12 Things You Should Know about Menstrual Discs
What do menstrual discs do?
A menstrual disc is worn internally like a tampon, but rather than absorbing your period flow, it collects it. It is held in place by its rim in the vaginal fornix so you can comfortably hike, swim, and even have sex with your disc inserted.
Can a menstrual disc get stuck?
Most people can remove their disc with no problems, and the Saalt Disc’s custom removal notch is specially designed to help make removal even easier. For those with a higher cervix or strong pelvic muscles, the disc may move higher in the vaginal canal which can make it harder to reach. But generally, even if the disc moves during use, people are able to remove the disc without needing assistance.
The most important thing to remember is to relax! If you have been laying down or have had sex with the disc in, spend 30 minutes upright and walking around before attempting removal to allow gravity to move the disc lower. Some people find that it’s easier to remove their disc while sitting, standing with one leg up, or squatting.
Will my partner feel my menstrual disc during sex?
Because most menstrual discs are made of soft material such as medical-grade silicone, many people have reported not being able to feel them during intercourse.
Why don’t menstrual discs work for me?
While many people can wear menstrual discs comfortably, they are not one size fits all. Most brands offer a single size and some people find that they like using a smaller size instead.
Can you sleep with a menstrual disc in?
Yes, because a menstrual disc can be worn for up to 12 hours, it’s safe to wear it overnight.
How does a menstrual disc self-empty or auto-dump?
Self-emptying (also known as “auto-dumping”) occurs when the pelvic floor muscles contract, causing the rim of the disc to momentarily move out of place. This can result in some of the contents of the disc spilling. The rim will likely move back to its original position when the pelvic floor muscles relax. This can be checked by using a finger to ensure that the rim of the disc is tucked behind the pubic bone.
Many people enjoy this feature and use it so that they can empty their disc without removing it. Others experience this when they are not using the restroom and it takes some time to control it.
How do I know when to empty my menstrual disc?
Most menstrual discs are safe to wear for up to 12 hours. Typically due to the larger capacity of menstrual discs versus menstrual cups many users find they can wear their disc for a longer amount of time on their heavy day before needing to empty it. When mastering the learning curve of your disc, it’s recommended to remove the disc every 4-6 hours and empty it to learn your own flow. You may find you can wear your disc for the entire 12 hour span before needing to empty. It is entirely possible you may need to empty it a little more often than that on your heavy days. Wearing a back up liner or period underwear for extra protection as you learn your flow is a great idea. After a few periods you’ll have a better understanding of your flow and how often you’ll need to empty your menstrual disc.
Why is my menstrual disc leaking?
Leaking can be experienced with a menstrual disc for a number of reasons including the disc not being positioned correctly under the cervix, overfilling, or self-emptying.
To ensure that the disc is positioned under the cervix, check the position of your cervix before inserting the disc. Then, insert the disc at a horizontal angle toward your tailbone. When the disc is halfway inserted, point it slightly downward, kind of like you are scooping your cervix into it. To make sure your cervix is completely covered, slide your index finger beneath the basin. Then, feel around the rim of the disc to make sure your cervix is not sitting outside of it.
If the disc is overfilling, you can use auto-dumping when using the restroom to empty the disc by engaging your pelvic muscles to temporarily move the rim out of place so that the contents come out. You may also simply need a disc with a larger capacity or you may need to remove and empty the disc more often on your heavy days.
If you prefer to prevent self-emptying when using the restroom, prop your feet on a stool to raise your knees above your hips to relax the pelvic muscles and prevent them from squeezing the disc and releasing the contents.
How do I know my menstrual disc is in correctly?
When a menstrual disc is inserted correctly, it will be comfortable, leak-free, and will stay in place. If your disc causes discomfort, leaks, or slips out of place, it most likely is not in the correct position. When positioned correctly, the disc will rest in the vaginal fornix, with the rim behind the cervix in the back, and resting on the pubic bone in the front.
How far in does a menstrual disc go?
Menstrual discs are inserted in the vaginal canal below the cervix like a tampon, about the length of a finger or less. Menstrual discs are held in place by the rim of the disc resting in the vaginal fornix between the pubic bone and the posterior fornix. The vaginal canal is similar to the shape of a cul-de-sac, and inserted products cannot go higher than the top of the cul-de-sac.
What's the difference between a menstrual cup and menstrual disc?
Menstrual cups sit lower in the vaginal canal than a tampon would, whereas menstrual discs are held in place by their rim in the vaginal fornix (aka the wider space around the cervix). Most menstrual cups have air holes near the rim that are designed to form a seal between the vaginal wall and the cup. One unique feature about the menstrual disc is that it can be worn during penetrative sex while menstrual cups must be removed before sex.
Most people can use either a cup or a disc, so it is truly about personal preference. You may find that you like switching between a cup or a disc throughout your period, or you may stick to just one.
While most people can use either product, you may prefer a menstrual disc if you have a low cervix or weakened pelvic floor. You may prefer a menstrual cup if you have a more active lifestyle or a higher cervix.
What do gynecologists say about menstrual discs?
Gynecologists agree that menstrual cups and discs are a safe and effective longterm sustainable option for both your body and the planet.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, obstetrician-gynecologist and chief medical officer at Verywell Health, says discs are "absolutely" a healthy menstrual tool in an article posted on USA Today online August 6, 2021 enitled ‘You’ve heard about the menstrual cup, but what about the menstrual disc?’
"Alternatives like cups and discs... are great ways for people to have options that are not necessarily in the pad or tampon range," she says.
An article posted on Yale Medicine online published January 27, 2021 entitled ‘Women and the Post-Modern Period,’ states, “Environmental impact can be reduced by switching to reusable sanitary pads, which are becoming more popular, or to a menstrual cup or disc. Made of silicone, rubber, or latex, these are inserted into the vagina during a woman's period, similar to a tampon. Blood is collected in the receptacle, which should be emptied every four to 12 hours. (It’s recommended that menstrual cups and discs be sterilized after each cycle; properly cared for, they can last for up to 10 years.) Women can also purchase disposable, single-use menstrual versions, though these are not as environmentally friendly.”
“Reusable cups are safe, but there’s an art to using them; women have to learn how to insert and remove them correctly,” says Dr. Lubna Pal, MBBS, MS, director of Yale Medicine’s Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Menopause programs.
If you’re wondering about the use of menstrual cups or discs with IUDs, read what a medical professional has to say in Can You Use a Menstrual Cup or Disc with an IUD? Additionally, an infectious disease expert shares some great information regarding the risk of TSS with menstrual cups or discs in TSS: What You Need to Know and How to Prevent It. If you have questions as to whether or not a menstrual disc would be a good option for you, reach out to your physician.