Thinking of trading in your old period products for something new? Maybe you’re tired of spending so much money on pads or tampons, or you’ve used menstrual cups, and now you’re curious about whether discs would be even better. Here’s a list of the top menstrual disc questions and answers about menstrual discs to give you an idea of how they work and whether they might work best for you.
What is a menstrual disc? How do menstrual discs work?
Menstrual discs are reusable period products shaped like shallow bowls. They’re made from medical-grade silicone, making them easy to clean. The silicone also makes them rigid enough to keep their circular shape, but flexible enough to be easy to insert and comfortable to wear. If you have ever seen or heard of a diaphragm, menstrual discs are almost identical to these devices.
Menstrual discs sit at an angle right underneath your cervix, and they can hold much more period blood than menstrual cups.
How do you insert a menstrual disc?
It sounds pretty intimidating at first, but it’s really not difficult to insert a menstrual disc. To start with, there’s really just one way to fold it–lengthwise, with the opening facing up. It will look like a figure 8. If the disc has a string or loop for removal, make sure that end goes in last.
Now for the actual insertion. You’re going to angle it downward, toward your tailbone, and not straight up. Push one end inside, keeping the disc folded as you insert it. You might need to use two hands for this.
Keep pushing until it’s tucked behind your cervix–basically it will be touching the back wall. Then you’ll push the front end up as much as you can. If you don’t push it high enough in front, it will leak. If it’s hard to insert, try putting a small amount of lubricant on the end.
You may be super-aware of the menstrual disc for the first few period cycles, so you might be able to feel it even if it’s in the right spot. This feeling should go away, but if it doesn’t, you might need to switch the type of disc or even switch to a cup. In that case, try out my menstrual cup and disc quiz to find the right product for you.
How do you remove a menstrual disc? Can it get stuck or lost?
It’s one of the top menstrual disc questions for many. You do not have to worry about your menstrual disc getting lost inside you, or even stuck. Your cervix opening is very small, so it can’t go up inside your uterus. Also, a menstrual disc is not tiny, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it.
And now to remove your menstrual disc. If your disc has a string or loop, just find this and pull. It may also have a notch that helps your finger get a better grip on the rim. If the disc doesn’t have any of these removal aids, use one finger to find the front rim, and pull it down and out. And yes, it probably will be messy, so you’ll want to be over a toilet or even in the shower.
How do you clean a menstrual disc?
This is really two questions with two answers. During your period, you just need to do a quick wash with water or water and a gentle soap before you re-insert the disc. You only need to fully sanitize your menstrual disc at the end of each cycle.
You have a lot of options for sanitizing menstrual discs:
- Boil it in a small pot for about 2-3 minutes
- Put it in a mug full of water in the microwave for 3 minutes on high
- Use sanitizing alcohol wipes made for cleaning cups and discs
- Try a menstrual cup/disc steamer (yes, there is a device made just for this purpose!)
Can you have sex with a menstrual disc in?
The short answer is yes, you can wear a menstrual disc during sex. It shouldn’t be an issue during penetrative sex, whether with a partner or toys. How is this possible? A menstrual disc sits up higher, just under your cervix, so there is room in the vaginal canal. And menstrual discs are made of silicone, so they’re pretty flexible.
You shouldn’t have issues with leaking, but there’s always a possibility if the disc gets pushed out of position. You might want to empty it beforehand if you can, just in case. It all comes down to whether you are comfortable wearing a menstrual disc during sex. The only way to know is to try!
Are menstrual discs safe?
Yes, menstrual discs are very safe as far as internal period protection goes. Compared to tampons, they don’t soak up the natural moisture of your body that helps keep things healthy down there. On top of that, you have minimal risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS)–way less than with tampons.
You’ve probably seen those warnings all over tampon boxes about TSS. It’s rare, but yes, putting in, removing, or leaving a tampon in too long can cause tiny tears in the vaginal wall, which is the perfect place for bacteria to hide out, which can lead to TSS. But using a menstrual disc properly doesn’t cause these microabrasions to begin with.
How long can you wear a menstrual disc? Can you sleep with a menstrual disc in?
Two menstrual disc questions in one, menstrual discs can safely be worn for up to 12 hours, so you can definitely sleep with one in. Of course, just like menstrual cups, tampons, or pads, you may need to empty your disc sooner in general or on your heavier days, depending on your usual flow.
It’s most likely okay if you forget and leave your menstrual disc in a little over 12 hours, but don’t try to actively test fate. Menstrual discs haven’t been tested for safety for more extended periods of time.
Can a menstrual disc prevent pregnancy?
Another one of the worthy menstrual disc questions that you should consider a fact. Do not use a menstrual disc as a form of birth control. It will not prevent pregnancy.
Yes, it does look almost exactly like a diaphragm, which is a dome-shaped thing that you can wear inside to block sperm. Diaphragms even sit in the same place, just under the cervix. But there are many important differences.
First off, you need a prescription, which is probably why you wanted to see if you could just use a menstrual disc instead. But you also need to get the right size. They also need to be used with spermicide and kept inside you for up to 6 hours after intercourse to work.
Why is my menstrual disc leaking?
The first step is to figure out if your menstrual disc is self-emptying or actually leaking. If you’re on the toilet and it happens, it’s self-emptying; any other time is a true leak.
So if it really is leaking, it’s time to troubleshoot your menstrual disc. Chances are that your problem is one of these:
- Your disc is too large and pops out of place, causing leaks
- Your disc is too small, so the front can’t tuck behind your pubic bone to stay in place
- You aren’t pushing the front rim of your disc high enough when you insert it
- Your disc is jammed up in front of your cervix instead of below it
Can you swim with a menstrual disc?
Swimming is not a problem when you are wearing a menstrual disc or cup. A menstrual disc will stay in place and should not leak if you have it in right. When you think about wearing a disc versus a tampon to go swimming, it’s got advantages. Discs won’t soak up the water and swell up or feel heavier like tampons can. A tiny bit of water may get in, but blood shouldn’t be able to come out. You can always empty your disc before you get in the water also.
The answer to this menstrual disc question will come down to what you’re comfortable with. You can use a menstrual disc with an IUD if you are careful not to pull on your IUD strings when you remove the disc. Menstrual discs definitely come with less risk than menstrual cups when it comes to IUDs because cups create a suction, where discs do not. There is no 100% guarantee that your IUD will not come out, but if you are careful or maybe even have your IUD strings cut shorter, then you can still wear a disc.
Which menstrual disc is best for me?
There’s no one-size-fits-all menstrual disc, but that’s a good thing. I know what you’re going to ask next–how to find the right size menstrual disc or figure out your favorite go-to brand. That’s the easy part, because I have plenty of guides plus and tools to help you out:
Can you poop and pee with a menstrual disc in?
Yes, you can pee and poop when you’re wearing a menstrual disc, but it’s really up to you how you want to handle this situation. If you find that it slips out of place or it’s uncomfortable, then remove your disc beforehand. Carry sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer to use in public restrooms so you can re-insert your disc afterward.
Did we answer all of your menstrual disc questions or do you still need answers on some? Let us know!