Menstrual Cup and Menstrual Discs: At a Glance
- Both menstrual cups and menstrual discs can be worn for up to 12 hours and collect your period flow.
- Many menstrual discs, like the Saalt Disc, are reusable and some are disposable. All menstrual cups, like the Saalt Cup, are reusable.
- Menstrual discs can be worn for no-mess period sex.
- Menstrual cups stay in place within the vaginal canal by a seal that may create light suction. Menstrual Discs do not use suction, but rest higher within the vaginal fornix (aka the wider space around your cervix), and lay snugly behind your pelvic bone to stay in place.
- Both menstrual disc and menstrual cup mastery come with the unique opportunity to fully understand your internal and external anatomy. 🔎
The Cup vs Disc Show-Down, Low-Down
Menstrual cup… menstrual disc… what’s the difference and what does it mean for me? In some ways it’s like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both fruit, however one person might prefer one over the other. It’s the same with menstrual cups vs menstrual discs. They both ultimately do the same job, but they aren’t the exact same product. Here’s the skinny…
Menstrual Cup vs Menstrual Disc Placement
The menstrual cup is bell or cup shaped (typically with a stem), and uses a seal to stay in place within the vaginal canal, in roughly the same area a tampon is worn. Most menstrual cups have holes around the rim which allow the cup to create light suction and stay secure within the vaginal canal. A menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours and can hold anywhere from 2-4 tampons worth of fluid depending on what size cup is being used. Most menstrual cups are made from 100% medical-grade silicone and are reusable. High-quality cups like Saalt menstrual cupscan last up to 10 years with proper use and care.
Menstrual discs are available in both reusable and disposable versions. Reusable menstrual discs like the Saalt Disc are made of 100% medical-grade silicone, can be worn for up to 12 hours, and can last up to 10 years with proper use and care. A menstrual disc is worn just underneath the cervix, within the vaginal fornix, and rests behind the pubic bone to stay in place. A menstrual disc uses no suction to stay securely behind the pubic bone. Menstrual discs often have a higher capacity than menstrual cups, holding up to 3-6 tampons worth of fluid, or 30-50 mL. Additionally, menstrual discs can be worn for no-mess period sex.
Menstrual Cup Insertion vs. Menstrual Disc Insertion
Before inserting your menstrual cup you’ll want to fold it to make it smaller for entry. The most common folds are the C-fold, 7-fold, or the punchdown fold. Click here for a great tutorial on how to fold your menstrual cup. As you learn to master cup insertion, using a water-based lubricant on the rim of your cup and at your vaginal opening is always a great idea! Turn your fold to face the floor or your perineum/anus upon insertion and insert horizontally back toward your tailbone. *Pro-tip: locate your cervix first so you know how high and at what angle to insert your cup.* Once your cup is inserted, use a lubricated finger to feel the RIM of the cup and swirl your finger 360 degrees. If you feel your cervix outside the rim, lower your cup so it can fully open below your cervix. If you feel dents in the rim or side of the cup, push your vaginal walls away from your cup allowing your menstrual cup to fully open. Here’s a great video showing how to get your menstrual cup to open.
When inserting a menstrual disc, using a water-based lubricant on the inserting side of the disc and your vulva will help your disc glide in easily while you master your learning curve. With one hand, pinch your disc in the middle so it forms a figure-8 shape. Hold your labia open with your other hand. Insert your disc horizontally back toward your tailbone. *Pro-tip: when halfway inserted, angle the part of the menstrual disc that's already inside so it points downward toward the floor. This will help ensure it goes under then behind your cervix.* Once fully inserted your disc will match the natural shape of your fornix which may not be a perfect circle, and that’s okay! You can use your pointer or middle finger to feel for your cervix through the base of the disc to ensure your cervix is fully covered by your disc.
How Each Product Works
Menstrual cup efficacy is most successful for users with a healthy pelvic floor. This is because a menstrual cup stays in place within the vaginal canal using both suction and the strength of the surrounding vaginal muscles. (If you struggle with pelvic dysfunction you might consider a softer menstrual cup like a Saalt Soft Cup, or you may prefer a Saalt Menstrual Disc.) The Saalt menstrual cup was designed to be the easiest to use, most comfortable cup on the market. The medical-grade silicone has a velvety soft finish and this cup is on the slightly firm side of average. It is engineered with a bulb shape that retains its form very well. This makes it an excellent cup for first-time cup users because the slightly firmer structure allows it to pop open easily when inserted and creates a really good seal, so it's leak-free and sits comfortably in place. Your menstrual cup is removed by locating the stem of the cup and walking your fingers up to the grip rings on the base of the cup. The stem of your menstrual cup is not designed to be pulled on. Squeeze the grip rings to release the seal, remove the cup, and empty the contents directly into the toilet. Here’s an informative video on how to remove your cup.
A menstrual disc stays in place within the larger part of the vaginal canal called the “vaginal fornix.” The disc uses the areas of both the anterior fornix (toward the front) and posterior fornix (toward the back) to stay in place, with the rim resting behind the pubic bone. When your disc is inserted, the back of the disc will be pushed into the posterior fornix, then the rim and removal notch (if your disc has one like the Saalt Disc) will be pushed into the anterior fornix and propped behind your pubic bone to stay securely in place. When it comes time to remove your disc you’ll want to find the removal notch on your disc, or hook your finger over the rim of your disc to pull it out. To not irritate the cervix, it is recommended to gently bear down like you’re going pee during removal. This will help relax your pelvic floor and loosen your vaginal muscles. Then grab the rim of the disc, either by finding the removal notch, or simply grabbing the rim, and twist the disc to the side to release it from behind the cervix. Then pull the disc out of the vaginal opening.
Menstrual Discs and Cups. Are They Reusable or Disposable?
Most brands of menstrual cup and menstrual disc are made from 100% medical-grade silicone, although some brands of disposable menstrual disc are made from varying types of plastic.
Saalt produces only reusable menstrual cups and discs, never disposable ones. Saalt cups and discs are made of 100% medical-grade silicone and pigments that are BPA and latex-free and have been tested and certified for cytotoxicity and skin sensitization per rigorous FDA testing standards, so it is proven biocompatible and hypoallergenic. Saalt also sends their cups and discs to a third party testing facility to ensure the accuracy of their claims that their cups and discs will last 10 years without any leaching or deterioration. Because silicone is set in a permanent bond, Saalt Cups and Discs cannot melt, so nothing can ever leach out, and Saalt Cups and Discs will last 10 years with proper use and care.
Reusable menstrual cups and discs should be rinsed and washed during your period with a mild pH-balanced soap like Saalt Wash. After your period you’ll want to sanitize your cup or disc by boiling it or wiping it down with 70% isopropyl alcohol, following all care instructions. Additionally, your menstrual cup and disc should be sanitized before the next use. Pairing your menstrual cup or disc with leakproof period underwear like Saalt Wear is a great way to protect against leaks if your cup or disc overflows! This is especially helpful when you are mastering your learning curve. Saalt Wear is just like your regular underwear but period-proof.
Sex On Your Period: Menstrual Cup vs Menstrual Disc
A menstrual cup sits within the vaginal canal, like a tampon, and will have to be removed for penetrative vaginal sex. However, a menstrual disc sits just below the cervix within the vaginal fornix, rather than in the vaginal canal. This leaves the vaginal canal open and allows for intercourse while the disc is inserted. As most menstrual discs are made from smooth medical-grade silicone, this makes period sex with a disc virtually sensationless. What does this all mean? That no-mess period sex can be a reality. Unless you don’t want to be. Hey, we all like options. 😏