Menstrual cups, and discs, what are the differences between the two? What does that mean for my monthlies? Sometimes, it’s like comparing apples to bananas, and you just prefer one over the other.
Although the disc and the cup have the same job to do, they are not the same product. Let’s get the low-down.
What Is the Difference Between a Menstrual Disc and Cup?
The period product market trends have seen a lot of significant inventions, but nothing beats the cup and disc. Let’s have a look at these two revolutionary period products.
Definition of the Products
A menstrual cup is a reusable, flexible cup-shaped product that is inserted below the cervix below your vaginal canal to collect the period blood. The cup is designed to handle heavier flows compared to tampons and pads, and it is reusable, which makes it a green option for your period.
On the other hand, a disc is placed higher in the vaginal canal compared to the cup. It collects period blood in a smooth bag that hangs from a flexible high-quality polymer ring. The polymer’s shape changes according to your body temperature, making it more snug for your body.
The discs are disposable; however, they are also better at handling a heavy flow compared to tampons or pads.
Although discs and cups are not the same product, they are still created using medical-quality materials. Menstrual cups are usually made from silicone, but you might see ones made from latex or rubber. The silicone one is the most popular, though.
Discs are usually made from medical-grade polymers of silicone or plastic. Discs are for one-time use, so they are not as eco-conscious as cups. The menstrual cup is reusable and will last you way longer than even the reusable disc options. Discs last up to two years, whereas cups can last up to ten years.
Always make sure that the product you choose is from a certified provider and follows health standards. If you notice you are having an allergic reaction to the materials, you should go to the doctor immediately. Use a water-based lubricant instead of a silicone one to avoid damage to your disc or cup.
Placement Of Each
Before choosing a period product, it is important to understand how it works and the placement of each one.
- Menstrual cup- The cup sits low in the canal. When you put the cup in, it opens and creates a suctioned seal to secure it in the canal. If your cervix is lower, the cup might be right underneath the cervix. You can look at a cervix-measuring guide to see what size of a menstrual cup is good for you!
- Menstrual disc- If you have worn a diaphragm before, then you know what it feels like with a disc. The disc is inserted just beneath the cervix, between the vaginal fornix and pubic bone. The spring-like rim of the disc fills the area, so it collects blood easily. The disc is held in place without suction.
Insertion And Removal of Menstrual Cup and Disc
When you look at a menstrual disc or cup, your initial thoughts are probably, “how do I go about putting this in?!”. Both products need some practice; it will take a while before you get accustomed to them.
Each product is designed especially for your body and will fit comfortably when you know what you’re doing. Remember to have clean hands before inserting and removing the cup or disc!
- Menstrual cup:
The material of the cup makes it easy for it to be folded and inserted into the vagina. You get different types of folds, such as the punch-down fold, 7-fold, and C-fold. Once you are ready with the fold, slowly put the cup in and open the fold.
The cup will then open, and the silicone ring will create a suctioned seal and be held in place. When you want to remove the cup, squeeze the base of the cup to remove the suction. Pull down slowly for a seamless removal.
- Menstrual disc:
The disc is wider, so you will have to squeeze the disc in the middle to make an oval shape. Put the folded disc into your vagina like a tampon. Push it high enough, then use a finger to put the back rim into vaginal fornix, then make sure the front part is behind the pubic bone.
Make sure to go high enough so it fits into place. It should feel like it is not there. If you still feel uncomfortable, then you probably did not insert it high enough. When it is time for removal, hook the rim with your finger and pull the disc down.
BEWARE! The removal process is messy! The blood will flow out before you remove it completely and get on your hands. However, it may be easier to empty as you can empty it while on the toilet without taking it out, then put it back into its place.
It is quite difficult to insert and remove a disc, as many disc users have to go to the gynecologist because they cannot remove it. So, it’s definitely a learning process!
Sex With a Menstrual Disc
This is one of the biggest differences between menstrual cups and discs.
Many women actually like the disc because penetrative sex is absolutely possible! Since the disc sits at the highest part of the vaginal canal, sex is no problem and is mess-free. However, this does not serve as birth control, so stay protected!
Sex with a menstrual cup is not possible because it is placed lower in the vaginal canal and is bell-shaped. You would have to remove the cup before sex.
What Are the Possible Risks of Using a Menstrual Cup or Disc?
With substitute period products, it’s normal to worry about possible risks. Let’s look at the possible drawbacks you may experience if you use a cup or disc.
If you experience pain while putting in your disc or cup, you might be too rough, or it is in the incorrect position. Try to shift it into the right place slowly, and take your time. If it is your first time, you might be anxious, which causes you to automatically contract your pelvic muscles, which can make it harder to insert.
Try inserting the cup or disc by having one foot on the toilet or squatting. You can also use a lubricant to allow for easy insertion the first couple of times.
Removal of the cup or disc is also a learning curve, especially if you think it is stuck! But don’t despair, they cannot get stuck. And if you are feeling nervous about it, then you can visit your gynecologist for help.
Leaks can happen with any period product. You must make sure you use the correct size according to your flow. Leaks can also happen when your disc or cup is out of position or is too full, and you haven’t emptied it.
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
Some users had reported TSS when they used the cup or disc: however, there is no direct connection between them. The danger of TSS is lower when using discs or cups compared to using tampons.
You must always insert or remove your cup or disc with clean hands. Research shows that these period products do not affect the natural vaginal bacteria, but discs sit in the same place as a diaphragm, which can put you at risk of a UTI (urinary tract infection).
Menstrual cups and discs are made from body-safe materials, such as soft silicone and polymer. These products are free from bleach, plastic, and other harmful materials. However, look at the label for possible allergic reactions. If you’re unsure, speak with your healthcare provider before using a disc or cup.
So, Which Period Product Should I Choose?!
At the end of the day, you must see what’s comfortable for your flow and body. You might prefer the disc for the following reasons:
- You want something you can use for mess-free period sex.
- You don’t want to spend much money on a cup.
- The shape works better for your body, and you feel super comfortable with it.
On the other hand, you might steer towards a cup because:
- You like the once-off purchase, and it’s reusable! Greener gals over here!
- Easier insertion and removal process.
- Less messy compared to a disc.
You can try both products to see which one works for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a cup or disc after pregnancy?
Yes, you can. You should wait at least 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth and speak with your healthcare provider first to ensure that your body is ready for it. If you use a menstrual cup, you may need a large one.
Can you sleep with a disc?
Yes! You can have a worry-free sleep with a disc. Since the placement is just below the cervix and collects the period blood, there is no risk of leaking during the night. However, if you have a heavy flow, then you can pair it with a period panty for extra protection. Remember to empty the disc as soon as you wake up the next day.