Goodbye Cup, the Disc is the Key to Your Best Period Ever

on

I’ve been a cup user since 2005, extolling to any woman who would listen, the virtues of the reusable menstrual cup. It’s eco-friendly! It takes the live sacrifice out of witchcraft! You’ll save so much on plant fertilizer! I was eager for women to get in touch with their yoni, and give up the fuchsia and purple boxes of overpriced, plastic everywhere, uncomfortable, single-use pads and tampons. But the zeal of the recently converted college freshwoman wore thin over time.

My Diva Cup was too big. It always hurt putting it in and taking it out. Once it even got stuck. I got a different cup, some Luna or Lunetta or something, it was softer silicone and smaller, so it didn’t hurt going in. But, not being as rigid, it also refused to open inside me until I’d twisted it, tugged it back and forth, fought with it to get it to hold a seal.

Every cup I tried ended up leaking, which was fine, I just learned to wear ugly underwear, and eventually I was an early adopter of Thinx. Through occasional (usually accidental but sometimes lackadaisacal) free-bleeding, I had to confront the reality that, beyond the pain of fighting the cup in and out, wearing the cup actually made my cramps worse. I didn’t want this to be true — not my menstrual cup! I was taking back my period from the man, I was saving the planet! A sense of dread headed off by duty accompanied me to the bathroom for the wrestling match between me and my menstrual cup every 24 days. It sucked, but I could never go back to tampons.

When I first encountered Softdisc and Flex, I didn’t think they could pull me away from the traditional cup, in spite of the claims that you could wear them during (penetrative) sex. They sit under your cervix, rather than in your vaginal canal. These types of cups are not as common, so if you haven’t seen them, here’s a picture: they are surprisingly large, and look like they are made out of a very fresh department store plastic bag. I thought they were best used as a little boat to launch condoms of drugs or clean pee safely into nature’s pocket. If you’re trying to hide something, I give em a 10/10, definitely worth a shot. For catching blood? They’re barely less wasteful than pads or tampons.

Recently, a couple new, true reusables have entered the market. After a few months of using them, I’ve completely abandoned the cup life and am now team menstrual disc. The disc definitely has a steep learning curve. As a lesbian, I like to think I know my way around a cervix, but the first several times I tried these products, I ended up feeling like I was staring down the elevators from the Shining. The blood bath could have easily been avoided if I had done a better job inserting by pushing down, toward the back of my cervix, rather than inserting it straight into the vaginal canal (in my defense this is how I’ve been inserting the cup for more than ten years, it’s a habit).

After inserting, the rim of the menstrual disc needs to be tucked under the pubic bone. This is how it stays in place under the cervix — unlike when using menstrual cups, there is no suction. This also means that whenever you go to the bathroom, you should check that the rim is still tucked under the pubic bone. Bearing down on your pelvic muscles as you do when you pee can cause the disc to slip, resulting in leaks. After the fountain of blood phenomenon my first few days using the disc, I was of course paranoid when I found blood in the toilet even when I hadn’t emptied the disc. This was just trace amounts and completely disappeared once I learned to properly insert the thing and re-check it every time I peed. Since then, I’ve never had a leak.

This is truly impressive considering my track record of ruined undies and crime-scene looking bedsheets. Even more impressive was the way the menstrual disc performs in bed. Because it sits above the vaginal canal under the cervix, it’s out of the way of fingers or dildos. It also takes the red out of earning your red wings, and if you’re the type who’s self conscious about receiving oral sex while on your period, this should take all the anxiety away. Ibuprofen and a heating pad have nothing on a screaming orgasm when it comes to relieving cramps, so think of this as physical therapy.

Nixit period disc

Nixit reusable menstrual disc

The two biggest players in the menstrual disc game are the Nixit and the Ziggy Cup,  and they are virtually interchangeable. Both are made of petal-thin silicone, with a firm ring at the top. Both are pink. Both are a little pricier than the average menstrual cup. Both are easy to insert and leak-proof. Nixit has a slightly softer rim, which makes it easier to insert if you are super sensitive. The firmer rim on the Ziggy Cup, and the honeycomb pattern on the silicone, give better grip for the slippery job of insertion. The Ziggy Cup is also not circular, it’s an oval, with a designated front and back. This shape adds more guesswork to insertion in my opinion, but others may appreciate this as a design feature.

Ziggy Cup reusable menstrual disc

Ziggy Cup design features

Both are comfortable — you can’t feel them at all, in fact you may consider setting a timer on your phone to remind you to change it at least every 12 hours; it’s that easy to forget you’re wearing it. I would say that the Nixit is slightly more comfortable for me on insertion, but if I’d never tried it, the Ziggy Cup would be completely satisfying and I’d never think about the slight difference in firmness of the ring, which is the only distinguishing feature influencing insertion.

The Ziggy Cup comes with a silicone case, which is a huge value-add in my book. Have you ever stored a recently used (and washed obviously) menstrual cup in the little cloth bag in which it comes and then tossed it into your backpack? It just feels germy and unclean. Backpack germs getting on your cup, cup germs getting on your gear. The silicon case is breathable enough at the opening to allow water to evaporate off the cup, without allowing lint or other externalities to get on your cup.

The Ziggy Cup is $39.95 and the Nixit is $49.