Although menstrual discs have been around for a while, they’ve recently been increasing in popularity. Both menstrual cups and discs have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best product for you will depend on several different factors. While discs can be a little messier than cups, many users love them because they don’t form a seal inside the vagina, they can empty themselves (more on that in a bit), and they can be worn during sex.
Both cups and discs involve a bit of a learning curve. Menstrual discs are inserted and worn entirely differently than menstrual cups, so even if you’ve been a cup user for years, a disc may take a little getting used to. If you’ve tried switching to a disc and haven’t quite gotten the hang of it, don’t get too frustrated! It may take a few cycles to get it right.
Because of the way discs are positioned, they are mostly one-size-fits all. While discs are available in varying sizes and degrees of firmness, these attributes matter less than they do with a cup – but they may affect how comfortable your disc is.
Personally, I find discs much more comfortable and easier to insert and remove than menstrual cups. After several months of using a disc, I will probably never go back to cups! But, I still sometimes experience leaks, and I always need to remind myself which way it should be facing when I insert it (open towards the front, so that the back end goes in first).
If you haven’t quite mastered the use of a menstrual disc, take a look at some of our top tips for menstrual disc issues.
Problem #1: Menstrual disc is uncomfortable
You should not be able to feel your menstrual disc once it’s in place. If you can feel it or it’s uncomfortable, it may not be inserted correctly or positioned high enough in the vaginal canal. A disc should sit directly under the cervix, in the upper part of the vagina known as the vaginal fornix.
You may notice that the fit or feel of your disc can change depending on where you are in your cycle and the position of your cervix at the time. During menstruation, the cervix is usually low, but its position can change from day to day, so you may find that your disc is more or less comfortable on one day versus another. If you have a low cervix, you may need a disc that is smaller in size.
The disc can also cause discomfort if it becomes untucked at the front and slips down into the vaginal canal. This can also cause leaks.
Side note: if you have a tilted, or retroverted, cervix, you may not be able to use a disc as there may not be enough space in the vaginal fornix to tuck the disc behind the cervix. But you won’t really know until you try. If you do have a retroverted cervix, try using a scooping motion as you insert the disc to get the disc underneath the cervical opening.
Problem #2: Menstrual disc is pushing on bladder
Because of where a disc is placed, which is higher in the body, it typically will not have full contact with the bladder. While feeling bladder pressure or a frequent need to urinate isn’t unheard of with a menstrual disc, it’s less common than with a menstrual cup. However, if your disc feels like it’s pushing on your bladder, it could be that you need a smaller disc or a disc that is less firm. A disc that is firmer will create more pressure.
Problem #3: Menstrual disc is falling out / keeps slipping
You may notice your menstrual disc falling out or slipping if the front comes untucked, which can happen if you aren’t pushing the front of the disc up high enough. In order for your disc to stay in place throughout the day, it must be tucked up behind the pubic bone.
New disc users may especially feel some apprehension about pushing the front of the disc too high. Try to really tuck the front rim over the pubic bone as high as you can, which should become easier as you get more comfortable using a disc. If you have a high cervix, it may feel like you’re pushing the disc higher than it really needs to go. However, if you don’t tuck the disc up as high as possible, it will likely slip out of place during wear, especially during activities such as exercise. So don’t be scared to take your finger and tuck the front rim as high as you can, as long as it isn’t painful.
Some people may not have a very pronounced pubic bone, in which case a a disc may not be the best option.
Problem #4: Menstrual disc keeps leaking
Again, leaks may happen if your disc isn’t properly inserted or if the front rim becomes untucked. If you’re experiencing leaks, make sure to get that front rim tucked up as high as you can.
If you’re tucking your disc up as high as you can and it still leaks, you may need a different disc that fits your body better. Leaking isn’t necessarily a sign that your disc is too small; a disc that’s too big may not have enough room to sit properly in the vaginal fornix.
Many disc users notice that their disc leaks quite a bit when they’re on the toilet – a phenomenon known as “auto dumping.” This happens because the pelvic muscles you use when going to the bathroom compress the disc enough to cause it to release fluid.
While some people find auto dumping to be bothersome because it can be messy, other disc users love it, because it keeps the disc from becoming overly full, so you can wear it longer without removing it. (A word of warning: auto dumping can also happen during sex, so you may want to empty your disc before having sex with a disc in.)
Problem #5: Menstrual disc smells
It’s completely normal for a menstrual cup or disc to develop an odor with regular use, even if you clean it carefully. To keep your disc in the best shape, use a wash specifically formulated for reusable period products, and sterilize your disc before and after each cycle. Learn more about getting rid of the menstrual disc smell.
Problem #6: Menstrual disc is hard to remove
Because a menstrual disc sits so high in the vaginal canal, some users may find them harder to remove than a menstrual cup. Many discs, including the Pixie Disc, have a string or a tab at one end to make removal easier – simply grab the string and pull the disc out. A disc doesn’t form a seal the way a cup does, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the seal. (This is one reason I love using a disc. I have a high cervix and have sometimes had difficulty breaking the seal on my menstrual cup.)
If you’re using a disc with no string, you may find it a little harder to remove. Try hooking a finger around the rim and dragging it out. If you can reach the rim with a thumb and forefinger, try pinching the rim and pulling it out. If you have trouble reaching your disc, try bearing down very gently, or get into a squatting position, which should make your disc easier to reach.
If you have a high cervix and your disc is consistently hard to reach, use a disc with a string or a stem, and make sure the stem is at the bottom when inserting. You want the stem to be in the front when the disc is in place, so it will be lower in the vaginal canal. (Be aware, however, that even if you insert your disc with the stem at the bottom, some disc users find that their disc tends to rotate during wear.)
Ready to try a disc? We’re here to help you make the switch to a sustainable period by giving you our worry-free, 100% happiness guarantee. If for any reason your Pixie Disc doesn’t end up working out for you, just contact us for a full refund, even if it’s months later.