’s marketing and educational materials on their website. They offer a lot of support and troubleshooting.
Painless to insert/remove:
With much excitement, I discovered that this menstrual disc is actually very painless to insert or remove. I had a hard time with a menstrual cup being so bulky that it was somewhat painful to insert. I have also had pain with tampons occasionally. The FLEX disc was easy to pinch in half and fold up to insert into place. No pain at all.
I noted that I had less pain with wearing the FLEX menstrual disc than I did with traditional tampons or with a menstrual DIVA cup. It seemed that the smaller size of it was more tolerable. It also may have caused less cramping because of its position in the body, compared to those other internal menstrual products that contact more sensitive tissues. The FLEX company website also claims that most women note a decrease in cramping compared to other products.
Holds more than a tampon:
Woohoo! The FLEX company reports that the menstrual disc can hold fluid equal to 3-5 tampons, and I definitely noted that it could hold more than I expected from inspecting it before inserting it. I also was able to work out comfortably without worrying about it overflowing or making a mess.
Can be disposed of on the go:
Just like a tampon, the FLEX menstrual discs can be disposed of on the go and changed in any bathroom. I didn’t have to worry about finding a bathroom with an accessible sink, like I did with a menstrual cup.
Can order a subscription based on needs:
While I just ordered a one time trial of the product, you can modify a subscription of discs to be delivered to you at the average rate of your length of cycle. That way, you never run out.
Tons of support from their website:
The FLEX company website is seriously very helpful in teaching how to insert or remove the disc, how it should be positioned, and other safety considerations of the product. I also called their support number to ask some questions and got a speedy response.
No link to toxic shock syndrome:
At this point, there is no link between using menstrual discs and getting Toxic Shock Syndrome, a huge safety concern with traditional tampons. They are obviously less commonly used though, so we will have to keep an eye on emerging reports on this, to see if anything changes.
No seal created:
This product does not rely on a seal to keep it in place. It relies on more normal anatomy to stay horizontally placed underneath the cervix. This means that it may be a better option for women with pelvic organ prolapse that have a hard time with a pesky seal of a menstrual cup.
Messy to remove:
There is no way around this. It will probably be a bit messy when removing the menstrual disc to dump the fluid in the toilet. I am not saying that there will be a bathroom stall disaster or any concern about getting menstrual fluid on your clothes, but it is very likely that you will have messy hands. Sorry. Gross, I know. That is why I would say this is my primary negative review on the product.
I wanted so desperately for this to truly be a leak-proof product! But alas, I wasn’t that successful. Now, in general, I had success with it. But I did leak a couple of times. It was not due to waiting too long to change the disc or anything as simple as that. It seemed to be more related to my pelvic organ prolapse and having a hard time keeping it in the proper position. This may not be a concern for many women, but some women, especially postpartum women, may have to check it more frequently at first to make sure it is staying in place.
Must be manually inserted/removed internally:
This product requires being comfortable with reaching into the vaginal canal to get the menstrual disc into its proper place. Some women may not be comfortable doing this, and some may just simply be grossed out. Tampons have handy applicators to get around this; no such luck with a menstrual disc.
Disposable and less Earth-friendly:
In reality, this product is disposable and likely less Earth-friendly than reusable products on the market. That being said, I had a hard time finding on the FLEX website from what materials the product is made. So I can’t fully assess if it is more or less wasteful than other disposable menstrual products.
Not as accessible to buy:
This product is still relatively new to the market. So you will likely not find it in your local grocery store. That means that you must be on top of your game in managing a subscription to make sure you have them on hand when your period comes around. They are also more expensive than some tampons, because there are few companies making them. Tampons, on the other hand, are made by many generic brands at a very low price. So consider this an investment, if it does seem like the right product for you.
This is a truly novel product in the market of menstrual products. It has many positive attributes, including being easier to insert/remove and more convenient than a menstrual cup, due to being disposable. The menstrual disc was also less painful and created less cramping than traditional tampons. It is a fantastic product for women looking for a menstrual product to use on active days when you want to worry very little about your period for up to 12 hours. However, to use this product, you must be comfortable digitally inserting and removing it up past the vaginal canal and dealing with some messiness to dump it out before inserting a new one. It is not for the faint of heart to use menstrual discs, but I will definitely be wearing them again!