With so few choices on the market, you would think that choosing a menstrual disc would be easy. Indeed, it will be easier than narrowing down a few menstrual cups since there are fewer variations to choose through. However, there are some factors that might help you decide picking one over another.
Menstrual Cups Vs. Menstrual Discs
Menstrual discs resemble that of a diaphragm. While a diaphragm creates a barrier to block sperm from entering the cervix, a menstrual disc creates a barrier to collect menstrual flow from the opposite side.
A menstrual disc consists of a wide-mouthed rim and a collection reservoir. Standard menstrual cups that resemble more of an actual cup and may have a rim, secondary rim, body, grip rings, base, and stem.
Fold – No more figuring out which fold will work with a specific cup to open up after it is inserted. A menstrual disc only has one fold. It is pinched to make the two sides of the rim meet in the center.
Insert – Inserting the folded menstrual disc is similar to insert a menstrual cup. It should be aimed down and back towards the tailbone. Squatting on the ground is an easy way to accomplish this when learning how to use either of these menstrual collection products.
The disc will slide next to the cervix and into the vagina fornix (the space around the cervix) nearest to the rectum. When the disc is fully inserted, the rim is then tucked above the pubic bone to help keep it in place.
Seal/Suction – A menstrual disc creates a sealed barrier to collect the menstrual flow and prevent leaks. It should not create a suction during removal like menstrual cups can.
For more information read our full article: menstrual cups vs menstrual discs.
Designed for Use During Period/Sex
Although most menstrual cup companies advise to remove their cup before having penetrative sexual intercourse, a menstrual disc was specifically designed to be worn for mess-free sexy time. It’s again, similar to a diaphragm in this aspect.
Disposable vs Reusable
Two available menstrual discs are disposable. The SoftDisc and Flex Disc, which are now owned by the same company. They are the same product with different brand names and coloring.
The other three, more widely available menstrual discs, are made of silicone and can be reused for at least up to two years.
Does size matter?
All but one company offers a single, “one size fits all” menstrual disc. However, over the years users have complained that specific discs felt too large. Either they feel extra pressure, or they can’t get the disc to fully insert.
After some direction from two avid cup users, one company in Brasil decided to design two additional smaller sized menstrual discs and start offering them worldwide. The Lumma Company is the only company to date (2020) to offer three different sized menstrual discs. They are also the only company to feature a stem that can be used to locate the disc, or can be removed if not needed.
Ergonomic – Yay or Nay?
In terms of design, one menstrual disc stands out from the rest. The Ziggy Cup, (don’t let the name fool you!) which is actually disc-shaped, has an ergonomic shape. There is a “front” and “back” side of this disc and needs to be inserted in a specific way to work as intended.
According to the Intimina Company who offers this disc, the ergonomic shape is supposed to help the user have a better fit.
In my experience, the only difference that it made was that I needed to pay attention to the way the disc was facing during insertion. While easy enough to do, it was still one extra step I needed to make when dealing with my period. I prefer the non-ergonomic shaped discs for no-brain, quick and easy insertion.
Menstrual Disc Firmness
Both the SoftDisc and Flex Disc have the firmest rims of all of the discs. These again, are the disposable discs and are made of polymers. After the rim is pinched, it may take a few seconds to return to it’s normal round shape.
The rest of the menstrual discs are made of softer reusable silicone.
The Unique Menstrual Disc is much softer than the SoftDisc and Flex Disc, but still has a medium firmness to help the rim to expand after the fold is released.
Both the Ziggy Cup and Nixit Menstrual Disc are very soft. Nixit even describes their disc as “ultra-soft”.
Silicone will spring back to its original shape after any pressure is released. However, in confined spaces, the soft silicone may not have the ability to expand completely.
All of the discs have a very thin, film-like reservoir which is collects menstrual flow. However, they are not all made the same.
The Soft Disc and Flex Disc have a plastic feel to them and are noisy when handled.
The Unique Disc features a reservoir that is a little firmer than the rest but is still thin and quiet. The firmer silicone allows the reservoir to open slightly more on its own.
The very soft Ziggy Cup and Nixit have a reservoir that is similar to the texture and thinness of a balloon. Since these are very lightweight, some users feel that the capacity can be compromised as these may not expand while inserted.
Menstrual discs are most spendy than menstrual cups. The SoftDisc and Flex Discs range from $10-$24 depending on how many you purchase or the subscription you choose. Remember, these are disposal one-time use products that are meant to be thrown out after each removal and will need to be purchased monthly.
Purchasing directly from their respective sites, the Ziggy Cup costs $40, and the Nixit costs $50 without a sale or coupon.
The Unique Menstrual Disc is the best value costing $42 directly from their site which offers you two discs in any variation that you choose: size and color.
When one company was asked why their disc cost a substantial amount more than a menstrual cup, they replied that it was harder to make. However, speaking with a medical device and menstrual cup manufacturer, I was told that the process is no different and should not cost any more.
While I’m not a manufacturer, I can think of a list of silicone items that don’t cost nearly as much.